Axel Jump Slow Motion Details (Trevor Laak)

Trevor Laak responds to an email sent by a coach with questions about the recent survey of subscribers on the details at the moment of take-off for the axel, salchow, and toe loop jumps.  Here is the email and associated images:

Hi Trevor,

Are you saying that this picture (below) is a correct single axel takeoff? Or are you saying it’s a correct double axel takeoff?  I recall that the survey offered this picture as one of the choices for a single and double axel, so I chose the picture with the “h” position to apply for both jumps, because I would not teach this position for a single axel.  Perhaps the survey should have offered pictures differentiating between single and double axel takeoffs.

I use video analysis and I must say that I see that the “h” position is very good for axels, if you want them to go up that is!  For the double axel,  I think that the “h” position that was learned to achieve the single axel does change somewhat.

My own experience with axels is that there are two schools of thought.  One is that the takeoff should swing around and the other is that the takeoff should go up. I am one of those who teaches that axels should go up and I stand by the video evidence and judges’ marks that the “h” position creates a beautiful, high single axel.

Any comments?

Image presented for single or double axel take-off in survey (click to enlarge):

In the response video below, Trevor shares examples of single and double axels from 4 different skaters.  The points that Trevor makes in the video are:

1. Good axels and double axels do not leave the ice with the skater in a traditional “h” position.

2. There does not have to be a significant difference between jump technique for single or double axels.  Therefore, a single axel should be taught with the technique needed to perform the double.

3.  An “h” position is not required for a high axel jump.

4. An “h” position is not required to prevent pre-rotation, swinging around, or spinning through an axel take-off.

See the video evidence and decide for yourself.  There will be more videos in this series discussing the axel take-off.

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27 Responses to “Axel Jump Slow Motion Details (Trevor Laak)”
  1. August 21, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Lisa Thanks for an awesome video, Trevor! I think maybe some of the confusion over this "h position" for the axel take-off is that the "sideways karate kick" does look a lot like an "h", so maybe it's just semantics in some cases? Anyway, thanks for the clarification and looking

  2. August 21, 2012 at 10:50 am

    Amy This was SO informative!! thank you

  3. August 22, 2012 at 10:49 am

    JB Thank you for ur video analysis which really helps see the position. It is hard to describe, kinda like a backward 7.

  4. August 22, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Klaudie Hello! I have to say that I do agree 100% with the person who questioned the survey. Personally, I feel that there is a difference what you feel - what you instruct to do and what the outcome is. I would like to know what the skaters were taught to do. We see the results - but do not know how they got there - hope that make sense to you. But thank you for posting this - it is an interesting topic.

  5. August 22, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Trevor Klaudie, I think you bring up the main point of this discussion. As I said in the video, I agree with you! Teaching our skaters to try to hit an "h" position at take-off on axel has been and will continue to be a successful teaching method. I'm not contesting that. I'm really trying to address four other issues here. First, coaches need to understand and "see" what actually happens to be really good coaches. Second, if we agree it really isn't an "h" position, we can start to develop better teaching methods that will be even more effective than the traditional "h" position approach. Third, some skaters may feel an "h" while others may actually feel exactly what is happening, which is not an "h." Some of these skaters will try to "fix" their take-offs to make them have a true "h" which we really don't want. And finally, my experience teaching double axels has repeatedly demonstrated that the "h" position take-off often causes problems that are nearly impossible to fix. Having other teaching methods at our disposal is helpful so skaters don't get "stuck" at double axel. I will clarify all of these ideas in future videos. Thanks so much for your feedback.

  6. August 23, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Sheila How we were coached 20-30 years ago... is not how we coach today. People are still in the: "This is how/what I was taught" (time warp) SO I'll disregard any new technical information. OR - a really good athlete has "found a way" to make coaching misinformation work for them (and the coach is taking credit for it). THUS, this is why our entire industry needs THANKS TREVOR!

  7. August 28, 2012 at 10:54 am

    jamie Thank you so much for the great info. I was not sire which way I should go for between "h" and " Karate" position. I complitely agree with your opinion.

  8. September 16, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Trevor adultsktr, I'm glad the video was helpful to you. Many coaches assume that it feels like an 'h' position to all of their skaters. But if they took the time to ask, many skaters will tell them it does NOT feel like an 'h' position. When I'm traveling and coaching, I've noticed that a much higher percentage of skaters say it "feels like an h" if their coaches tell them it should feel like an "h" (even though they aren't doing an "h"). As coaches we have the power to "plant feelings" in our skaters, and unfortunately, some of those feelings can be inaccurate. This is an important topic.

  9. September 17, 2012 at 10:55 am

    adultsktr Trevor, can't tell you how grateful I am for this video and for your continued emphasis on the "h" vs. "karate kick" positions at takeoff on axel. I asked my coach about this several times after breaking down videos of axel: "it looks like they're almost taking off sideways," I would say. My coach would tell me that in real time it just goes by too quickly. For me personally, I want to KNOW what position I'm trying to achieve and in this debate the evidence is irrefutable. I personally don't want to be taught to try an achieve an h position because that's what it feels like. Thanks for clearly this issue up!

  10. September 18, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Jennifer Kane Trevor, Such a great breakdown, thank you so much. During my competitive years (1985-1990) I was always taught to kick out as much as possible, and I had a very consistent double axel. I had a skidded take-off and that greatly allowed the hips to turn just like we see in the videos. So even though I was taught the H position (different terminology then) I was able to get my double axel. However, my current teaching technique follows your explanation. I was at a seminar with Audrey Weisiger and she had a great visual, as if the skater was mounting a miniature pony. That was when I had that "ah-ha" moment and it all made sense. She had the skaters pretend that they were mounting a miniature pony and repeat the exercise at the boards. With this exercise the skater naturally turns the hips and rotates the free hip to the same position as we see in the videos. It's such a great visual and I use it daily with my students. I now also couple it with the most recent video you posted from Michelle Leigh for the edge pressure exercise. Thank you so much for your site!

  11. September 18, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Trevor Thanks for the feedback Jennifer. A previously published video at iCoachSkating by Audrey Weisiger and Nick Perna covers Audrey's description of "getting on a pony" as an appropriate description of the climb up into axel. Search on "climb up into axel" using the website's own search function and you'll find Nick and Audrey's axel class - part 3 (4:04 into the video). I've seen Audrey use this brilliant explanation many times and I agree, it offers a great visual that skaters (and coaches) remember. Thank you for your insights.

  12. November 19, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Dan happy coach ^_^ more please!

  13. January 19, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Biancca Thank you for this video! I have been trying to learn an axel for years My coach tells me to take off straight in an h and then pull in. Then she demonstrated her axel and I kept telling her it looked like she was takng off sideways, but she didnt believe me.Also if you take off comletely straight you cant pull in...So I started watching videos of axels on youtbe frame by frame and I figured out that axels really do take off sideways. I told this to a fried of mine who is also an adult skater and she says I shouldnt practice it that way or it will be spinny. She has been trying to learn an axel for over 2 years. I think coaches dont take adult skaters seriously and dont teach us proper technique because they think we cant do it anyway. But I have figured out my axel and double salchow on my own. These videos are teaching me all kinds of things my coaches have never told me, THANK YOU!!

  14. January 21, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Trevor You're welcome Biancca! Your observations about axel are correct! Congrats on being one of the few to actually LOOK at it on your own. But I wanted to take a moment to address your comment that coaches don't take adult skaters seriously and don't teach them proper technique. From my experience, coaches ARE doing their best with their adult skaters, but the issue is the coaches themselves don't know any better technique-wise. Most coaches have been taught to teach the h position and it works (eventually) with most young skaters as good young athletes eventually figure out how to do the jump (without using an h position!) regardless of instruction. The perception that coaches don't really try with adults because they believe an adult skater really can't do an axel is only partially correct. I would venture to guess that many coaches really don't believe their adult skaters can do axels, but I honestly believe they are still giving their best instruction, at least given the typical constraints of working with adults. Because most adult skaters are afraid to fall (and some that aren't afraid really should be), it makes teaching a multi-rotation jump that much harder. Everyone falls when learning axel and doubles but the perception is that we can't have our adults falling, partly because many adults fall really hard. Honestly, there's no other way to truly learn it. So rather than risk the health of their adult skaters, many coaches are not nearly as aggressive with adults as with their younger skaters. So please don't be too hard on coaches. Most really do like working with adult skaters and are doing their best to help them. Congrats on your axel and 2S. I'd venture to guess you're an adult skater that takes more risks than the average adult skater and you've taken a lot of falls on your skating journey.

  15. January 22, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Biancca I agree with you - most coaches I have met do take adults seriously, but recently my friend's coach made some comments about adult skaters so I was a little down about that. I think videos like these are necessary and extremely helpful. Here is another example - I was taught to reach way back to pick in for a flip and lutz. I saw the videos on this site of where the pick actually goes in and I tried it --I can't believe how much higher I can jump now. I wish someone had told me that years ago. The first coach that tried to teach me an axel said "ok try an axel" with no explaination so it was pretty frustrating. I wish I could have watched this video back then! And yes I fall a lot :) I am smaller than most other adults and I used to roller skate as a kid so I guess I have an advantage?? Thanks again for the site I love it!

  16. April 27, 2013 at 4:56 pm

    shannon keeler How would you teach the karate position to help get away from an h position?

  17. April 30, 2013 at 10:32 am

    Trevor Hey Shannon, there will be more videos soon about how to create the sideways karate kick position at take-off for axel without compromising jump height. In the meantime, please take a look at the axel videos from Michelle Leigh. Use the site's search function. Michelle talks about it and provides some demonstrations that are a good starting point.

  18. September 25, 2013 at 3:27 pm

    Alice Hi, Travor, Thank you so much for the video. My daughter, seven years old, is learning Axel. This will be very helpful for me and her to communicate. BTW, Do you have any video about backward spin and other jumps? Her backward spin is really bad.

  19. October 1, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    Trevor Alice, yes there's quite a few videos on the site on backspin and the other jumps. Please use the search function and I think you'll find what you're looking for. If not, please contact customer support through the Contact Us tab.

  20. October 25, 2014 at 12:21 am

    jim please explain what the "h"position is!!

  21. October 25, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Trevor jim, the h-position is defined by Audrey Weisiger in her Foundation Skills for Jumping series. I'm including the link to the last video in the series here since it has links to the first videos in the series. Start with Part 1 and it should make sense.

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