Basic Figure Skating Stops

Stopping is a skill that requires practice. Figure skaters should take the time to practice various stopping techniques each day, and should remember to practice stops on the weaker side. Skaters should also be aware of arms and body positions and carriage when they practice stopping.

Stopping on the ice is done by scraping the flat part of the blade across the ice. Pressure is put on the scraping foot, and the friction created on the ice causes a stop. 

This article lists the basic stops done by figure skaters.

Snowplow Stop

Ice Skating
Ice Skating. (Jade Albert Studio, Inc./Photographer's Choice RF Collecton/Getty Images)

The first stop most beginning figure skaters learn is the snowplow stop. This stop can be done with both feet or with one foot. Most new skaters favor one foot or the other for stopping.

To do a snowplow stop, first practice pushing the flat of the blade out to scrape the ice while holding onto the ice rink's rail. Then, move away from the rail and glide slowly on two feet. Next, try to push one or both feet out by putting pressure on the flat part of the blade. The friction created should create some snow on the ice. Bend the knees and come to a complete stop.

T-Stop

"The back blade must be on an outside edge for the t-stop to be done correctly."
"The back blade must be on an outside edge for the t-stop to be done correctly.". Photo by JO ANN Schneider Farris

The basic snowplow stop is not very elegant, so figure skaters usually work hard to do more difficult and more attractive looking stops. One stop that looks easy, but can be difficult to do correctly is a T-Stop.

In a T-Stop, a skater's feet make the shape of a "T" on the ice. The skater places the middle of one blade behind the other blade. The foot that is behind does the actual stopping. It scrapes the ice with a back outside edge while the forward skate glides forward. The stop is complete when the skater makes a complete stop in the "T" position. New figure skaters may find it difficult to do a good T-Stop, since they tend to drag the trailing foot behind on an inside edge.

Hockey Stops Are Also for Figure Skaters

A Figure Skater Does a Hockey Stop
A Figure Skater Does a Hockey Stop. Photo by J&L Images - Getty Images

When figure skaters do a hockey stop, it resembles the stop hockey players do except that it is usually done with attention to posture, arm positions, and carriage. Often, figure skaters do this stop on one foot, and this can involve much control and balance. When a two-foot hockey stop is done correctly, the front blade is pressed to an inside edge, and the back foot fits right behind the front foot on an outside edge. Both knees bend. Pressure is towards the front part of the blades.

Front T-Stops

Often, figure skating competitors finish their entry onto the ice with a front T-Stop. That stop looks like a basic T-Stop, but rather than behind, the stopping foot is placed in front of the moving skate to form the "T" on the ice. A front T-Stop is not easy to do.

Stops In Ice Skating Shows and In Synchronized Skating

Synchronized Skating
Synchronized Skating. Photo by Hrvoje Polan - Getty Images

Many figure skaters can only stop by using one foot or can only stop in one direction, but synchronized figure skaters must be able to do all types of stops on either foot. Some of these skaters spend hours and hours practicing all sorts of stops, since team try-outs often require stops of all kinds. Also, professional ice shows require good stopping skills for both line and principle skaters.