Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Strike

In my old figures books, what we now call a push off or even just a push, used to be called 'the strike'. Doesn't that have a powerful sound?

"Set up for your strike." the older coach said, "You can absolutely dominate your opponent with the quality of the strike." He paused drawing on his pipe, while his eyes darkened with memories of figures past, "Do it for America."

So begins the never to be written figure skating novel dealing with with the vicious competition at the 1960's Olympics cold war fought on the figures ice. Yep---that's a best seller.

Dick Button
 Anyway, Coach Cruella is not the only coach to lecture me on my strike, but she's the only coach to keep after it and get me doing it correctly.

I know how to do a strike. You set up in the T push position, then put all your weight on the inside edge of the back foot. As little weight as possible should be on the front foot.  Bend your knees and push off.

Only, it never worked for me. I would be hunched and bend forward, or my kneebend wouldn't be enough. Good posture is necessary so I can get the weight on the back skate. Hunched over, or bent forward meant no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get my weight solid on the back skate. So in previous posts I've discussed Coach Cruella's rules for getting good posture:
  1. Put 'the girls' on the table
  2. Shine the headlights (in my language 'assume the position of the sitting trot')
  3. Pinch your shoulder blades towards each other
Good kneebend is necessary to get a good push. She introduced her one rule for kneebend with the hyperbole:
  1. Bend your knees so you can hold a basketball with your legs
Unfortunately, I'm naturally more of a bend your knees so you can hold a whiffleball girl myself. What she's trying to get accross to me is that I need a lot more kneebend than I think I do. It's been hard to make the basketball mindset a habit, unless someone is there eyeing me. I know it's the right thing to do, but my body forgets.

Not long ago I had a bad fall doing a mohawk. The kind of thing where I thought I wouldn't get up from without two coaches lifting me.  But after I stopped sliding on the ice, I clawed my way up, and skated away from it.

"You fell," Coach Cruella told me, "Because you didn't have enough kneebend on that first push."

Right. I'm permanently motivated. That fall was scary. BEND THAT KNEE! EVERYTIME!

Now I have the upper body positioned so I can put my weight solidly on the back skate, and the kneebend so I can hit the sweet spot when I straighten the back leg. The strike is looking good!

Power and control together. Perfect.


  1. Ouch! Hope you were wearing your wrist guards...

    1. The wrist, knee and elbow guards did their job very well. The bad part was when I felt the ankle bend under me as I fell on it--but nothing bad happened.

  2. Today, I tried out the knee bend to hold a basketball when standing in the t-position, and it greatly improved my push for starting the sequential edges exercise (series of half circles down the ice). Thank you!

    I'd love to hear more details what Coach Cruella is having you do for mohawks. (My coach is planning to work on those with me on Monday.)

    1. For the mohawk there's things going off in sequence with perfect timing. Only your coach can help you with that. For the mohawk as I'm learning it, there's like 6 sub-steps that go off in sequence with very quick or parallel transitions. I'm not that good a writer to put that into words.