Double Axel Development – Part 2 (Tom Zakrajsek)

World and Olympic coach Tom Zakrajsek continues his discussion of the drills and exercises he uses when developing a double or triple axel. In Part 1 he taught a “progression exercise” in detail. This video begins with one of his demonstrators doing the progression exercise with double axels as a way to build towards a triple axel.

Tom stresses that when he has a skater perform the progression exercise with a single or double axel, he wants to see “all 3 jumps look exactly the same.” Initially just landing all 3 jumps in the exercise may be a valuable achievement. But the goal is really to have technique that is exact and accurate (especially when working towards triple axel) where all three jumps have the same quality. Each exercise has 3 jumps, and Tom limits his skaters to 4 sets of 3, or 4 times through the full progression exercise.

He goes into more detail about this overall jump limit, beginning by noting that if a skater is not landing the jump on one foot, they only get 6 attempts. If they are landing on one foot, they get to make 10 attempts. Tom explains that the reason for having these limits is to prevent overuse injuries, and in some cases to address physical or mental fatigue. When working the progression exercise, Tom allows slightly more repetitions to 12 (4 sets of 3).

Next Tom discusses the “myelin pathway” which is a technical term for muscle memory. Obviously repetition is important for skill development, but too much repetition risks injury. Many skaters will balk at Tom’s overall repetition limit, but he is firm and tells them, “That’s enough for today.” He tells them it’s “not enough in the learning of the jump but for this moment, right now in this lesson that’s enough for today.” He has found these particular words convey the message without squelching a skater’s drive, and they may also appease parents who want to see more attempts.


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