Tag Archives: sit spin

Lesson Recap #1

13 Jan

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While I’ve been breaking in my boots I’ve been taking group lessons at a rink about 30 minutes from me. I’m not really ready to commit to private lessons or the cost yet again. I am skating consistently (thanks to the group lessons) and while it’s not an exact substitute for private lessons this advanced adult class has given me enough to work on throughout the week. I feel like I’m almost there where I would feel comfortable to go one on one again with a coach but for now, the group lessons are giving me a good base to work from again.

This time I am taking two group lessons on the same day, advanced adult lessons (this is basic Freestyle 1-6) and a jump class. Both classes are small, the first with four adults at varying levels and the latter with three. There is me and another adult plus a 9-year-old in the jump class. I think it’s great to skate with one other kid because sometimes as adults we start to get too comfy watching and mimicking other adult skaters. This can sometimes be bad. Children I think have a natural rhythm and timing to their skating (plus a fearlessness) that I think adults can really benefit from. While some adults do have this as well I find that when I am skating with kids I limit myself less in what I “think” I can do and I just do.

Both classes are taught by the same instructor this year (usually they are different). This works so very well. He’s Russian so while I have had many coaches with different backgrounds, I have never been exposed to the Russian style of skating. I’m really enjoying some of the basic warm-ups that he is having us do as well as the basic edges and I’m looking forward to sharing them here!

Lesson Recap #1 Adult Group Class

  1. Change Spin – Forward scratch to back scratch: I really dislike any type of back spins (as this blog details) so this is still, alas, a challenge for me. Right now holding my left free leg out longer on the back spin is a challenge so I need to count the revolutions and not rush bringing the free leg in. The forward scratch is fine. Hands need to remain out until I bring the leg in closer. I tend to immediately bring my free leg in tight and then I start spinning faster and out of control. This also makes it a lot harder to get more revolutions in as well. TIPS: 1. Slow down the free leg coming in and 2. Count the revolutions 3. Don’t think of the free leg as much as just getting over the right side.
  2.  Basic Forward and Backward Swizzles with Arms (jump warm up) and Hop: Do forward swizzles with arms bent at elbow going back and then coming forward just as you would in a waltz jump. Same thing for backward swizzles. Bring the arms forward and up when you bring the legs in and the arms back and out when you push out. TIPS: 1. Bend 2. Keep your core tight. Once you’ve warmed up these then add a hop to the backward swizzle.  Side note: I kid you not,  we all thought we were going to kill ourselves on these but they turned out to be so much fun. I also saw one of the adults who has not really learned to jump yet do her first tiny hop doing these. Very cool. KEY TO HOPPING IN THE SWIZZLE: Hop when your feet come together and arms come forward and finally, make sure your hips are pushed forward. Feel that your core is tight. Once I felt my hips pushed forward just like on my jump take off’s these got a lot easier and lighter. That is the key. Use your arms as I mentioned in the exercise above.
  3. Backward Outside Edges: Keep your free leg above the tracing on the ice, no arching of the back (my thing, oops) and open your shoulders and keep arms stretched out against that edge. Really lean into that outside edge but as I said before, no arching and keep your back up. You should not have your free leg way out. These are pretty easy but these are some good tweaks.
  4.  Inside Spirals (does anyone like these?): He said to keep the same arm in front. One of the other adults had been taught opposite arm and leg. I think you can do it either way but for sure having the same arm definitely puts you on the inside edge if you are struggling with that part.
  5. Sit Spin: Need to go lower. He said to fall if I need too otherwise it’s a good spin.


Lesson Recap #1 Jump Class: All pre-jump exercises

  1. Basic Back Cross Overs (both sides): Keep back arm headed out in the direction you are going. Really keep the shoulders open on the bad side where I tend to drop it. Skating knee needs to be turned fully out (mine is sometimes a little in which can make it less of an outside edge.)
  2. Crossovers with Landing Edge and Hold (BOTH SIDES muhahaa): Cross over and then hold landing edge. TIPS: On landing edge arms should be in peripheral vision, head up, body square. From Crossovers to landing edge you should 1. be down in the knee at first 2. Toe turned out 3. Then rise up on landing edge. 4. Do not turn head in (common error on bad side.) This is all done on a circle. TIP: If you have trouble holding the arms in the correct landing position hold your arms in landing edge position with palms up. This will keep you from opening up. Side note: This was nerve-racking at first on the non-landing side but I found it got easier the more I got used to doing it. It’s really great for working both sides. 
  3. Add Arms to the Crossover Landing Edge and Hold Pattern: Basically, do what I mentioned above but add arms moving forward as in the swizzles. Then hold your landing edge.
  4. Outside 3 Turn, Crossovers, Landing Edge, Repeated on the Circle: This was challenging at first but then it had a nice cadence to it. 1. Outside 3 turn, cross overs, hold landing edge (down and then up), then 3 turn, cross overs etc. Repeat over and over again. Do this on both sides! Should I insert evil laugh here? TIP: Really concentrate on keeping your hips square on your bad side.
  5. Add 1, 2 and 3 hops on the landing edge from the previous move: So outside 3 turn, crossover, down in knee on landing edge, and then hop on toe pick, rise up on landing edge, turn to do three turn and repeat but with two hops on landing edge, and then repeat with three hops. Side note: This was scary at first and I could only do 2 hops but with practice I can now do 3 but they are tiny. BIG TIP: PUSH HIPS FORWARD WHEN YOU HOP. Just like you should feel on your waltz jumps.
  6. Back spins: These were very, very bad. TIP: Don’t rush, hold the edges into the back spin. We only had a few minutes to work on these. I want to say thank goodness because I really dislike them but I’m finally committing myself to making this spin better. Hopefully, before I kill myself on them. : )

All in all, a lot to work on! Holding those landing edges have been helping immensely. I hope this has been helpful. It’s a lot to take in.

Till next week!




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!


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!

A Group Endeavor

23 Oct

A month and a half ago I signed up for two group skating classes to get back into the swing of things on the ice. My thought was that it would not only force me to be on the ice twice a week but also to practice in between to keep up with new elements. So, I found an Advanced Freestyle class for adults about 40 minutes away from me and I also found an Adult basic moves class at a rink 10 minutes away from me. The adult basic class I took more because I found a good deal for 50% off the total price of 7 classes as it also included 7 free public session passes. In my mind, that was as good as free ice! As it turned out, I was a little too advanced for the adult basic class so they placed me in Freestyle 4 with the kids. My first thought was that I was going to be a huge hulking adult in a class of tiny little jumping beans but my classmates were mainly a 13 yr old and a 15 yr old who were neither super tiny or complete jumping beans.

In taking both of these classes I revisited both new and old moves and jumps to practice. I was given instruction and tips that helped me remember points that I had long forgotten, mainly on my moves. In addition I went from skating 2 times a week to 6 times a week just to keep up practice and build up my skating muscles. Both classes have ended this week and I am so happy that I threw myself into both of them! After I had my blades permanently mounted correctly two weeks ago though things just took off. I haven’t skated this much since grad school 9 years ago!

It feels so great to be able to go out there and practice almost every day on the ice too. Everyday I feel just a little bit stronger and more stable. There have been days when my knees have been extremely sore or when I’ve run out of energy but just going out onto the ice and doing some basic moves or spins really helps get things going. I do have a goal in mind this year and that is to finally take the silver moves and freestyle test. I’m very focused on the moves portion right now as I am fairly sure that the freestyle portion will be fine. Then, I plan on competing in the Adult sectionals in MD. Ambitious? A little. However, I’ve been working on the silver level moves and freestyle for a couple years on and off so it’s about time I put it together. Having a solid goal makes me work harder though and gives me perspective on what I should be practicing at each session.

I just passed the Freestyle 4 test last week in my group session which actually involved the 8 step mohawk sequence in the silver moves test. We also worked on inside three turns (my nemesis!) which are also on the silver moves test so it was definitely good group practice ice. I’m not sure if I am going to take the Freestyle 5 class yet since its at the regular price but it may be good for my camel, flip and moves patterns if I do. In today’s last lesson I practiced loop-loops, sal-loop combos and then my lovely flip jump. Anyone reading this, knows how I’ve struggled with that jump. I’ve taken the last month or so to really only do a limited amount of full flips. I’ve been working on just jumping back on one foot going backwards down the ice over and over again careful to stay on my right side and then completing one turn to the front and landing on both feet. I’m trying to break the habit of bending my leg on the jump. Today I completed all my flips, not perfectly but I did, I felt, do a better job then in the past keeping my free leg straight and waiting to tap in.

The advanced freestyle class I took exposed me to other advanced adult skaters. One of which was doing doubles just recently learned. That is very inspiring to see as you are always exposed to children or coaches doing these advanced moves or jumps but it’s a different experience to be next to someone who you can connect with on a similar level and actually aspire to reach. I did work on my forward to back scratch which I didn’t even know I could still do! As well as back inside and outside three turn patterns. We also learned brackets which is really very new to me. I do remember many years ago being introduced to these but I neither remembered the actual move or have practiced them. At any rate, I love them! I work on them every chance I get from a stand still to get into the rhythm/cadence of switching from that inside to outside edge.
Amazingly enough, I would be much more willing to do a pattern with brackets then with back inside three turns!

Also, just this week, we also started axel preps. I liken those practices to watching my life flash before my eyes as I fling my body around from a stand still and land on both feet. I know flinging is not at all what its supposed to be but from my eyes that’s what it feels like! I can only hope that gets better with time!

After both of these classes I am now left with either continuing group classes or starting private lessons again. I know that I will need to eventually start privates again as I’m reaching my limit with practicing what I know and those moves pattern need some correction to be up to par for the test. I also know my camel and lutz as well as any type of axel practice will need to continue under private coaching. So, for the next 2 weeks I will be sharing lessons with another adult under a coach I took group lessons from a year ago. So, for now that will work and then in two weeks I will make the decision to move onto private lessons!

As with my previous posts from other years I’ve always posted my notes from my lessons and I’ve been saving them up! These are my notes and my interpretation of the coaching I’ve received so always read them with that thought in mind

Onto the recap:

Make sure you have a nice knee bend, soft knees going backward.
Pushes are like your crossover, you want to make sure that free foot crosses over in front of the skating foot before lifting it up.
Push outside the circle
Push the ice as if you were making it move and you were standing still. This should increase the power of the progressives and give you a more solid push.
(these instructions were give to me by a male ice dancer, I just had to add that! 😉

Mohawk in the Eight Step Mohawk sequence
Step very close to your skating foot, do not make a wide stepping 3 turn.
Place the free foot next to your heel as you step down into the mohawk.

Back Spin (yes, again, more notes)
Keep strong left check, left arm should always be in front and kept in front.
Left check on right inside edge.
Knees bent.
Make sure there is that transition of moving the free leg from the back to the side and then in front.
This is something that I’ve never felt before this year, it’s almost like the free leg on the scratch. You need that side position to center yourself before pulling into the spin.
Stay over your right side.

Start on deep inside edge with same arm in front, develop a down up down cadence when turning onto the back outside edge.

Old notes from private lessons in the spring:
Lesson 3-9-11

Forward Power Pulls
Start on two feet, parallel to boards
shoulders should always face forward
Actions should be in a twisting motion.
Shoulders and rib cage should twist against your skates.

Do on two feet first on the line, short turns where your shoulders sharply twist to the front while feet are going side to side

4 on two feet, 4 on one foot and switch

Make sure you are twisting against yourself each time.
Short motions
Foot should be beside the other foot.
Head up, shoulders down.

Off Ice Jump Lesson 3-8-11

Practice plie and releve to the front of your toes. Careful not to roll ankles outward
Then, practice jumping straight up arms in front, hips should be held tight to the front when jumping.
Think…pushing in (forward) butt and hips sharply to get that lift.

Push through toes to get lift.

Then, start practicing 1/4 turn, 1/2 turn, and whole turn
Then whole turn with legs crossed, practice landing with feet crossed, hop twice around on landing and then hold landing position.

Lesson for Sit Spins
Bend from the waist, balance out the butt with chest and head against thighs, flat back. Bend also from the ankle deeply. Try to get lower!

Scratch Spins
Push out quickly from the spin, don’t wait to come out of it.

Backward Inside and Outside 3 turns
Push into turns – opposite arm leads on outside and same arm leads on inside.
Keep core still, use muscles! Lock thighs together when turning backward outside three. Keep free hip up and look outside circle. When turning inner three’s look inside the circle with arm crossed in front of you. USE SPEED FOR MOMENTUM!

Quickness for jumps –
Loop Jump – don’t wait, move quicker into the jump.
Ride outside edge.

Happy Skating!

back spin hop….

6 Jul

Lately.. its all been about the back spin.
In order to help me with my air position, jumping ability etc… my coach has been making me do all types of back spin exercises which as we all know scare me to death, lol..

Here’s my little list:
1. back spin
2. back spin, jump up, continue back spin
3. loop, back spin, loop
4. sit spin change to back sit

I think thats enough back spin things for me to work on for the next 3 months. I am making up for loss time I suppose. I think I actually have a pretty closed position when jumping. I also think thats what makes my single jumps a little awkward. Hopefully this exercises will help with stability.
I have also been doing moves – that I mentioned in the last blog. In addition, I have been working on my waltz entrances as a precursor to the axel. Consecutive outside edges into the waltz jump on the line and crossroll, mohawk, strong c-cut and then waltz/loop as well as my crazy alternating lunges into a waltz. My left lunge still blows.
I almost forgot.. I am starting rockers. Interesting little suckers, I got the general idea but they are really slow going. Same thing with the consecutive outside three turns ;( yuck.

At any rate I was working on straightening out my flip again. I land then but my leg is never straight on the reach back so I was trying to fix it. Slightly disastrous..lol. I will post the video here so y’all can see my funky pick in.
I was also working on my laybacks which i think need some tweaking. My leg look too high so I tried lowering it based on the videos I was taking which I will also post here.
I have a few camels (sucky) and sit change sits too.

I am getting my skates sharpened so I am hoping that will help my camels 😉 lol.
It has been a couple months so I can at least say it might help.
Well…. onto the video upload…

Sit change sit

19 Jun

I’m back again. The summer skating hours are wonderful!! Every year right after shut down the ice rink opens up and the rink gives us amazing hours for freestyle and coffee club and this year is exceptional. Every day there is a freestyle session! Its amazing! So I usually peak by the end of the summer and then have to pare down my hours towards fall and winter.
Weird isnt it?
But alas, we are subject to hockey’s need of the rink and right now they are gone!!! YAY!
Anyway it was my third day on the ice yesterday after 6 weeks off. (It was too expensive to go to the next closest rink 45 minutes away- like I usually do- gas y’know)
and I am landing all my flips!! I am checking my left shoulder and that is helping so much. I am landing all my waltz loop exercises that my coach taught me. AND… this is a big one. I started working on back spins again and I am rotating them and doing the jump exercise again out of them. This is with only three days back on!!! All that hard work over the last few years or this past year finally paid off.
My cames are so so but at least most of them rotate and they are getting better.

However, yesterday I had a breakthrough. I started doing sit spins into back sit. Not only did I maintain the back sit for a few rev’s but I actually could stand up into a back spin and push out from it!!! Amazing. I am in awe. No, seriously. Last year that was just a dream but it just happened like – poof.
I even called my coach over who was in freestyle and she said I just needed to take more time and step out a bit more into the back sit and then take my time with my arms and it worked even better!
I am soooo happy!!!
The layback is progressing too. Which is good.
And my new thing is working more on getting my spirals back. They have become awkward and they used to be easy.
Ok.. so I have to go back to work..more later!!