How To Do a Circle Eight On Figure Skates

Ice Skating Forward Outside Figure Eight Tutorial

Figure Skating
Figure Skating. David Madison / Photographer's Choice RF Collection / Getty Images

Originally,  the focus of figure skating was not on spinning or jumping on the ice, but about skating figure eight circle patterns (watch video), tracing precise designs over and over again on the ice.

After learning basic ice skating skills, all figure skaters did compulsory figures, and the first compulsory figure that ice skaters worked on and mastered was the forward outside circle eight.  

Here's How to Do a Forward Outside Eight on Figure Skates

  • Skate to an ice arena's red or blue ice hockey lines. A hockey line will be your "long axis."
  • On two feet, practice skating half-circles, skating away from and back to that hockey line.
  • After you feel comfortable skating and doing the half-circles on two feet, next lift up the foot that is on the outside of the half-circle curves you make and try to skate the half-circles while gliding on one foot.
  • When you skate on the right foot, your right arm should be in front, and when you skate on the left foot, your left arm should be in front.  
  • Once you've mastered skating half-circles on one foot, next try making two complete circles on the ice in a figure eight pattern.
  • First skate the two complete circles while gliding forward on two feet.
  • Go to the center of the rink (or to an end or anywhere where you feel you have room to make a figure eight pattern on the ice).
  • Decide where your circle eight's "center" will be.  With the heel of your blade, or by scraping the side of your blade to make snow on the ice, mark your "center."
  • Now push off from your marked "center" on two feet to the right with your right arm in front. The left arm should be in back.  
  • Lean slightly into the circle to the right as you glide around the circle on two feet.  
  • When you glide to the right, your right skate should be pressed to the outside edge and the left skate should be on the inside edge.
  • When you reach the top half of the circle, change your arms so that the left arm is in front and the right arm is in back by using a scissors motion.
  • Once you return to your "center", next skate to the left and repeat what you did on the circle that went to the right.
  • After doing the "two foot circle eight exercise" over and over again, lift up the free foot and hip (the hip and foot that is on the outside of each circle) as you practice the circle eight pattern over and over again on one foot.

Tips:

  • You may not be to hold an outside edge on one foot for a complete circle immediately.
  • Practice is the only way to perfect the outside circle eight.
  • It is important to keep your free foot close to the back of your skating foot during the the first half of each circle, then, after changing the arms at the top half of each circle, pass the free foot in front.
  • Raise the free hip slightly when you skate and make circles on the ice.
  • The entire blade, not the toe pick, is used to gain momentum to push off from the "center" of a circle figure eight.  Pushing off from a T-position should be done eventually, but is not necessary when you first do the outside circle eight.  
  • Circle figure eights can be practiced on freshly clean ice that has just been resurfaced by the Zamboni, but can also be practiced on an ice sheet that is "not clean."  
  • If you are interested in perfecting compulsory figures, consider taking the Preliminary Figure Test.
  • Tracing perfect circles on the ice is difficult for new figure skaters, so don't worry about tracing the marks you make on the ice when you first learn the outside figure eight.