Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pretty Forward Stroking

Coach Cruella has been working on smoothing some things out in my mohawks, FI3, and backwards mohawks (turn forwards) so I didn't have anything really new from this week's lesson. So, I decided to write about the approach she took to get me to get better posture in forward stroking. (Although one other coach tried to fix my problem stroking, I forgot her lesson. I'm not made of memory!)

My tendency was to put my free leg so it was behind (trailing) my skating leg. I thought this was the proper way to do it. In trailing my free leg behind my skating leg, that made me ever so slightly turn my hips so they were canted off from the line of travel.  Anyway, with my hips out of line, I couldn't get upright posture.

This is how I forward stroke now based on what I learned from Coach Cruella.
1. Take a strong forward stroke on a deep knee.
2. Bring the free leg to the '7 o'clock position'. This is, not trailing my skating leg, but off set just a little to the side. The thighs may be slightly separated. (Well, my thighs are like easter hams, so there's still touching. You may be genetically luckier than I am)
3. I make sure my hips are square to the line of travel
4. Now here's what I found. If I'm not careful during the stroke the knee of the free leg is pointed directly to the ice. What I have to do is keep the free leg straight and gently rotate it in the hip socket, so the knee sort of turns away from the ice. (Not so much that the knee points forward, just a tiny rotation so it points less down). I don't move the hips, just slightly rotate the leg in the ball joint of the hip.  Oh, and point the toe.
5. At some point in the rotation (it's doesn't take very much), I find my upper body popping into good posture, and I stop the rotation. I think this motion rotates the top of the pelvis back. It seems to gently pull the butt under, tucking the abdomen in and BINGO! the chest and shoulders pop up.
6. After I do a couple of these both sides, my body settles into that as my normal stroking method. But I have to do it a few times and concentrate every time I start a session.

I think I look nice in the glass--not perfect, but the posture is good, and my dance coach doesn't bark anything worse than "Bring the free leg higher!"  Sorry, Dance Coach, that's a Y.O.W.L issue. I need to be younger or weigh less.

Anyway, Coach Amazing taught me a nice stoking exercise last year that's helped improve my balance. Stroke. Bring the skate of the free leg to the ankle of the skating leg. Extend the free leg to the clock positions, one at a time.  So, stroke, tuck, extend to 1 o'clock. Stroke, tuck, extend to 2 o'clock. etc. Sometimes I can get two in: stroke, tuck, extend, tuck extend. Three o'clock is a bear to do without leaning over. The challenge is to do this slowly so I stress my core muscles, and my balance, as well as the free leg.


  1. Can't wait to try these pointers tomorrow - thank you.

  2. For turning the free leg out (step #4), I think about pointing the toe to the side, rather than letting it point down at the ice.

    I am looking forward to trying out balance exercise you described!

    1. The way you describe Step #4 is how Cruella taught me. I focus on the hip joint for some reason.

      you can also vary the balance exercise by extending the leg first to the 12 o'clock then slowly around to the 6. A rond de jambe.