Tag Archives: spins

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!

Advertisements

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 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!

Skate for the Heart and other fun lessons

7 Feb

I did have a lesson last week. I am doing a lesson every other week. I find that while it probably doesnt increase my skills, it does help me appreciate the lesson more. Plus, as usual, its more affordable this way. I was feeling like I was wasting lessons on weeks when I was so busy with work and my business on the side. Some weeks I had a lesson but I hadn’t been on the ice but once since the last lesson. Somewhat pointless to spend money that way.
Although I do want to increase skating time, as usual, finances and real life jobs get in the way- bah hum bug that!

So, on to last weeks lesson. What did I do?
We went over spins mainly. My favorite although on this particular icy cold morning at 6am nothing was working the way it should of!
How many times have I said that one! Truly, 6 am sessions are typical for any skater at any rink so I shouldnt complain. 🙂 But I will never get used to them!

So- spins. We worked on my sit spins, back spins and camel spins. I definitely have a left arm and shoulder that operates by itself- and on its own. No- it does not like the rest of my body, it just swings out any ole’ time it wants to.
You can bet that was the issue with every spin. From reading this blog- y’all will know that I have a pretty reliable sit, OK- a NICE sit. However, even on that spin I let my left arm go and then the rest of me catches up. Eventually.
I let the left arm drop in sit, camel and the back spin. And oh yes. I even do it on my scratch. I can still do the sit and scratch pretty well but dropping my left shoulder and letting my left arm drop halfway into the spin makes for a rocky start until I can recenter myself.

So we practiced keeping the left arm straight into the spin. Also, stepping into the spin by stepping back to where I came from on the circle. Does that make sense? Alot of times I just step a little out of the circle when I enter the spin which also makes for a rocky start and sometimes dooms the spin from the beginning. Thinking about holding my left arm and stepping back to the circle on the entry of the forward spins was very helpful.

Backspins are disastrous. Well, actually I can rotate a backspin from a standstill but the entry sucks. I cant hold that inside edge long enough. I anticipate the turn into the spin and cut it short and I drop my arm and I lean over the circle. I look like I am all hunched over. Issues, I tell you. If its not actually spinning in the back spin, its the entry. So I am really trying to think about holding my left leg behind me and holding that right inside edge without hunching and mantaining my left arm in front.

Camels? Oh god.
Well. I actually have been turning out ok camels lately. Rotating them on freestyle sessions and such. Not that morning. We started doing exercises on the line. Like a really short left inside spiral with a hook. I start from a standstill and try to mantain my left arm in front and straight legs on a deep curve. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesnt. I called it torture.
I’m like a broken plane. Sometimes my leg is bent. I lied. One of the two is always bent but I cant feel it. Lol. Hey, they feel straight to me! I think they are naturally curvy. Sigh. One day I will have a gorgeous camel. My spin learning curve is usually 3 years of intense concentration. So after 3 years of trying a spin I can usually rely on rotating it in a decent fashion. Its about 3. So maybe it will click soon. Although, my good spirals are all on my right leg so this was challenging for me from the beginning. I still cant do very good spirals on the left. Yeah, I got issues!

We also added some more steps to my program footwork. And if I ever get the music cut we might actually finish choreographing the program! The rest of the footwork consists of: mohawk, 3 inside power pulls (changing legs) to a small backwards hop to the left foot with a crossover into 2 continuous three turns on the right foot. I hope that makes sense. Maybe I’ll bring the camera this week so you guys can see it.

Speaking of watching skating. Did anybody watch Skating from the Heart? I watched it today and I dont normally watch those skating shows, preferring the competitions, but it was really good! Irina was skating and so was Shae-Lynn! I love them both. I have to say though, Shae-Lynn makes everything look good and she doesn’t even have jumps! Its amazing, you dont even notice that she isnt doing them. Its really great dance on ice with her and her hydroblading is always awesome. So I will include a Shae-Lynn clip at the end of this so you can see what I mean…
Till next time… ta ta

P.S This video is of Shae-Lynn’s number Living on the edge at the new years gala but she also skated it for Skate for the Heart