How to Do Crossovers on Roller Skates

Well, crossovers aren’t easy even though they’re a fancy thing to learn. But if you’re going to be roller skating for a lifetime, you’ve got to get down your crossovers. You must learn how to do crossovers on roller skates, even when you’re riding super fast. Why? Because navigating corners is one of the quickest ways to lose speed or momentum.

Important: Wear Protective Gear

First off, wear enough protection before strapping on that pair of roller skates. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reviewed 111 roller skating injuries and gave interesting findings.

The accidents reviewed had happened over a 1-year period. The analyses found that roughly 28 percent of roller skating injuries necessitated a trip to the Operation Room. The main causes of reported accidents were skaters colliding with other skaters and loss of control during skating.

While the roller skaters involved sustained injuries in the shoulder, elbow, ankle, and wrist, wrists took most of them. More specifically, 23 percent of those accidents affected the skater’s wrists while 15 percent affected the elbows. So, wear good wristguards and elbow pads.

Wear a highly protective helmet, too. Why? Because head injuries also happen in roller skating. An earlier study published in the Journal of Pediatric Emergency Care revealed that 10 percent of roller skating injuries affected the head and face.

So, next time you start debating wearing a helmet before rollerskating, wear a helmet first! Make sure to use a properly certified rollerskating helmet.

The U.S. CPSC recommends wearing a helmet with one or all of the following certifications: CPSC certification, ASTMF1447, Snell B-90A, Snell B-95, or Snell N-942.

Now, here’s how to learn crossovers.

First and foremost, learn the basics of roller skating. Learn how to assume the right skating posture, how to balance, glide forward, and turn. If you’re a beginner roller skater, invest a couple minutes into this resource: How to Roller Skate for Beginners.

How to Do Crossovers in Roller Skating Video

A rollerskating crossover involves standing firmly with one foot while using the other foot to step over the standing foot. It involves balancing and gliding on one foot while holding an outside edge on that foot.

Next, there’s pushing out on the other foot’s inside edge. Then, there’s crossing over the gliding foot and landing the pushing foot on its inside edge. Finally, there’s replacing the foot you started with. Here’s a video that demonstrates everything better than words ever could.

Watch dirty Deborah demonstrating in her authoritative voice how to do crossovers in quad skating. If you can’t learn how to get this move down from her video, I doubt you’ll find a better instructor…ever. Watch till the end, but most importantly, practice your crossovers. It takes lots of work and concentration, but it’s doable. 

Step 1: Find a Flat, Smooth Surface

The best area to learn crossovers is a flat, smooth area. A tennis court, a basketball court, or a school blacktop would be a nice place.

Basically, locate a flat space that’s free of traffic, cracks, potholes, and whatnot. Also, scan the area and remove any small rocks, twigs, and other stuff you might trip on.

Step 2: First, Practice Single-foot Balance

If you can’t balance on one of foot for any length of time, you can’t do crossovers. Crossovers are all about balancing on one foot momentarily while pushing off the ground with the outer foot.

At this point in your roller skating journey, I assume you can stand and balance comfortably on either foot. Not only that, you can also glide with one foot for a couple seconds while maintaining perfect balance.

So, practice single-foot balancing while alternating your feet until it starts to feel relatively easy.

If you’ve not yet mastered balance, don’t practice crossovers on a smooth surface. Instead, start practicing single-foot balance on some rug or carpet.

Step 3: Strengthen Your Inside and Outside Edges

You’re not trying to roll forward at this point. All you’re focusing on is strengthening your inside and outside edges. So, stand with your hands out, your knees bent, your core strong, and your tummy tucked in nice.

Meanwhile, your shoulders should stay straight. And so should your hips.

Now, shift one half of your body’s weight to the other side of your body, over one foot. Next, tilt your foot so that most of the weight stays over the outer edge. Do likewise with the other foot. Then, practice holding two outside edges using both feet at the same time.

Then, practice holding your inside edges. Start with a posture like you had above. Next, bend your knees, transfer your weight, and maintain an inside edge. Repeat that with the other foot as well as with both both simultaneously.

You’re learning the outside edge and inside edge because you’ll need these edges when doing crossovers.

Step 4: Practice Stepping Over Your Feet

Now, bend your knees and stay low. Then, start stepping over your feet in a stationary position. As you lift the foot you’ll step over with, shift your weight to the standing foot.

Meanwhile, maintain a solid outside edge with the foot you’ve planted on the ground. Practice this as many times as you’ll need to come to a point of complete comfort.

Once you’re comfortable crossing over one foot, start using the standing foot to cross over the other foot. Repeat the step you executed above until you’re comfortable enough doing it.

Step 5: Make a Small Forward Glide and Turn Left

Now, start skating forward at a slow pace. Next, repeat the movement I described above. At this point, the stabilizing foot isn’t stationary anymore — it’s moving.

Let’s turn left now. So, turn your head and upper body so they face the direction you’re moving in. Then, tilt your inside foot so the baby toe and your foot’s outer edge press down firmly on the boot. When that happens, you get a strong outer edge that keeps you gliding in a stable position.

As you do this, your nose and knees need to lean into the turn you’re making. That is, your upper body should face the direction you’re moving in. Your knees should stay bent to lower your center of gravity. Lean into the turn the same way you lean into a turn when riding a bike.

As your inside foot glides on the ground, push out straight with the outside foot. You’re to push out on the inside edge of your right foot.

Once you’re done pushing, lift the outside foot (right foot) to cross over the supporting left foot. As you do that, transfer your weight to the standing foot.

Next, land on the inside edge of the crossing foot (right foot/outside foot). As soon as your right foot touches the ground, push out on the left foot’s outside edge and replace it. Repeat this movement until you can do it with perfect ease.

To Turn Right Using Crossovers

To turn to the right, start gliding slowly. Next, start leaning into the right turn. To lean, turn your head so it points in the direction you’re traveling in.

Turning your head should open up your shoulder which should open up your hip. Your hip will then transfer that force to your foot. You may need to open up your hip a little farther to boost the force it received from the shoulder, though.

Now, launch into an outside edge with your right foot while gliding and transferring your weight to this foot. Then, push out on the left foot’s inside edge.

Once the left-foot push completes, use that foot to cross over the gliding foot, landing on the inside edge. Replace the right foot and you’re done.

Practice this move until you can do it without difficulty. Sorry, you won’t learn this in a single practice session. Some people take years before they can perfect their crossover. But it doesn’t mean you can’t learn this trick in a week.

Now that you’ve learned how to do crossovers rollerskating, you want to practice until you can do them smoothly each time. Below are a few more tips to help you along the way.

Crossovers Are Super Important in Roller Derby

Crossovers help you make nice and smooth turns without losing speed. And if you’re an aspiring Roller Derby rider, you need to learn and then perfect your crossovers. You should be able to get around the corners in the track very fast without slipping out.

You must keep practicing this roller Derby technique until you get it down to a fine art. There’s a reason not everyone becomes a successful Roller Derby athlete.

Learning Crossovers on Roller Skates Takes Practice

Rollerskating is loads of fun especially when you know how to ride like a pro. Part of becoming a better rollerskater (pro riders exist, huh?) is learning tricks such as crossovers. But you likely won’t master crossovers in one session no matter what Dirty Deborah says on YouTube.

Well, Dirty Deborah never said it’s going to be easy, but the lady sure makes it look easy. Reality kicks in when you get on the skate rink, strap your skates on, and….it’s a real struggle. And it never feels great skating awkwardly and falling over when folks are watching and probably filming the whole time.

Elements to Master First When Learning Crossovers

First off, have your mindset at a nice, supportive place. Stop saying, all of this roller skating stuff is tough and I’ll never learn crossovers.

Instead, give yourself some pep talk. Say supportive stuff like I can do difficult things if I learn how to do them right and work hard.

Stay Low

Another aspect to really get down is staying low. Get lower has become one of the most repeated pieces of advice in roller skating. Coaches and fellow skaters give this advice generously all the time. But it’s like skaters especially beginners need to be reminded to stay low the entire time.

But how low should I get, you ask. The right amount of lowness is when your legs stand in a quarter squat — at least.

There’s nothing like getting a good push unless your feet stay bent enough. When you are low enough, your feet behave like a pair of powerful springs. They’re like springs that give you tons of power when they try to straighten up a bit.

Staying low doesn’t feel natural, though. But as you practice, you’ll become stronger. And the stronger you get, the less you’ll need that tired advice, stay low.

Skate and Push with Both Feet

Also, you need to learn to push with both feet equally. Both the foot pushing behind you and the one you’re crossing over should work together to power your strides.

Each of your feet must contribute to the turn. And the foot on the ground must keep propelling you forward while keeping you stable and upright.

Weight Transference

Then there’s weight transference. Good roller skating is a function of how you shift your body weight from leg to leg.

To shift your weight from one foot to the other, you must master one little thing. You must learn how to balance on one leg at least momentarily.

But performing crossovers isn’t just about single-foot balancing — it’s balancing, weight transference, and forward motion.

It’s the coordinating of all three elements that makes this whole crossover thing challenging. And when you throw in the movements your shoulders, hips, and hands have to put into every crossover, things get even harder.

Learn to Lean into Turns

Steering roller skates is like steering a bike. Turning on a bicycle requires you lean into the turn rather than turn the handlebars.

And the same goes for quad skating. It’s less about turning your feet (and boots) and more about leaning into the turn.

Speaking of turns, there are two ways to turn on quads. You can use your edges to turn, and you can turn using crossovers.

Since we discussed how to do crossovers above, let’s now learn the second method.

So, bend your knees. Then, lean in the direction you want to turn. To turn to the left, your nose, knee, and toe need to lean into the inside of the turn. As you lean into the turn, keep the outside edge of the left foot nice and solid.

Meanwhile, push out straight with the other leg (right foot), keeping things neat and steady with the balancing foot.

To turn to the right, simply reverse the moves of the left turn and you’re good. But scooter pushes aren’t the most efficient way of getting around corners.

Note: as you lean into the turn and push out straight with the outside foot, keep your shoulders and hips square.

Imagine your turn to be an arc of a circle and keep your shoulders and hips square to that circle’s central point. When you turn your shoulders, your shoulders turn your hips, and your hips transfer that force to your feet. It’s a science of sorts, you know.

How to Perform Crossovers on Rollerskates: Final Thoughts

Crossovers are critical to becoming an effective Roller Derby athlete. When you’re rolling around the tracks super fast and need to turn, crossovers help you do that without sacrificing speed.

This crucial move appears and feels complicated, at first. But one day down the road, you get an aha moment, an I get it moment when the various parts of the move come together nicely. And some light inside of your head goes off. Suddenly, you start doing right and left turns without struggling.

Honestly, though, crossovers are one of the more challenging rollerskating movements. Learning how to perform this all-important move successfully each time requires trying incessantly.

Luckily, YouTube offers tons of useful videos created by experienced roller skaters.  Watch those instructional videos and practice as regularly as your weekly schedule allows.

Remember to wear appropriate protective gear. Wear a certified helmet. Also, wear some decent pads for protecting your vulnerable wrists, knee caps, and elbows. It’s a hard fact: roller skaters fall. And hitting the pavement or some other granite-hard surface without protection isn’t much fun.