Axel Lesson – Axel Jump Tips (Michelle Leigh)

Olympic coach Michelle Leigh continues her lesson with a young male skater in Part 2 of a 3-part series on jumps.  In the first part of the lesson, Michelle focused on the lutz.  In this video, Michelle is working with the skater on the axel.  This young man is obviously really close to getting this jump, and it’s helpful to see how Michelle addresses a jump at this stage.

The video begins with a huge axel attempt where the skater opens in the air before landing and ends short of rotation with a fall.  Michelle focuses initially on the arms, and making sure the arms are controlled and in a specific spot.  She says, “Stack your hands in front of you before you jump.”  Notice the constant use of walk-throughs during the entire lesson.

After correcting the arms, the focus shifts to air position and building confidence with landings.  Michelle wants the skater to make foot (ankle) contact.  She uses a backspin drills with hops while still spinning to get used to keeping the feet crossed and ankles together.  As this skater is still struggling a bit with the backspin, Michelle also uses a similar hopping drill on a straight line.

She also has the skater try different entrances.  This is so common among top coaches.  It makes sense to periodically see the jump from various entrances to determine if one offers any advantages over the others (mostly for control!).

To help the skater actually “feel” staying in throughout the jump, Michelle actually picks him up and rotates with him in the position she wants.  She uses the keywords, “tight ’til you land.”

Editors note:  Many observers note correctly that it is not necessary for most skater to cross and touch their feet on a single axel.  But Michelle’s approach is classic in trying to get a tight air position that might be more appropriate for a double axel.  The reason is that the vast majority of skaters respond positively to this approach.  This skater is opening before landing, and in particular, opening the landing hip.  If the skater would just keep the landing hip closed, there would be no need to get tight and touch the feet together in the air.  But experience shows that skaters that try to stay in tight longer tend to automatically keep their hips closed longer, allowing them to fully rotate and land the jump.


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