Designing the Perfect Figure Skating Routine

Written By: Riedell | July 7, 2019

As spectators, we watch figure skaters performing on the ice and see these perfect figure skating routines come together seemingly effortlessly. As a skater, you know that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to landing those jumps or gliding across the ice. Designing a figure skating routine requires dedication, discipline, and attention to many different details. You don’t want to overlook aspects such as music, when to add each jump, how many jumps, and even your costume. For those who might be new at this, we’ve put together a guide on how to create the perfect figure skating routine on your own. 

Figure Skating Routine for Beginners

There are several distinct parts to creating a routine for figure skating, and many of them depend on your skill level along with the type of figure skating and program you’re competing in. Whether you compete in singles, pairs, or ice dancing, each sector has its own unique elements that must be incorporated into a routine. 


If you compete in singles, the free skate is where you’ll have the most freedom and creativity to choreograph your routine. You’ll want to make sure that you keep the length of your routine to 4:10 or less for ladies and 4:40 or less for men and incorporate all of the required elements

Here are the required elements for senior men and women in the free skate: 

  • Maximum of seven jumps, with at least one being axle-type
  • One spin combination
  • One spin with a flying entry
  • One spin with only one position
  • One leveled step sequence
  • One choreographed sequence


Pairs figure skating is similar to singles, with the addition of a partner! In pairs, the free skate is where you can show off strength levels, teamwork, and incorporate unique, difficult lifts. There is a time limit of 4:10 for pairs free skating. 

Senior pairs must include these elements in the free skate:

  • Maximum of three overhead lifts
  • Maximum of one twist lift
  • Maximum of two throw jumps
  • Maximum of one solo jump
  • Maximum of one jump sequence or jump combination
  • Maximum of one pair spin combination
  • Maximum of one death spiral
  • Maximum of one choreographed sequence

Ice Dancing

Like pairs, ice dancing is done with a partner, except this form of figure skating is more focused on the dance aspects, rather than jumps or spins. Ice dancers focus on interpretation of music, putting emphasis on rhythm and precise steps, allowing this form of figure skating to have more creativity and innovation out on the ice. For this program, the time limit is 4:10 and also includes several required elements. 

Required elements for senior ice dancing:

  • Maximum of three lifts
  • Maximum of one spin or spin combination
  • One step sequence
  • One combination one-foot step sequence
  • Maximum of one twizzle
  • Three different choreographed elements, one of which must be a character step sequence

Tips and Tricks

For each discipline and program within figure skating, there are many specifications and rules you’ll need to follow to do well in front of the judges. While it’s critical to have every required element incorporated into your routine, these programs also give you the ability to let your creative and unique personality shine. 

When it comes time to design a routine, the first thing you should do is select your music. Choose something that has definite crescendos or identifiable changes, as this is where you can insert some of your more dramatic jumps and spins. Take advantage of your connecting moves, as well. Moves like mohawks, strokes, or crossovers are great for connecting a jump to a spiral then to another jump and more. There are endless ways you can use these connecting moves to transition from one element to another. 

Another important tip is to keep your routine aesthetically pleasing. Making use of the entire rink, rather than staying in one area, can help with this. You should also try to avoid doing two of the same types of element back to back, such as a spin followed by another spin, to keep your routine agile and engaging. 

The most important thing you can do is practice and memorize your routine perfectly. This will help you with step counts and anticipating when certain moves will happen. Once you’ve got your routine down, you’ll be ready to hit the ice on competition day.  

Create Your Routine with Skates from Riedell

Now that you’ve got your choreography down, it’s time to take it out onto the ice for competition day. But before you do that, you’ll need the proper skates to pair with your routine! With custom figure skates from Riedell, you’ll never have to worry about whether or not your skates will help or hinder your performance. Our master craftsmen will design and build a custom fit with the exact specifications and features of your feet. With customizations including color, leather temper, firmness, and more, you’ll be skating your routine in your dream figure skates in no time!