Pivots and Divots

By: Saga Krantz


February 1, 2012

   In The Loop Articles

Saga Krantz, coach of the Haydenettes, who earned the gold medal at the 2011 U.S. Synchronized Championship and a bronze medal at the 2011 World Synchronized Championship, shares her tips for teaching circles in synchronized skating.  Here are her tricks of the trade:

When skating the circle element always remember to keep in mind these basics:

  1. Skating the same size circle
  2. Equal speed and power
  3. Upper body facing the center of the circle (unless choreographed differently)
  4. Same tempo and timing

The tension in the circle starts from your core being able to hold yourself still and straight. Then focus on holding your arms wide open like you were holding a giant beach ball. And don't forget these: matching tempo, speed and power plus guiding the same way. Also, try different holds for different age groups- some work easier than others. 

To introduce the concept of traveling, a coach must keep two things in mind. First, the skaters have to differentiate between rotating and traveling. Sometimes skaters think rotating fast will help the travel and this is NOT true. The second thing to remember is that skaters need to know their end point so they know where to travel to.

When explaining the jobs skaters have at different points in the travel, I like to use markers and draw a picture first for the skaters. The picture shows the two main jobs in the circle: fast curve and slow curve. Then I will also draw in to the picture how the circles start to overlap as we travel the circle: How the slow curve skaters never go back to the old curve but create a new half circle inside of it and how the fast curve creates a bigger curve on top of the old one.

Once practicing the travel have a coach or a skater walk inside the circle (or following the circle) to help skaters visualize the travel better. Always decide an end point for the travel to make sure skaters are skating towards the same direction.

No hold steps in a circle can sometimes be "double trouble". There are so many things we need to be aware of at once. To me, choosing the right combination of steps plays the biggest role. Choose turns that achieve the same speed, lobes and quality. It is also important that skaters know which direction their turns will take them. Some turns go in to the circle and will cause the spacing to be smaller between the skaters when steps that glide out will make the spacing bigger. This concept is fundamental in maintaining the shape of a no-hold circle.

In my opinion, circles are really fun and beautiful elements to skate. The audience and skaters both love them. It is one of the only elements where if you look closely you will see that skaters holding hands in a circle and being able to see each other makes them smile bigger and gives them that magical feeling of togetherness!

To learn more from Saga, be sure to attend the 2012 PSA Conference and Trade Show in Boston!