Axel Tip: Footwork Drill (Robert Tebby)

World and Olympic coach Robert Tebby offers a skating or footwork drill intended to help improve the setup for axel. When you watch the video, you’ll notice that the exercise is not a rigid set of turns and steps, but rather a framework of movements to improve alignment and rotational control and also feel rhythm.

For alignment, Robert uses a series of repeating brackets. As he notes, this really stresses keeping the hips under, which addresses one of the most common axel setup errors. Also notice the rhythmical movements of the outside mohawk sequence, as well as the alignment and rotational control needed to stick the forward outside edge.

Robert summarizes it as this: “If it’s easy, you’re not doing it right. It’s pretty hard. And you want it to be continuous and smooth. It should have some rhythm, and then end up in a nice held, structured position for an axel.” He describes this desired structured position as butt under, core twisted with shoulders pointed in the same direction as the skating blade.

Robert explains the importance of this position. He says, “If you’re not really leading with that (skating side) shoulder, you have no means to create the rotation for the jump. And our tendency is to go a little bit soft and square.” He talks about the “waxel” which is an axel attempt where the skater comes off the back of the skate blade rather than the toe pick.


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