This article is from the Recreational Figure Skating FAQ, by Karen Bryden with numerous contributions by others.
The hardest part about learning spins is to get the feel of it. It's a
bit like balancing a broom on your hand...
Do you work in an office with a swivel chair? Or can you find one? If
so, sit square on the seat and twist your upper body opposite to the
direction you want to spin. HOLD YOUR ARMS OUT UNTIL you have the
chair turning just a bit. Then pull them in SLOWLY.
You'll probably find you start whizzing around. If you don't, oil the
chair or keep fiddling until you get it. Once you've got it, practice
it until you get fired or you can do it every time.
As in the chair analogy, the preparation for a 2-foot spin is a
wind-up and release. Start by bending your left (skating) knee. Also
bend the ankle, and just sink your hip toward your heel, keeping your
torso upright. Your shoulders and hips should be lined up over your
skating foot. In order to do this, you have to allow the non-skating
(right) foot to slide/glide a long way out from your skating foot --
BUT without any weight on it. Your weight should be ALL over the
skating foot. "Wind up" your upper body. Your left arm should be
forward and a bit across your body and your right arm should be well
back. When you release this tension by bringing your upper body
(shoulders, torso, arms) to neutral, you create some rotational
NOW, you are ready for the *real* trick: As you release the free side
(i.e.: release the wind-up), and begin to straighten the spinning leg,
PULL IN with your thighs. You don't just *let* your legs come
together, you PULL them together. Your inner thighs have very powerful
muscles in them and you will be amazed at the energy they can
Keep your shoulders level. Don't bend at the waist. Don't look down at
An alternative standing start is with a pivot. Cock your left knee to
stick the left toepick in the ice, and start your spin with the same
windup you would use if you were standing on both blades. Put your
weight over the pivoting toe. As you release the free side and
straighten the skating knee, roll the left skate back off the pick and
onto the blade.
Try a moving start: glide forward on 2 feet held parallel. Wind up
your upper body. Cock your left knee to stick your pick in the ice and
turn out the left hip. Commit your weight to the left foot. By
sticking the pick in the ice, you translate your momentum, which was
forward on BOTH feet to forward only on one, but that one has to go in
circles around the left toe, which is now stationary. When the pick
catches, release the windup, begin straightening the left leg, rocking
back from the pick, and pulling in with your thighs. In other words,
once you have begun the pivot, this is identical to a standing start,
but you have the added momentum from your forward motion.
The crux of all spins is that you have more time than you think. Don't
yank your arms or legs in quickly; use the twist in your body to get a
little bit of rotation first, and then pull in. As you get faster
you'll start to feel the centrifugal force trying to pull your arms
back out. Balance that pull so that you keep on pulling in slowly, and
you'll have joined the Scott Hamiltons of the world!
Good luck. And remember -- spinning is like riding a bike. It's a
knack, not a talent.