Beginner Axel Class – Part 1 (Michelle Leigh)

World and Olympic coach Michelle Leigh teaches a seminar class for skaters just learning the axel. She begins the class by focusing on head positioning and anchoring. Many skaters really struggle with turning the head strongly in the direction of rotation before taking off, and this typically causes the jump to lack flow, height, and control. By focusing on the head at the very beginning, Michelle is providing a clue to it’s importance (primary importance!!).

Michelle gives the class a specific target to look at. And she keeps the focus on this as she builds a very basic walk-through for the jump. Notice the glide on two feet, into the “jumping movement” with the hip turn, all while looking at the target/jump direction. Next, Michelle has the class spread out and use the one-foot entry position which she calls the “check mark.”

Notice that Michelle does not talk about “h-position” but instead demonstrates the desired movement. She asks, “How big can you let your free leg get?” The answer is “not to big, not too small” as the skater has to create flow and jump height but also be able to quickly get into rotation. Later in the videos she says, “Keep it squeezable.”

She then proceeds to add another piece to the walk-through where the free leg is extended towards the ice and placed behind the skating foot, much like “snapping into a rotation position.” This is done while still gliding on the original take-off foot, and the gliding foot does a three turn. Noticing that most of the class is struggling with this, Michelle has them glide toward the boards and then snap to the rotational position while holding on to the boards for safety and control.

Next, she has the class to a waltz jump into a back spin. She encourages the class to get the arms in earlier. She says, “You don’t really have time to jump (with arms wide open or extended), then pull in.” She shows how to swing the arms through to a position where the arms remain bent with the elbows down and the wrists crossed. She finishes this video by doing walk-throughs and hop-throughs while looking in the plexi-glass, again focusing on head control. She says, “Waltz jump towards the glass… and get in early.”


Sorry, this content is for members only.

Click here to get access.


Already a member? Login below

Remember me (for 2 weeks)

Forgot Password

FavoriteLoadingAdd to "My Favorites" (Beta testing)
Member Login

Forgot Password