It’s Elementary, My Dear….

Skaters and coaches often ask me, “What is the best approach to learning a higher level spin?” My answer is simple: go back to the basics.

This may seem counter intuitive to a skater that has already mastered the basic spins and even a combination or two. But you need to crawl before you can walk and walk before you can run. Although it may not always be what they want to hear, I tell my students that the best approach in learning any new spin is to take baby steps rather than just dive right in.

If you focus only on the execution of the new spin, you are more likely to build in bad habits from the start. For example, a skater may find that even though they are doing the mechanics of a flying camel correctly, they are still struggling with the spin. This is because they are forgetting the basic building blocks common to all spins, whether it is a forward scratch or a death drop.

There are four to six basic elements to each spin. As you learn the new spin, break it down into these basic steps: entry, centering, spin position, and exit and remember these key points:

• Remember what I like to call “Centeration”
– stepping into the center of the circle after your crossovers to keep your spin centered.
• Go ¾ of a circle before you step into the spin and pull in
• Keep your arms in a skinny “V” as you enter.
• Push into the spin…think Spinergy!
• Keep your belly button “sewn” to your back as you spin.
• Return your arms to the skinny V as you exit.

Using a more “elementary” approach to learning a spin will give you a stronger basic spin position. When we talk about a basic spin position being strong, that means 20 rounds in base position v.s. three rounds. Although three rounds will get you credit for the spin by the judges, 20 rounds are what will make you competitive!
For example, when starting combo spins or variations of a base spin such as a pancake, first master three rounds in basic sit position, three rounds in pancake position and then come up to skinny “V” and exit. That’s crawling. Next, add on rounds four and four, then five and five and so on until you can do 20 rounds in a pancake position – now you are going from crawling to walking AND running!

As you practice any new spin, break it down to these building blocks and pay attention to the little details. Then process everything and put all of the elements together when you take your lesson. Try this approach for one week, and you will see results. That’s what I call Spinergy!