by Janet Champion

Reprinted with premission from :

The Professional Skater Magazine
May / June 1996 – p. 12.
©1996 by Professional Skaters Association

Many skaters come to me for spin lessons and the first thing they usually ask is for me to invent some interesting new positions that are fun to do. Although this should be a goal for skaters, first, all the regular position spins must be controlled and centered. The most important part of a spin is the centering. Even when a skater has the ability to spin fast and in aesthetically pleasing positions all is lost if the centering is not achieved. When a skater is spinning on loops instead of circles even the most beautifully positioned spin will lose balance.

The basic building blocks of centering spins can be learned with the one foot spin and scratch spin. A spin requires the conversion of forward momentum into rotational force. To achieve this the entry edge of a spin must be a curve whose diameter diminishes as it approaches the three turn. Examining the print on the ice can be a major help to clue the teacher in on mistakes and to assist the student in understanding good spin technique. Consider this spin entry print on ice: (See Illustration). The following is a list of some common mistakes which can cause a spin to travel: Skating to a shallow entry edge, skating an entry edge that does not progressively diminish in diameter as it approaches the three turn, allowing the free leg to swing around before the point of the three turn, starting to spin before the entry edge has diminished sufficiently.

Centering Spins

Some entry edge techniques that assist in centering spins are:

With the body weight over the skating side lean into the entry edge circle (this helps to make the edge a diminishing curve). Skating a strong deep entry edge with the free leg stretched and held firmly behind until the point of the three turn. The skating knee should stay bent until at least one full turn of the spin (when the knee straightens to soon or too suddenly balance and centering is disturbed). The skating arm leads into the spin and gradually reaches strongly back at the point of the three turn. In the scratch spin the arms and free leg should reach their forward position simultaneously.

After skating into the scratch spin many things can be done to center a spin: keep the shoulders level and down with the arms rounded slightly forward of the body. The hips should be level and square. The free leg should be at a90 degree angle to the body, not lower. After hooking the spin wait until the arms and free leg have reached their forward position.

Try to feel the skating foot making smooth, even, little circles. Relax and allow centrifugal force to pull out on arms and free leg. Now you are centered and ready to accelerate.

As with jumping, good spins require a careful preparation and entry. Master the fundamentals first and with adequate flexibility many interesting positions can be achieved.

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