Another progress video! Sit spins, here we go:
(About the captions – the “4 months later” etc means 4 months after the first video clip, not 4 months from the clip immediately preceding. It’s a little confusing. I haven’t figured out the best way to label the time jumps.)
This one I’m rather proud of, because I’ve worked so hard on my sit spin over the past year and there was a time I despaired of ever making progress with it. Well, I probably think that of every skill at some point, but sit spin was especially hard for me, probably because I was really afraid of falling. My coach would show me how to fall from the spin painlessly, but because I never got down far enough, the falls would bruise and that bred more fear. That meant I disliked practicing the sit spin and spent more time on other spins.
What strikes me about the early spin attempts (for scratch too) is how loose-limbed I am. When I started skating, I had the misconception that spinning required less energy than jumping, and that you just kind of spun easily on top of the ice once you figured out where the sweet spot was on your blade. Now I know a lot more about edges and power and the importance of whole-body muscle engagement going into the spins – I’m amazed that the early spins got anywhere at all, being so loose!
It took some effort to go from the barely crouched position above to the half-sitting position below, but then I got stuck. No matter how much effort I put into practicing, they just didn’t seem to improve and I was really frustrated for a while. It wasn’t a matter of leg strength or spin centering – I just couldn’t figure out how to get lower.
This is where video really helped, because there’s a point where everyone would offer up the tip to “just get lower,” as if that were so easy, and hearing it all the time would add to my frustration. It wasn’t like I didn’t want to! And sit spins always FEEL so much lower than they really are, so I’d bust my butt getting as low as I possibly could, only to hear, “Lower!”
I won’t lie, sometimes I’d think it was good enough that I was getting into a recognizable sit position, which was just about passable for an adult test. But then I would watch the videos and see that no, it wasn’t good enough, I wanted to get better.
At this point you can see that I’m leaning forward a lot, as though I could lower my torso to get further down – but bending my torso down without getting my knees and rear end down meant that I’d pitch forward. So I had to concentrate on lowering my butt, without pulling all my weight backwards on the heel.
I also started leaving the top hook unlaced on the left skate to facilitate ankle bend. And I would hold my arms as low as I could in front of me and then try to sink down to match that level, which offered a convenient visual cue.
The picture on the left is from last month and the last photo is from this week, so that one is about where I am right now. It’s funny how even watching the videos didn’t seem to show a big improvement, but when I put the photos next to each other you can see the little bits of progress. I’m still shy of the 90 degree angle that my coach wants (I think I would pass Adult Bronze with this sit spin but the standard track kids need that clear 90 degrees) so I’m still trying to get lower, but I’m pleased with it so far.
My coach showed me several off-ice exercises to strengthen my quads, but I’ve never been very good at sticking to an off-ice regimen. And to be honest, there was no real trick to getting a lower sit spin – I didn’t have a light bulb moment or a particular tip that suddenly got it to work for me. Every time I inched down a bit, the shift in position changed my spinning and I would struggle with rocking off-center and losing control, so I kept at it in tiny increments. Any time I felt myself getting lower, I’d tell myself to go a little more. And eventually, it got to a point where the difference became visible. Figure skating: No easy tricks, just lots of tedious practice. That should be a motto or something.