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Building strength, balance, power and grace from within

Figure Skating's Classic Spiral

 

Alex_spiral.jpg

 

 

This is a spiral done by a beginning skater. While she has learned to get her leg up to a moderate level while keeping her shoulders back and head up, she still needs to work on pointing her foot to create that long balletic line.

 

 

 

Mastering the Spiral (off-ice)

Flexibility: Specific Stretches for Spirals include basic stretches progressing towards 3 way splits and improved hip turn out. more

Strength: Strengthen the gluteals (seat muscles), both  hamstrings (back of leg), low and upper back, and core strength.  more

Balance: Skaters should be progressively challenged to improve balance both on and off the ice. For the spiral, the airplane and T-pose are especially helpful.  more

Technique: Skaters often have a hard time straightening their leg and pointing their feet (yes, their feet not just the toes). They need to be taught to reach the free leg out of the hip socket as they squeeze the quadriceps (muscle in the front of the thigh) and point foot. Ballet is very helpful in achieving great posture and technique!

Mastering the Spiral (on-ice)

Spiral on the Boards: Practice spirals while holding onto the boards. Look straight ahead, head and shoulders up and facing forward. While maintaining a straight leg, lift the free leg inititiating the movement from the gluteals (seat muscles).  It is necessary to open up the hip somewhat as the hip is only designed to extend 10-15 degrees back. Leg should be straight back but leg should be turned out. Make sure the skaters learn to point their foot in the boot (you don't just want them to scrunch their toes).

Straight Line Spirals: Start the skater on a straight line, shoulders staying square to the line. I usually tell the skaters to "present", that is open the chest wide with arms to side then hinge forward with the body allowing the free leg to lift in unison. Arms should be back and foot should be above the height of the hip, forming a "champagne" glass appearance. Practice equally on both legs! Straight line spirals appear in the Pre-Preliminary (first) Moves-in-the-field Test.

Backward Spirals-Practicing spirals backwards really helps the skaters to get their leg up higher.

Edge Spirals (8): There are 8 spirals (Right, Left, Outside Edge, Inside Edge, Forward & Backward)-Practice them all. They appear and re-appear throughout the Moves Tests and are necessary in competition.

Vary Positions: Take a look below at the gallery of spirals. Try different positions and holds. Maybe you can make one up of your own!

Pictures and Videos of Spirals

 Video Montage of Sasha Cohen's Spirals

 Wikepedia's Picture Gallery of Spirals