My Relationship with Crossovers
I started roller derby earlier this year. When I went to my first practice, I could stand up on skates, and that was about it. Now, a few months in, I can start, stop and do several basic skills. I decided that, in the off season, I would figure out how to do crossovers—which I managed to do (even a couple of months ahead of schedule.) I certainly do not have the best crossover ever, but I can say that I can actually do a crossover, and now I’m fine tuning as I start to think more seriously about 27/5 (and the million other skills I'll need to master before that can happen).
Regular Practice at a Roller Skating Rink
In order to do crossovers, I went to the roller skating rink 1-2 times a week and skated for about 1.5-2 hours each time. I know that in order to master this skill, I needed to skate, try a few things, adjust, and keep skating and trying it. Here is what worked for me as I worked from not being to stand on one foot to being able to do a real live crossover that is ready to be further coached and perfected.
1. Practice standing on one foot.
I know the first time I went to a roller derby class, during our initial skills assessment, they asked us to skate on one foot, and I couldn't do it. Those were not muscles that my desk office worker body had occasion to use. I started by just spending 30 seconds per day standing on each foot. Over time, I would stand in more of a derby stance and shift my weight to one foot (like I need to do when skating) and stand on one foot that way. Build those muscles that you’ll need to use.
2. Wear knee pads at the roller rink. Always.
I find that if I don’t wear at least knee pads, I’ll either not try anything as much as I should or I’ll fall down and it’ll really hurt. Whether you wear real roller derby knee pads or sneaky little under your pants low profile knee pads, wear something to literally cushion the blow. These are my go to stealth knee pads.
Remember, you will for sure fall down—probably a lot—while learning how to do this, and without knee pads you will be banged up and it will be unpleasant. Your knees will thank you—as will your future better-able-to-walk self.
3. Practice skating on one foot.
If you can't get your weight on your left leg while skating, you don't be able to pick up your right foot and cross it over. Let me say that again because it’s so important: you can’t pick up your foot if you have your weight on it. (That sounds obvious until you start to skate and then, like an idiot, try to pick up the foot that you have your weight on, fail, fall, then wonder, “why didn’t that work?”)
When you go to the roller rink, practice skating on only one foot while you count to 5, then switch feet. This starts to train your body on weight transfer and builds up your muscle memory on how to do the start of a crossover.
4. Work up to skating on just your left foot on the corners.
When you get to the corners at a skating rink, skate just on your left foot and lift up or push with your right foot. Keep doing this until you can hardly stop yourself from lifting up your foot and putting it over.
5. Watch the other skaters.
When you go to the roller skating rink and you’re skating around, look at the other people skating. Take note of the people who seem to do crossovers without even thinking about it. Watch their feet, and how they shift their weight, and lean into the middle.
During this process, do your best not to hate the people who can just "no big deal" do crossovers.
6. Lean into the middle.
It will feel like you are leaning in a cartoonish manner, but do it. the lean, and being on your left foot, makes it possible for you to get your right foot over.
7. Try to do crossovers standing up instead of in derby stance.
Remember those people at the roller rink? Try to mimic their actions and do a “ no big deal” crossover instead of a heavy duty roller derby crossover. Once you understand the basic foot over foot action, you can work your way up to being more powerful.
8. Do "baby crossovers."
Do the "foot over foot" part of the move, then just keep going. You'll get next to no power (which comes from the crossunder work that you left foot is supposed to do), but that's not the point. The point is to get your right foot up and over your left foot and set it down again. SCORE! This part is the super scary bit. Now skate around and do that a whole bunch. This is huge, amazing progress.
9. Do 2 "baby crossovers" in a row.
They will not be pretty, or particularly good, but you will have crossed over. Twice. DOUBLE SCORE! You're really doing these!
10. Practice. Then practice more. Then practice even more.
For 10 minutes (or more) at a time, skate, and each time you get to a place where you have to turn, do 1-2 crossovers. The more you do them, the easier the motion will become. Over time, they will suck less, and then they will be almost tolerable, and then you will start to feel like you get the basic motion, but like they could get better. The more you do them, the easier they will become, and the better they will get.
From Baby Crossover to Big Time Crossover
At first, you'll have to think really hard each time you get ready to to one. Over time, you'll think less and do more. The more you practice, the more automatic they will be come. You'll start to look like your role models at the rink who do them without thinking! Over time, you'll get into derby stance and start to try them that way. One day, you will magically cross under and go "holy crap! That's what that's supposed to feel like!"
What Do You Think?
What advice helped you learn to do crossovers? What was your "ah-hah" moment? Share in the comments.
I learn for a living. I distill my research into useful blog entries. Geek, parent, knitter, yogi, writer, educator, businessperson, health advocate, & skating nerd.