Ask An Expert: Tips on Spins and Illusions


“Do you have any tips on how I can spin faster in my 1 and 2 spins. Also do you have any tips to become more flexible and master illusions?”





by Melissa Marcus Vicente (COACH)

When teaching spins, I focus on a few details to make the spin as fast and clean as possible. First, I work on the spin technique without the baton. The push off should be done in fourth position relevé with the weight slightly more on the front foot. When I first learned spin technique I was told to pretend that there is a penny under my front foot and to push the penny to get a good push off. I will make sure that the athlete is spotting properly, which is to attain a constant orientation of the head and eyes in order to enhance control and prevent dizziness. I will also check the athlete’s arm placement, either wrapping them around the body or holding them straight down. Every twirler is different, so I try different arm positions to see which makes the spin faster. The last detail is to make sure your abdominals are engaged and the derriére is tucked under. Once the spin technique is worked on, adding in the baton should be easy. For those of us lucky enough to have nice weather year round, practicing spins outside will make spins faster when competing on a gym floor.

The most important factor in becoming more flexible to master illusions is stretching. Stretches that focus on hamstring flexibility, such as the scissor hamstring stretch, hurdler stretch, hamstring stretch in a pike position, or the reclined hamstring stretch which is done by lying on the back and raising the leg as high as possible, can increase flexibility and prevent injury. Attaining a full split is also important when perfecting an illusion. Stretches should be held for approximately 30 seconds and performed on both legs. Practicing a ponché (penché) is also helpful to increase flexibility and work on the power needed to master an illusion. Make sure when performing the illusion to step down to the left front oblique or directly to the left side (I will try both positions depending on the athlete’s flexibility and hip rotation) and keep your hips over your supporting leg.

I hope these tips help to make your spins fast and tight, and help you master the illusion!

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3 thoughts on “Ask An Expert: Tips on Spins and Illusions

  • January 17, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    I had never heard the “push the penny” explanation before and I LOVE it. I noticed the Australian Federation posted your “tip” on their website. Excellent explanation……easy to understand.

  • January 29, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    When you say proper head placement and baton spotting, do you encourage your students to always keep their eyes on the baton during the entire spin, or as I learned it in the 1980’s, to turn quickly and then spot the baton once the spin is mostly complete (more like an ice skater)? Thanks so much!

  • February 23, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    I teach spotting by watching the baton as you release the toss, turn quickly, and spot the baton when they get to the front. If you look at the baton the entire spin it will look as though the head is thrown back. My training is based in ballet so I teach spotting as they do in dance. Hope this helps.


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