Figure-skating tips and clips

Here are some tips and clips of various basic figure-skating moves. The page has two purposes: to explain these moves and to give people who may be thinking of purchasing a pair of PIC skates an idea of what you can do with them. PIC skates can be purchased from here. They are inline skates shaped like figure skates and with a toe pick at the front so that they do behave fairly much like figure skates on ice. However I can't skate in them nearly as well as on ice. Also bear in mind that you do need a smooth and large surface - you may notice from some of the clips that I'm handicapped by having to avoid parked cars and manhole covers. I have written a little more about them on my skating page.

I've get my ice-skating lessons from the great Jacquie Harbord. Click here to see her in action. Many of the tips below are hers, although some are other things I've seen round the place. You can get far more detailed instructions about the moves from other sites such as the Figure Skating Journal. For figure-skating on inlines, you may want to check out Jo Ann Farris's book, How to jump and spin on In-Line Skates .

The clips below are in Windows Media Video format. Some of them are a few megabytes so they may take a while to appear. If you have trouble seeing them you can try right-clicking on the link and then download the wmv file to disk and play it in Windows Media Player. If you're interested in seeing a few of them, the best thing may be just to download this zip file (77 megabytes) which contains this HTML file and all the clips. Then you can just unzip it on your own PC and view them as often as you like.

I'm afraid many of the moves are pretty sloppily performed and/or wildly cheated. I was still getting used to the PIC skates. Some of the ones on ice are a bit better, but not much.

Most of the ones on ice were filmed at Lee Valley ice rink , IMHO the best ice rink in London aside from Broadgate, which is only open in the winter. Thanks to Jake Curtis for help with the editing.

I do these moves clockwise and counter-clockwise (CW and CCW) whereas most people only jump and spin one way, so apologies if the clips are inconsistent with regard to this. The diagrams are all for the CW moves. They're supposed to just give the general idea, rather than necessarily being geometrically accurate.


Standing on the inside edge tends to make you go a circle inwards, across the body, i.e. a RI (right inside) edge curves you to the left. An outside edge takes you on a curve out, so RO edge curves you to the right. Edges are backwards (B) or forwards (F).


The easiest mohawk is from a FI edge of one foot to a BI edge on the other.

This clip shows a RFI-LBI mohawk.

When doing a mohawk, do not think that the skates need to be in line with each other. The mohawk is carried out on a curve and the skate being put down backwards can be at about 90 degrees to the one which was going forwards.


These change from forward to backwards (or backwards to forwards) on one foot, changing edge at the same time. Again, don't forget they are performed on a curve, not a straight line. Here is the tracing for a right forward outside (RFO) 3-turn.

This clip shows a RFO3. Enter on RFO, lift onto toes a little as you turn and exit on RBI.

This is the diagram for a LFI3.

This clip is of a LFI3. Enter on LFI and exit on LBO.

3-turns can be done backwards too, although I find the BI3 turns difficult. For the backwards 3-turns, one puts one's weight on the heel as the foot turns.

Here is a sequence of RFI3-RBO3-RFI3.

And here is the sequence repeated a few times on ice.

Here is the sequence with the forward-outside and backward-inside 3-turns.

3 jump (waltz jump in American)

Jump from FO edge, swing arms and free leg up and forward and then land on the BO edge of that foot.

Here is a clip of the CW version: start back on LBO, push onto RFO, jump and land on LBO. As with all jumps, one should take off from and land on the toe pick and one should keep one's shoulders vertically over one's hips throughout the preparation and the jump. Aim to jump "out of the circle", so that for the CW jump one aims to put one's L foot down forward and to the left of the take-off foot, not directly in front of it. Try to swing the leg through and up rather than round the side.

Here is the same jump on ice. Unfortunately, I do seem to swing the leg round to the side. Oh well.

Here is the 3-jump broken down in stages.


Jump from BI edge, swing free leg across the body and land on a BO edge of the other foot.

Here is a clip of the CCW version. As for the 3-jump, start on RBO then push onto LFO but go straight into LFO3. As you do this, you should try not to open your hips but should end up in a position called "back line" whereby your shoulders and hips both point straight forwards, although the free leg curves back and the arm on the same side is held back. (I'm afraid I don't do this properly in the clip.) Then swing the free leg across and jump. Do not aim to jump behind you - just aim to jump to the side. Try to go up over the toe pick as you jump.

Here is a salchow done on ice.

Here is the salchow broken down in stages.

Loop jump

Jump from BO edge, up and round and end up on BO edge of same foot.

Here is a clip of the CW version. I've got a whole page describing the preparation here. Here is a loop jump on ice.

One way towards learning doubles is to land the jump with the feet crossed and to go into a back-spin, as seen here.

And here is me trying to do the double. Oops.

Here is the loop jump broken down in stages.

3 jump - loop jump combination

Here is the CCW version. The 3 jump should be small, and under-rotated and should aim to land out of the circle. Then the additional rotation on the ground can give you the preparation for the loop jump.

Here is the combination on ice.


On BO edge, pick in behind with other foot and jump out of the circle to land on BO edge of skating foot.

One preparation for this is similar to that described above for the loop jump, but flattened out. So for the CW version begin on shallow RFI with L arm forward, R to the side, then bring L foot in front and change arms so L is checked back. Push forward onto shallow LFI and do LFI3, trying to keep as close as possible to a straight line. Pick in nearly straight behind, allow L foot to glide close to picking foot and then jump.

Here is a clip of the CCW version.

And here it is on ice. The picking leg is supposed to extend back way more than that.

Here is the toe-loop broken down in stages.


From BI edge, plant toe pick behind, jump up and land on BO edge of picking foot.

Here is a clip of the CCW version. Start forward on LFI with R arm held out in front, L arm to side. Then bring R foot in front and exchange position of arms. Then do a very flat RFI to LBI mohawk and try to hit the back line position as described for the salchow, keeping the R leg extended out behind. Then bend the L knee and plant the R toe pick, allow the R leg to bend as you run onto it and then jump up to the left - again just aim to jump to the side rather than trying to jump all the way round to behind. Land on RBO.

Here it is on ice. Again, the picking leg should be extended straight back, not bent like mine is.

Here is the flip broken down in stages.


From BO edge, plant toe pick behind, jump into the circle and land on BO edge of picking foot.

Do RFI-LBI mohawk, then step over with the R foot onto a RBO edge. Reach back with the L foot and check back with the L arm, pick in, allow the R foot to glide back close to the L pick and then jump up to the right.

Here is my weak attempt at the CCW version.

There is a better preparation which makes it easier to do the jump properly, but it takes more space and involves a long backward glide without looking over one's shoulder - so it is hard to do in public rinks, roads or parks where there are people around. For the CW version begin with a RFI-LBI mohawk, then do two backward crossovers and then stand up straight on the RBO with both feet together. Put the R arm out in front and the L to the side. Then bring the free L foot to just in front of the R, then to just behind, then stretch it out behind as you check the L arm back. Pick in, run on to near the pick and jump into the circle as you bring your arms up and to the right in front of you.

Here is the attempt on ice.

Here is the lutz broken down in stages.


Off from FO edge, round 1.5 times in air, land on BO edge of other foot. When it's done properly, the tracing is similar to that for a 3 jump.

Can't really do this yet, but here is my attempt is the CCW version. Sorry it's so shockingly under-rotated. The tracing for this one would probably look more like this:

There is a different preparation for the axel which I was told makes it easier to learn, and I think it does. However it does need a lot of space. The tracing is as follows:

Push directly forwards on a RFO with hands out to the sides to make a semicircle. Half way round bring the L foot in front of the R. Then bring the hands together in front and push forwards onto a LFO semicircle. Again, half way round bring the R foot in front. Finally push again onto RFO, directly forwards as before, as the arms come down and back, then swing arms and free leg up in front and do the jump. This preparation is supposed to give the timing and perhaps helps one bring the free leg through and up rather than round the side. When starting, just jump up and then land with both feet together, first doing half rotations and later full rotations.

Here you can see the attempt on ice using this preparation. Still nowhere near though. (Sigh.)

Front spin

Push off on FO into FO3 turn and then bring leg around the side and in front as you turn into the spin.

Again, I'm afraid I can't do these properly on PIC skates yet, though I gather it is possible. Here is a small CW spin. The initial circle one pushes into should be very small - just a few feet in diameter. This is accomplished by having the knee strongly bent and by leaning into the circle - try not to lean forward. Then the arms and upper body rotate into the spin right from the start as one pushes round the circle, but the leg should be left behind until the 3-turn happens. When it does, swing the leg around and in front, then bring in the foot and then hands. That's the theory anyway. To finish, push off on the BO edge of the free foot.

The conventional entry is to begin on the BI edge of the other foot, probably from an FO3 turn, and then push onto the FO edge from that. You can see that here on ice.

And here is the front spin broken down in stages.

Back spin

The tracing for the back spin would look practically the same as for the front spin except one begins on an FI edge into an FI3 turn. The trailing leg stays behind over the curve then as one makes the 3-turn on turns this leg out at the hip so that inside of the foot faces more up and out. This gets one settled on the BO edge. Then one can bring the arms and leg in.

Here it is demonstrated on ice.

And here is the back spin broken down in stages.

Change of foot spins

Here is a forward spin changed to a back spin.

And here is a back spin changed to a forward spin.

One can try changing directions as well as changing feet, as seen here. But it does get a bit confusing.

Other spins

A similar entry can be used for spins in other positions. Here is an upright spin with the hands held above the head.

And here is a camel spin, in which the body is (supposed to be) held horizontally. And here is the attempt to do it changing feet.

Feel free to email me comments.

Updated 14/11/09

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