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Tutorial: Spinning from the Beginning

Updated: Mar 22

by Mel Blackwood @troubleon8wheels

If you've ever wondered how to get started with this tricky move, that will result in a controlled heel-toe spin, read on!

The information collected into this spinning tutorial reflects years of practise and learning from classes with brilliant roller skaters all over the world.

The spin we will focus on is the heel-toe spin, turning towards the left.

Pre-requisite skills: It is useful to be able to perform a heel-toe manual. This means you are able to balance on one heel and toe while moving in a straight line. You may find this blog post useful.

Each step will isolate a different aspect of spinning, before we put it all together.

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Step 1: Body position. DOWN - UP - DOWN

Before starting, think about your body position. You need to stand with the best posture you have ever had, to ensure your weight is stacked centrally. Rotating your body around a central axis, will result in a cleaner spin and it will be (marginally) easier to rotate. If your chin is dropped down, your head will fall out of this axis, making balance more challenging.

DOWN - we start with bent knees as this supplies power to your legs, which will transfer to your wheels, thus powering your spin. How much you bend your knees and how quickly you then straighten them will result in how quickly you spin.

UP - you are aiming to hold this position as long as possible when you spin. It's really common for folks to hold their breath when they are UP, as holding your core tight is linked to holding your breath for many. Please do not hold your breath! Instead, practise holding your core tight in every day tasks, while continuing to breathe.

DOWN - you must land your spin, as you would land a jump - by bending your knees. You will roll out of your heel-toe spin backwards, so ensure you bend your knees adequately to allow you to do this comfortably.

Step 2: Shoulder position

Practise using your arms to intentionally turn your shoulders towards the left. Start with your arms wrapped around your body, with the right arm behind you. Push your right shoulder forward, using the arm for assistance, while pulling the left shoulder back. Finish with the left arm behind you.

As you become more familiar with this position, add in the body movement from step 1.

Co-ordinate the 'up' part of the movement, with the shoulder twist. We recommend drilling 90 degree turns and really helping your body learn how the up and down parts of the movement feel.

You should feel a pull in your shoulders. You are aiming to hold your shoulders in this new position, while the rest of your body catches up.

Once you are comfortable with 90 degree turns, progress to 180 degree turns, and then 360 degree turns.

Always make sure you are getting all parts of the movement - particularly the final 'down' landing before moving on.

As this step is focussed on isolating shoulder movement, try to really zoom in on how your shoulders feel in this new twisted position, before they unwind.


A note about equipment: You may have read that you need indoor or hard wheels to perform a movement like spinning. We don't think so! While you will absolutely be able to spin for longer on a harder wheel, because it has less friction, so won't slow you down as quickly, you may find at first you feel incredibly unsteady. We always suggest you learn new movements and experience new places on equipment you feel very comfortable with. Outdoor or soft wheels will allow you to hold balance positions, like a heel - toe position with less slipping. That means you can develop your core muscles! Yay!


3. Foot position

It can be really useful to practise this with a mirror or reflective surface so you can look at your feet. Try not to look down! As you become more familiar with this drill, you should be able to build up the speed, as well as recognise how your body feels at different points of the movement. This drill is designed to support the muscle memory of the right foot that has the toe up. In order to continue spinning, the right toe needs to point inwards. However, it is really common for the right toe to fall out of this position (because it is hella-uncomfortable) and point outwards. If this happens, it will pull your bodyweight out of the spin and you'll overbalance towards the right. For years, I couldn't figure out why this was happening. This drill thankfully improved my technique almost immediately! Please bear in mind that by this point, I had drilled and drilled the first two steps.

Heel to heel

Toe to toe

You are aiming to pull and push your feet, without looking, always moving in an anticlockwise direction.

Do not allow your feet to touch!

Your arms can do whatever they like, but will often mirror the feet. Keep your shoulders relaxed and focus on the feet. At first, you will feel clumsy and you will transfer your weight quite obviously. With practise, this will feel much better.

As you become more familiar with this drill, you will be able to speed it up! Doing this quickly will bring your feet into a heel toe position. The left heel will naturally lift as you pull the toe back. The right toe will naturally lift as you pull the heel back.

I still choose to use this very grounded feeling spin if I am on uneven ground.

Step 4: Putting it all together

Wind up your arms, bend your knees and go for it! Hold that core tight and bend your knees at the end.

Get used to looking really pleased with yourself after every spin. It is really hard!

I have around one decent spin attempt every 15-20 minutes. More than that makes me feel sick and dizzy. To get rid of this feeling, you may need to rotate the other way.

For many years, I took the joy away from myself, because I still hadn't managed my '10-spins-in-a-row' goal. I didn't know at the time that this is only possible with the highest level of commitment! Celebrate your every win. Having a consistent and solid two rotation spin is always better than having a really wobbly 3.5 in my opinion. Ultimately, spinning is a movement performed on the spot. If you are rolling around, it is really challenging to go from flowing around a space to a tight multi-rotational spin. It is much easier and feels nicer to add in a one rotation spin, with the option to do more if your speed allows.

Why do I talk about 'performing' movements? Because you are. You are putting a creative movement into the world that wasn't there before, a beautiful thing! I am rarely performing for others, I am only interested in how the movement feels to me. Interestingly, I have learned that if I am enjoying how it feels in my body, it will actually look better. So when we say, enjoy it and have fun, we know when you are having fun, your body relaxes and the preparation and practise will flow.


It's not how you look, it's how you feel.

Share your spins with us by tagging @roller_girl_gang on Instagram

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