This article is from the Recreational Figure Skating FAQ, by Karen Bryden with numerous contributions by others.
In forward three turns, you do the "up" part of your down-up-down at
the cusp of the turn on the toe (or just before the toe) of your
blade. In backward threes the weight starts off forward, then is
rocked back, and then forward again. It doesn't take much. Just
consciously touch the top of your boot with your toes.
While you don't want to be so far back on the heel that you fall
backwards (really unpleasant), you cannot accomplish back threes with
your weight on the forward part of your blade. If you are sitting back
appropriately on a nice edge, this will sort of make itself happen.
For backward 3-turns:
-- Hold the free foot in front of and over the skating foot, so that
the blade is right over the seam of your skating boot. This keeps your
weight over the skating foot instead of somewhere out to the side, and
will thus make you less likely to have to put your foot down after the
-- BEND YOUR KNEE (the skating knee) and sit on it.
-- Get solid on a good back edge, from crossovers, or swizzles, or
whatever, then turn your entire upper body outside the circle (back
faces the center of the circle), and look back over your shoulder to
where you will be going. The object of this is to get all those
extraneous body parts ALREADY into the position they will be in
following the turn, so that when you turn, you only have to worry
about the stuff below your waist.
-- before the turn, make sure your thighs are touching. Feel the
relationship between them. During and after the turn, don't let that
relationship change. They should remain touching through the turn, and
at the end of the turn, they should still be touching, and your free
blade should still be suspended above the seam of the toe of the
-- deepen the edge, by remembering the down-up-down. the first "down"
deepens the edge, and aims your heel into the circle. The "up"
lightens the blade and lets the turn happen. the second "down" settles
you onto your forward edge.
-- do it to music -- a waltz may be best, but whatever is on the PA
system is better than nothing. this helps you even out the mechanics,
and not wait too long on one stage, or hurry any other stage too much.
-- don't bend at the waist. Keep your abs under control and your torso
-- CHECK following the turn. Remember that in the turn, your lower
body just turns under the upper body, and the upper body should be
almost unaffected by what happened below your waist. Keep your arms
along the tracing, and don't let them swing around following the turn.
You may found that the easiest approach when learning BO3s is to do
swizzles in a circle, then pick up the outside foot, get into
position, then turn. For BI3s, you may find it easier to do a FO3,
then step/push to the other BI edge, as if you were doing consecutive
BI edges, and do the 3 from there. This is how these appear in 3s in
the Field, and the sort of push you get to the edge brings the free
foot into the proper position all by itself.