Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Independence of Head and Body

Back when I was showing horses, one of the things my trainer was strict about was independence of head and body.

The independence of arms and body and legs and body is also important, but I never had a problem with that.

Keeping my upper body from turning when I turned my head to look over my shoulder proved to be very difficult. Every time I skated backwards and turned my head, my shoulders went with me.

I was turning my head like Angelina Jolie in the picture below.  What's notable about this picture? The  chin is pressing down towards the shoulder.
I'm not this pretty
So, when I looked over my shoulder with my chin down towards the shoulder, I pulled my opposite shoulder with me and I'd lose my independence of body and head, making me twist and my skates turned as the body twisted.

This 'look down over the shoulder' appears to be the norm as I went through hundreds of pictures before I found this:
But I am this cute!
What worked for me was to get my chin up as I turned my head and tilted it to look over my shoulder, then my upper body maintained its independence.

Here's a better picture:

See, chin up and tilted. This works for me.

I didn't experiment much or anything, I just stumbled on it. One day I got my chin up and got stable going backwards instantly. If you're having trouble checking behind you while you skate backwards, let me know if this tip works for you, 'cause I have no idea why it works.


  1. Honestly, I think it might just be a light bulb moment. I really can't say why I can easily skate backwards while also having my head turned around to watch where I'm going, chin up or down. I think one day, your body will just "get it." There have been a lot of those aha moments for me skating. Coaches and other skaters giving advice ad nauseum. Then one day...OH! I get it!

  2. Ooh now that's an interesting picture...because of the head/body turn direction. My coaches are trying to change the way I look when I go backwards. My natural way to look if I am doing a back outside right edge would be over my left shoulder (ie out of the circle). They want me to look over my right shoulder (ie into the circle). This may be a dance vs free thing (I'm a dancer)... but it very different. Have a think about which way you are looking and see if that helps too!

  3. This is REALLY helpful. I think I'm a chin down person which is not helpin' me much. Thank you - wonky knee and all (me too) I'm working on this tomorrow - my right knee might be folding but darn, my head will be in the right place!