How to do a Forward Shoulder Roll

02 Jun 21

Shoulder rolls are some of the most misunderstood moves in floorwork. They are often taught incorrectly without any discussion of weight transfer, shoulder rotation, shoulder activation and overall muscle engagement. Because of this, people quickly injure themselves, as they are forced to use momentum instead of technique. Shoulder rolls are not the same thing as a somersault. Somersaults are when you tuck your chin to your chest and roll over both shoulders at the same time utilizing a gigantic floor inversion and weight transfer.

Shoulder rolls, however, only roll over one shoulder or exchange from one to the other, meaning there needs to be an adjustment and slight pivoting action on the exit. In addition, a forward shoulder roll should always be taught first, which contradicts almost every other movement training.

If done correctly, the Liquid Shoulder Roll Forward is simply a weight transfer. For most people, you don’t even need to address shoulder activation or rotation in the beginning stages. People assume that a backward shoulder roll is easier. The fact of the matter is that it’s really just easier to do it incorrectly. Anybody can hurl themselves through space backwards with little to no regard for technique or safety. However, most people are not going to throw themselves forward with little to no regard for technique or safety. This forces individuals to understand proper technique, body alignment, physics, and the basic weight transfer. And guess what? The Liquid Shoulder Roll Forward is the exact same as an introductory backward shoulder roll, just in reverse.

Step-by-step instructions on how to do a forward shoulder roll for floorwork

  • Start kneeling on one knee with the other leg extended out to the side. Both knees should be facing forward.
  • Reach your arms out to the side in a T-shape, palms facing down.
  • Set your booty back on your foot just for a moment and bring the palms of your hands to the floor. This will fold your torso and prevent you from falling forward.
  • The opposite arm of the straight leg will internally rotate.
  • Bring the back of that shoulder to the floor with the palm facing the ceiling. (This will be the same shoulder as the knee you are on.)
  • Look through the window of your legs and tuck your chin to your chest. Do not bring your ear to the floor.
  • Try to “kiss your crotch,” transferring the weight forward onto your shoulder blade.
  • You should be able to see that your hip is stacked over (and slightly past) the bent knee.
  • This will align you properly. If your hips are not stacked, it is anatomically impossible to get the back of your shoulder or shoulder blade to the floor safely.
  • In addition, do not let the foot of the straight leg slide away or reposition behind you.
  • Once you have confirmed that you are properly aligned, start to drive the top of the foot of the bent leg into the floor. Do not let the foot slide back.
  • The pushing of the foot into the floor will transfer your weight past 90 degrees, leaving the body with no option but to continue to roll forward.
  • Relax your neck and let your head realign with your spine as your hips start to lower.
  • As soon as you feel the other shoulder find the floor, sweep the arms forward, palms down and pointing in the direction that you want to go.
  • Execute a Basic Arch to Seated.
  • Perform the Liquid Shoulder Roll Forward on both sides.

Common Mistakes:

  • Bending your front arm (aka the “chicken wing”), using the hand to push.
  • Not looking for your hip to be stacked over or past your knee, so you end up on your head.
  • Letting the straight leg slide behind them, over-stacking body weight.
  • Sliding the pushing foot backwards, preventing rolling forward.

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