How to Do a Left Forward Outside Three Turn on Figure Skates

A Three Turn's Tracing on the Ice Looks Like the Number Three
A Three Turn's Tracing on the Ice Looks Like the Number Three. Drawing by Figure Skating Artist Larisa Gendernalik

Three turns are the first one foot figure skating turns that ice skaters learn and master. In a three turn, a figure skater's blade makes the pattern of a "3" on the ice. The skater turns from forward to backward or from backward to forward on one foot, and three turns are done from either an outside edge to an inside edge, or an inside edge to an outside edge. The direction of the turn follows the way the edge rotates and curves.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: With practice, a new figure skater can master a forward outside three turn in one or two weeks, but doing excellent three turns is a continuous process. For example, the step sequences that Olympic figure skaters do include beautiful, large three turns that are done with great ease and flow.

Here's How:

First practice turning from forward to backward on two feet on a hockey circle.
  1. Glide forward on two feet in the counter-clockwise direction around one of the hockey circles that is painted on the rink's ice sheet.
  2. As you glide, the left foot should be pressed to the left outside edge and the right foot should be on the inside edge.
  3. With the right arm in front, rotate the arms in the counter-clockwise direction while continuing to glide forward, but don't allow the hips to rotate.
  4. Next, shift the weight of your feet toward the the front of the blades.
  5. Once you are completely "wound up," turn from forward to backward.
  1. Move the arms as you make the turn. The left arm should now be lined up with your belly button in front of your body.
  2. Stop (check) the turn from continuing to rotate by pulling the right arm back. Looking at the right hand will help stop the rotation, but also allow you to see where you are going now that you a gliding backward.
  1. Finish the turn by gliding backwards with the left foot gliding on the back inside edge. The right foot should be gliding on the back outside edge. Keep the weight of the feet on the front of the skates.
  2. There may be an urge at first to stop after you turn backward, but try to glide backward for a distance equal to your height.

Next, try doing a one foot three turn while holding on to the rail.

  1. Stand at the rail on your left foot with you skate pressed to the left outside edge with your hips facing forward.
  2. First hold on to the railing with both hands on the rail. The right arm should be in front and the left arm should be in back. Keep your shoulders and hips level.
  3. Continue to hold on to the rail while gliding forward on one foot on the left forward outside edge.
  4. Shift the weight of the left foot to the front of the blade while maintaining the left outside edge.
  5. Curve that left edge all the way into the rail so the end of the curve points straight at the railing.
  6. At the tip of the turn, allow the blade to shift from the forward outside edge to the back inside edge.
  7. Practice this exercise over and over again while holding on to the rail with two hands.
  8. Repeat the above while holding on to the rail with only one hand, your left hand.
  1. Now, try doing the turn by letting go of the railing, but keep yourself next to the rink's boards in case you feel like you need to hold on to something as you gain the confidence to glide backward on one foot after the turn.

Now, move to the center of the rink and try the turn from a standstill.

  1. Stand on a hockey line with your feet in a left T-position.
  2. The arms should be "pre-rotated" with the right arm in front and the left arm in back.
  3. The palms of the hands should be facing down and pressed towards the ice.
  4. Push forward on the left forward outside edge. At the same time, rotate the arms around your waist in the counter-clockwise direction, but don't rotate the hips or shoulders.
  5. Keep your hips and shoulder level, as you "wind up."
  6. Shift the weight of your left foot towards the top of the blade and then make the turn from from the left forward outside edge to the left back inside inside edge.
  1. Check the turn by pulling the right arm in back and holding the left arm in front.


  • Once you are comfortable doing the three turn from a standstill, try to do the turn while moving around a rink's hockey circle.
  • Wind up your arms around your waist in a cranking like fashion as you enter the turn, but keep your hips and shoulders level.
  • The entry edge and the exit edge of the three turn should be equal in length.
  • When you first do the turn, it may be helpful to put two feet on the ice after the turn is made until you feel comfortable balancing backward on one foot.
  • Look at the tracing left on the ice after you do a three turn. Does it look like a three? Is the top of the turn nicely pointed? Are there scrapes? If you see one clean edge, one line, going in and one line going out of the "three pattern" with an even point at the top of the tracing, you've completed a perfect three turn!

What You Need: