How To Do a Layback Spin

Layback Spin
Layback Spin. Painting Courtesy of Artist Michelle Wiebe -

A layback spin is a beautiful figure skating move. Most ice skaters can master this spin with practice.

Here's How

  1. First practice doing attitudes.
    1. Make sure the free leg makes a right angle from the hip.
  2. Next, master the attitude spin.
    1. Again, make sure the free leg makes a correct right angle from the hip.
  3. Practice the attitude position at the rail.
    1. First, stand at the rail with hips touching the boards.
    2. The knee of the free leg should be directly behind the free hip, not out to the side. Think of that leg forming an "L" and that it's not dangling down low by the skating leg.
  4. Be aware of the hips.
    1. Don't start a layback by just putting the head back first. That won't work.
    2. Put a hand about four inches in front of the stomach. Then move the hips forward so the stomach is touching the hand. This shows skaters how to push the hips forward to start a layback.
  5. Now do an attitude spin with the arms in front in a round "O."
    1. Spinning with the arms in the round "O" will help skaters keep a visual perspective while they learn to spin with their hips forward.
  6. Go back to the rail and push the hips towards the rail again.
    1. Start at the bottom of the back and move the hips forward first. Now arch the back from the bottom of the back to the top. Remember, the last thing that goes back is the head.
  7. Now face away from the boards (put the toe picks in the ice to prevent falling) and lean back so that the shoulder blades are touching the railing.
    1. Put the arms above the chest in a round "O." (Don't put the arms over the head on this exercise.) The belly button should point straight up to the ceiling. Keep the shoulders even, so that one side doesn't drop.
    2. To perform this exercise, a skater may need someone to hold up the back.
    3. (Small children may not be able to do this since they can't reach the rail in this position. An adult can be a "substitute rail" by holding an arm up for a skater to lean back on.)
  8. Make sure that an "imaginary zipper" stays in a straight line with the chin or the nose.
    1. When one side is dropped, the spin will drop onto an inside edge which makes it impossible to spin. So, it's important that the shoulders are even and the hips are square.
  9. Next do some one-foot spin entries.
    1. Traditional spin entry. Then, spin on one foot with the free foot extended forward at a forty-five degree angle.
  10. Now, move the free leg into the attitude position.
    1. An excellent way to practice this transition is to go back to the rail. With one hand on the rail, face sideways with the free leg extended forward at a forty-five-degree angle. Now, turn the body completely towards the rail, but leave the free leg where it is. As the body turns, let the free leg's knee bend slightly.
    2. If the free hip does not drop, the body and leg should be in a beautiful attitude position. This exercise may hurt!
    3. Next, do some attitude spins.
  11. Now, try the actual layback spin.
    1. The skater may want to first do the spin without the head going back. Practicing attitude spins with just the hips going forward will help prepare the skater.
    2. After doing the attitude spin with the hips pushing forward, doing the spin with the head laying back is the next step.
    3. Remember to relax. Don't clench up or bite the lips. Don't stiffen the face or back. Point the chin to the ceiling, not towards the chest.
  12. Remember to not drop the free leg and to keep the shoulders even.
    1. Dropping the free leg is a common error in the layback spin.
  13. Arm positions are optional.
    1. The most popular arm position for the layback spin is the round "O" position; however, it is okay to do this spin without using arms at all, or it is okay to vary arm positions. One nice option is to put one arm up and one arm out to the side.
  14. Spin on the front part of the skating foot.
    1. If a skater gets too far back on the heel of the skate, he or she may fall backward. Finding the "sweet spot" that makes the blade spin will make the spin easy for the figure skater.
  15. Practice the layback spin every day.
    1. The layback spin will become easy after much practice.


  1. Watch other figure skaters do layback spins.
  2. Master the attitude spin first.
  3. Don't clench up.
  4. Remember to not drop the head back first; instead, push the hips forward first.
  5. Spin on the front part of the skating foot.

What You Need

  • Figure skates
  • An ice rink
  • A rail
  • A good attitude spin
  • Flexibility
  • Ballet instruction
  • Courage!
  • Practice
  • A figure skating coach if possible