Forward swizzles are one of the best stroke-technique enhancers around because
they reinforce the heel pressure and side-directed push that result in efficient
and powerful skating. Backward swizzles are the gateway to inline hockey
and artistic expertise.
Before you learn linked forward or backward swizzles, you need to understand
the dynamics of using your center edges, the inside surface of your
skate wheels. You may have already learned the A-Frame
turn, which is the
result of pressing against one skate's inside edges to round a corner.
Linked Forward Swizzles
Here is a systematic approach to learning forward swizzles.
- Heels out. Your first goal is just one well-executed
forward swizzle push and glide so you can feel the power of correct skating
propulsion. Starting from the V-Stance:
Steering. Learn the steering feeling standing
in place, not rolling. Be sure to try it on both sides.
- Heel wheels should be in contact with each other; stack most of your
weight on your heels and push both knees forward into the space between
- Push your heels simultaneously out to the side to achieve forward movement.
- Coast to a stop on straight legs.
- Regroup your skates back under you and repeat.
- Stand with your skates several inches
wider than shoulder width (called the A-Frame
- Shift all of your weight over the left skate and assume a Ready
Position above it. Now your right
skate extends out to the side, tipped well onto its
inside wheel edges.
- Sweep the extended leg forward and steer the toe toward your midline.
- Reverse and sweep it back, steering the heel wheel toward your midline
- Continue sweeping front to back with a loose ankle
and tipped skate.
- Swap sides and repeat.
Sit between your heels. Pushing
the heels out straightens your legs, so you must re-bend your knees
before each push.
- Starting from the V-Stance,
perform the heels-out push to gain some forward momentum.
steer both toes into an A-Stance.
- As both skates return to hip width,
rotate your barely weighted toes outward and start a new heel push
directly to the sides.
- Repeat until you can start a second and then
more swizzles from the narrow part of the stance.
- Just as you begin each new V-stance push from the narrowest
part of your swizzle, drop your hips to re-bend your knees.
- As your upper body drops down, as long as the weight is properly
over your back wheels, your skates tip onto their inside edges.
- The combined hip drop and heels-out push makes your skates "squirt" with
extra momentum out to the sides. This creates the power part of your
- Try to build a rhythmic flow that does half of the work for you.
- Troubleshooting Tips: At first you may be using your inner
thighs to pull your legs back in. While that's a great toning exercise,
try to gain a rhythmic "frog-kick" motion to take advantage
of the momentum as you press the inside wheel edges and then steer your
- Stay on your inside edges so the skates will naturally arc back inward.
- Become more assertive as you practice and then listen for the
sound of your heel wheels as they scrub the pavement. That's the sound
The Football Drill
Swizzles require symmetrical pressure against both skates' inside edges.
The best way to feel this is by learning the Football Drill (aka Tic Toc,
Drawing a Lemon). The Football drill is simply rolling back and forth to scribe
a football shape with your wheels, and all you need is a square yard (about
a meter) of pavement to practice it. By mastering this simple move, you integrate
the stance, footwork and edging that results in basic forward and backward
During the drill, keep your hands on your
hips to keep them out of the action. Your head must remain directly over
your hips and your torso upright, not leaning to keep your weight perfectly
centered between your skates at all times.
Your job is to keep
that upper body posture while moving no matter what your skates are doing
1. Forward movement
a V-Stance. Imagine your back wheels are
planted across a line (see diagram below). Keeping your knees pressed together,
bend them so they move slightly forward, tipping your skates onto their inside
To swizzle forward, push with equal pressure against both back wheels out
along the line, without leaning forward. Push to the side and push with
your heels. Your skates will eventually turn the corner and begin to return
to center as long as they remain tipped inward and your
torso stays centered and upright. That's when you lightly
"kiss" the toe wheels as they meet in front of you. Rolling on
their inside edges will make the skates turn in an arc so you won't do the
- Troubleshooting Tips: If your toes don't meet, you are leaning
forward, placing too much weight on your toes. Lift the toes inside
your skates to make them light enough to steer inward. If your skates
never turn the corner, they are not tipped onto the inside wheel edges:
relax your ankles more inward.
As soon as you can accomplish one "toe kiss," it's time to try
the reverse push. Start with the A-Stance (toe
wheels touching, heels out). Imagine your toe wheels are across a line (see
diagram). This time, your heels will be light because your toes will do
To swizzle backward, push with equal pressure against both toe wheels out
along the line--to the side, not back. Pushing back will topple you forward
because your feet will get out from under you. Once you can accomplish this,
your heel wheels meet in a "kiss."
3. Draw the Football
At the moment of a "kiss"—whether it's your front or back
wheels—immediately push them to the side to reverse directions for the
opposite kiss. You are now seeking a rhythmic back-and-forth rocking movement.
It will come as you gradually ease into the subtle foot work going on under
that centered, still upper body. Kiss, kiss, kiss, kiss for a minute or
two to gain the full benefits of the football drill. And by the way, this
is a fun way to wait for a light to turn green, too!
Linked Backward Swizzles
Just before the heels kiss, you can turn the toe-heavy part of the football
drill into backward swizzles. As your skates steer inward to hip-width,
rotate the relatively light heels back outward and start a new side-directed
toe push. Remember to occasionally look over your shoulder to check your
Once you can push both skates symmetrically, try carving one toe-push at
a time. With proper weight shift, this turns into real backward
you're on your way to joining a hockey team!
- Troubleshooting Tips: Don't push back, push to the side (left
foot toward 9 o'clock and right foot toward 3 o'clock). Otherwise, you'll
find your torso tipping forward--Yikes!
Good luck and here's a big kiss from me to you!