How to Improve at Derby’s 27 Laps Test

Posted on: October 16th 2014

Photo by Nic Charest of

Photo courtesy of my favourite skate shop,

One of the biggest challenges that haunts all new derby athletes is their minimum skills testing, and particularly the endurance skill – the ol’ “25 in 5” as it used to be called, now the much-less-catchy 27-in-5 laps test, used by the WFTDA as a benchmark for all skaters.

[bonus points to you if you can devise a clever nickname for this skill/test that we can all start using. Put it in the comments below!] 

Just 300 seconds long, for many new skaters this exercise feels like an eternity of raw lungs, low back pain, foot or shin cramps, and burning thighs. The test haunts them through their fresh meat days as they set every fiber of their being towards trying to break the 27-lap mark and get this monkey off their backs.

Unfortunately, simply “trying harder” is not going to be enough difference for many skaters who are several laps short of the target. 

I want to help you “try smarter.” 

Last week I posted a question on the Roller Derby Athletics facebook page, asking readers for their best tips for someone struggling with their endurance skating.  I got hundreds of responses! (thank you!). Tons of them were tips that my fellow TCRG coaches and I have been sharing with our trainees for years, and there were a few new ones too. It was really great to see the range, and which ones were suggested over and over again – showing that they work for most skaters.

The tips can be broken down into three main categories:

  • stride/skating technique
  • mental tricks
  • conditioning

Here are 27 of the very best tips to help YOU do your very best on your 27 laps endurance test!


Stride and Skating Technique:

  1. Through the corners, turn your shoulders and head to the opposite side of the track
  2. Rhythm: use slow, steady, rhythmic strides; count your strides per lap and try to stay consistent; avoid fast choppy strides
  3. Pursue good cross-overs, or as I like to call them, “cross-unders”; use BOTH feet to stride (yes, your inside foot too). This takes leg strength and practice!!
  4. “Skate the diamond” – in other words, the most efficient path around the track. 

Roller Derby Track Diamond

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. There are other versions of this diagram that indicate exactly where on this path you should execute a cross-over, but this is a starting point that will work for skaters at all levels.

Mental Tricks:

    1. Focus on improving a little bit each time you try. Set interim goals. If you’re at 22 laps now, shoot for 23.5 laps on your next attempt. Keep building.
    2. Set a goal of laps per minute to keep yourself on pace (27/5 = 11 seconds per lap, = 5.4 laps per minute – feel free to re-do the math according to your current personal goal).
    3. Follow a ‘pace bunny’ – someone who’s a little faster than you, and try to keep up
    4. Count strides, count breaths, or use other mental imagery to move your focus away from physical discomfort.
    5. Use positive thinking (“you’ve got this!”) – more in this post about imagining yourself to greatness or this one on being more awesome
    6. Get into a rhythm (as listed in technique) – try skating with headphones if music would help you! 
    7. Control your lungs by breathing rhythmically if you tend to get winded: in through the nose for one stride, out through the mouth for two.


Well, as you might imagine, I have a LOT to say about this particular topic. I could fill a few posts with this subject (and I have… and I will…). For the sake of brevity though, I am focussing here on the key aspects of conditioning that I find lacking in skaters who are struggling with their laps.

In general as far as conditioning goes, you can probably place yourself in one of three categories for what you feel is your limiting factor in your laps:

  • Group 1: Mostly my legs are jell-o
  • Group 2: Mostly my lungs are on fire
  • Group 3: Both :)

For Group 1 – work on improving leg strength and muscle endurance. Try:

  1. squats,
  2. lunges,
  3. wall sits, and
  4. one-leg squats.
  5. If you struggle to get deep crossovers (cross-unders), thensideways step-ups onto a chair or bench are an excellent move to target the full chain of motion including inner thighs.
  6. Sumo squats will also help with those cross-unders!
  7. In general, add two or three high-rep strength training sessions (these can be at home, body-weight only), incorporating the above exercises, to your weekly routine to build your muscle capacity more quickly than skating alone.
  8. Add cycling workouts to the mix for excellent power and endurance training. Stationary bikes or outside!

For Group 2 – if your stamina is holding you back, focus more on your cardio endurance.

  1. Go for HIIT workouts (find dozens in the workouts area on this site), jogging, and cycling. Get your heart rate up and keep it up for 25-30 minutes (or more).
  2. For fastest cardio gains, I like to advise a mix of longer, “steady-state” workouts where your heart rate remains in the lower end of your aerobic range the entire time (30 minutes or more), and shorter interval workouts with bursts of more intense activity (12-30 minutes total). 
  3. For steady state, your “Rate of Perceived Exertion” (RPE) should be about a 6 on a scale of 1-10, where 1 is eating a bag of chips on the couch, and 10 is maximum output – say, piggybacking two teammates in the 100m dash.
  4. For intervals, shoot for an RPE of 8-9 in your work periods and a 4-5 in your recoveries.

For Group 3 – you feel lacking in both major areas:

You know what to do! Check tips 12 through 23 above. Incorporate a mix of strength and cardio work into your cross-training.

For all –

  1. Regardless of which area you find needs the most work, long outdoor skate sessions are a great tool to build your skate-specific muscle and cardio endurance. Just watch for overtraining issues: if you have nagging pains from practice, or you grow some new ones the day after a long skate, then think about cross-training instead of skate training. Bike/spin, run, swim, etc.


On skate conditioning

Supposedly it was Einstein who suggested that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. He was a pretty smart guy, but he forgot that PRACTICE is a really effective tool and can produce great results in skating. But he’s right that we have to change the way we practice, to get results.

Instead of only practicing skating 5 minutes at pace, try some variations to your endurance lap training:

  1. Skate until you’ve done 27 laps (or 30) – this will help your muscles train for the full distance, not just the time.  If practicing with your team, you can all continue to skate until the last person has reached the distance. This allows everyone to continue improving and pushing themselves together. Skaters can move to lane 4 or outside the track when they’ve finished 27 laps.
  2. Skate intervals for 6 or 7 minutes (or more) – start with a 1:1 ratio of work to rest (say 30 seconds each) and work towards a 4:1 or 5:1 ratio. “Work” should be faster than your current 5 minute pace (you can target exactly the minimum 5.4 laps per minute pace required by the WFTDA test if that’s what you’re working toward); “rest” should be an active recovery pace, still working on an efficient, quality stride technique
  3. A variation on the above is to run intervals ‘by lap’: Skate 3 laps hard and 2 easy, and work your way up to 5 and 1 or 6 and 1. You can even do this during your actual laps test if it helps you to break down the test into more manageable chunks.

Putting it in perspective…

Let’s remember that, like all the minimum skills, the Endurance skill is something roller derby athletes need in real game play situations on the track – and not just jammers! It’s not just a test for testing’s sake, it is a meaningful evaluation of your ability. Efficient skaters with good strides make better derby players. So once you’ve made your 27 lap mark, it’s not time to stop working on your stride and fitness…

…You’re just getting started.

xo Booty

PS: did you know that with the RDA Fitness App, you can get access to tons of workouts designed specifically to help derby athletes succeed at passing their minimums, and levelling up from there? Check out our training plans here.

88 thoughts on “How to Improve at Derby’s 27 Laps Test

  1. One I learned recently, Dyspraxia can cause extra hamstring leg cramps. If you are Dyspraxia build I extra leg work outs to balance excess lactic acid build up. And do extra warm ups for your legs :)

    1. AAAAh this is amazing! My daughter is dyspraxic, thank you!

  2. possible name- Surviving the longest jam, 300’s Death Race

    1. EXACTLY EXACTLY EXACTLY the same issues here!! After 2 years I am FINALLY at 25.5 laps.But I have only done that once, so I don’t know if I am actually past the 24 block or just a fluke. Best wishes to you!!

    2. Rockstar death jam. Because all the cool Rockstars die at 27 lol

  3. The five min whirl pool 27 lap cruise or as the greeks call it,
    The Charybdis survival challenge.
    My problem with this challenge seems to be all in stride. I often loose a good rhythm or pattern because of other skaters on the track. My league has a test all at once method. Too many ladies on the track makes it hard to hit the diamond. Often less experienced skaters are cut off at the apex. For me a fast skater cutting my path causes a cross over failure. I don’t feel winded or suffer intense pain. I do have issues with trusting my balance ability at high speed. I have noticed that what occurs before the test matters. Like what time it is, what you ate today, did you sleep well, is this the first or last challenge of today’s derby meet, are you stressed on life, ect.
    Anyway I seem eternally stuck swirling at 24 laps. My first try was 22 that was 1.5 yrs and and 10+ test sessions ago…

    1. Have you tried harder wheels? Are your bearings clean and lubed? This was literally what stood between us and 27 in 5.

    2. I agree with you. When our league does the TEST, only fice skaters are on the track at a time. I know I slow up behind another skater. I’m stuck on 26! So close and yet so far. I also have Chronic Ideopathic Peripheral Neuropathy in one leg, so its in pain ALL THE TIME

  4. Game-worthy skate test would be a great name for the 27-in-5 although a little long. Maybe… derby’s final initiation!

  5. My new name for the 27/5 is the “piece of cake.” I hope to be encouraging and not demeaning with this name because I think that once you get it (27 laps in 5 minutes) you look back and think, “that wasn’t so bad.” Then the next year when you have to retest and do it again, you do it on the first try and wonder what was so hard about it that first time. I had to work hard to get it that first time in fresh meat training, but now that I can skate much better and have been skating and building skating strength for so much longer it is just getting easier and easier.

    1. Love this! Skaters have a tendency to psych themselves out and make it harder than it needs to be.
      Plus, cake is tasty.

  6. I call it the Ol’ Ball and Chain —because no matter what I do–it will always be with me!! Bahahaha!!!

  7. Three Cubed in Five or just the Three Cubed?

    I’d also add that not only do you need to be sure to use your inside leg, be sure to use your inside leg not just for the underpush, but when our outside leg is pushing out, use that inside leg to extend the push by stepping IN with it.

    1. MATH!!! Maybe “Power of Three,” for more positive mental imagery!

      1. Wait I’m getting really on board here…!
        3 x 100 seconds (3^2 laps each)
        3 focuses: diamond, crossovers, rhythm
        … i’m sure there’s more ways to develop this.

  8. Why didn’t I think of that?!?!

    Doing the laps in intervals never occurred to me but it should have. When I am training for a run I do the “run 1/walk 1(minute)” method to build up endurance.
    Never once did I think to apply that same technique to improving my endurance time.

    Thanks for making me smack myself in the forehead! :)

    1. You’re welcome! I’m always good for a smack in the forehead…

    2. Can you explain this to me? Like specifically as clear as an ingredients list or instruction manual of exactly what I should skate to build endurance with this? I found it hard to understand – being completely new to it.

  9. Dirty Diamond
    Diamond Dash
    Dirty Diamond Dash :-)

  10. Hi! Let’s call it “Momentum” as the continuos force needed to endure thru this skill. ;)

  11. They should probably call it skating the “Green Mile.” Since freshies are green/naive and we’re basically skating to our doom or passing our skills.

  12. I have been struggling to complete my 27/5 ever since I had an old injury flare up. It’s been shaking my confidence making me wonder if I can even compete it anymore. I just want to say thank you for this article. I know it’s going to be a lot of work to get me back where I want to be and this certainly will help me get there.

  13. I don’t have a cute name but I always tell our freshies not to get psyched out by it because it never gets any easier. When you’re pushing for 25 it is hard to get there and once you get there you push for 27 then 30 and even when you’re in the 30 range you are (or should be) always pushing to be stronger and more efficient. I hate 27 in 5 as a practice drill, not because I struggle to hit 27 but because every time you do it
    There’s the push to push out more laps and it burns. In the best possible way.

  14. How about ‘reforming the track’?

  15. Twenty-seven… bench-or-heaven…

  16. I have often thought about the best way to test for 27 laps. Our league used to take the time at 27 laps and so skaters learned to skate only to 27 and then stop. The test does say ‘how many laps in 5min’ so my thinking is you need to skate for 5min regardless. This is how I tested fresh meat when I was coaching them. I like the idea of everyone still skating until everyone has completed 27 if its done together.
    I have a few comments though… Some leagues test in different ways which can make a huge difference. Our league has 4 on the track at once, others can opt individually, I have paced for some skaters (but is that right), I disagree with wearing headphones as my belief is it should closely mimic what you would do in a game. It is for endurance. Our league made a decision that faster skaters have right of way to the inside line (absolutely disagree with this by the way – If someone is faster they should take the opportunity when the can or skate around). Jenny Bruise Her said their league has a test all at once method. Which is the WFTDA way?
    For me, I have challenged myself by seeing how many laps I can do outside the track (21.5), Clockwise (27), Backwards (21), and forwards (31) in 5mins. Next I am thinking 37 in 7? I like the idea of everyone doing laps at once but thats just me.

    1. We do the time to achieve 27 laps and always have 2 skaters on the track for the timing.

  17. 27 to Heaven

  18. The 27 club challenge

  19. i like to refer to it as “5 minutes of hell”

    Ex: “Hey coach, Are we doing 5 minutes of hell today?”

  20. I like mile in 5. 27 laps works out to about a mile I think

    1. 28 is a mile.

      1. It depends on how you measure the track. According to the rules, there are 18 10′ markers which makes the track 180′ long (yes you can do complicated math and try to measure the diamond). Which means a mile is 29.333 laps ;)

        If you hug the outside line it’s 22.3 laps and if you hug the inside (like I did in 2007 when it was only 20 laps) it’s 35.55 laps.

        But, yes, 27 is almost a mile any way you look at it.

        1. Thanks for this. Honestly, I read all of it in Sheldon Cooper’s voice (big bang theory)

  21. I always feel overwhelmed when I think of too broad a picture, so I focused on getting 1 in 11. I guess I’d call it the one-one-one! Hahaha. Really, though, I think of it as the race against myself. I like that Power of Three one, too. THE TRIPLE THREAT!

  22. MAELSTROM! It’s a powerful quick spiraling whirlpool. That is what I would like to call it :)

    The breathing is a huge deal for me. Also counting. I have to count my laps. If I don’t, I find my mind wandering to how my foot feels or my quad starting to feel fatigued. Or about whatever. I keep my mind in the pattern of the track to follow, I count and another very important part is pace. I get my timer to let me know if I fall below a certain time per lap. Like for starters, 10 second lap is fast enough to pass and not quite too close to that 5 min mark. It’s a great pace to start if you’re a good skater (freshmeat!) then start setting pace goals from there. My next goal is 9.5 sec laps.

    But finding that rhythm is SO important. You waste a ton of energy in having incorrect rhythm. Really sticky wheels will make you work harder as well. Learned that from personal experience! ;)

    1. “The Maelstrom Mile” love it!

  23. Don’t forget to eat right. What you eat depends on your energy. Eating bad food make me lose some endurance.

  24. Great article! I was having this discussion with a newer skater the other day. I think your stance is really important too. Some newer skaters feel nervous going too fast because they feel like they are going to slide out in the corners. I think the big key to fixing this for me was noticing the super low stance some of the veteran skaters in my league would adopt in the corners and imitating them. It takes a little more muscle strength (see above!) but it makes such a huge difference in holding on in the corners and it loads your leg muscles for really powerful strides coming out of the turns.

  25. How about the Calvello? Odd boring name but Ann Calvello was a derby legend often being called the Joe Namath of Derby. She once skated 57,000 laps on a banked track over a month to raise breast cancer awareness

  26. I found when doing my 27-5 that not knowing what lap I was on really helped me. I wasn’t thinking about how many more laps I had left. I was focusing on my breathing, my strides and skating the diamonds. When I was told I only had 7 left, all I thought was “only seven? I can do that easily” and I did. 4 minutes 50 seconds. I find it’s all a mind game in the end. It’s what worked for me. And practicing over and over again.

  27. I know this is heresy, but I have STOPPED trying to turn toward the center (shoulders) on the apexes and this has helped tremendously. I think coaches and more experienced skaters coaching newbies need to be more creative with their teaching when folks are struggling on getting some of the basics mastered and realize that the “one size fits all” approach to drills does not work for every skater–how many of you have been doing the “open the door/shut the door” drill ad nauseum but still haven’t mastered turn around toe stops? A new approach to the apexes that a more experienced skater recently suggested for me(and she also happens to be a PT) is to only LOOK where I want to go, without twisting my shoulders and waist–because doing the latter breaks up the core alignment and thus makes it harder to keep doing power strokes. Genius! This might not work for everyone, but I would suggest trying it if you have been doing it the “regular way” for ages and still aren’t progressing. Sometimes it only takes doing one thing a novel way to get the results you want. Good luck to us all!

  28. I say we call it 27×11.

  29. When the new kids were freaking out about it, we had a long conversation on facebook and decided we’d rather think of cuddling puppies or sleeping so we didn’t psych ourselves out. Now it’s known as Sleep Puppy Cuddle Time.

    1. Haha, I love it!

  30. I’m a newbie ref and, I was able to do 27 laps on my third try once I figured out the flow of things. For me it was not a demanding endurance test compared my everyday life-style of being a cycling (year round rain or shine). Two years ago I decided to ditch the car and roll hard everyday on my bike. I average about 12mi a day and have maintained that lifestyle long before joining derby. Personally, I ride a single-speed fixed gear bike (Track Bike). I know many people find them ridiculous and foolish, but they have not allowed themselves the privilege or riding such a monster. The single speed fixed gear is very dangerous (just like derby), but it provides a spiritual connection to the road surface as your crank is essentially synched to the road and you feel it move beneath you. The point is they’re a lot of work, but provide so much fun and speed. If you are a brave seasoned bike rider it could be a great training tool to beef up your quads. But, be careful not to take it too far and stress our your knees or get thrown over the front when you decide all the sudden to coast. That pedal will come around and ruin your day.

  31. I just call them the “27’s”….in honor of Janis, Jimi, Morrison, Kurt, and all those who opted to “burn out, rather than fade away”. Cause ultimately, when you attempt this assessment…if you don’t burn out (leave it all out there on the track) you’re likely to fade away (to the alernate, or nonskating roster for sanctioned events)

    1. AH yes, the immortal 27s!

  32. 5 Count

  33. I would call it “The Hot Gates” after the battle of theyrmopylae when the 300 spartans held there own against the might of the persian empire. It was a hell of a test for the spartans but they never gave up until the last man. It is a great source of inspiration for me and even before the film ‘300’ I always found inspiration in the tale. I think is a fitting name given the difficulty.

  34. diamond hymen

  35. Hiya,
    I am in a Fresh Meat intake at the moment (my first one) and LOVING it!
    I am also having (my first) psychological and physical battle with the 27-in-5. I am up to 24 and am on week 4 of the intake. I really want to squeeze out some more laps. And I WILL!!! Thanks so much for the advice given so far. I’m really going to try and put some of this into practice, especially using both feet in the crossovers, I really do just cross my outer foot inwards and let the inner foot drift out.

    I have a question about wheels. I am skating on Riddell R3’s which are doing the job, but as someone mentioned, the gumminess of the wheels kind of almost makes me feel sticky to the track when i want to power out of the corners. Any advice for what wheels to go for at this stage? Something a step up but not ridiculously expensive!

    Cheers :) x

    1. Hi Bear-Faced! 24 laps after just 4 weeks? You’re doing great, sister! I am useless at wheels and gear advice, I’m afraid, but I know there are great resources out there online… the surface you’re skating on has a big impact on the wheels you will choose, as well as your relative weight. Your best bet might be to talk to YLSS (your local skate shop)!

      1. Thanks Booty, will do! I am totally confused when I look at all the choice on the web! :) x

        1. Here’s a good resource that breaks it down a bit:

    2. I have a couple thoughts. Personally, I am a male ref, and a champ at doing the 27 in 5. I’m very consistent and always do it the same. I get about 30 laps every time. Once you get a routine worked out it falls into place. I think for many people adding the right things together gets them the speed they need. First, I don’t own a car. I ride my bike 10-12 mi a day. You cannot simply attend a two hour practice once a week and expect to have the cardio needed. So cross train for the blood conditioning, pace and breathing. I can make my last 7 laps be the fastest out of them all, because I know my limits (pace yourself), and I save a small reserve of energy for the very end or in case I fall. Also, It’s easy to pass people at the end when they slow down. As far as gear goes, you might consider getting softer wheels on the outside left foot for example. We call them “pusher wheels..” If you want to get softer wheels but don’t want to lose grip you could change just a couple of the wheels although they need to be the same dimension. Loosen your trucks so your not fighting that stiffness in your skates. Then, my final bit of advice is, (if your not doing this already) run on your toe stops at the start. You can shave of like half a lap just by sprinting on your toes stops for a few steps from a zero start velocity. My theory on strategy is just to systematically add all these small things that seem to work to my routine. It makes for an easy 30 in 5 on good days and a doable 27 in 5 on my weak days. You never know how your going to feel on the day of the assessment. Make sure you can do it every time.

      1. Thanks E-ball! Well I’m pretty fit on the whole do marathons, cycling and weights – so in pretty ok condition. Tonight at practice I took on board your great tips, thanks. And guess what? Got 26.5 laps and that was with a fall (I k=now know how far I can lean over in my crossovers :o*)!! Thank you so much! Skated the diamond much more like the diagram above, sat low in my crossovers and used both feet and used a pace-bunny! Loosed my trucks too and looked like a veritable antelope on springs at the start running on my toe-stops but you know, it really helped me shave off loads! Thanks for the pointers guys. And Booty, your site is a great resource, thanks :)

  36. I say we call it the Spartan Trials. “Derby Skaters, WHAT IS YOUR PROFESSION? Aaaoooohh Aaoooooh!!!”
    But on the really, weighted lunges of all variety and over exaggeration of the strides for both legs as well as core balance drills have increased my speed tremendously.

  37. I’ve been doing derby for almost a year I love it to bits ! The three things in the min skills for me that I’ve had a hard time with is 27in 5 ( I get 23) transitions and tamahwks the laps r the worst for me though I get to about 19-20 and my left leg starts to give out and it goes numb from my knee down :( and then I start tripping any ideas on help ?

    1. Hi Sugarsmacks! Glad you love playing the derbs so much :) Sounds like muscle fatigue is leading to that numbness (could be a skate fitting issue compounding things too…). Left leg gets a little more strain on the laps test because of the left turns. I think you need to continue working on your muscle strength and stamina. Not to be all sales-y, but my StrideBuilder program is designed to do exactly that! Check it out on the Training Programs page or email me directly for more info. Good luck!

      1. Ya our coach brags u up pretty good she loves ur vids on training I think I know witch one ur talking about I’ll work on that and ya as for my skates that may be part of it as well as there a size and a half to big :( but i m getting new ones in a week that fit ! Thanks for the advice !

  38. I keep coming back to this page for more and more advice.
    It took me three times to pass fresh meat. Then I never made roster because
    A. There are dozens of girls better than me. It’s cool, I respect them and have loved watching them play since the season started–
    and B. I always came up short at the 27 mark. Literally 10 feet from the line right before 5 minutes was up, two times in a row.
    Now that was February, and tonight I might give it another go. I’m not good at the crosstraining as much as I should be, and if I’m 10 feet short again tonight, I’ll definitely have to work on that. Being so close has really gotten to me, and I think I cried those last two times because being so close wasn’t quite good enough.

    1. Good luck tonight, CK! Set aside the bad feelings from the ‘almosts’ of the past, and tell yourself “I’ve got this!” as many times as you want to!!

      1. I meant to tell you that day I finally passed the 27!!
        Hope it’ll stay that way. I tried to stop thinking so negatively and thinking “If I keep going, I’ve got this.” It really does make a world of difference.

        1. Awesome!! Congrats!!

  39. We should call the 27 in 5 the “Good Heaven 27″… because that is how I feel every time I think about it. LOL

  40. How about the ‘Fiver mile’? It’s pretty much exactly a mile, and fiver mile sounds better than ‘fiver 1.6 km’

  41. Hi. I’m a newbie and I don’t have any issues with my cardio or legs, but around the 19th to 20th lap my lower back starts hurting a lot. I thought at first I needed more core work, but weeks later I still have the same issue. Due to this, I’m only skating ~22 during practice. Is it my stance? Do I need harder wheels (I upgraded to 92s already)? I’m really top heavy, could that be a factor?

    Thanks for the article.

    1. Hi Sam! Sorry to hear about the struggle! I’m not a doctor, but it could also be your glutes in particular (as part of your core) that aren’t firing the way they should… try bridging work? But you might also just want to get in to see a physical therapist or sports therapist/kinesiologist who can assess you and see if there’s something underlying going on.

  42. the “27 Lap Kill’er”

  43. I think you need to sett your self an even pace go slow at first then build it up and up …. go hammer and tong at the end, leave that little burst of energy for the end when every one else is tired. Your position of your arms and shoulders is really important, hug the circle. Edges leaning into the circle and big push glides really big ones. Holding the diamond and cruising around the corners with out pushing.

  44. Diamond In The Rough……

    It’s rough getting there but you shine once you make it….

  45. How about 27-11? Because it works out to about 11 seconds per lap.

    1. I like it! Plus if you take off the 2, it’s like 7-11. Because: snacks!

  46. Thanks so much for this!!! I’m trying to hit 27 in the next month, or at least get close to it (trying to stay optimistic!). I tend to feel the burn worst in my lower back – having to stay in basically the same position, leaning in toward the center to keep on track around the diamond for so many laps just builds a big ache on the inner side of my back. Do you think it’s an issue of form (maybe I need to fix my posture in my cross overs?) or is it just an issue of building up core and back strength?

    Also, any suggestions for getting in practice/interval training for the laps when you don’t have access to a correctly sized rink outside of class once per week? It’s tough to experiment and really find my own rhythm doing it at the same time as 10 other girls, but I haven’t figured out how to mimic it off the rink so I can practice solo (especially learning how to keep my balance around the turns). Thanks!!

    1. Hi Shaina! Your low back pain is super common, and it’s actually not due to weak back muscles, but usually weak glutes and/or abdominal muscles (they cause your back to have to work overtime because they’re not pulling their weight, hence the back pain!). I recently posted two videos, one for core activation, and one for building a derby booty – they might help! Find them at . Time and practice also help, as your body gets used to the movements. As for your funky rink situation – that’s tough. You won’t be able to use this for developing your skating rhythm for crossovers and such, so can you simply use it for fitness? Do intervals – 30s hard, 30s easy to begin, and build up to 60s hard / 15s easy and so on. Do these intervals for 8-10 minutes and see how you get on!

  47. During public sessions at your local rink, skate the entire oval for additional practice and endurance. (It’s also safer for other skaters who don’t understand why you’re cutting the lane, often without looking.)

    your friendly neighborhood skater.

  48. You mention in this post that there are diagrams of the diamond with where to stop and start crossovers – can you link me to some of these?

    1. Hi Melissa! I found this one with a quick google search (although it appears the original site is no longer there): However, I am not 100% sold on this method, personally. Different people will have different speed and stride length, and your crossovers might be shorter/faster in the corners and longer in the straights… But it might give you a starting point to try out! :)

  49. Do leagues test the 27n5 yearly? WFTDA does not state how often this test needs to be done, just that it is passed. We test yearly. Some skaters (the ones that have trouble) have brought it to our attention that it is up to the league how often to test. They don’t feel it is a good measure of endurance, but rather speed and thinks it holds some good derby players back from playing. I would like to know what other leagues do. Thanks.

    1. Hi Adrienne!I *believe* it’s expected that WFTDA charter roster skaters are expected to pass the skills annually (but don’t quote me on that). It’s up to the league to decide whether MSRs are required for non-charter skaters, and if so, how often re-testing happens. I don’t necessarily think that it’s the best possible test of either endurance or speed for the purpose of roller derby, but it does demonstrate endurance! It’s really a league decision to see if, at the general level of play common in your league, a skater who is not fast enough or fit enough to succeed at the test is still safe to participate in scrimmaging and bouting with their fellow teammates.

  50. I did 22, 23, 24 and now 25 (10 weeks since I started). These tips are very helpful, thank you. My left skate sticks to the ground on my crossovers and I know I must lift it in order to succeed. This is my personal mental challenge, because I honestly think it’s my “newbie comfort zone” way of doing crossovers. I consciously have to lift that left foot up and everyone yells “PICK UP THAT FOOT!” as I roll. : )

  51. I know I’m a little late on the post, but it’s 300 seconds and it’s a race agains yourself. The derby world could call 27:5 its very own Spartan Race? Eh. Eh! Eh?

  52. I’m finding I have no problem doing 27 laps in 5 minutes when I’m NOT being tested, but once it’s test day I’m stuck at 26 or 26.5. My left leg also cramps up around lap 10-12, and I’ve stretched and drank tons of water.

    1. Hey Flame Dame – sounds super frustrating! But also sounds like something you can overcome with some mental skills training. Check out our confidence challenge, starting in just a couple weeks (March 5) –

  53. Yeah, I just call it “Torture”. :D

  54. First time doing crossovers around the track and got 23.5 laps. Is this a good benchmark for being one month as a freshie? My only physical limitation was breathing became almost impossible toward the end and I lost a lot of momentum. I’ll work on breathing rhythm and stride next time!

    1. TOTALLY!! That’s a great effort for your first time out! Practice will help, and some off-skates cardio work and strength – think high reps/low rest :) You’ve got this!

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