4 Questions to help you get the best out of crossovers


July 13, 2013 by alinedecat

Crossovers may probably seem really mastered for most of us, since it’s one of the first skills skaters learn, but you know how I think skills can always be improved? Here are some questions skaters should ask themselves to make the best out of their turns. These ar not yes-or-no questions, it’s more of a pathway to keep on progressing.

Bloodrunner #3.14 from Roller Derby Porto

1. Can you perform crossovers with both hands on the inside hip (and not leaving it)?

If not, this means you’re not really mastering your balance to take the crossed step, you’re probably crossing your leg first and letting your body deal with the imbalance, and the result of that is that your outside shoulder makes a backwards uncontrolled move every time you put your outside foot on the floor. When performing regular crossovers, your outside shoulder goes forward with the inside foot, and it is the elbow that is pulled backwards alternatively, which may indeed pull the shoulder back a little, but it is not the shoulder that initiates the move backwards.

2. Can you touch your ankle when crossing or uncrossing without bending forward, to the side or breaking off crossovers?

If not, you’re either too high, too slow, too narrow or too stiffy. But you won’t probably be able to tell which one exactly because everything goes together: the further you push, the wider you will be, the wider you will be, the lower you will go, which will genuinely and obviously make you faster, making it easier to make strong, powerfull and huge pushes. So you should work on whole of these, but the easiest way to achieve it is to focus on each element one by one.

3. Can you skate without uncrossing?

“Huh, wait – What??” Yep this is an easy test to know if you’re pushing with both feet an not just the outside one. Once your legs are crossed and you’re about to uncross, instead of putting your inside foot next to your outside foot, cross it back behind your outside foot. This way, your legs will never actually uncross, and you will have to use only the inside foot to push. This can also be an agility drill.

4. When performing backwards crossovers, how do you lift your inside foot to uncross: rear wheels before front wheels or inside wheels before outside wheels?

The good option is the second option. It means you were able to transfer your weight from one foot to the other completely and with the right timing. When performing backwards crossovers, your inside leg makes little straight lines, while the outside makes “S”-shaped lines (or mirrored “S” according to weither you’re skating clockwise or counterclockwise). As you may know, the more weight you put on one foot, the less easily it will turn. In backwards crossovers, the inside leg carries you almost all the time, while the outside leg makes the pushes, so if you lift the rear wheels of your inside leg first when uncrossing, this means your line was not straight and thus your weight is not completely on your inside foot.

If you have read my post about edges, well, here is a good example of it and another way to explain; your inside foot always needs to be on an outside edge, which makes the fact that you lift the inside wheels first logical. If you lift the rear wheels before the front wheels, that means your foot made an “S” and thus went from an outside edge to an inside edge. Weight-edge-way to raise your foot… Do you get it?

Any questions? Don’t hesitate!


4 thoughts on “4 Questions to help you get the best out of crossovers

  1. donna s. says:

    what a great series! thank you! keep them coming!

  2. Bruce Vires ( Smooth Rexer) says:

    Lots of good info here however I have to disagree with the info about backwards crossovers

    lets start with both skates side by side, the right skate is pulled behind the left skate as the right skate nears it’s extension weight will be transferred to the front wheels with the front outside wheel being the last wheel to touch the floor. then return both skates side by side, now the left foot is pulled behind the right skate as the left skate nears it’s extension weight will be transferred to the front wheels with the front outside wheel being the last wheel to touch the floor. This will allow you to get power from both legs.

    I do not teach backwards skaters to pick up their skate and step across, instead each skate is pulled behind with weight being transferred from one skate to the other and front to back

    Just like front crossovers you want a full extension with with that last little bit of push coming from that last wheel touching the floor. and in backwards crossovers it’s always the front outside wheel

    I find that sometimes a skater needs to loosen their trucks up a little when doing backwards crossovers.

    here is a link to give you a visual .http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFr49j4BQXU

    A little about myself, I’ve skated for over 45 years competing in dance, freestyle, and Rexing,
    I volunteered for Rat city for two years the was a coach for Jet city for five years.

    Rexing is my love. It’s continuous backward skating.

    Smooth Rexer
    P.S. some skaters have a tendency to lean forward when trying to skate backwards , I have them tilt their hips forward, back should be straight and a slight bend in the knees. Have your skaters stand with out skates on, backs straight and knees slightly bent , if they can lift their heels they are leaning too far forward and if they can lift the balls of their feet they are too far backwards. skaters should not be able to lift either the heels or balls of their feet

    • alinedecat says:

      Hello Rexer! Thank you for your comment! I love to have other people’s point of view!

      Picking the skates up is only to uncross, not to step across, I never ask skaters to pick up their skates to step across either 😉

      In rexing, indeed, the right foot is pulled behind the left foot, and thus, both legs make a curve when skating, but this is also because you keep on skating with crossovers in the straight line. In derby, you can choose to skate crossovers in the turn only, or around the whole track, but then you’ll be skating the diamond, in other words, never on a straight line either. So you always want your weight to be on the inside (right foot on an outside edge, left foot on an inside edge). If you pull the right foot behind the left one instead of pulling the left over the right, this means your right foot will have to be on an inside edge at some point, and since I’m speaking about turning here, you always want to keep your right foot on an outside edge.
      As you say it yourself, the last wheel touching the floor is the front outside wheel. If you’re only using crossovers to turn, you will push even more to the side, because you want your weight to go from the outside to the inside as fast as possible, which makes more chance for your weight to remain a little more on the rear wheel. Of course lifting the outside front wheel is fine, the point here was more “if you had to choose between both rear wheels or both inside wheels at first, go for the inside when doing crossovers in a turn, so you can make it even sharper”, but as I said, these were not yes-or-no questions.
      Also, if skaters lean forward, asking them to keep the rear outside wheel on the floor a little longer forces them to “sit down” a little more and thus bend their knees and lean a little less forward, which may definitely help. Well, it did on our skaters, but different methods are always way more enriching than just one 😉


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I'm Aline Decat #61, skater for Gotham Girls Roller Derby and Team Belgium Roller Derby. I am also coach for Track Advantage - coaching company and I founded the Blackland Rockin'K-Rollers and Europe's first junior league, the Blackland Teenage Terrors.

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