Big Muscle Backspin (Tom Zakrajsek)

World and Olympic coach Tom Zakrajsek discusses the importance of a “big muscle backspin” as a tool for improving jump air position. This is essentially a regular backspin with details that make it more valuable as a jump training tool. Tom explains, “The idea of the big muscle backspin is that skaters have to pull in from the shoulder to the elbow and from the hip to the knee first before they finish with their hands and their feet.” During the first up of a jump, there needs to be space between the legs, and the hands typically are not against the body so there’s an initial position that is slightly open before they achieve their tightest rotational position.

Tom continues, “I like to tell my skaters they have to pull in continuously to completion, and even though that happens in a split second, they’re going to do it with their big muscles first and then finish with their hands and their feet.” He wants skaters to bend the arms with the elbows initially up and away from the body, rather than dropping the elbows to the torso immediately. When performed by an advanced skater, Tom wants the skater to check out of the rotation at the maximum rotation rate to simulate stopping the rotation of a jump at the moment of landing. On the initial big muscle pull in, the free foot should cross the centerline.

Tom summarizes the concept, noting that it helps develop “the feeling for the skater of space on the way up, a small moment of inertia, accelerating when they pull in so that they can rotate faster on the way up, and then while they are spinning fast, check out of the rotation like they have to at the end of their jump.”


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