Combination Spin Lesson (Sheila Thelen)

Figure skating coach Sheila Thelen offers a series of tips to improve a combination spin.  The combination spin in question is a back camel, back sit, twisted back sit, upright, change foot to haircutter.  Sheila begins by addressing position issues with the back camel.  She asks the skater to lock the free knee, open the free foot, and simply stretch the position.  The “smiley face” discussion (“not the flat face and not the frowny face”) may be a helpful description for many coaches and skaters.  She also asks for a lower sit position.  Sheila suggests having the skater think about the butt being the same height as the top of the skating boot.  Notice that the skater doesn’t actually go that low, but the description works.

Sheila brings up an valuable point regarding combination spins that change position but not feet.  It’s important to keep spinning on the same spot on the blade.  This simple concept is often overlooked by skaters who are much more focused on the details of the new position.  Notice how Sheila makes sure the skater knows exactly where to spin on the blade.

For the haircutter, Sheila explains the foot grab as lifting the foot as high as possible before grabbing for it, and then grabbing the blade with the full hand. She notes that the catch side elbow must go forward and the goal is to line up the free skate blade and the skaters forehead and bun (hair style). One of the best tricks ever for catching the foot quickly, is to slide the catch hand down the leg to the foot.


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