Barrier Step Up Exercise – Part 2 (Tom Zakrajsek)

World and Olympic coach Tom Zakrajsek continues his explanation of the “barrier step up exercise.” In Part 1 Tom taught the first phase of the exercise, and in this video he teaches the second phase which he calls the “merry-go-round.” After the skater can do the basic exercise taught in Part 1, the “merry-go-round” adds a full rotation as part of the second up and before the third up.

As Tom notes, it’s very important for skaters to learn to “stay tight” during the rotation, and the merry-go-round is meant to help skaters learn this. Tom explains that most of the time skaters will loosen their air position for a technical reason, usually related to a take-off error, but this exercise is particularly valuable for skaters who need to learn the movements and tightness in the first place.

The added rotation happens on the pointed toe of the non-axis foot, with the axis foot flexed. Tom says, “The idea is for the skater to stay tight for the full 360.”  He wants the ankles to stay “super tight” and the feet to stay parallel “all the way through the end of the rotation.” For small skaters, Tom demonstrates how he can pick a skater up and turn them into the landing in order to feel the desired air position and movements, especially in the lower body. He also explains how the merry-go-round is great for strengthening the lower core muscles which are needed for both finishing the take-off and the moment of impact (landing).


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