We’re super lucky this month to have one of the UK’s top off-ice specialists, Kelly Buddery, sharing her top tips to help improve your Biellman spin positions.  This is the first in a series of off-ice stretches that Kelly will be sharing with us over the coming months so work hard, practice a little bit every day and make sure you share your progress with us.  Before and after pictures are really helpful to see how far you’ve come and Kelly loves to see them!

Over to you Kelly ….


Hi guys, Kelly here! 

I’m excited to work with you and I thought I’d start with a popular spin position – the Biellman.

The “Biellmann” position, named after “Denise Biellmann” the 1981 world champion who popularized the spin, is defined by the free foot being over the head when lifted from behind. The higher the foot and the straighter the free leg, generally the more impressive the position.

The Biellmann can be a feature in a layback spin, following 8 rotations in the layback position, and can also be used as difficult variation of an upright position in a combination spin or upright spin. When performed in the layback or in an upright spin, both spins are still classified as a spin in one position.

I teach the “Biellmann grip” from around the outside of the blade, rather than from the inside. Gripping the blade from the inside means the wrist has to bend and it is more difficult to lift the leg. The force of spinning whilst using this grip puts extra pressure on the wrist, and is more likely to cause injury. Using the grip around the outside of the blade keeps the wrist straight… although the Biellmann can be a killer on the shoulder regardless of the grip!!

The areas that generally need working on to achieve a Biellmann are the back, hips and shoulders, but this obviously differs from skater to skater. If you are struggling with a basic spiral I imagine you could be tight in the hamstring of the standing leg. If you can achieve a good basic spiral and a good normal catch position (donut/pick up/cross catch – there are so many different terms!) then chances are you need to work on your shoulder flexibility and shoulder strength!! Below are some specific stretches that may help your Biellmann position.

Remember you should always practise spiral positions/stretches on both sides, regardless of whether you are trying these on the ice. This will help to keep the body more balanced- you are less likely to injure yourself, and you have more choice for spin variations and transitions (Remember that “creativity and/or originality” can be a way to achieve a +in GOE in a spin)

Always follow the flexibility guidelines below, and happy stretching!

Guidelines for Flexibility training:

  • Warm up thoroughly before performing any stretches.

  • Work to your own ability, progress at your own pace, increase your range of movement gradually. Never force yourself into any position.

  • Work on improving flexibility after on-ice training or as a separate session, not during the warm up before on ice work.

  • It is essential that you are also following a comprehensive strengthening programme alongside your flexibility training.

  • If you feel dizzy, have chest pains, palpitations, or feel unusually tired during any exercise then stop immediately. If these symptoms continue for more than a couple of minutes then seek urgent medical attention.

Lets get started:

  1. We’re going to start with dynamic controlled kicks with a bent free leg into a Biellmann position, keep your head back. Do 10 each leg and repeat x 2.


2.  Next, stretch the shoulders using a resistance band attached to a fixed point.  Keeping the head forward, take the arms as far back as possible.  Hold 20-30seconds.  Repeat x 3

3.   Keeping the legs straight and the hips over the feet, reach back to a wall behind you with straight arms.  As you progress take the arms further back past the ears. Hold 10-20 seconds. Repeat x 3.


4.   Whilst kneeling, take one leg as high as possible using Biellmann grip or normal grip at first. Being on the knee rather than standing allows focus on the free leg, back and shoulder, rather than the hamstring of the standing leg.

Hold 15-30 seconds each leg. Repeat x 2

5.  Elevate the back knee, keeping hips square bend the front knee into a deep lunge. Place hands on lower back and lean back with control and balance. Hold 10-20 seconds. Repeat x 2 each leg.

This stretch can also be performed without taking the head back which can be held longer.


6.  In the same position, take both arms back towards the back leg. Hold 10-20 seconds. Repeat x 2 each leg.


So there you have it!  Kelly’s tips for improving your Biellman positions.  If you do these stretches regularly then you should see a definite improvement over the coming weeks.  Make sure you take a picture of what you can do today and then we’ll check in again in a months time to see if you can stretch a bit further.   There might even be a little treat in it for anyone that wants to join the challenge …. 😉

About Kelly:

Kelly has been iceSheffield’s resident off-ice coach since the venue opened in 2003, and is one of the UK’s leading off-ice specialists. Over the past 16 years she has worked with over 30 British champions and a wide range of skaters, from Beginner to European & World Championship level.

Kelly teaches skate camps and masterclasses at many rinks throughout the UK and has moderated for the past 5 years at the British Ice Skating (BIS) coaching convention. She is also off-ice coach for the BIS Development Squad.

With a background in figure and show skating, Kelly has 25 years’ experience performing both as a chorus and principal skater and working as choreographer and director for ice shows around the world. She also teaches on the ice, specialising in performance and choreography.

Qualifications include:

  • Personal Trainer
  • Advanced Flexibility Instructor
  • Sports Strength & Conditioning Coach
  • Pilates Instructor
  • Exercise to Music/Cardio & Resistance/Advanced Gym Instructor
  • Core Stability Coach
  • Fitness Instructing-Exercise & Physical Activity for Children
  • Inclusive Fitness Industry Instructor
  • NISA Off-Ice Coach
  • NISA Level 2 Coach

Kelly does train off-ice by Skype but she’s currently full with a waiting list and so isn’t taking any more clients on at the moment.  If you live local to Sheffield (or are visiting for social or competitive reasons) and would like to join any of Kelly’s in house classes then she’d love to see you – just contact her for times, availability and costs.

FACEBOOK: Kelly Sheffield

INSTAGRAM: Kellysheffield_off_iceschool