Camel Spin – Part 2 (Kim Ryan)

Spin specialist Kim Ryan continues her detailed explanation of how she teaches camel spins. In Part 1, Kim discussed details of the setup and initial entry edge, with emphasis on hand positions intended to properly open the shoulders and generate edge pressure for rotational energy. In this video, she focuses on the actual camel spin position itself, and she teaches this initially at the boards.

She has the skaters stand facing the boards while holding on with both hands. But in order to keep the shoulders open she teaches a very specific way of holding the barrier. The skaters open their palms and arms wide, then place only their thumbs on the top of the wall, with the fingers pointed outward parallel to the wall and the ice.

As Kim notes, most coaches who teach camel spins focus too much on pointing the toes, and this often (usually) causes problems. Skaters try so hard to point their toes that they cannot properly feel the more important aspects of the camel position such as opening the hips or straightening the legs or maintaining proper alignment of the free foot. Additionally, when focusing on pointing the free toe, skaters typically point the toes downward which is not desirable.

To learn to feel how to straighten the legs completely, Kim has the class stand in place on two feet and simply bend and straighten their legs. Then to ensure the legs are indeed straight, she has the skaters “pull your kneecaps up.” This engages the quadraceps or thigh muscle, and straightens the leg and creates the “tension” that Kim is looking for. To learn to engage and hold this, she has the class pull the kneecaps up for a count of ten.

Next Kim discusses hip placement and she notes that young skaters rarely make the correction of stacking one hip on top of the other, but they nearly always make a correction when it’s described as “one butt cheek on top of the other.” Which words we use as coaches apparently plays a big role in getting skaters to make corrections.

To get the proper placement and position of the free leg, Kim wants the free foot flexed and not pointed. This flexing of the free foot also helps lock the leg straight (along with pulling the kneecap up), and it helps skaters feel which direction their toe is pointed. To work on the desired position, Kim again has the skaters stand at the wall with the skating foot pointed directly at the wall and the free foot parallel to the wall with the free foot flexed. The skaters then move the free leg back and up to the camel position keeping the free foot flexed and turned out. Kim says, “Flex your foot up to the sky.” This helps with getting the proper turn-out. Kim also explains the proper free leg alignment with the free leg moving directly back from the natural side by side position of the legs. Skaters should avoid leaving the free foot dangle to the inside or pull it too hard to the outside. Straight back is the goal.

Finally, Kim has the class simulate the camel entry on two feet so they can get used to having both arms in front, flattening the back, and spinning slowly with the desired both arms in-front position. She notes that more advanced skaters should actually practice entire camel spins with both hands clasped in front as a way to “take the arms out of the equation” of the spin entry and position.


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