Joanne Sullivan- Strength Training, Roller Derby and Improved Performance!

Joanne Sullivan has been playing for the Barnsley Black Heart Rollers for a couple of years now (I maybe rounding up slightly, I’m not sure!)


Joanne Sullivan in action

She has never been a bad player, and always has her entire team’s back. She is dependable and is always up for working hard.

However, I recently started training Jo on a Monday night (usually in the freezing cold) and we looked at how she moved and we discovered a number of movement habits that could be affecting her performance.

Her knees tend to cave in, her glutes were not working properly/ weak/ long/ something that resembles one of those things.

We got her strength training, got rid of the weights mnchines and put some real focus into moving well. Jo has put these suggestions into practice in the gym where she trains and this is what she said after her last outing with the Black Heart Rollers:

 I just want say a massive thank you for all the training and tips you have given me!! My two games this weekend we’re much improved to the point people are still commenting on it. (The Monday after)

Essentially all I have Jo doing is focussing on her movement weaknesses, I throw things at her to see what sticks (wide squats, side to side lunges, kettlebell swings….) and cut away a great deal of other things (box jumps, various resistance machine exercises) and then we changed up the order that she does things.

Through this we have made her more efficient in her movements and moving better without having to think about it.

Moving better WITHOUT thinking is they key here. Everyone can consciously improve their posture when they think about it but the second something else pops into their mind the same old patterns come through and movement or performance isn’t really changed.

Only through conscious diligent effort has Jo managed to change things.

Jo is a walking example of how extremely simple strength training can massively improve performance in Roller Derby and in other areas of life.

There is no magic program to this. Move well. Do some squats, do some swings, do some lunges, perhaps chuck in some pressing overhead, do some rows (this is something I need to get Jo doing more of,) do some loaded carries and be able to get on and off the floor easily. This is it really.

Drink lot’s of water too. I’m really bad at this and I always pay the price.

Well done Jo, you are awesome.


By Chris Kershaw

Slightly Jumped Up Personal Trainer of the Level 3 Variety



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