Fresh Meat Pain – How the eff do I get lower??

If you’re a freshie, I bet the most heard phrase at training is “get lower!”.

Coaches like to tell people to “get lower” all the time, especially during fresh meat when they’re trying to teach a room full of Bambi-on-rollerskaters how to skate safely.

But what exactly is low?

In derby stance, low means; knees bent, butt down, chest up and eyes forward. It’s your ‘ready’ position – ready to block, ready to plow, ready to take a hit.

The bit that is most important is the ‘knees bent’ bit. Often people will think they’re low but in reality they’re just tipping forward at the hips, showing everyone behind them what they had for dinner! Or they think their knees are bent but they are more erect than….. well I can’t think of an analogy PG enough.. but you get the point.

Why do we need to get low?

When you’re new, you need to be low because it’s more stable, you’re more likely to fall forward rather than backwards – it’s much more fun landing on your knee pads rather than your butt or worse, your head!

Also, having your knees bent helps you to do most of the skills you are learning; crossovers, plow stops, one footed glides.. pretty much everything is better with bent knees.

You’re also more agile when your knees are bent – try doing quick steps to the inside and outside with dead straight legs…. now try it with bent knees. Much better, right?

I can’t get low


Confession time: I can’t get low.

For whatever reason, (ankles or hips?) my body does not bend in ways other skaters’ bodies do. I cannot shoot the duck. My derby stance is nowhere near as low as half my team’s. The only way I can squat low is if I do it in the sumo position! Doesnt really work on skates unless I’m mowhawking…

But that’s ok. We are all unique snowflakes with different body shapes, bone size, tendon length and so on.

As long as I’m as low as I can be for me, I’ll be fine.

But I will keep working on it.

Why can’t I get low?

cant squat

There could be an anatomical reason why you can’t get as low as you’d like – hip bones, ankle bones, old injuries… (Hip socket depth is pretty important when it comes to how low you can squat and unfortunately, unless you go under the knife, you’re stuck with it!)

However, it’s more likely to be one or more of these:

  • Lack of stability (balance)
  • Being new to the movement
  • Lack of mobility in your soft tissue
  • Lack of leg strength

These are things we can work on by

  • Improving core strength and balance
  • Practicing the movement
  • Massaging, stretching and strengthening tight/weak areas
  • Building more leg strength

Here’s a handy checklist for determining if you have a movement dysfunction.

How can I get lower?

Even if you do have horrible hips and wanky ankle bones, there is probably still some improvement to be made to your derby stance. Don’t give up!

Self-myofacial release/foam rolling and massage before a workout can help to loosen up tight muscles and tendons, allowing you to get deeper into the position. You can do it again after a workout and before stretching.

Get Lower Workout Roller Derby Workout

There are bodyweight and weighted variations of the exercises in this workout so if you feel up to it and have weights, go for it!

Perform 10-15 reps of each exercise before moving on to the next and repeat the whole routine 3-4 times.


Prepare: Foam Roll/Tennis Ball/Rolling Pin Massage to calf muscles and hips


  • Glute bridges – engage your core, squeeze your bum and push your hips upward. Don’t over arch your back and pause at the top.
  • Box Squats – push your hips back and keep your spine neutral, lower lightly onto the box and try not to use momentum to come back up. Make sure you knees track through the middle of your toes & don’t cave in. Add a weight, holding it in a goblet position to add intensity.
  • Squat & Hold – at the bottom of the squat, hold or pulse for a few seconds before returning to standing. Get as low as you can with good form. Sometimes a weight can act as a counterweight and help you get lower.
  •  SumoSquat & Hold – in a wide leg stance with toes pointed out, squat down keeping your back straight. Perform 5 squats & hold at the bottom for a few seconds. Make sure your knees push out & don’t cave in. Add a weight for more of a challenge.
  • Split Squats – stagger your feet and lower yourself straight down, not forward, bending both knees to 90 degrees. Hold a weight in each hand to challenge your legs and core.
  • Reverse Lunge & Twist – from standing, step your right leg backwards & lower yourself down until your front leg is at 90 degrees. Keep your body upright and twist your torso towards the left. Return to facing forward, bring your right leg to your left and repeat on the left side, twisting to the right. Adding a weight will really test your balance and core strength.


Treble 909 xx

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