Axel Walk-Throughs and Extension at Take-Off (Michelle Leigh)

Olympic coach Michelle Leigh continues her work with a skater on double axel.  The first video of the series was focused on axel exercises at the wall where Michelle emphasized the sideways nature of the take-off and the pivot before the skater leaves the ice and the second video focused on the step or the desired body position on the forward take-off edge.  In this video, Michelle works on the skater’s walk-through and she explains a common error many skaters have of not extending through the take-off motion.

Right at the beginning, Michelle tells us about the error of being bent over or crunched at take-off rather than fully extended.  This is a relatively common error as many skaters simply do not extend through the hips on an axel, usually as a result of how they step into it (typically the body is too far forward and the skater never gets it back up before take-off).  Note that Michelle does want the skater slightly inclined into the circle at take-off, and she wants the skater to fully push through the hips.  Michelle notes that over-bending the knee can also cause the broken-at-the-waist error.  Michelle says, “If you have a skater who is a little bit piked in the air, then I think that’s something you should look at is to see their posture on the take-off.”

Michelle continues, “I think it’s kind of common misconception that if you’re not successful at the jump you have to bend more.  I find there’s too many skaters that are actually doing it trying to bend their knee more and they’re not getting into a straight position because you can’t get out of the hip position.  So sometimes less knee bend and more up-feeling is going to help your skater get into that air position we’re trying to achieve.”  The rest of the video focuses on the axel walk-through.

The details of this walk-through are commonly used by top coaches but are generally not known to a majority of coaches and skaters.  Few coaches use the concept of the pivot on an axel walk-through, and even fewer use the idea of “locking the free leg underneath” and the “step back” prior to “landing.”  It’s essentially impossible to do this walk-through with poor posture so this is an excellent exercise for the error noted above.  The demonstrating skater is still working to perfect Michelle’s walk-through and you can see Michelle wants a different “pivot” where the free leg doesn’t really come in front of the skating leg but rather the pivot should happen so the movement of the free leg is sideways to backward at the moment of take-off.  (See Michelle’s discussion at 2:12 and again at 3:06 in the video.)


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