When I used to ride horses, I wore spurs. I had a trainer who told me to wear them because "You always know where your heels are." That's praise in riding circles. I never jabbed the horse with them, I just used them for subtle cues when doing equitation. It's an art to ride with spurs.
You'd think with skillz like that, knowing where my feet are when I skate would be easy. It turns out, that I have no clue.
More than once I've had a coach say, "Your free foot is in the wrong place." I cheerfully confess that especially in mohawks, I know that the free foot is pointing inside the circle. Where it is relative to my skating foot--no idea. Ahead at the toe, back at the heel, where? Where?
So Coach Cruella has me doing exercises where I get on a strong inside edge, then move my free foot to mohawk position (while simultaneously going deeper in the knee) then hold it.
And hold it. And then hold it some more. But not do the turn. This is a position exercise, not a turn exercise.
She does the same for my free leg with the three turn exercises. I stroke, hold the leg in the extended position, then go down in the knee, again, again (for the outside 3), but again, and again (for the inside 3). My job is to hold that edge, hold that posture, hold that extension.
This is pretty effective, especially with someone there the first few times to point out where the free foot is going wrong.
After about 10 minutes of this work on threes and mohawks, I have a much more refined sense of my foot position. It's hardly a miracle cure, I'll need to practice this many times for it to become second nature, but it shows that focused practice can have immediate effects on my basic skating skills.
|Whoa! Too far back on the heel! Bend the knee!|