Creating Ankle Flex in Jump Air Positions (Michelle Leigh)

World and Olympic coach Michelle Leigh shares some exercises to help develop ankle flex in jump air positions. Ankle flex in the axis or landing side is valuable since it usually helps skaters lock out the axis knee, connect and lock the feet together, and activate the rear kinetic chain of muscles (think glutes) for stability and control. It can also be helpful to prevent pointing the landing toe and getting called for under-rotated jumps.

Michelle begins by having the skater demonstrate single loop jumps with a flexed landing foot in the air. She follows this exercise with a back spin in h-position entered from a common loop jump entry (loop jump walk-through) where the skater steps down from the h-position back spin on the axis foot to the non-axis foot and then flexes the axis foot (off the ice) while remaining in a d-position. Michelle notes that this can create a small amount of “orbiting” but she likes the exercise anyway as it helps skaters feel the correct position at the feet. She also has the skater perform two-foot loop jumps which are also a great way to develop foot flex. The common error to avoid in this exercise is having a piked position where the hips are pressed out behind rather than correctly in line with the head and feet.

Michelle then has the skater attempt to flex the landing foot in the air on double loop. We get to see video and we also get to see the skater make a change and improvement in air position. This is more difficult than it seems, as most skaters will struggle with this kind of change. Michelle recommends not worrying about landing the jump when training this so the skater can put all their focus into flexing the foot.


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