Additional and advanced skills: The 3-step


December 31, 2013 by alinedecat

The 3-step, or walz-step, is a figure from figure skating, and also a key-element in agility. We call it a 3-step because of the shape the skate draws on the floor, but of course there are numerous other denominations.

picture by Shartiste Photography

picture by Shartiste Photography

If you feel comfortable with edges, here is a skill that is very interesting to master, for different reasons, that I will explain later.

To start working on 3-steps, you should first be able to make one-foot slaloms and perform one-foot outside edges.

But first of all: What is a 3-step?

A 3-step is a transition that starts on one foot from an outside forward edge to an inside backward edge, without switching feet.

That is the classical outline of a 3-step.

The movement starts with a low and flexible position. Make sure your head and shoulders are leading the rest of your body, by twisting your waist as much as you can.

Shoulders should turn more and more during the first edge, to reach a climax where your upper body is so twisted that your just have to stretch up and raise your rear wheels a bit to switch to backward skating.

If you need to jump to turn around, then your edge was not accentuated enough.

Keep in mind that, as for all rotations, the upper body is doing most of the job.

If you are having issues with keeping it twisted while turning, which happens quite a lot, then imagine you’re chasing your own tail. If it doesn’t hurt your obliques, then you can probably twist it more. Try opening your leading shoulder more and keep your chin above it (that would be the left shoulder for my illustration)

Once you understand the regular outline, you can try all variants. Basically a 3-step is changing both edge and direction, but not the foot you’re skating on.

Here are some of the variants (no, these are not pictures of tits, please stay focused):

Just notice that if you are performing a 3-step from backward to forward, the pivotting will be on the rear wheels and not on the front wheels.

“So, what is the point of mastering this? I can already do a mohawk to skate backwards.”

Sure you can. But you don’t always have a choice.

So, first, as for all transitions, it can be a way to take balance after you lost it, without the effort of taking one or two knees, but by continuing to skate.

Second, it helps mastering the non-core balance. “The what?”- Glad you asked. Let me first explain this.

In most figures and thus transitions, the skater will tend to concentrate as much weight as possible close to the core. This means less effort, less centrifugal force to deal with, and in a pack, less unintentional interactions with other skaters.

To do so, the skater will be on inside edges as much as possible.

Imagine you are on a one-foot outside edge. This movement has been explained previously here. Your weight will be on the outside of your foot, receding from your core. But that is fine, because the centrifugal force will counterbalance that. The faster you go and the sharper you turn, the more inclined you can be, in other words, the more intense your edge will be.

Now let’s take this fact from the other side; if at some point, because of a hit, or any other reason, your weight is shifted away from your core, you may offset this loss of balance by making an edge out of it.

And here is where the 3-step can be usefull to maximize the balance catch-up. Instead of just edging, which is already much better than losing the balance completely but will change your direction, making a 3-step out of it will help you preserve your momentum and direction.

If you still have issues picturing the 3-Step, here is a video that may help:

Also, feel free to ask if you have questions!

Have a great New Year’s Eve 😉


One thought on “Additional and advanced skills: The 3-step

  1. […] from forward to backward, or from backward to forward, using only inside edges, and switching feet. The 3-step, for instance, includes switching edges, but not switching […]

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I'm Aline Decat #61, skater for Gotham Girls Roller Derby and Team Belgium Roller Derby. I am also coach for Track Advantage - coaching company and I founded the Blackland Rockin'K-Rollers and Europe's first junior league, the Blackland Teenage Terrors.

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