Tag Archives: camel practice

A Return to Fundamentals and the Ice

12 Aug

The ice went down in May, for a month, as it always does here. I used the time to do the physical therapy for my knee that I had been putting off for 2 years. The aches and pains that I had been getting throughout winter and spring were worse than normal and I was finally pushed to go see my orthopedist. I found out nothing serious was wrong. Well, just that I pronate in and that I needed to really strengthen my leg muscles in order to strengthen and stabilize my knee. These exercises seem to help although I am sure that I will still have some knee pain here and there as long as I am skating.

Usually I would start skating as soon as the ice came back up – and I did. Except, the first day back I took a hard fall on my right knee. Extremely bad ice with large bumps covered the surface. I knew I had to be careful since I had elected not to wear knee pads that day. That was really stupid.

Towards the end of the session I was skating a little faster and not as mindful of the rough patches and as I was going into a flip jump I tripped over one the bumps and slammed my knee into the ice. Nothing was broken, but I did feel a LOT of pain as the session wore down. I tried to keep skating a little just to feel ok but I knew at the end of the session that I would have a nasty bruise and would need to be off the ice for a little bit more to let it heal. So with disappointment, I took a small 3 week hiatus from the rink only to run into wedding season head on.

I run a small, custom wedding invitation business online and the summer is my peak season so as I healed I also became inundated with order after order. I could barely get 6 hours of sleep let alone find time to skate! And thus…up until 2 weeks ago I had probably skated only 4-5 times this summer. I’ve done nothing but work full-time at my regular job and then come home to work more on my biz. For the first time in years, skating took a backseat.

Nothing has really changed, I’m still trying to keep up with both jobs but after gaining 10lbs and being a nasty, grumpy person for the last 3 months I realized that skating needed to be made part of my life again, if only so I could feel some stress relief!

Since I started skating regularly again, my mood and energy level has risen and I feel almost like my old self again! Well, almost:) Maybe soon I will lose that extra 10lbs so I’m not sweating like a maniac on the ice and breathing hard after a basic warm-up.

I think this blog will take the direction of recording my skating lessons once again. Last year, I wrote a lot about professional skating and I feel I got away from the main purpose of this blog which is to record my lessons for future remembrance and provide a real perspective from the adult skater viewpoint to other adult skaters.

So, true to my renewed skating interest, I have changed coaches for a different perspective. I loved my last coach but it was time for another change. Right now, we are working on various freestyle elements.

Today’s lessons were a rehash of my scratch spin entry, layback and camel positions, as well as backspin technique and at the end of the session we went over an axel exercise.
Three weeks ago at my initial first lesson we started going over jumps and axel prep since that is my focus for now.

Some of the tips below from today’s lesson are things that I may have learned years ago but had forgotten and others are things that I had never heard before, so all are good skating pointers for future use.

Scratch Spin Entry:
I am traveling (sad sad words). I need to hold my left edge into the spin and then really dig deep into the ice for that hook. And, no, that left arm should not swing crazily open to initiate the spin. It is all in the knee bend and the deep hook. So I must be more patient and not turn the three to soon, I must also hold my free leg back before I initiate the turn and I should also stay down in my knee for at least a revolution or two before popping up into a lovely scratch spin that will be as fast and centered as can be. (I hope)


Michelle Kwan’s Oh So Centered and Freeform Layback

Same issue with the entry (see scratch spin above).
Once in the spin my hips should be square. I tend to open my right side and drop my right shoulder. This is not correct. Standing at the boards, I leaned my hips flat against the boards while simultaneously bringing my right leg to the side and back.
Shoulders should drop back when in the spin and if they don’t you can actually push your left shoulder with your right hand as you start to lean back to correct yourself. This was so much fun. I was spinning and trying to push my should back into alignment with the other so everything stayed straight. It was scary at first but I think this will help keep me from leaning to the side and achieving that c-curve. I have many, many sit-ups to do to get back some of my core strength, I just can’t hold that position correctly!
(Here is a great explanation of how to do a layback: http://coachclaire.com/spins/layback.htm)

Camel Spin
Same entry issue as above.
Except, this entry must be even more focused on keeping the leg back until hooking the spin. We did the toturous glove test once again. You can find an explanation of this glove exercise under camel posts. Once again, no arm initiation until I am already in the spin. This went pretty well. I had one awesome camel with the glove test. Maybe the glove exercise is working? Tension played a big part in keeping the spin going once I was in it. Apparently now, I do not bend my knee like I used too. Its nice to know that there are improvements from year to year even if it feels like I am still stuck with the same problems with this spin!

Back Spin
Oh dear back spin, how I hate your ugly inner edge guts! Yes, these are still in the works. Instead of working on this spin from a standstill into a forward right inside edge entry, I now will skate forward on my left foot and then push onto my right into the back spin entry (deep right inside edge). Then I will need to keep right arm with me at all times. YES, I just said that. My right arm kind of travels behind me when its frightened so from now on it needs to be in eye shot along with mr. left arm. Both of them should be in a medium hug position. My core should be solid but I should be slightly rounded when in the spin. Also, my left free leg should stay out longer just as in the scratch spin to begin the spin. This actually helped, holding the entry and keeping my arms with me at all times 😉

Axel Prep
This started with small waltz from a standstill (off toe pick) into a back spin. The goal is to land already spinning as well as to initiate that weight transfer from left to right. Sometimes this happens and sometimes it doesn’t. Its hit or miss. I must keep my arms down when I go into this jump or they get too high. I should also be going into it as I would the axel with my arms already back at take off and then lifting as I jump. Lifting the arms high or starting the arms beforehand will throw off the jump. This is a work in progress. Some days this is very, very good! And other days I just fall and fall and I am just doing a prepping exercise!

Another exercise that I will be doing to building more spring is off ice. Stand in a squat like position with both arms back (as you would in take off) then spring up, moving arms with you. Then I guess you could add a ¼ turn and a ½ turn and then a full turn.

That’s it for today! Today’s skating words of wisdom are: If it doesn’t hurt, then it’s probably not right!

Till next week!

The Camel Spin Monologue

28 Oct

– Sarah Hughes in a camel spin

The camel spin baffles me.

I’ve put time and effort and my fair share of practice into this spin and still it eludes me. Sometimes I hit it and I spin effortlessly (this happens rarely) and other times I skid on the entry, fight with my inside edge and eke out a mere 4-5 rev’s at the speed of a turtle.

Much like Dorothy Hamill, I think if they were to name a camel after my variation of the spin – it would be called “Brokeback” camel. Why? Well, my head is either hanging down or way up and my free leg is usually bent at an odd angle, and typically I end with a bob.

I’ve spoken to a few other adults on this disturbing camel spin topic as well.
It usually starts with “Hmm, well I have one but I lose it routinely” or “yeah, it could be better somehow it’s always different.”

I think this all goes back to technique and entry. Seems like we all tend to mess our technique up just a bit when it comes to this spin and in my estimation, unlike other spins, if you botch the entry on this one you’re not going to be able to fix it. (unless you’re a pro of course ;)Like wise, if you have terrible technique you are not going to be able to pull it off like you might in another spin.

What makes this spin so annoying though is the sheer number of things you have to think about! I try to think back to when I was learning my sit spin and I suppose I felt the same way but I swear it was easier! I’ll give you a little taste of what I think about when I go into my camel spin and then you can bunny hop yourself away from the computer in horror:

1. Go in on a deep knee
2. Make sure you are on a deep outside edge
3. Make sure you are over your left side
4. Don’t forget your left arm – no dropping or opening of that arm until you turn at least 180 degrees!
5. Keep your free leg straight and don’t let it swing forward.
6. Mantain a bent knee for one revolution before rising into a straight leg.
7. Don’t look down.
8. Look to the left but your body should be open to the right.
9. Point the toe!
10. Keep your chest up.

Yes – its a crazy skating mind I have but somebody has to listen to it! Usually it’s just me but now you too can get a taste of crazy skating thoughts! A coach once told me that the mind can only hold a max of three things to focus on while skating. Hmmph obviously that’s part of my problem!

So to finally get to the point of my blog entry, I wanted to post some ideas and videos on the camel spin for all camel challenged people like myself. No longer will adult skaters have to wrestle the camel spin beast by themselves! Luckily they will now find camaraderie in others who are equally camel distressed or deficient. (I prefer distressed)

Sounds kind of ridiculous but trust me there are alot of “us” out there waiting to jump out of the closet! Yeah – shake your head all you want – but I know you’re out there. Oh, and if you are a closet layback challenged skater, just wait! That’s next on my list! For now, we’ll start with deconstructing the camel.

Let’s start with a basic practice (really devised to torture skaters):

I call it the glove test.

Place a glove in your left hand (not on it)if you spin to the right place the glove in your right hand. Perform your camel spin entry and as you go into this entry ensuring a deep knee bend (on the skating leg) you will place the glove in the crease between the hip and leg. As you rise into your camel this glove should not only stay in place but should be locked, securely nestled between your hip and leg joint area. This will ensure a properly executed and level spin.

Now, doesn’t that sound impossible? You can do this all day long like a dog chasing after a bone and you still may not be able to get it to stay in place although you will likely be grabbing for the glove every time as it falls out of place.

However – please be reassured I have once or twice been able to keep the glove in place. Miracles do happen. Not often, but they do. Practice this alot and at least you’ll learn how to amuse your friends during public session with a glove routine, if not stun them with your perfectly balanced camel. (I was daydreaming there)

Here’s a video of nicely executed camel spin from another adult, watch her second spin:

Also, check out this Camel Spin tutorial from Jo Ann Schneider Farris
It’s pretty helpful.

Please feel free to comment if you yourself have any camel tips. Till next time …