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6.2.10 Backspin


This article is from the Recreational Figure Skating FAQ, by Karen Bryden with numerous contributions by others.

6.2.10 Backspin

This spin is done in the same direction as the forward scratch spin,
but a counter-clockwise forward spin is done on an LBI edge and a
counter-clockwise backspin on a RBO edge. Mentally the backspin can be
tough, tough because you are probably well used to spinning on the
other leg and your reflexes tell you to put your weight there.

The standard method to learning a backspin is starting from a
standstill. For the CCW backspin:
1. Stand with your feet parallel with legs straight but not locked.
Anchor your right toepick into the ice.
2. Wind up your upper body, with your left arm in front of you and
right arm pull back. You start the spin by bending your right knee
a little more (sinking on the right knee will ensure that you
transfer the weight to the right side), then rotating your
shoulders CCW, sweeping your right arm around along a wide arc
towards the front. Your left foot will describe a brief LBI pivot
around your right foot during this entry. Try not to pivot on the
toepick, but roll back slightly behind to the sweetspot of the
blade, just where you are supposed to spin!
3. So far, what you are doing looks like the two-foot spin entry
described above. For the backspin, raise on the right leg and let
your left leg come off the ice as soon as your shoulders become
parallel to your hips. After perfecting the entry, you can try
pushing off the LBI edge at this stage, for more speed. It is
critical at this point not to drop your left hip, otherwise you
will fall right off the spin or (even harder to correct in the
long term) start spinning on a RI edge instead of the RO one.
Also, keep pressing down on the sweetspot of the blade - do not
rock either towards the toepick or the back of the blade.
4. After raising your left leg off the ice, turn the hip out slightly
and wrap the leg around your right leg - yes, your mind say that
this is suicide. Your arms should be positioned as if you were
hugging a giant beach ball. You should be able to see your hands
out of the corners of your eyes. Now, bring your arms in slowly.

As you get more comfortable with the spin, you can increase the number
of rotations by using linear motion. Step on a LFI edge. Wind up. Push
on a RFI edge with the skating leg deeply bent. Sweep your arms around
until you are forced to do a RFI 3 and rise on your right leg at the
apex of the turn. The left free leg remains in the same position as
when you stepped on the RFI edge, i.e., behind you and slightly turned
out to the side. Do not try to move the free leg across and over the
right leg. Instead, leave it extended to the side (do not drop the
free hip!) and let your right spinning side to "catch up" with it as
you spin. This is probably the hardest bit in the whole entry but once
you will get it, it will cause a dramatic improvement of the

Like in the normal spin, you accelerate the rotation by bringing in
your free foot to the skating leg, and then pulling down your free
foot as you pull in your arms.

Now, to get out of the spin. Easier said than done! Start by pull out
your arms slightly and raising the free knee (this will slow down the
spin). Then, bend the skating (right) knee deeply, rocking back onto
the center of your skate. Unwrap the free leg, extending it behind you
forcefully, making sure that your upper body remains upright. This
will translate your rotational motion into backward motion on an RBO

Here are a few more tips:

-- It's a backspin so you are spinning on a RBO edge. Practice RBO
edges for awhile before spinning so you really get this "going
backward" feel.

-- Through the whole spin, including the exit, keep your back and head
upright and your shoulders level.

--Do not lock your skating leg while spinning. The leg should be
fairly straight, but do not push the knee all the way back. this helps
keeping your weight on the sweetspot.

-- Stay off the inside edge. If you find you are on a shallow inside
edge, try pressing down on you pinky toe. Consistently spinning on a
inside edge most likely means that there is a major flaw in your
entry. Having said that, once you have mastered the backspin, it is OK
to try spinning on the inside edge on purpose, to add variety to your

-- Practice doing connecting three turns on your right foot. Start
with a RFI, then do an RBO. Try to get into the backspin position as
you do these.

-- Practice at home in your socks or buy a spin trainer.


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