This article is from the Recreational Figure Skating FAQ, by Karen
Bryden with numerous contributions by others.
8.2 Improving turn-out
Turnout, the ability to point your feet in opposite directions, has to
come from the hips joints, *not* the knees. You can tell if you're
doing it right by turning your feet out as much as you can and then
doing a knee-bend (ballet "plie"). Your knees should bend along the
same direction your feet are pointed. If they're further in, you need
to stretch more. Forcing turnout by twisting your knees is dangerous
because they can be permanently injured!
The following exercise is excellent for improving your Mohawks and
spread eagles by improving the range of hip rotation. After warming
up, lay on your stomach (on the floor) with your knees spread out, and
try to touch the soles of your feet together, while pressing your
pelvis towards the floor...
(Tough to describe this)..... I'll try an ASCII picture....
Head-> O-|-| >= <- Feet
You sort of look like a frog -- not a very dignified position, for
sure. The stretch is achieved my trying to push your pelvis and feet
toward the floor. Initially both feet and pelvis will likely be quite
some distance from the floor.
Here's another exercise for the severely hip-rotation challenged.
1. Sit against a wall and bring your feet together and as close to
your behind as you can comfortably.
2. Place your hands on your knees. Swing your knees apart to the point
where your hips start to protest.
3. Push inward with your knees but keep your knees from moving by
pushing back with your hands.
4. Relax your leg muscles. Push your hips a smidgen farther open. Hold
for ten seconds, then bring your knees together a bit with your hands.
5. Repeat steps 2 through 4 ten times.
When you strain to bring your knees together (step 3) and then relax
the muscles (step 4) the muscles relax completely, which allows you to
stretch the hips without your muscles trying to stop you. You should
do this exercise at least once a day.
Again, when you do these or similar exercises to improve turn out, be
very careful not to force your knees!