Tag Archives: figure skating lesson

Lesson Recap #2 & #3

2 Feb

I’ve decided to condense the last two group lesson sessions into one. They do repeat on skills with a definite emphasis on the back spin (shudder).

Adult Class

Two foot back spin exercises (back to basics)

  1. Start from right foot pivot
  2. Do one full pivot (long circle) and be careful to keep right hip open.
  3. Arms should be open
  4. Then do the pivot on your left side to feel the difference in rotation.
  5. Switch back to right foot pivot and do one long circle to two foot back spin.
  6. Keep arms out for balance and then bring arms in after practicing a few times.
  7. Note on Arm Position: Make fists with both hands and bring in with right hand over left.

TIP: Note on Feet Position: Make sure your LEFT skate is in front of the RIGHT skate when doing the two foot spin (I always catch myself cheating and spinning with my right foot in front) 

Moving on from the pivot to two foot back spin

  1. Start with skates hips width apart and scissor your feet back and forth on the ice to feel where you are on the blades. Do this a few times.
  2. With skates hips width apart and knees bent start to do your two-foot spin.
  3. Spin first with arms down and then scooping up and in.
  4.  As you pull feet in to spin also pull arms from down to up (this increases the speed)

TIP: Work on this for 5 minutes, just feeling where you are in the spin, keeping that left foot in front of right and bring your arms from down to up

  1. Then pull feet in during the spin with arms out and then pulling tightly in (fists with right hand over left)
  2.  Finally, lift one foot up and spin using arms from out to in and then also from out to in and then up.

TIP: When you pull your arms in and up like in a fast scratch spin, place your right thumb in your right hand and tightly pull into your chest and then continue up over your face almost brushing your nose and above your head. Arms should be on either side of your head squeezing. This can be practiced on any spin. Maintain a lot of tension!

Back Spin Entrance from Inside Edge

  1. Start on line and push onto right foot into a deep inside edge.
  2. BEND right knee fully and push your hips forward
  3. Imagine a circle in front of you and that is what you should follow as you deepen the right inside edge.
  4. Do not lean back onto your heel (this makes it much harder to spin) Lean forward into the spin.
  5. As you can turn into the back spin from the right inside edge (do not rush the edge) keep your left leg out for at least the first 2 revolutions and keep your arms out.
  6. Then bring everything into spin faster (including your arms)

TIP: I found that if I do not stay on the imaginary circle in front of me when I enter the spin then I usually am off balance. I also find that I need to bend my right knee a lot when I get into the spin and when I do this I normally have an easier time staying over my right side. This also goes with leaning forward a little in the spin as well. All the failed spins I was on my heel or leaning out of the spin. So knee bend is key. Also I am always fearful of falling backwards on this spin and since I’m upright and tall I’m also fearful of how far I have to fall down to the ice. By bending my knee in the spin a little it makes me feel like I am closer to the ice. I don’t think it’s that noticeable but it feels like it!

JUMP Session

Warm – up

  1. Forward side lunges alternating down a straight line then crossovers and start again down another line. You should lunge out to the side and then stand up fully before going back down to do another side lunge.
  2. Back side lunges (these are harder) down the line alternating same as the forward side lunge exercise. Stand up after pulling in from the lunge.

Jump prep with forward scratch spin from three turn entrance

  1. Stroke forward (two strokes) then crossover to the left (2x)
  2. Perform a left forward inside edge into a right inside edge with a flick of your foot (just your leg bent slight in during the turn, helps with the speed of the spin)
  3. Then left outside edge into a scratch spin with right leg held straight to the side, arms out and open.
  4. Perform spin 2 rotations up and then 2 rotations down (just a little bend in knee, not a sit spin) then repeat again. Try 3x up and then 3 x down.
  5. Keep thighs open and away from each other when spinning (I have a tendency to    bring my free leg close to the skating leg and then forward when I go down a little. It should not be like a sit spin position.

TIP: Pull shoulder blades down and back to keep arms open while spinning, this should help with keeping legs and arms open

  1. Repeat this exercise, note that you will get speed into this spin coming from this entrance. I have to maintain slower crossovers so I am not going into it too fast.
  2. Then, add a hop on left leg while in forward upright spin. Jump up in spin on the   down part. Rotate 2x up and then 2x down, 2 x up and 2 x down then HOP. I haven’t been able to do this yet, work in progress.

This exercise leads into a beginning flying spin position.

  1. Add a hop on the left leg while you are spinning  onto the right foot. This hop brings you into your back spin.  Use the 2x up and 2x down rhythm to do this exercise. The 9 year old was the only one who tried this as of yet. Maybe next time I’m on ice I’ll try this… we will see.

Salchow Control Prep and Toe Loop Combo

  1. He had us doing the Sal from alternating three turns to really feel that edge. I found the alternating 3 turns more challenging then the sal. which is probably the easiest jump for me but it really makes you take your time and sit over that edge into the sal. 
  2. So, it was left outside 3 turn (take your time), right outside 3, left outside 3 and really hold that inside edge into the salchow.

TIP: Keep same arm in front through the alternating 3 turns (steady) do not change arms as you switch from right to left.

Salchow Jump Pattern

  1. Left back crossovers (2 -3)
  2. Left forward inside Mohawk to back landing edge position hold (refer to lesson #1 for landing edge hold exercise)
  3. Left outside 3 turn into Salchow / Toe Loop Combo (refer back to lesson #1 for toe loop exercises)

TIP: This exercise also helps you maintain control over that edge into the salchow. I don’t have the swingy three turn issue (like an unchecked three turn) that I see a lot of adult and kid skaters have when they first learn to do this jump but if I did, this would be a great way to stop that. 

That’s all for now! I hope it helps! As for me… I’ll be doing the back spin over and over and over again… Oy veh. And maybe if I feel up to it, I’ll the flying spin exercise.

Advertisements

Sit Change Sit Success! WOOHOO!

8 Apr

The last two weeks, I’ve been very focused on cleaning up my sit spin, making my camel consistent and trying to finally get my sit change sit spin. I revisited the sit change back sit a few months ago and up until 2 weeks ago I was only practicing it every once in awhile. However, in the past few weeks I’ve been spin crazy and I have been completely laser focused on getting a consistent sit change sit.

My issues with this spin centers on the back upright spin which I have never cared for very much. The back spin headlines my top 3 list for most feared figure skating elements. Why? Because I can’t get out of the damn thing. I get stuck in the back spin with my legs glued together and I have a very hard time pushing out of it. Falling backwards is my main concern and because I am relatively tall at 5’7″ this seems like it might hurt a lot. In fact, it does. I’ve taken many a fall like this so I avoid it like the plague unless I absolutely have to practice it. So my latest brilliant thought was why not focus on the back sit? It will help me with my back scratch exit and as I’m much closer to the ground I can fall out of it as much as I like without hurting myself. So that it exactly what I did. I have been obsessed with this spin and it has been non-stop spinning action on every practice session.

Some things my coach has me focus on to help with the sit change sit are as follows:

1. Not scraping my toe and not rushing the entrance. Letting the edge curve around ( or scoop) before stepping into the three turn.

2. Keeping both my left and right elbow pointed out when I am in either spin on the skating knee. 

3. Leaning forward or hinging at the hips in the spin. I think of this also for the camel spin as well. As it turns out, this is key for me when I change to the back sit. If I’m not hinging way forward on the back sit then there is nothing to balance out my big ol’ butt and I go flying backwards. So I really work on hinging forward on the front sit so I can easily just switch legs to the back sit without losing my balance.

4. Most importantly, (and still working on perfecting this) exit the back sit by pushing forward onto the toe like a back power pull, letting the back free leg swing out straight behind and again keeping the upper body forward hinged at the hips. The back leg should go straight out behind just like in a spiral but not really. Just think like you are doing a back spiral and then your leg will straighten out to allow you to exit the back spin. ( I have yet to experience the full effects of this but I’m working on it!)

5.  Work on quick change foot upright spins with arms open. First back upright, arms open, touch free foot in front to skating foot (maybe 2 revs) then switch to forward upright, touch feet crossed, arms open then repeat over and over 4-5 times. I just managed to do this the other day. It’s actually kind of fun once you get past the thought you might kill yourself doing it.

So, I have been doing 20-30 sit change sit spins on practice ice the past two weeks and the work has finally paid off. I still fall out of it and I still have some trouble getting out of the spin but I am actually rotating and pulling out of the back sit more times than not. This is after many, many, many, many falls. We are talking mucho falls until my lesson this morning.

My stats as of this morning were 4 out of 5 sit change sits were successful! YES! YES! YES! I’m very excited. So excited by this fact that I made a little progression video featuring my sit spin and sit change sit spin over the years. It’s not throwback Thursday yet but I’m still throwing it back all the way to 2007 today!

It’s just a reminder to me of how much time and energy has gone into this and also, that if you try hard, practice hard, and want it enough, you can eventually achieve your skating goals or any skating goals for that matter!

Enjoy!

Breaking Bad… Sit Spin Techniques

31 Mar

Normally this wouldn’t even be a topic. I’m good at sit spins. They are relatively easy and I’ve been doing them for at least 10 years. It’s one of those elements that I choose to do first when I’m nervous or having an off day and it is still fine. I can always do a sit but.. and this is a big BUT (ha, no pun intended) my coach did not agree with the technique on my sit spin. It’s centered, it’s low enough (for an adult, anyway) but she disliked my free leg position which is glued to my skating leg and at the same level as my skating knee.

Don’t know what I’m talking about? View the video below, this is similar to how my coach would like it.

Perhaps this is a technique thing because I certainly see a lot of adult skaters and figure skaters in general clamping their thighs shut when performing the sit. I was always told by my previous coaches to glue my legs together, making them seamless and then to turn my foot out. I listened and therefore, my legs are glued and free foot is turned. Not so, she says. Not so unless you are in a cannonball sit. DO turn out the foot but DO NOT glue your inner thighs together. Let your free leg hang open and touch the ankle of your skating boot with the free skating boot so that there is an opening between the two legs. Not only that, spin with the free arm straight out and the skating side hand (elbow out) on your knee.

What the &%!? Huh??

Ok, so at first I was skeptical. How can this be so completely opposite of what I have learned before and still work? I always spin with my hands straight out in front and together, one hand over the other pressing down.  I mean that’s just basic sit spin technique. Everyone knows that! Or do they?

Perhaps this is an American skating thing then? Maybe. My coach is not from this country so there is a big difference in technique in some things, not many things, but this is definitely one of them. I do see this sit spin technique at adult competitions and even with the amateur skaters but by far I see the other technique (glued legs shut, arms out), at least in the northeast.

So, I had to make a choice a few months ago to either reject the new sit spin technique or embrace it. I think skaters go through this a lot. You spend all this time on something and then you move, take a break, injure yourself, have a falling out etc. and then start again with a new coach and end up having to learn new techniques. I think for adults this can be a little more trying because we are so set in our ways and it also takes us so darn long to learn anything in the first place!

So what did I do?

Ultimately, I believe that if you are going to work with a coach you need to commit to his/her way of teaching. What did the Russian coach say in The Cutting Edge when he wanted them to try that crazy made up move where Moira Kelly was basically bouncing her face off the ice?

“Is no halfway. Halfway is bull shit! You go halfway, you get hurt!”

Yeah, agreed, Mr. Cutting Edge Russian Coach. Although, personally, I would never commit to having my body bounced and then thrown into the air by some ex-hockey player like Moira Kelly’s character. As they say, that shit cray. I would probably bail on that one.

Seriously though, I think you’ve got to commit to the style of the coach you are learning from. I think it all connects anyway and unless you are absolutely perfect at that element you can always learn a better way to do something. You have to at least try to learn the new way and if it doesn’t work out then you can question it but typically I feel that it usually works out better when you do commit. It’s like building blocks for the harder things that you learn from that coach.

So, I’ve been working on this new sit technique sporadically over the last couple months realizing that why, yes, putting my left hand on my left knee is actually allowing me to spin much lower. Holy crap, how about that?!  I’m also spinning a little faster with the free leg more relaxed. My back sit spin is actually spinning lower than the forward sit at times. How crazy is that? Well, not too crazy since that’s my good knee but still, wow! As long as I let that free leg relax and cross at the ankle, this spin rotates pretty easily.

Good things really do come out of changes of technique and an open mind, even in skating.

Till next time… Happy Skating!

Lutz Fake Out

19 Feb

It’s been awhile since I’ve updated and while I did take a brief break from skating back in November following my Silver moves test (one pass and 2 retries, boooo! more on that later) I’ve been hard at work on some of my freestyle elements.

I decided it was time to have some fun and do something other than just moves for awhile. Make no mistake though, I will be back to the grind again on those patterns to retest and I’ve even incorporated some of those moves in my warm up, but for now, it’s all about improving my basic skating skills and linking the freestyle elements together.

In addition, I’ve also decided last minute to compete at eastern sectionals in the bronze freestyle and compulsory category. My original goal was to compete at silver but since I still have to retry the silver moves I figured I would give my old bronze program one last hurrah. Kind of a final farewell and hello at the same time. The last time I competed was 7 years ago at the Adult Nationals in Lake Placid so, it’s hello competition again and farewell bronze because after this I will be solely working on finishing my silver program. In the meantime, I’ve added my camel sit change sit to the program as well as my layback and lutz to test out the elements for silver. It’s going to be interesting to see if my body holds together (aka knees) long enough to practice freestyle on a regular basis!

So, let’s get right into today’s lesson, lutz and flip! My two not favorite jumps. If you are a toe jumper I really, really envy you and… I may hate you a teensy bit ; )

On to the lesson:

Flip Jump (left 3 turn entrance with push):

These were ok today, I still have a tendency to draw my picking leg in at the last minute as well as to hesitate. I need to work a lot on bending my skating leg before picking in.

1. Strong entrance push from the right leg to turn the 3 turn.

2. Hold arms still and open to the right.

3. Extend free leg and bend very deeply on the left leg (skating leg). Bend even more than you think you can bend when backwards and then pick in with more force.

4. Keep right arm up and don’t let arms drop on the landing.

5. Strong check on the landing with arms up and out.

Lutz or as I like to call it “My fake out jump”:

So, this is my fake out jump because I have a small pause just after I pick in which allows me to turn on my toe pick and do more like a loop rather than a lutz. Bam. Fake out! Eh. It’s definitely a work in progress. My coach says I should be happy with this progress though since not too long ago I could barely do a good flip let alone a lutz so she feels this is moving along ok even with the delay in picking.

1. Work on the entrance edge, always start crossovers from behind the blue line on the other side of the rink (the one on the other side of the circle from your lutz corner)

2. Crossovers behind the blue line should start closer to the side of the rink. Two cross overs and then skate close to the boards for a right inside edge sweep (I’m not sure what to call this?) then lift left leg high, look to the inside and straighten out for preparation for the jump.

3. Arms held straight out over the left side, head looking slightly left, right foot to the front of skating leg as you slowly bring your arms to the front (keeping the arms up, do not drop them by the sides!) while the free foot slowly moves to the back of the skating leg with the arms moving eventually out to the right side (again, do not let them drop to the sides).

4. Head should face forward or slightly to the left just before you jump.

5. Very strong pick in on straight free leg.

Here is a good example of the lutz entry set up I’m doing by MK, just picture it being a single and slower!

All in all, I think my lutz was much better today than 2 weeks ago. I was dropping my left arm to my side instead of keeping it straight out in the beginning and I was also looking way to the right. My coach does not want me to look to the right behind me because much more advanced skaters will do this when they are very sure of the jump. She feels looking to the right makes it harder to jump to the left (further to rotate). So, I’m working on looking to the left because I was looking way to the right just before jumping.

So far, so good. Now, I just have to put it into practice!

Happy Skating!

A Return to Fundamentals and the Ice

12 Aug

The ice went down in May, for a month, as it always does here. I used the time to do the physical therapy for my knee that I had been putting off for 2 years. The aches and pains that I had been getting throughout winter and spring were worse than normal and I was finally pushed to go see my orthopedist. I found out nothing serious was wrong. Well, just that I pronate in and that I needed to really strengthen my leg muscles in order to strengthen and stabilize my knee. These exercises seem to help although I am sure that I will still have some knee pain here and there as long as I am skating.

Usually I would start skating as soon as the ice came back up – and I did. Except, the first day back I took a hard fall on my right knee. Extremely bad ice with large bumps covered the surface. I knew I had to be careful since I had elected not to wear knee pads that day. That was really stupid.

Towards the end of the session I was skating a little faster and not as mindful of the rough patches and as I was going into a flip jump I tripped over one the bumps and slammed my knee into the ice. Nothing was broken, but I did feel a LOT of pain as the session wore down. I tried to keep skating a little just to feel ok but I knew at the end of the session that I would have a nasty bruise and would need to be off the ice for a little bit more to let it heal. So with disappointment, I took a small 3 week hiatus from the rink only to run into wedding season head on.

I run a small, custom wedding invitation business online and the summer is my peak season so as I healed I also became inundated with order after order. I could barely get 6 hours of sleep let alone find time to skate! And thus…up until 2 weeks ago I had probably skated only 4-5 times this summer. I’ve done nothing but work full-time at my regular job and then come home to work more on my biz. For the first time in years, skating took a backseat.

Nothing has really changed, I’m still trying to keep up with both jobs but after gaining 10lbs and being a nasty, grumpy person for the last 3 months I realized that skating needed to be made part of my life again, if only so I could feel some stress relief!

Since I started skating regularly again, my mood and energy level has risen and I feel almost like my old self again! Well, almost:) Maybe soon I will lose that extra 10lbs so I’m not sweating like a maniac on the ice and breathing hard after a basic warm-up.

I think this blog will take the direction of recording my skating lessons once again. Last year, I wrote a lot about professional skating and I feel I got away from the main purpose of this blog which is to record my lessons for future remembrance and provide a real perspective from the adult skater viewpoint to other adult skaters.

So, true to my renewed skating interest, I have changed coaches for a different perspective. I loved my last coach but it was time for another change. Right now, we are working on various freestyle elements.

Today’s lessons were a rehash of my scratch spin entry, layback and camel positions, as well as backspin technique and at the end of the session we went over an axel exercise.
Three weeks ago at my initial first lesson we started going over jumps and axel prep since that is my focus for now.

Some of the tips below from today’s lesson are things that I may have learned years ago but had forgotten and others are things that I had never heard before, so all are good skating pointers for future use.

Scratch Spin Entry:
I am traveling (sad sad words). I need to hold my left edge into the spin and then really dig deep into the ice for that hook. And, no, that left arm should not swing crazily open to initiate the spin. It is all in the knee bend and the deep hook. So I must be more patient and not turn the three to soon, I must also hold my free leg back before I initiate the turn and I should also stay down in my knee for at least a revolution or two before popping up into a lovely scratch spin that will be as fast and centered as can be. (I hope)

Layback

Michelle Kwan’s Oh So Centered and Freeform Layback

Same issue with the entry (see scratch spin above).
Once in the spin my hips should be square. I tend to open my right side and drop my right shoulder. This is not correct. Standing at the boards, I leaned my hips flat against the boards while simultaneously bringing my right leg to the side and back.
Shoulders should drop back when in the spin and if they don’t you can actually push your left shoulder with your right hand as you start to lean back to correct yourself. This was so much fun. I was spinning and trying to push my should back into alignment with the other so everything stayed straight. It was scary at first but I think this will help keep me from leaning to the side and achieving that c-curve. I have many, many sit-ups to do to get back some of my core strength, I just can’t hold that position correctly!
(Here is a great explanation of how to do a layback: http://coachclaire.com/spins/layback.htm)

Camel Spin
Same entry issue as above.
Except, this entry must be even more focused on keeping the leg back until hooking the spin. We did the toturous glove test once again. You can find an explanation of this glove exercise under camel posts. Once again, no arm initiation until I am already in the spin. This went pretty well. I had one awesome camel with the glove test. Maybe the glove exercise is working? Tension played a big part in keeping the spin going once I was in it. Apparently now, I do not bend my knee like I used too. Its nice to know that there are improvements from year to year even if it feels like I am still stuck with the same problems with this spin!

Back Spin
Oh dear back spin, how I hate your ugly inner edge guts! Yes, these are still in the works. Instead of working on this spin from a standstill into a forward right inside edge entry, I now will skate forward on my left foot and then push onto my right into the back spin entry (deep right inside edge). Then I will need to keep right arm with me at all times. YES, I just said that. My right arm kind of travels behind me when its frightened so from now on it needs to be in eye shot along with mr. left arm. Both of them should be in a medium hug position. My core should be solid but I should be slightly rounded when in the spin. Also, my left free leg should stay out longer just as in the scratch spin to begin the spin. This actually helped, holding the entry and keeping my arms with me at all times 😉

Axel Prep
This started with small waltz from a standstill (off toe pick) into a back spin. The goal is to land already spinning as well as to initiate that weight transfer from left to right. Sometimes this happens and sometimes it doesn’t. Its hit or miss. I must keep my arms down when I go into this jump or they get too high. I should also be going into it as I would the axel with my arms already back at take off and then lifting as I jump. Lifting the arms high or starting the arms beforehand will throw off the jump. This is a work in progress. Some days this is very, very good! And other days I just fall and fall and I am just doing a prepping exercise!

Another exercise that I will be doing to building more spring is off ice. Stand in a squat like position with both arms back (as you would in take off) then spring up, moving arms with you. Then I guess you could add a ¼ turn and a ½ turn and then a full turn.

That’s it for today! Today’s skating words of wisdom are: If it doesn’t hurt, then it’s probably not right!

Till next week!

First Lesson of the Summer….

25 Jun

Ok, so with the return of the ice are the return of the lessons.
We started with some warm-ups and then jumps.
Each jump is attached to a lesson or exercise designed to help me jump correctly and use my arms- or rather how not to use my arms..lol
I was sprawled on the ice at least 4 times. So- I think I was learning.
First exercise are the warm ups… Inside three turn to outside three switch legs inside 3 to outside 3. My free hip falls and my left is much worse then my right. I dont check after the outside three turn so of course I let my free hip fall to stop the rotation. I have to learn to let my free knee lead rather then my shoulders.
Something to work on. Actually, this exercise also includes choctaws after that but since I could barely do the 3 turns in tandem we thought maybe I should just focus on those ; )

Then, we did cross rolls, where I would really pick up my free leg and hold it straight out behind me before bring it in front for the cross roll. Kind of like a spiral. This I think is meant to get me to control the cross roll. Um.. I realized then and there that I needed to work on those butt muscles… cause holding that leg was really starting to hurt..haha

Then we did that backwards… super difficult for me since I tend to rise up so concentrated on bending and also opening up in the shoulders as I stepped back. The bending really helped alot. I couldnt really lift my leg that high up but at least I am getting the idea.

In addition – we went over waltz jumps (which are ok- but we need to improve them) We did forward one foot glides on a curve into a waltz. If you think thats easy… just try em!
We also did forward lunges into waltz. It would be Left deep lunge (let the free leg swing around a little) with arms pulled back and then switch to right lunge and then left and then into waltz….eek.
I cheated on my left lunge cause thats my bad lunge side… so gotta work on those babies. Thats supposed to teach me to pull my arms back and through and I think also to stay on an edge.

From there we went on to loops. My main problem on everything is letting my upper body lead and go a bit ahead of lower half which causes all kinds of trouble. So we worked on loop/half loop/loop/half loop.
I need to pull my arms though and not up. Also I need to do a strong C-push after the half loop to maintain the speed and good position into the Loop. Thats why my second loop is sooo tight- because I don’t set up well and its like I am jumping in a circle.

After that torture we did Back three turns to try and control the arms coming in and the free hip from falling. I am supposed to do three- controlled ones with arms in and not pre-rotating my upper half. I fell at least twice on this.
Then I did sal/loop/half loops… had a surprising spill on the first one. that doesnt usually happen.. but that one hurt.

At the end we worked on my flip. WHICH IS ALWAYS TROUBLE. Except I have been drilling them everyday I skate now.. and they have been pretty good. Landed them all on sunday and most on friday. But of course the ones yesterday in lesson were total crap. I think I was trying to change and think about things again and I had my same problem. I wasnt holding my left shoulder in front and my timing was off and I was tense in the shoulders. So I need to relax and really think about keeping the left shoulder in front as usual.
Then she made my do them from a one-foot open spin. Literally… terrifying way to do them.
You spin openly 4-5 times and then stop and pick into the flip. Its supposed to teach you to really check with your left shoulder.
Omg… I fell and I kinda freaked. But I got one almost up. Thats going to need some work 🙂
I’ll tape one of those so everyone can see how crazy it is.. hahaa
So that was my lesson – very interesting.. and I was obviously learning despite all the fals.

After my coach left I went through at least 15 flips. The first 8 were good… then I started falling. When I relax – I am ok as soon as I tense and expect the jump I just miss it. So i was all over the ice.

Anywho.. this is my lunch break and its been a crazy friggin day already… ta- ta for now.