Thursday, October 18, 2012

Back Underpush instead of a Back Crossover

Much technical skating jabberwocky in this post. Sorry.

So in an earlier post, I mentioned that when doing back crossovers I have a tendency to do an underpush on my weak side. I also mentioned 'advanced alternating back crossovers'. This post will explain both those. I assume you know basic skating terminology about edges,  inside and outside, because this post is full of that.

Back Crossovers (AKA back crossovers with a crosscut, and Big Girl Back Crossovers)
Note: I am not a coach (obviously) I'm just writing this using the editorial 'you'. Don't consider this instruction.

Skate backwards on two feet, facing inside the circle. You step obliquely back into the circle with the inside leg so that you lean inside the circle. Your blade inside the circle should be on the outside edge. Your blade on the outside of the circle should be on the inside edge. 

As you're gliding backwards on these two now separated feet, draw the front (outside) leg across the back (inside) leg so that the front boot passes in front of the back boot. Remember the front boot is on the inside edge.

When the front leg is drawn across the back leg, the front foot moves, and the back foot stays fixed (relative to your body).

The Underpush in Back Crossovers
In an underpush, the front (outside) foot stays fixed, and the back (inside) foot crosses behind and under the front leg.

The reason I get to the underpush on my weak side is because I'm on an flat on my inside leg, and a weak outside edge (or a flat) on my outside leg. In other words, on my weak side I don't have the strong lean into the circle I need. Instead I draw my stronger leg back leg (the one inside the circle), under the fixed front leg.  I know they're wrong, but I'm in my happy place doing these. This week two coaches made me fix them.
How I feel about leaving my happy place
Inherently, an underpush going backwards is not a bad move (my way is just a bad way to do them). You see it all the time in elite skaters. Maybe they use it for  positioning, timing, spacing, or setting up for the next element.  I don't know why they use it, it's just there.

Advanced Alternating Back Crossovers
This is a USFSA term from the Adult Basic Learn to Skate video. And as this post is too long already, I'll post that tomorrow.


  1. That underpush on a back crossover is for power. It's the same reason you want a follow-through on your under foot in a front crossover. For real power, there should be a push coming from BOTH feet...over first, then under...whether forwards or backwards. At least, that's what I've been told by coaches. Basically, you should be accelerating with each crossover because you gain momentum with each stroke, rather than having a stroke with the crossing foot, and then a glide (where you slow down slightly). This is why the more advanced MIF test has those power circle things on it, where you start cross-overs on a circle an are expected to increase in both speed and circle circumference as you do more steps. (Sorry for my lack of technical specificity there.)

    Good luck reworking them! I know how hard it is to relearn something that's comfortable (even if it's weakly so).

    1. I'm a long way from what you described I'm afraid.

    2. yep, the underpush is's your knee bend on your "weak" side? I find it helps to really sit into the crossover and look backward, along that arm that's pressed behind you. You always want to look in the direction you're skating. Try counting time. 2 beats for the initial pump, crossover, 2 beats to hold that inside leg in position and glide on your outside leg (inside edge). (I warm up with a count of 4/4, then 2/2, then 1/1...kind of like those power-circles described.) Also, someone once suggested to me to pull your toe up a bit toward your leg when lifting that inside leg; helps keep that inside leg from going wild (I was on the synchro team; it's essential not to go wild or you might catch another skater's skate).

      apologies if that was all too much unsolicited advice...when I crossover, neither of my legs are "stationary" as you say above. Both are working in tandem. You'll get this.

  2. Q explained it way better than I did! Also, thanks, Q, for that. I forgot about the toe up thing (and I suspect I forget about it too often when I'm working on crossovers on the ice too). I find that 2/2 count to be very useful but soooooo hard. Thanks for the reminders, though.

    Babbette, you will get this! I'll bet you aren't as far from it as you think. (I can't do the power circles yet; I just know that's the principle of them.)