Work Through a Straight Leg

West Coast Swing Online Footwork

The general rule for west coast swing is that you should not have two bent knees unless you are deliberately creating a level change. Learning to work through a straight leg on every step will improve the quality of your lines.

In this exercise, we’re going to work through a straight leg on steps in place. For the purposes of this exercise, we’re not going to focus on the timing of the weight transfer; we’re just going to work on completing the leg action with each step.

The Drill: On your own, practice stepping in place. Roll through the receiving foot, and as your heel makes contact with the floor, continue straightening your receiving leg until the knee is straight. You don’t want to lock the knee or hyper-extend it; just get to a straight leg.

When the leg is straight, make sure that all your weight is on the receiving side. You don’t want to be split weight at all. Release the heel of the now-unweighted foot by letting that knee bend forward. You should feel your hip on the weighted side settle slightly.

Peel the unweighted foot off the floor, heel first, then roll that foot back down to the ground from toe to heel. This foot is now the receiving foot. As the heel makes contact with the ground, straighten the leg.

For the purposes of this exercise, the exact timing of when you transfer weight is not as important as the start and finish positions. There should be no weight on a foot when the heel releases from the floor. When the free foot makes contact with the floor on the way down, there should still be no weight on it. At some point, the weight will transfer to that foot as the the foot rolls through to the floor. When the knee is straight, the foot should be fully weighted and the other foot should have no weight so the heel can release.

As you practice this exercise, focus on working all the way to a straight leg before releasing the heel of the other foot. When you can straighten and release the leg fluidly, you can begin playing with the rate of weight transfer until you find how to switch your weight in a way that is comfortable for you.

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