Backspin Lesson (Charyl Brusch)

Figure skating spin specialist Charyl Brusch works with a skater who has learned the basics of a backspin but is focusing on improving it. The errors seen at this level are nearly universal, with common struggles being rocking on the blade, timing errors on the three turn, lack of tension or structure in the upper body, incorrect arm placement and usage on the entry edge, and free leg positioning and movement. Because these errors are so common, it’s very helpful to see how Charyl not only addresses them, but how she prioritizes each in the learning process.

Charyl begins with an exercise at the wall, which unfortunately we do not have a clear view of in the video. But the exercise has the skater on the axis leg with the free leg touching the wall. The skater then turns half a rotation (toward the wall) while keeping the free knee in contact with the wall, so the free knee is in front or even across the skating knee at the end of the turn. This is a great exercise for learning to close the hips and it also creates tension in the core which helps stabilize the spin.

It helps many skaters to visualize turning on their “big toe” as a way to properly rock forward on the blade and keep pressure on the inside entrance edge. But this focus often causes skaters to “turn early” rather than pressing on the edge for the correct duration. Charyl addresses this by manually directing the skater through the entrance edge. This kind of hands-on teaching is great for teaching proper timing and body tension and alignment. This can really help skaters who struggle with “waiting” after the three turn rather than immediately letting the spin happen.

Charyl teaches backspin as three positions, once a skater is spinning. Position one his an open position with the free leg out and fairly straight, position two has the knee at nearly hip height and the free foot crossed over with the free knee in front, and position three is the tight final position with the free foot down and the arms pulled against the body (rather than pushed down as in a forward scratch spin). Charyl wants the skater to “hold each one of them.” She also wants the skater to keep her head up throughout the spin, including the exit.


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