Improving Figure Skating: Learn To Skate – Part 1 (Chris Conte)

Chris Conte offers insights into ways coaches can speed the learning process by focusing on skills that emphasize basic jump rotation and developing power out of edges.  Chris offers ideas on drills and skills that are intended to augment or fill in the gaps in standard learn-to-skate programs.

Chris likes marching the ice as a way to get new skaters used to creating h-positions which are so valuable at all levels of skating.  Then Chris discusses a movement he calls “monkey drops” which is simply bouncing like a monkey.  This is done at a standstill, and Chris points out that when doing “monkey drops” skaters will automatically engage their core and maintain pretty good posture.  Later in the video Chris offers an alternative arm position for “monkey drops.”

Next Chris covers swizzles.  He starts foot positions, with the hips turned out, parallel and turned in.  The swizzle itself starts with a monkey drop.  Chris does not have the skater hold their arms up while learning swizzles.  He notes that at this level skaters don’t know how to hold their arms up for long periods of time without using the wrong muscles.  (For all you biomechanics people out there, the arms should be held up with the deltoid muscles but people that aren’t used to holding up their arms for long periods generally engage their trapezius muscles.)

Chris notes that one of his pet peeves in coaching is the typical approach to having skaters learn to skate and do their moves in the field with their arms held out with very rigid arms and shoulders.  It does not appreciably improve balance because typically the arms are hyperextened, the wrong muscles are engaged to hold the arms up, and it’s rigid and uncomfortable.  It also teaches skaters to skate with a static arm position which is often then difficult to undo for more advanced choreography later on.  Chris prefers the arms to be relaxed and at their sides.  It’s safer in case of a fall and it promotes relaxed skating.

Next Chris discusses rocking horses.  He likes this exercise, but note that he focuses on the “monkey drop” before the forward as well as the backward swizzle.

Finally, Chris addresses how to use these skills to develop natural rotation.  He explains it simply as a forward swizzle on one foot and a backward swizzle on the other.  He begins in the middle of the rocking horse.  Chris calls this a “rotating swizzle” and this is one of the “Missing Pieces” that Chris uses to help his skaters develop rotation and comfort with two-foot spins.  It forces the skater to engage their core, and Chris uses various arm positions to develop proper posture and balance.

These are great concepts for beginning skaters and coaches.  Please leave Chris a comment.

Please leave a comment below and check out the rest of the videos in this series by Chris:

Improving Figure Skating: Learn To Skate – Part 2 (Chris Conte)

Improving Figure Skating: Learn To Skate – Part 3 (Chris Conte)

Air Position Development In Figure Skating: Theory and Application (Chris Conte)

Improving Figure Skating: Learn To Skate – Part 5 (Chris Conte)

Improving Figure Skating: Learn To Skate – Part 6 (Chris Conte)

Improving Figure Skating: Learn To Skate – Part 7 (Chris Conte)

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11 Responses to “Improving Figure Skating: Learn To Skate – Part 1 (Chris Conte)”
  1. September 15, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    lsussman This is great info. Thanks so much for sharing this with us!

  2. September 15, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    christian conte WOW> That was long!!! . . . I'm dying out there without a room! . . . yuk yuk! I hope people don't think I am bashing learn to skate. I am just suggesting enhancement! Thanx. CC

  3. September 15, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    jb Great stuff because if you can get it right from the beginning all the better. Love the monkey. I believe the Snow plow Sams would be more equal to Tots1-4. Agree with the arms being too rigid thats why sorry to say this but I do not like bungee cords. But know a lot of coaches who do. Anyway thank you for your creative teachings.

  4. September 15, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Schucker excellent, would like more clips like this

  5. August 31, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Emma Thank you for helping me with my head position in my double salchow during the G2C Super Camp!!! I hope to take from you again!

  6. March 5, 2014 at 9:16 am

    Kim Fun Stuff... Always looking for new ideas and perspectives!

  7. April 26, 2014 at 5:02 am

    Susan Penman-Butler Excellent advice forward and backward swizzle (or lemons as we call them), thank you

  8. November 8, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Kristen I love Chris's videos especially his learn-to-skate pet peeves. I would love to see more of these.

  9. May 19, 2015 at 9:36 am

    SarahEvans I have always hated teaching with arms out iv always said it isnt how you actually skate so why do it now! The other coaches in my rink hate the fact I dont do arms out all the time the most important thing is shoulders and alignment i i feel arms can detract from that! so happy its not just me =D

  10. January 12, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    Bente Hellstrand Hi Chris, I love your stile of teaching. I'm learning so fast and so much just can't stop watching your videos. Thank you so much I'm a 59 year old skater and I love it.

  11. April 20, 2020 at 12:38 pm

    Oleksandra Great job! Thank you so much!

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