SYNCHRONIZED SKATING HINTS & TERMINOLOGY

If you are new to one of our teams, you may think they have their own language. Team members, who have synchronized skating experience, tend to forget how much they have learnt. Therefore the following is to assist skaters, especially our newer team members, to know what their coach and other team members mean and also to give you some hints that may assist you.

THE BASIC RULES

  1. 1. DON'T LET GO – the cardinal sin in Synchro is letting go when the coach has not told you to. A break in a formation is disruptive. It looks bad by itself, gives the team deductions from the judges and rapidly gets people out of place so that they can’t successfully do the NEXT move. So hang on for dear life. The only exception to this is rule #2:
  2. 2. FALLS – When your neighbour falls, if you are unable to quickly pull them back up, let go. If you fall, and are unable to regain your feet with the help of your neighbour let go. Being dragged can become dangerous and may pull others down as well. Remember: Always try to save a fall but if you cannot do so quickly and safely make sure you are back up and in very quickly without disrupting the program.
  3. 3. LOOK IN – In a pivot or pinwheel, look down the line towards the pivot staying straight with the opposite end. Check your alignment and adjust your speed to make the line straight between you and the pivot. Keeping your arms locked back and looking at the back of your neighbour also helps the line stay straight.
  4. 4. SKATE IN – if you are being pulled out, skate in towards the pivot point, by leaning towards the pivot point with your inside leg bent more than your outside leg. The faster you go and the farther you are from the pivot, the greater the lean. The Centrifugal force will try to fling you away from the centre, so you must counteract that by skating in. However tension is needed for a straight line, so only skate in enough to maintain this at a useful level.
  5. 5. LEFT / RIGHT – Unless otherwise instructed, any step sequence begins with the left foot.
  6. 6. ODD / EVEN – Unless otherwise instructed, in any two beat step sequence, the first step is on the odd numbered beat. For example in a sequence of step-cross-step-chasse, performed to a four count, the “steps” take place on beats 1 & 3, the “cross & the “chasse” take place on beats 2 & 4.
  7. 7. ARMS STRAIGHT – Elbows locked. Limp arms and loose elbows give no support to you or your neighbours, and may pull them off balance. It also provides no strength to the formation. Limp arms allow formations to buckle.
  8. 8. DIFFERENTIAL SPEED – in order for wheels to work, skaters at and near the middle skate very slowly. Sometimes they are hardly moving at all. With each position outward from the centre, skaters go a little faster. Skaters at the end go fastest of all. It is important that the centre people skate slowly enough to let the skaters on the ends keep up. Remember - The end people need to control the speed.
  9. 9. LEARN YOUR NEIGHBOUR’S PARTS – in a performance of competition you will not be able to refresh yourself on what your role will be if your neighbour falls or drops out of the formation. You must know what to do, e.g.; end arms, who to hold onto, and where to pass through etc., if your neighbour is suddenly not there.
  10. 10. DON’T STOP – If someone falls or drops out of the program .…even during practice …. don’t stop. You will not have the opportunity to stop during competition, so practice coping with accidents even in practice. Keep the program going until the coach tells you to stop or the coach stops the music.
  11. 11. GRAB IN FRONT - when you are joining with someone in front and someone behind, you are responsible for looking to the person in front to the person in front and grabbing their hand (or whatever). You are responsible for putting your hand out in back for some to grab. HAVE FAITH the person behind will grab without you watching which destroys unison.
  12. 12. CHECK YOUR ALIGNMENT – constantly. Adjust your speed to keep lines straight, circles round etc.
  13. 13. SHOULDERS ON THE LINE – no matter what direction your hips and legs are skating, your shoulders must be lined up along the direction of travel. This isn’t always comfortable, but if your shoulders are not along the line of travel, you pull you neighbours out of the path they must take. This is true in straight lines, curved lines, and circles.
  14. 14. FLOW - A program should flow from one element/formation to another, with no stops or pauses while skaters “wait for the music” to begin the next manoeuvre. It’s important to get to elements/formations at exactly the right moment so that you can be stable enough to begin the next move, but so you will not look as if you had to “wait”.
  15. 15. HEADS / ARMS / SMILE – each step consists of the feet, location of the head and arms. As soon as you know the step, always practice it WITH the correct head and arm position and with a smile (unless the move or music requires some other expression).
  16. 16. LOOK UP – hold you head up, and look at the fop of the stands near the ceiling. If you look down, or straight out at eye level, the audience and judges will see only the top of your head. Practice this every time. This is especially important overseas where stands are much bigger and judges sit much higher.
  17. 17. SMILE – throughout the program unless otherwise instructed. A frown or a serious look gives the impression that you are uncertain of the program. It is hard to remember to smile, especially with the stress of competition, so remember to smile during practice, to make it a habit.
  18. 18. PERFORM – A Synchro program is a performance, not an exam. Look as if you are delighted to be there, and can hardly wait to show what a great program you have. Perform as if you had just jumped out of a cake! Concentrating on the fun and on projecting the performance will make the steps easier and faster, and will help get the audience and judges “into” the program.
  19. 19. EXAGGERATE – Make every move BIG. The audience and judges are a long way away, and whatever you do looks smaller from a distance.
  20. 20. PRACTICE – Every move needs to be automatic. The only way to make this happen is to practice it. Practice on you own, on ice, in your living room, and by doing your mental rehearsals
  21. 21. MATCH – The second most serious sin in synchro is not matching the rest of the team in your steps. (Remember that the first was letting go). You must all be the same in timing, in style, and in degree. Kicks and chasses should be the same height, extensions and skating edge depth should match, spirals should be equally high, head turns should be equally sharp, etc. It is not a virtue to show how high you can kick if no one else can match it.
  22. 22. KNOW THE MUSIC – The third most serious sin of synchro is not skating to the music. The only way to make sure that you skate to the music and on time with it is to know the music intimately. Get especially familiar with changes between pieces of music, pauses and changes of tempo, so that your body just KNOWS when the change is coming and how long it takes, and so that if you miss a step or fall and have to get back to the routine, you know just what to do as soon as you have gotten over the problem.
  23. 23. KNOW THE COUNTS – You can’t rely on watching other people to let you know when to do things, or what to do. You must know for yourself how many of what is done and what order. If you wait for a hint from other skaters, you will do the steps later.
  24. 24. DON’T RUSH – In the excitement of competition, the tendency is to rush. Keep track of the music, and don’t get ahead of it. Finish each move before starting the next. Rushing and “anticipation” shows up especially in kicklines, and in transitions where a team gets to a new element/formation so early that they have to wait for the music before beginning the next element/formation. If you are getting someplace too quickly, adjust your speed.
  25. 25. WHEN A CIRCLE BREAKS - the ends drift out, and the skaters at the break cannot rejoin by themselves. They need help from the whole circle. All skaters near the break (within about 4 or 5 from the end) need to skate IN, trying to make the circle smaller. Pull in with the inside foot, and push in with the outside foot. The skater on the trailing end of the break needs to aim NOT toward the person they are trying to join, but farther in, several people in from the other end of the break.
  26. 26. WHEN THE LINE BREAKS - skate in toward the break. Skaters on both sides of the break need to help. If the line that breaks is in a pinwheel, skaters outside the break need to skate in as hard as they can, and skaters on the inside need to take care not to let the pinwheel speed up now that fewer skaters are attached.

HOLDS

There are many different ways to hold on to other skaters, and a good routine will have a variety of holds. Holds are constantly evolving, but these are the basic ones

  1. 1. Shoulder - Left arm in front, right arm in back. Arms straight. The one-in-front/one-in-back hold gives stability. If you have both arms in front you will be pushed forward off the line. If both are in back, you will drop off the back. (Note: In our club we put the left arm in front and the right is in back however on some teams they hold the opposite way e.g. right in front and left behind.)
  2. 2. Hands - Palms in. (Place your hands at your sides, palms on your thighs, then extend forward or back as appropriate, keeping your palms "facing in" to your body). The front thumb will be pointing up and the back one will be pointing down. You are responsible for grabbing the hand in front: wrap your thumb and forefinger around your neighbour’s wrist, and have her thumb (which will be pointing downward) between your little finger and the next finger. Having the thumb between two fingers is what gives this hold its stability. The front hold will feel more secure than the back, but remember that to the person in back of you, her hold on YOUR hand feels secure.
  3. 3. Wrists - Wrists facing. Wrap your whole hand around your neighbour’s wrist, extend your forefinger up the inside of her arm. Wrist holds can be painful on a curve, when half the wrists are forced to bend backward
  4. 4. Elbows, Open Elbow - Grab above the elbow, not on it.
  5. 5. Open Arm - Grab below the elbow.
  6. 6. Choo-choo - There are several types. The most common is with both hands on hips/waist of skater in front of you. Sometimes one hand will be on the waist, and the other on the shoulder. Sometimes both hands will be resting on the shoulders of the skater in front.
  7. 7. Basketweave - there are several types, but each involves holding the hand of the skater just beyond your neighbour on either side. The basketweave puts skaters very close to each other, and can be extremely stable. The important thing, once you have gotten connected, is to keep your elbows locked to give support to the line:
  8. 8. Front basketweave - Stand in a line, side by side, hip to hip. Extend your right hand to the side, reaching across in front of your neighbour, and take the hand of the person just beyond her. The neighbour to your left will extend her right arm across your front to hold the hand of the person to your right. Now put your left arm over the hand that is stretched across you from the left, and grab the hand of the person just beyond. The person to your right will put her left arm over your right, to take the hand of the person to your left. You have one hand over and one under, one palm facing out and one facing in. The skater on the end of the line takes the "last free hand" with her outside hand.
  9. 9. Back basketweave - as above, but hands are in back, one over and one under, one palm out, and one in.
  10. 10. Mock basketweave - Two lines of skaters in a hand-to-hand hold merge into one, with one line ducking under the arms of the other line, and coming up in the "spaces", still holding on. If the line that ducks comes from the back, the basketweave will be in back. If the line backs in from the front, the basketweave will be in front. Another type of mock basketweave has one line ducking under into the spaces of another line, letting go of hands and reconnecting on the other side, while the line that didn't duck keeps its original hold.
  11. 11. Teapot - Crook one elbow and place that hand on your hip. The other hand holds onto the upper arm of the neighbour who has crooked HER elbow. You have to HOLD the crooked arm in place and not let it get pulled out, or else the neighbour holding it will slide away.
  12. 12. Muscle Grip - Arms out at shoulder height, bent at elbows, lower arms pointing upward, palms in. The upper arms are "wrapped" so that your arm and palm are pressing inward toward you AGAINST your neighbour’s arm and palm which are pressing inward toward her.
  13. 13. Half Muscle Grip - Shoulder hold, but one arm is bent upward at the elbow. Each skater has the "same" arm up, eg. all skaters have left arm holding right shoulder of their neighbour, and right arm bent upward. In this hold, the only thing keeping the line together is the single arm (in this case the left) holding the neighbour’s shoulder.
  14. 14. Lattice - In a block or a parallel pinwheel, one arm connects to the skater beside you, and the other to the skater in front of you.

ELEMENTS/FORMATIONS

Elements/Formations are constantly evolving, and many have a variety of names. All formations are some variation of the five basic types: wheel, line, circle, block, and intersecting move

  1. 1. Pinwheel, 3 spoke, 4 spoke etc. - Spokes should be evenly spaced, and each spoke extends straight out from the centre unless otherwise instructed. A wheel can have as few as one line rotating around a spot in the centre of the line, or it can be composed of as many spokes as can fit around a common centre. Wheels with more than six spokes are unusual.
  2. 2. Open Wheel - A Wheel in which the spokes are not joined at the centre.
  3. 3. Pivot Wheel - A line that pivots around one end. The line should extend straight out from the pivot point.
  4. 4. S-Wheel - A pinwheel composed of a single line in which the two ends are curved strongly opposite each other to form an S. The ends of the S should not extend beyond the pivot.
  5. 5. Infinity, Eight - An S-Wheel in which the ends are joined across the pivot to form an infinity sign, or a figure 8.
  6. 6. Zinger - A pinwheel with three or more spokes in which the spokes are curved all in the same direction to "wrap around" the centre. Spokes should be evenly spaced around the centre.
  7. 7. Travelling Wheel - A wheel in which the centre of rotation (the pivot point) changes position on the rink.
  8. 8. Parallel pinwheel - A wheel in which two or more parallel lines rotate as if they were one. The hardest thing in a parallel wheel is keeping the centres of the lines aligned with each other.
  9. 9. Intersecting 3 Spoke / Egg Beater - Two or more wheels rotating close to each other in opposite directions and slightly out of phase, so that the spokes overlap.
  10. 10. Block - Any arrangement of multiple lines in a block. The alignment of lines and rows needs to be maintained throughout a block manoeuvre. Blocks are often nicknamed by what footwork is contained in them, or by the music they are skated to in a particular program (e.g. the waltz block, the lunge block)
  11. 11. Pyramid Block - A block in which lines are graduated in length and offset so that a solid triangular shape is formed (e.g. three lines 3, 5, and 7 skaters long). Alignment of lines is extremely important so that the pyramid shape is maintained throughout the manoeuvre.
  12. 12. Rotating block - A block in which the entire formation rotates around a common centre, maintaining the block form throughout. (like a parallel pinwheel with three or more short lines)
  13. 13. Line, Kickline - A straight line, usually of the entire team.
  14. 14. Intersection, Pass-through - Any move in which two lines or sets of lines pass through each other usually (but not always) by having one or both of the lines or sets of lines let go and rejoin following the pass.
  15. 15. Splice - Two lines, originally end-to-end, skim past each other face to face or back to back, trading places and usually forming a single line after the pass/cross. The skaters that were on the outside at the beginning are in the middle after the cross. If the two lines are opposite spokes of a pinwheel, it is usually called a cross, if the lines are not part of a pinwheel; it is usually called a pass.
  16. 16. V, or Double V - A line or set of parallel lines shaped like a V or a V within a V.
  17. 17. Wave - Two or more lines come very close to each other and then curve away, "glancing off" each other. Lines are usually face to face, skaters have feet held in line with each other, both travelling on the same "tracing", one foot in front of the other, one on an inside edge, one on an outside edge.
  18. 18. Circle - The fewer the skaters, the greater the torque and the more difficult it is to perform complex footwork.
  19. 19. Thread the needle - A move in which one or more lines pass through perpendicular to another formation by passing between the skaters of the other formation.
  20. 20. Clock or Lollipop - A line pivots around one end. A circle forms around the pivot end, with the centre of the circle being the pivot point of the line. Both the line and the circle rotate, sometimes in the same direction (but at different speeds), sometimes in opposite directions. The skaters in the circle duck under the line as it passes over them. If the line is short in relation to the size of the circle, it's a clock. If the line is long, it's a lollipop.
  21. 21. Snail - A line that curves in on itself. The formation is circular, but the ends are not attached, and the inner end is "wrapped" by the remainder of the line.
  22. 22. Travelling - Any rotating formation can be made to "travel", that is to change the position of its centre on the rink.
  23. 23. Intersecting Move - This is official term for any move in which skaters or groups of skaters "pass through" other skaters or groups of skaters. It can apply to lines, blocks, circles, etc

STEPS

  1. 1. Step - The visible tracing on the ice that is executed on one foot. It may con­sist of an edge or a turn such as a three or counter or a flat (which usually is not acceptable.)
  2. a) Edge - the visible tracing on the ice produced by a skater skating on one foot that is on a distinct curve
  3. b) Change of Edge - the visible tracing on the ice that changes from one distinct curve to another distinct curve with no change of foot
  4. c) Flat - the visible double tracing on the ice that is straight (imprinted by the skater skating on one foot on both edges of the blade.
  5. 2. Open Stroke - A step started close beside the skating foot without crossing in front or behind. It should be noted that on all forward edges the free leg is held behind before coming to the skating foot for the next step. On all back­ward edges the free leg is held forward before returning to the skating foot for the next step.
  6. 3. Cross Roll / Cross Stroke - A step started with the feet crossed so that the impetus or power is gained from the outside edge of the foot that is becoming the free foot. (Note - the legs cross above the knees.)
  7. 4. Crossed Behind - A step in which the free foot is placed on the ice on the outer edge side of the skating foot with the free leg crossed behind the skat­ing leg. (Note - the legs cross below the knees.)
  8. 5. Chasse - A step combination during which the free foot is placed beside the skating foot, but not ahead of it, with the new free foot leaving the ice beside the new skating foot.
  9. a) Crossed Behind Chasse - A chasse in which the free foot is placed on the ice crossed behind the skating foot when skating forward or crossed in front when skating backward.
  10. b) Slide Chasse - A chasse in which the free foot slides off the ice in front when the skater is skating forward and behind when the skater is skating back­ward.
  11. 6. Progressive (Run) - A step or sequence of steps in which the free fool passes the skating foot before it is placed on the ice, thereby bringing the new free foot off the ice trailing the new skating foot.
  12. 7. Roll - A short or long, forward or backward edge, which curves in the opposite direction to the preceding edge thus creating the rolling movement that gives the step its name.
  13. a) Swing Roll - A roll held for several beats of music during which the free leg first swings forward, then backward to the skating foot to be placed on the ice beside the skating foot.
  14. b) Cross Roll - A roll started forward with the feet crossed in front or back-ward with the feet crossed behind. The impetus is gained from the outside edge of the skating foot as it becomes the free foot.
  15. 8. Turn - A rotational movement in which the skater moves from forward to backward or backward to forward.
  16. a) Three - A turn executed on one foot from an outside edge to an inside edge or an inside edge to an outside edge, with the exit curve continuing on the same lobe as the entry curve.
  17. b) Dropped Three - A three turn in which the weight is almost immediately transferred ("dropped") to the free foot as it becomes the skating foot for the next step.
  18. c) Quick Dropped Three - A rotational movement performed so rapidly that it takes place almost on the same spot or within one beat of music. The turn is made from a forward outside three to the backward outside edge of the opposite foot, then the skater immediately steps forward onto the original foot. Such a sequence may be skated with forward or backward, inside or outside three turns.
  19. d) Waltz Three - A three turn skated with the free leg extended close to the ice, and the toe and hip well turned out and held over the tracing. The instep of the free foot is then drawn close to the heel of the skating foot as the turn is made. After the turn the free foot is extended and held ahead of the tracing before being brought back beside the skating foot in time for the next step.
  20. e) Swing Rocker or Counter - A type of rocker or counter in which the free foot swings smoothly past close to the skating foot before the turn and after the turn is either moved past the skating foot and held behind over the tracing or allowed to swing forward.
  21. 9. Mohawk - A turn from one foot to the other in which the entry and exit curves are continuous and of equal depth. The change of foot is from an outside edge to an outside edge or from an inside edge to an inside edge.
  22. a) Open Mohawk - A mohawk in which the heel of the free foot is placed on the ice at the inner side of the skating foot, the angle between the two feet being optional. Following the weight transfer, the immediate position of the new free foot is behind the heel of the new skating foot.
  23. b) Closed Mohawk - A mohawk in which the instep of the free foot is held at the heel of the skating foot until the free foot is placed on the ice behind the heel of the skating foot. Following the weight transfer, the immediate position of the new free foot is in front of the new skating foot.
  24. c) Swing Mohawk - An open or closed mohawk in which the free leg swings forward closely past the skating leg, and then back to the skating foot to execute the turn.
  25. 10. Choctaw - A turn from one foot to the other in which the curve of the exit edge is in the opposite direction to that of the entry edge. The change of foot is from outside edge to inside edge or inside edge to outside edge. Unless otherwise specified in the dance description, the free foot is placed on the ice close to the skating foot. The entry and exit edge are of equal depth.
  26. a) Open Choctaw - A choctaw in which the free foot is placed on the ice at the inner side of the skating foot. Following the weight transfer the immediate position of the new free foot is behind the heel of the new skating foot.
  27. b) Closed Choctaw - a choctaw in which the instep of the free foot is held at the heel of the skating foot until the free foot is placed on the ice behind the heel of the skating foot. Following the weight transfer the immediate position of the new free foot is in front of the new skating foot.
  28. c) Swing Choctaw - An open or closed choctaw in which the free leg swings forward closely past the skating leg and then back to the skating foot to execute the turn.
  29. 11. Twizzle - A turn of one or more complete rotations which are executed so quickly that the action takes place almost on the same spot. The turn may rotate in either the clockwise or the counter clockwise direction. The weight remains on the skating foot with the free foot close beside it ready to skate the exit edge.

See also the ISU Special Regulations & Technical Rules for Synchronized Skating read Rule 903 -  Synchronized Skating Definitions

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