Spinning Basics & Forward Upright Scratch Spin (Bobbe Shire)

Figure skating spin specialist Bobbe Shire reviews her foundational spin concepts and explains the challenges of the forward scratch spin.  After a brief introduction, Bobbe talks about how she uses a 5-step system to teach spins.  She says, “All you have to learn are 5 things and 1 rule… and two words, and then you know everything I know about spins.”  Obviously that’s not a true statement, but it highlights the value of the principles that guide her throughout her teaching.

For the scratch spin, Bobbe says, “They can be difficult to center.  I believe the center starts totally from the hook…”  She talks about common causes of traveling on the scratch spin. Even if skaters do the hook properly, if they pull in too soon or too fast, it tends to move their weight too far forward toward the toe pick and cause traveling.  On the entrance, Bobbe stresses that she really wants to see the hips wind up fully (“bring the hips around”) on the preparation, and then the skater steps back into the circle.  Bobbe also notes, “What skaters don’t understand today is that a scratch spin takes forever to pull in.”

Bobbe reminds us that she calls the force we feel on our body when we’re spinning “George.”  “George” is in a different place on different spins, and it feels different to every skater.  She says, “They’ve got to create their own relationship with him” meaning each skater has to learn to feel the forces and use them to spin fast and in pleasing positions.

Bobbe continues, “The hook is the most important part.  We always need 3 different things whenever we do the hook, no matter what the spin.”  They are: an axis (toe, knee, belly button), taking the arms and free leg around as far away as possible from that axis (“to get the fattest George”), and staying down in the knee and open for one full revolution (“You always want to let George settle down before you squeeze him.”).

Contrary to what many might assume, Bobbe thinks the most common problem is not properly winding-up the hips before stepping forward.  She solves this by having the opposite arm in front (an “old fashioned way”) because the skater can usually feel the “hips against the shoulders.”  Bobbe says, “I’m a big believer… any technique works as long as you exceed the checks and balances that go with it.”  The point she is trying to make is that it’s OK to use the “modern” method of stepping into the spin with skating hand in front, as long as the skater still winds up the hips properly before the step.  She has the skater demonstrate a typical problem where the skater doesn’t wind up the hips and then steps out of the circle.  This is a recipe for a traveling spin for those first learning, although the accomplished demonstrators in the video (and the skaters we all see on TV) can still center such an entrance because they have mastered the hook and the preparation is largely irrelevant to them.  She makes the point that skaters learning spins should not have much speed on the wind-up.


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