27 Tips for Passing Your 27 in 5 (Part 2)

Welcome back to part two of our 27 Tips for Passing Your 27 in 5! We hope you tried a couple of tips from part one and we’d love to know how you all got on, why not leave us a comment?

Part two brings you even more skating stars, your favourite KRG players and plenty of off skates tips to hopefully keep you motivated and push you to reach those tricky last few laps. First up is a roller derby mega-star, Lady Trample.

If you are brand new to roller derby and you haven’t heard of her yet, I recommend calling in sick to work for the next week and binge-watching any Victorian Roller Derby League (VRDL) games you can find online! She is a fearless jammer for this team (who are currently sitting at the #1 spot in the world) and when she’s not on track you can find her shredding up skate parks with Chicks in Bowls, encouraging and inspiring quad skaters all over the world.


15. My best piece of advice for anyone learning to skate is to do it as often as possible. Sounds obvious but if you’re training for fresh meat and you only lace up for your set lessons you’re limiting your learning. Go for a cruisey beach skate or a roller disco night… Put your skates on in the kitchen when you’re doing dishes. The MST is hard to pass when you’re not comfortable or confident on your skates to take sometime to get to know them.

If it’s laps in particular that you’re struggling with, find a pump up buddy to do some practice runs with you. Someone who can do it within the time frame that is willing to skate along side you and help you get your pace right. A motivator is super helpful.

KRG newcomer and Lady Trample superfan Abi Oborne describes how the hard work she put in to smash her laps wasn’t just a one-off and carries over into every training session she attends.


16. For me, as a fairly new skater. I found that putting in a lot of hard work with extra practice on skates and extra fitness off skates was what really helped me to crack the 27 in 5. Life is exhausting and I think it takes real motivation, hard work and drive to level up at derby. If you can keep pushing yourself even when it’s really hard work then you’ve already got what it takes. When you don’t feel like going to training, or you can’t be bothered with off skates fitness, or maybe you are scared to go to a practice scrim or it seems like a pain to drive to that bootcamp. I think that these are the golden opportunities that you have to really improve at derby. If you have the drive and commitment to push through at these times. If you are willing to work hard after the novelty of skating has worn off. If you can push through then, I think that’s when you’re going to really start to grow and improve. I think if you’ve got that then you’re already really there. It’s just a matter of time.

Treble Maker agrees that practice really does make perfect when it comes to nailing those skills.

17. This is extremely obvious but you’d be surprised at the amount of people who don’t actually spend any extra time practicing their skills. Some people just kind of expect they’ll be good at something without ever working on it, usually because they see a more veteran skater doing that skill with ease. What they don’t see is the hours of work that vet has put in! So, whenever you get the opportunity – before training, after training, during breaks, at home, outside, on skates, off skates – practice, practice, practice!

Optimus grime is a powerhouse of a jammer for Power of Scotland and recently back from taking part in the Mens World Cup in Barcelona. He also travels from league to league passing on his derby knowledge, signature moves and enthusiasm for the sport. He believes the way to take on any challenge is all about identifying all the possible variables and preparing the best you can to take them on.


18. Variables: 1. Cardio, 2. Rhythm and 3. Fear. 1. Start exercising off skates. Its all about preparing yourself. If you do cardio regularly you make the 27/5 half as hard. Your CV ability is 100% in your control. Doing cardio derby eliminates fitness as an issue. 2. It’s not about speed or sprinting. It’s about a consistent rhythm. Prep by listening to fast music prior and moving your stride to a set tempo. Then aim to maintain it. 3. Get a veteran skater to do it and watch them move. Watch their skating line and body position and copy them. Seeing what it involves eliminates the fear of the unknown.

Adrian Wordsworth is an accomplished speed skating coach and draws from his experience at the highest level of the sport, with an in-depth understanding of all aspects of speed skating on quads and inlines.


19. Set an even pace (don’t go mad in the first couple of minutes and blow up). You should be lapping in 11 seconds or less to achieve 27 laps comfortably. Get a friend to call out your lap times so you know you’re on target. Get them to call out the remaining time every 30 seconds too, so you know how long you’ve got to go, and can push on towards the end.

Alistair Hines (Shank McCoy/Hines) and Blitzkrieg both skate for Southern Discomfort and England Men’s Roller Derby. They may be men of very few words, but they really understand the mechanics of skating and get straight to the point with their tips:


20. I like to think of your body as a spring. Thinking about the biomechanics of skating, getting lower gives you the most potential energy in your coils on wheels (legs) so sit nice and low and get the most out of every push.


21. Fast but quiet and gentle feet to maximise speed but limited energy wasted.

Getting your laps is not just something to practice in training. Our recreational league only train once a week and for many people that’s enough, but for those wanting to cross over from recreation to competition, that’s where the extra training comes in. Not just on skates training as well, skaters need to start cross-training to start building muscles and endurance. Dirty Deborah Harry discusses how you also need to take into account your body type and size.

22. I was never actually a Freshie because I could already full-on skate when I joined derby in 2006. When I joined derby though, I was 38 and the heaviest I had ever been. I weighed in at about 225lbs. Soooo… I skated my butt off when I started because I was lugging around a lot of extra weight! Are you consistently training for the 27/5 or are you only doing it a practice? Are you switching up the training? Are you doing a straight 27/5 or are you doing interval, fartlek and tempo training? If not, get on it! It is so much more fun than just trying to do 27 in 5 over and over again.

Don’t worry, we had to google fartlek training too! It’s a training method that blends continuous training with interval training. It differs from traditional interval training in that it is unstructured; intensity and/or speed varies, as the athlete wishes. It’s really helpful to assist with changes in speed when skating and to give you that extra bit of power when you need it most. Treble Maker also recommends High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT for short.


23. High Intensity Interval Training is a method of exercising that is made up of short, very intense periods of exercise followed by short periods of rest – kind of similar to skating then coasting when doing laps, right? HIIT makes your lungs and legs burn and you have to really push yourself to put in maximum effort… also kind of similar to laps, right?! If you never practice under those conditions, you’ll be unprepared when the time comes and nerves can get the better of you.

Try introducing some HIIT workouts into your off-skates training a couple of times a week – you’ll improve your fitness, ability to recover more quickly AND you’ll be strengthening your mental muscle!

HIIT example: 20 seconds work / 20 seconds rest –
– Skater hops
– Squat jumps
– Skater Hops
– Fast Feet
– Skater Hops
– Lunge Jumps
– Skater Hops

Commander Pain Shepard, KRG’s current captain and triple threat on the track explains why it’s important to train your mental toughness just as much as your physical fitness:


24. Technique and fitness are frequently taught in training sessions, while the mental aspect of achieving your laps can often get overlooked. The last minute of laps is the hardest and also one of the most important. It’s the point where your lungs are burning, your legs feel like lead and everything is screaming at you to give up. The only thing that’s going to get you through that is the determination and drive to keep pushing for those last few seconds. You have to tell yourself that you can do it and, more importantly, that you will do it.

It might seem difficult to train yourself to be more determined, but it can be achieved by making small changes and repeating them until it becomes normal. For example, if you’re planking in the gym and you usually hold it for 30s, challenge yourself to hold it for longer or even until you burn out. When the voice in your head tells you that you can’t do it, it’s important to be able to think of the reasons why you can do it.

Optimus Grime’s next tip is to train your brain with rewards. We like that he specifically mentions cake!

25. Reward vs incentive. Tell yourself: It is ok to fail the test. But not more than twice. Telling yourself it’s ok to fail eliminates the fear of failure. However don’t make this a pattern. If you fail make yourself do something as gentle punishment so you don’t fail again. Such as no chocolate for a week. But if you succeed reward yourself with something. Such as new toe stops or cake etc. Eliminate the problems and then its 100% in your control.

KRG skater Finch transferred to Kent with a huge amount of derby experience under her belt. She has coached and captained a WFTDA team and has seen many skaters struggle through their minimum skills tests. In her opinion, it might be time for a new method to test the fitness of future derby skaters.


26. I think a big problem with 27/5 as a skill, is that it’s often viewed as the pinnacle of the learning process. A huge proportion of skaters I’ve worked with have struggled with it in some way or another. I’m a big believer in taking the pressure off and focusing on correct form and seeing where that gets you. I’m not against an endurance test (certainly at the higher end of derby), but I don’t believe that 27/5 is conducive to good performance in our sport. I have seen plenty of slower skaters who are incredible derby skaters. I have also seen plenty who are fast and agile but not necessarily great at the game.

When looking at the principles of training for improvement in performance, the guideline is not to train at above 50% more than the upper limit of your sport. To put it into context: a 100m sprint runner will often train at a 150m distance to increase performance. There is very little point in them training at 400m as the fundamental skills required will vary at that heightened distance. I believe the same goes for derby. I see so many passionate, dedicated people give up because they just can’t quite get that last lap and I think that is such a shame for our sport.

Our final tip – yes, we made it to 27! – is from Treble Maker. Sometimes it’s hard to realise you’re making progress when you’re a newbie and you’re so fixated on the skills you haven’t managed to conquer yet. Just take a moment to look back to the first time you turned up to practice; nervous, wobbly and probably a bit overwhelmed, and then think about how far you’ve come.

27. So you might not have got your 27 this time but did you improve on your previous time? Even a half or quarter lap is a huge improvement. Did you do crossovers all the way round the track this time? Awesome! Did you maintain a good line? Perfect! Did you not feel freaked out by the other skaters on the track this time? Amazing!! All improvements are important and every small success is a step towards your main goal. 27 laps is hard by anyone’s standards so congratulate yourself for every fraction of a lap or extra crossover that takes you closer to it. As long as you keep moving forward, you’ll get there!

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