20 Jun 2004 04:10:12
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Recreational Figure Skating FAQ - Basic Skills

Archive-name: sports/skating/ice/rec-skate/basics
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Last-modified: May 10 2004
Version: 1.017


2. Basic Skating

It is tempting for the eager skater to advance quickly through
learning the basics, and it's a temptation that's worth resisting. If
you want to progress, it is time well invested to learn the basics
thoroughly, even if the moves are a little uncomfortable for you. Like
a pyramid, everything else you do as a skater will be built on these
first skills.

2.1 First time out

1. Don't wear multiple or thick socks, and don't tuck your pants into
your boot tops. It won't help you stay warm and you don't want any
compressible padding between the boot and your foot, since in the
extreme, this makes the fit sloppy.

2. Don't chew gum, carry knives or key rings in your pockets etc.
while skating.

3. Get skates that are at least as small as your shoe size, and if you
have to take a pair a half-size off, go smaller.

4. Lace your skates up all the way, and snugly. If your toes go numb
within a few minutes, you've laced them too tightly. If, when you
stand up on dry land, your ankles flop to the inside, you haven't
laced them tightly enough (or else the skates are too big, or possibly
are just worn out). Don't let your laces flop around loosely. If there
is extra lace, do something such as double knotting them to keep them
from tripping you!

5. Wear gloves. They protect your hands in falls

6. Don't use your toe-picks to stop or start. In fact, try to keep off
of your toe-picks.

7. Start out by just "marching" on the ice,lifting your knees and
putting your feet back down flat in the same place. Do not try to step
ahead heel and toe as if you were walking on land.

8. Stand up straight (don't bend forward, it will make you fall
forward), and hold your hands/arms out slightly to your sides. (Don't
feel silly .... look around ... everyone else has their arms out).
Your body will THINK that it's safer with you hunched over ... because
you are closer to the ground, but believe me, it's a lot safer to be
standing up straight.

9. Bend your knees. All the time. Maybe "bend your knees" doesn't
convey all it should. Try this. Stand on dry land in shoes. Bend your
knees AND ankles,

O
|
/

-

so you look like this from the side. Your feet are FLAT on the ground.
Your weight is behind the ball of your foot. In fact, the flex of your
foot should put pressure backward from the ball of your foot. Your
hips are directly over your heels. Your back is upright. You are
looking straight ahead (not down). Bounce a bit up and down in this
position. Your knees and ankles will bend more, and your hips and
upper body rise and fall, but your hips are ALWAYS right above your
heels, and your back and head are always upright. And your feet remain
flat on the ground, with the weight no farther forward than the balls
of your feet, and probably more nearly under your arch. If you ski,
you should be familiar with this "sitting" position.

10. Think about how you walk, stand, stand on one foot, etc. You can't
stand on one foot if you don't center your weight over that foot.
Exactly the same thing applies to skating.

11. Skate WITH traffic. Don't go into the center of the rink where
there are people practicing jumps, spins, and footwork. They are
staying out of your way. You stay out of theirs. Don't stand around
next to the boards or in the middle of traffic. Don't hook up with
more than one other person.

12. Watch where you are going. If you get brave enough to go
backwards, look BEHIND you to see where you are going. Watch where
other people are going, and try to get a sense of where they WILL BE.

13. Experiment with your arms. Glide forward on 2 feet, with your arms
out to your sides. Turn your shoulders/arms to the left and notice
that you turn to the left without doing anything at all with your
feet. This is an illustration of the degree to which the upper body
controls what happens with your feet.

14. Remember that everything in skating (well, almost) is done on a
curve. If you are trying to turn around, do it on a curve, not in a
straight line, and it will be much easier.

15. Ask for help. Most people will be happy to provide it. You can get
some really good advice sometimes from kids who are flattered to be
asked. While you are watching the explanation, stand with your skates
in a T shape, not parallel. They're less likely to slip out from under
you this way.

16. When you fall, roll over onto your side, get onto your knees, then
bring one leg up so that one skate is on the ice. Help yourself up
with your hands, and stand up on the skate that's on the ice. Don't
try to stand up with both blades touching the ice. They'll just slide
out from under you. Don't stay down on the ice. It's not safe for you
or anyone else. Exception: If you fall really hard, and really hurt,
stay put for a minute to let the shock wash over you before you get
up. Then skate to the side and get off the ice for a few minutes.

2.2 Falling and protective equipment

The "bad falls" are often the ones that you are least prepared for,
while the falls resulting from various failed or incomplete moves are
usually fairly predictable and are softened to some degree as a
result. If you feel like you are going to fall, go ahead and do it.
Fighting it often makes the fall harder and more awkward. We all know
some of those falls are painful and others are very scary. However
after falling a few times, you will learn techniques for falling. The
basic principles are:

a) Keep your head up. If falling backwards tuck your chin into your
chest so you don't hit your head.
b) Get your arms out of the way so you won't land on them.
c) Try not to fall on your tailbone, knees or elbows. The best
"landing gear" are the muscle masses of the thigh/hips and
arms/shoulders.

Beginners should wear helmets, and experienced skaters wear protective
gear (mostly knee pads) when learning a new jump. If you wear
eyeglasses, use a retainer or "croakie". Ski or sporting goods stores
usually have an assortment.

It is extremely important for you to understand that you can fall and
not hurt yourself. When you realize that you are losing your balance
"get down" and then roll off to either side. You want to avoid going
over forward, since your toe picks will catch. Bend those knees and
get your body mass as close to the ice as you can so you don't have
much further to "fall".

Better still, practice falling. It is a skill like any other in
skating and it needs practice.

When you do hit, you want to translate the force of hitting the ice
from a direct impact to a sliding or rolling movement. It is
conventional wisdom to take the brunt of a backwards fall with one of
the cheeks of your butt. Roll the fall if you can to spread the
impact. Slow down a forwards fall with your outstretched arms, and
absorb the fall with your chest (and don't hit your knees or your
chin). Remember that wrists are fragile -- it's better to land on the
muscle mass of the upper arm and shoulder. If you are worried about
hurting your wrists, wearing wrist guards will provide adequate
protection.

The fear/timidity factor is often what holds a skater at a given level
of performance. They may learn a move on ice/floor, but lack the
confidence to balance on one foot, required for any real skating. They
can get stuck with trying to skate backwards, which prevents getting
past turns. They may manage a mohawk, but after a few thumps find a
3-turn daunting.

The view is widely held that if you don't fall during a practice
session, you are skating too defensively and thus are not pushing
yourself hard enough to make real progress. Many skaters will tell you
they don't feel "loose" until they have fallen once to get rid of the
fear.

If you do fall...

1) Don't worry if you're still afraid the first few times out. As long
as you keep getting back out there, eventually you *will* get over it.
2) Try wearing hip, knee and butt pads. Even if you don't fall it will
give you a sense of security.
3) Never, repeat never, skate with your hands in your pockets!
4) Think about why you fell and what you can do to prevent it from
happening again.
5) Take it easy the first couple times back out on the ice. No need to
rush back into doing dangerous things. Do it when you feel you're
ready.

2.3 Stopping

2.3.1 Snowplow stops

The easiest stop is a snowplow, in which you turn your toes toward
each other in a V, then put pressure on one of the blades (the right
will probably feel better) so that it skids sideways along the ice
(instead of gliding ahead), and slows you down. Try not to lean
forward or tip onto your toes when doing this. It may help if you
first bend your knees and think in terms of pushing your heel out,
rather than turning your toe in.

2.3.2 Hockey stops

See about down-up-down. Hockey stops involve an up-down movement and a
slight forward shift of weight to the part of the blade under the
balls of your feet. With both skates together and on the ice, rise up
, which will cause your weight to rock forward a bit. Quickly turn
your skates 90 degrees to the side which will cause them to skid, and
then sink down again, leaning slightly away from the direction of
travel, which will press the edges into the ice.

After you have completed a hockey stop, your upper body -- head,
shoulders and torso -- will STILL be facing in the original direction
of motion. Your arms may not be exactly perpendicular to that
direction; in fact, the "back" arm (the one that corresponds to the
trailing skate) may be slightly forward to assist in the twist and
help maintain balance.

BUT

Your lower body will be facing at 90 degrees from the original
direction of motion. Your knees and toes will be pointing toward the
side, and your hips will also be facing toward the side. This
position, in which the upper body is twisted at (approx.) 90 degrees
from the lower body is VERY COMMON in various skating moves, so you
might as well get used to it.

2.3.3 T-stops

While gliding forward on one skate, bring the free skate in toward the
heel and turn the skate perpendicular to the one on the ice all in one
smooth motion without lifting the free skate more than an inch or so
from the ice. Firstly, remember that it is the outside edge of the
braking skate that touches the ice. The braking skate should be placed
so that the middle of the blade intersects with the skating foot's
blade, that is you are forming a perfect T. You want your foot far
enough back so that you do not step on the blade of the skating foot
(disastrous results will ensue if you do), but close enough so that
you can comfortably gradually shift your weight onto that braking
skate's outside edge.

Don't forget to practice with the other foot as well. Do them going
quite slowly until you get a feel for the balance, then pick up speed
gradually.

2.4 Posture

The most frequent cause of balance problems is posture. It is
imperative that you keep your knees bent, torso upright and head up.
Keep you eyes at least over the top of the boards. There seems to be a
natural defensive tendency to crouch down, bend forward and look down
at the ice. If uncorrected, this leads to a recurring problem which
manifests itself as poor balance - it will show up every time your are
uncertain or let your mind wander.

The problem is that you need to keep your weight over the "center" of
your skates. Any time you lean forward or let your head drop, you tend
to shift your weight towards the toes of the skates. The way skates
are designed, the rear of the skate has a large curvature and is
relatively stable, while the front has a smaller curvature and is
relatively unstable or eager to turn, not to mention the ever-present
toe picks.

As far as improving balance -- start with posture. Get an instructor
or more experienced skater to watch you both as you skate and as you
prepare for the moves you're having trouble with. Have them tell you
the instant you start to lean, or your head/eyes drop. Ask them to
help you correct the position - saying "that's good" or perhaps a
little press upwards on the chin when you slip...

You can also do some exercises during your normal skating. Make a
point of going around the rink with your eyes fixed on the top of the
railing, the top of the hockey barrier, the intersection of the walls
and roof or even the lights! Get a feel for how your weight sits on
the skates as you shift your balance and how much more stable and "in
the groove" they are when you're weight is on the rear of the blade
and what happens when you let it shift forward again. You can try to
follow another skater, and keep your eyes on their head while you let
your body match their stroke and body position.

Some lean problems seem to stem from having your arms dangling with no
clear idea of what to do with them. A good start is to hold the
"dance/figure skating" position, with your arms out to the side and
down at about a 45-degree angle, palms down and hands open. Imagine
you're trying to levitate off the ice with palm-power. Then move your
hands around - from back to front and at different angles to feel how
your balance shifts as the arms, shoulders and head move around. The
natural tendency is to "compensate" by shifting one part to offset the
movement of another.

If your "balance problem" does have a posture component, the sooner
you correct it the better. Bad habits die hard, especially so when
they're linked with early feelings of insecurity.

It really is important when skating to keep your head erect and your
eyes looking ahead at all times. You cannot skate well with your body
leaning forward and your head down. The more you allow yourself to do
this as a beginner, the more it will rear it's ugly head later on each
new thing you do, or whenever you are uncertain or insecure. BELIEVE
ME, I'M GUILTY, I KNOW!!!

Admittedly, it will feel insecure at the first, but that will pass
with a bit of practice. You'll find that there is a happy stance with
your knees somewhat bent, back a bit arched (aka chest out) and your
head erect, and your weight poised just aft of the center of the
blade. It will feel and look good and your skates will seem to glide
and move with a minimum of fuss and energy.

2.5 Stroking

"Stroking isn't forward or backward, it's side to side." You don't
push forward with the toe picks, you push forward with the side of the
blade. To get a feel for stroking, stand with your feet together, then
slip one of your feet behind the other, and angled so the toe points
out. Push with the side of the "behind" foot, and transfer all your
weight to the "front" foot. Bring your feet together again, and do the
same with the other foot. This will have you traveling forward on one
foot, then the other, on the inside edge.

Your arms should be out to the sides, relaxed, and your hands should
be palms down and about waist level. Later on, to add finesse, extend
the pushing leg behind you as much as possible at the finish of each
stroke. You should extend your leg with the entire edge in contact
with the ice and don't pick your foot up. Just let the leg extend
until it's no longer on the ice. You should feel the strain in your
buttocks muscles. Once the leg is lifted, the free leg should be
straight and the toe of the free skate should be pointed.

2.6 Skating backwards

When you first start skating backwards it is very difficult to watch
where you are going. Get a friend to skate beside you and watch for
you. Later on, when you don't have that escort, ALWAYS watch where you
are going!

1) Start by pushing off the boards. Just a gentle shove, then coast
until you feel secure with the general idea. A helmet isn't a bad
idea, by the way!

2) Get your posture/balance right - your body should be upright, chin
up, with your knees bent - if you normally lean forward while skating,
this will seem like leaning backwards. If you do lean forward or let
your head/eyes drop you'll find yourself scraping your toe picks.

3) Get your feet at a normal track width - not necessarily clicking
heels, but less than shoulder width. Many skaters let their legs
spread out when they feel insecure, but you can't "stroke" from that
position.

4) At this point try to keep yourself moving with a "sculling" motion
-- moving both feet out-in-out-in as if tracing coke-bottle curves.

5) Next, you need to get comfortable with gliding on one foot, so that
you can be pushing with the other. Just pick up one foot - half an
inch is fine - and glide on the other. This will require that you get
the gliding foot centered under your weight! (see 2 above).

6) Finally, you are ready to stroke - just push one leg out and to the
side while you glide on the other, then at the end of the stroke, pick
up that skate and set it back alongside the other. Alternate feet, and
as you get the hang of it, you'll find that you can maintain and build
speed.

7) Expect it to take a while for you to get comfortable, just try a
little backwards action each time you go out to skate. You also want
to get in the habit of looking over your shoulder to see where you're
going. Looking only at where you've been leads to surprises.

2.7 Forwards and backwards cross-overs

Cross-overs are much like walking sideways up a set of stairs. They
are done on a circle and since you are moving, you will be leaning
into the circle and will be stepping "up" into the circle. For both
forward and backward crossovers, the skate on the outside of the
circle crosses in front of your other skate.

If you are doing it correctly, like climbing stairs, you are
sequentially transferring your weight to the inward (upward) skate,
and then balancing on it as you swing the other foot into position for
the next step. If your weight is not balanced on your skating leg then
yes, you will lose your balance (but this isn't how it's supposed to
work).

Try thinking of it this way: All of your body's weight should be
balanced over the tracing. What you are doing in crossovers is
changing which foot is carrying your weight. You place the "new" foot
under the center of gravity, and push the other foot out of the way.

Suggestions for cross-overs are:

1) DO lean into the circle

2) shoulders are NOT square to the trace or arc, they are turned
INWARD towards the center of the circle and the arms should extend
along the line of the shoulders.

3) knees should be well bent the entire time

4) don't raise up between strokes, stay down

5) for freestyle, a good crossover is deep with legs crossing above
the knees; for dance, crossovers should be more shallow.

6) strokes on both feet are power strokes, done with a clean edge
leaving the ice. (On forward cross-overs it may be helpful to think of
pushing with the heel of the inside foot in order to alleviate the
common problem of scraping your toe pick.)

7) definitely all strokes are with edges.

2.8 Forward 3-turns

BASIC RULE: You don't turn a 3. You get everything into the right
position, and the 3 TURNS ITSELF. YOU are not the agent. Physics is.

Posture is a key element in 3-turns. Your body must be upright and
centered over your skating foot. Looking down during the turn spells
trouble. Your head is heavy, and if you look down or lean forward, you
are putting weight into the circle, which will pull you off balance
and into the circle.

If the 3-turn scrapes, it usually means you are forcing the turn with
your hip.

How-to for forward 3-turns (turn from forward to backward):

1) A 3-turn is always done on the arc of a circle. At the beginning of
the turn, rotate the upper body so that your shoulders and chest are
parallel to the arc of the circle and facing toward the center of the
circle, and your arms are extended along the arc of the circle itself.
Your head faces the direction of motion. Your free foot is close to
the skating foot and over the tracing. Keep your legs in this position
relative to each other throughout the turn (if they are touching as
you start the turn, they should be touching in exactly the same way at
the end).

2) Remember the pre-check. And remember that the check consists of
BOTH having the forward arm forward AND having the back arm BACK. The
back arm should be rotated to the point where you can feel the pinch
between your spine and your shoulder-blade. The check isn't strong
enough if it doesn't hurt a little.

3) Remember down-up-down. It is absolutely critical. Before the 3-turn
your weight should be back on your blade (not on the tail, but at the
back of your instep. When you lift UP on the knee, your weight rocks
toward the toe. When you finish your 3, the weight rocks back again.
Step into the turn on a deeply bent knee, lift UP at the point you
want to turn, and sink down again after the turn. The UP does 2
things: It reduces the weight on your blade, making the turn possible,
and it rocks your weight from under/behind your instep to closer to
the toe, reducing the amount of the blade that is on the ice

4) Don't think about turning at all. Get your upper body into position
(rotated) and hold the lower body, complete with feet) unrotated. Your
body is like a spring, in which the upper end is twisted, but you
haven't let the lower end follow. Then release the spring by releasing
the lower body/feet/legs (while rising UP) to allow the lower body to
rotate to match the upper body. The lower body will do this ON ITS OWN
without your turning anything. If you think about turning, you will
force the turn and it will scrape. Try this: Step into a FO edge for a
3 turn. Skating knee bent. Rotate your upper body to a strong
position. Rise UP on the skating knee. Don't think about turning at
all. MAGIC! You turned anyway! AND, because you weren't thinking about
turning, the 3 was not over-rotated.

5) After the turn keep the free arm over the tracing.

Don't fall into the bad habit of looking at your tracing after the
turn!

How do ice dancers do those lightning fast three turns? Actually,
dancers' threes are supposed to be done with as little body motion as
possible. The shoulders are rotated into position and held still
through the turn. The hips rotate 180 degrees in a flash if the
shoulders are rotated adequately. The hard part isn't holding the
edges or checking the turn, but ensuring that the body posture and
foot location is perfect. If they are, then all that moves is the hips
and the skate, causing very little check to be needed and very little
recovery at all. If posture is not correct, the turn requires more
energy.

The thing to keep in mind is that the skater moves their body, and as
long as the skates are on an edge, the ice moves the skates --
therefore as you move faster on the ice, the skates just kind of
follow along. Turn your body and your skates will follow!

2.9 Backward 3-turns

In forward three turns, you do the "up" part of your down-up-down at
the cusp of the turn on the toe (or just before the toe) of your
blade. In backward threes the weight starts off forward, then is
rocked back, and then forward again. It doesn't take much. Just
consciously touch the top of your boot with your toes.

While you don't want to be so far back on the heel that you fall
backwards (really unpleasant), you cannot accomplish back threes with
your weight on the forward part of your blade. If you are sitting back
appropriately on a nice edge, this will sort of make itself happen.

For backward 3-turns:

-- Hold the free foot in front of and over the skating foot, so that
the blade is right over the seam of your skating boot. This keeps your
weight over the skating foot instead of somewhere out to the side, and
will thus make you less likely to have to put your foot down after the
turn.

-- BEND YOUR KNEE (the skating knee) and sit on it.

-- Get solid on a good back edge, from crossovers, or swizzles, or
whatever, then turn your entire upper body outside the circle (back
faces the center of the circle), and look back over your shoulder to
where you will be going. The object of this is to get all those
extraneous body parts ALREADY into the position they will be in
following the turn, so that when you turn, you only have to worry
about the stuff below your waist.

-- before the turn, make sure your thighs are touching. Feel the
relationship between them. During and after the turn, don't let that
relationship change. They should remain touching through the turn, and
at the end of the turn, they should still be touching, and your free
blade should still be suspended above the seam of the toe of the
skating boot.

-- deepen the edge, by remembering the down-up-down. the first "down"
deepens the edge, and aims your heel into the circle. The "up"
lightens the blade and lets the turn happen. the second "down" settles
you onto your forward edge.

-- do it to music -- a waltz may be best, but whatever is on the PA
system is better than nothing. this helps you even out the mechanics,
and not wait too long on one stage, or hurry any other stage too much.

-- don't bend at the waist. Keep your abs under control and your torso
upright.

-- CHECK following the turn. Remember that in the turn, your lower
body just turns under the upper body, and the upper body should be
almost unaffected by what happened below your waist. Keep your arms
along the tracing, and don't let them swing around following the turn.
You may found that the easiest approach when learning BO3s is to do
swizzles in a circle, then pick up the outside foot, get into
position, then turn. For BI3s, you may find it easier to do a FO3,
then step/push to the other BI edge, as if you were doing consecutive
BI edges, and do the 3 from there. This is how these appear in 3s in
the Field, and the sort of push you get to the edge brings the free
foot into the proper position all by itself.

2.10 Mohawks

A mohawk is a turn done on the arc of a circle with a change of foot
but no change of edge. Outside mohawks begin on an outside edge and
end on the outside edge of the opposite foot (eg. RFO to LBO). Inside
mohawks begin on an inside edge and end on the inside edge of the
oposite foot (eg. RFI to LBI). On inside mohawks, the skater is facing
toward the center of the circle. On outside mohawks, the skater is
facing towards the outside of the circle.

2.10.1 Open and closed mohawks

A mohawk is either open or closed, depending on the position of the
free skate just before the turn. For an open mohawk, the heel of the
free foot is placed on the ice at the inner side of the skating foot.
For a closed mohawk, the free foot is placed on the ice behind the
heel of the skating foot.

Although people with closed hips often have an easier time with the
closed (i.e. step-behind) mohawks than with the open ones (i.e. free
foot at instep), the terms "open" and "close" have nothing to do with
the position of the hips before or after the turn. Originally, the
terms related to the trace on the ice: On a mohawk done with the feet
close together close to 90 degrees the traces left by the starting and
the finishing foot cross in an "x" shaped, i.e., the arc described by
the skater is "closed". On a change of feet with feet apart turned out
close to 180 degrees the traces do not cross and the arc is "open".
This turn was known as an open mohawk. Later on, the name mohawk
became applied only to the kind where the traces cross (the formerly
open mohawk is nowadays usually referred to as a "step from forwards
to backwards" or "step from backwards to forwards") and the terms
"open" and "close" adquired their current meaning given above.

There are other variations of the basic mohawks, used mainly in the
context of ice dancing. They are often based on the position of the
free leg after the turn. These variations are often named after a
dance where they are executed (for example, the "Fiesta tango mohawk"
or the "Foxtrot mohawk").

2.10.2 Where does the name "mohawk" come from?

(posted by Saki Hasnal)

In the book "Figure Skating History: The Evolution of Dance on Ice" by
Lynn Copley-Graves she says:

In the 1800's the British were fascinated by stories of American
Indians. A few American Indians had been brought to England to
entertain the British with war dances. Some skaters who saw them
thought the spread-eagle pose done in Indian ceremonies resembled
the turned-out position of a turn they did on ice. The tracing made
by that turn resembled an Indian bow, so they named the turn the
"mohawk" after the visiting tribe from New York State. This analogy
fits the inside-to-inside mohawk. Skaters practiced mohawks in
repetition on a circle 8. Maxwell Witham and H. E. Vandervell
compiled the rules of English style in the first comprehensive
study of figure skating in any language in their book, A System of
Figure Skating, first published in 1869 and revised in 1880. In the
1880 version, they illustrated and described the outside-to-outside
mohawk, as done in the Foxtrot today: "A very pretty combination of
the outside forward with the outside backwards has lately come into
vogue, and it can be skated by every one who is capable of turning
out his toes sufficiently, so as to get into the 'Spread-eagle'
position. This figure was last year introduced into the Club
figures on ice and christened by the name of Mohawk." According to
Earnest Jones, writing in The Elements of Skating in 1931, the name
"mohawk" for this turn was derived from a cut-like step used by the
Mohawk indians in ther war dances. Two editions later Max Witham
described the choctaw, named for another Indian tribe: "A variation
of the Mohawk has lately been introduced, and is called a 'Choctaw'
... the skater goes from the outside foward of one foot to the
inside back of the other."

2.10.3.Tips to learn a mohawk

Learning to do graceful mohawks can take years. Here is a list of
things to make the turn easier, explained for forward mohawks:
1. You begin a mohawk with your free skate at your instep turned out
90 degrees, your hips open and your arms and shoulders extended
along the circle. Your head faces the direction of motion.
Practice the entrance until you can sustain it comfortably.
2. Down up down. Start on a deeply bent skating knee. rise up on the
knee to allow the free foot to draw close under your body, and as
you push the skating foot out of the way (by straightening the
knee and pointing your toe so the foot simply slides off the ice),
sink down onto the new skating knee.
3. POINT THE TOE of the free foot, and let the toe of the free foot
touch down (just behind the toepick) first.
4. Don't think about your heel (or the free foot). It is a common
tendency to think so hard about the placement of the heel of the
free foot against the instep of the skating foot that you place
the heel/back of the free blade on the ice first. Wrong. This will
cause a bad scrape, a near-stop, or a fall, because when you place
the heel/back on the ice first, the skate will not be on an edge.
THINK ABOUT YOUR TOE (and point it).
5. DON'T LOOK DOWN. Getting your free foot in the right place is a
trial, but try to do it by feel. Your head weighs a lot, and if
you look down at where your free foot is, it pulls you off balance
to the inside of the circle.
6. The change of feet is a process, not an instantaneous action. The
free foot touches the ice and is drawn in under the center of
gravity of the body BEFORE the skating foot leaves the ice. It
does not require open hips because your lower body is rotating
through the turn. As the free foot is pulled along (after it first
touches the ice) it is pulled into a backward position. As the
free foot is pulled closer in under the body, more and more of its
blade will be in contact with the ice. BOTH FEET ARE ON THE ICE at
the same time during the turn.
7. The tracing of a mohawk is a shallow curved X (it looks like
crossed swords). This means that the free foot first touches the
ice INSIDE the tracing. It doesn't touch down ON the tracing. The
skating foot comes off the ice pointed INTO the circle. It slides
off INSIDE the tracing, and doesn't leave the ice until it has
moved inside the tracing.
8. Try to NOT move anything in your upper body. You check the turn by
facing into the circle, with your arms extended along the tracing
before, during, and after the turn. Your hips swivel, and your
legs change UNDERNEATH the upper body.
9. The skating foot is slid off the ice by pointing the toe toward
the inside of the circle and straightening the knee, so that at
the conclusion of the mohawk, the new free leg is straight and
extended (though not in a dance-closed mohawk which begins open
(free foot to instep) and ends with the feet side-by-side and
touching.

Although having a good hip/leg turnout will make learning mohawks
easier, especially open mohawks, it is possible to to mohawks with
only about 90 degrees turnout; make sure that you keep you free
shoulder pressing back before and through the turn.
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