It’s now the off-season for most roller derby teams, so here are 10 things you can do to come back prepared and refreshed for next season.

  1. Start by taking a real break
  2. Increase pure endurance
  3. Increase muscle mass
  4. Focus on skating skills
  5. Work on mobility
  6. Reduce inflammation
  7. Improve your nutrition
  8. Try a new sport
  9. Reflect on your previous season
  10. Take a mental break from derby

You don’t have to do all 10 things, but pick a few goals you’d like to focus on. Once you’ve decided what your main goals are, create a goal-setting pyramid describing the steps that will help you achieve your goals. Because these goals may be very different, you can have several pyramids. Write down your goals. If you don’t commit them to paper, you are less likely to be truly committed to them. So make a pretty pyramid, stick it on your fridge, and glance at it everyday so you remind yourself of the little things you can do to achieve this goal.

  1. Start by taking a real break. Maybe watching or playing at champs has you fired up. Maybe you just had your end of season award banquet, and you promised yourself to work harder and to become the best you can possibly be. That’s awesome, but the first thing to do at the end of the season is to take a few weeks off. It doesn’t mean you have to completely stop exercising, but you at least need to significantly reduce the volume and intensity for a few weeks. Your body will thank you later.
  1. Increase your endurance. Pure endurance, or VO2 max, is the foundation that your athletic abilities lie on. It doesn’t matter if you have amazing skating skills; if you get tired too quickly, you won’t be able to use those skating skills. Take a look at this 10-week VO2 max program to help you increase your endurance.
  1. Increase muscle mass. This can be hard to do during the season, because we are skating so much. Putting on muscle requires lifting often, and lifting heavy, which does not always work well with derby schedules. So the off-season is the perfect time to put on muscle, which will then help prevent injuries during the season, and will be the foundation for the strength and power phases that come later. Take a look at this 10-week hypertrophy program for some inspiration.
  1. Focus on skating skills. Let’s face it; a lot of us are still tempted to play roller derby in the off-season. But instead of playing actual derby with the body damage it involves, why not spend this time focusing on skating skills? Even the best skaters in the world still spend a lot of time refining their skills, and it’s an area where everyone can always improve. So forget blocking and defensive formations for a bit, and focus on making your footwork quicker and more precise.
  1. Work on mobility. Skating in the same direction all the time creates a lot of muscle imbalances, particularly in the hips. Check out Kelly Starrett’s mobily WODs for some ideas of what you can do to unlock your hips and prevent injuries.
  1. Reduce inflammation in your body. If you just finished a heavy season with a lot of practices and games, you are likely to have some aches and pains from accumulated inflammation. If you have a real injury that requires resting, now is the perfect time to do it. You will have plenty of time to build your fitness back up before next season, so take a break if you need to. Whether or not you have a specific injury you need to heal, try to clean up your diet to avoid foods that create inflammation. Being inflamed can come from your nutrition as much as from playing a contact sport, so look at what’s in your plate first.
  1. Improve your nutrition. The off-season is the perfect time to experiment with new things. I wouldn’t recommend a specific type of diet, because everybody is different and reacts differently to specific foods. But if I was to give general recommendations, I would suggest focusing on non-processed nutrient dense food that reduces inflammation. If you’ve been thinking about trying a new diet but don’t have time during the season, now is the time to experiment with you nutrition, and see how it works for you.
  1. Try a new sport. Research shows that the best athletes are the ones who grew up playing a variety of different sports, instead of specializing too early. While it may be too late to change what you did in your childhood, it’s not too late to partly make up for it. So try different sports, with skills that will translate to roller derby. Running sports with lots of direction changes are great for jammers (e.g., running on toe stops while juking through the pack). Sports with lateral movements such as tennis, or with high strength/balance requirements such as powerlifting will be great for blockers. But don’t think too hard about which skills transfer directly to derby or not. If a particular sport tickles your fancy, go for it!
  1. Reflect on your previous season: what did you do well? Where do you need to improve? What are some SMART goals you can set for yourself? Watch videos of your games to see what you did well and what you need to work on. If you’re having a hard time analyzing your performance, do in a small group with some of your teammates. As long as everybody is willing to give and accept constructive criticism, it can be a great way to figure out what your priorities should be.
  1. Take a mental break from derby. Not everybody needs this, but if you do, it is completely fine to step away for a little bit. Maybe you have other things in your life that you’ve been putting away during the season. Maybe you finished the season a bit burnt out and need a break from derby. Your physical and mental health come first, so take the time you need to come back refreshed.

If you would like a personalized training plan for your off-season, feel free to contact me.

I’m trying to raise money for my Red Bull Crashed Ice season, which starts in 2 months and will involve racing in 4 different countries, all at my own cost. If you have a few dollars to spare, I would really appreciate it. More info here:

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