Double Axel Exercises At the Wall (Michelle Leigh)

Olympic coach Michelle Leigh shows a double axel exercise at the barrier to develop the proper take-off movement.  One of the primary challenges for skaters learning a double axel is creating enough rotational energy so that the jump spins very fast in the air, without spinning through the take-off in a way that would reduce jump height or flow.  Michelle describes it as “good, efficient rotation on the take-off.”  She shows a drill and explains the positions and movement to create the desired outcome.

After showing the drill, Michelle explains that she wants skaters to turn the heel through the take-off, past the quarter mark.  By focusing on this, skaters are more likely to press on their edges and generate more rotational energy.  Also, most efficient double or triple axels spin a little on the toe pick as the skater leaves the ice and Michelle wants the skater to begin to develop that feeling in the drill.

Michelle spends quite a bit of time discussing the free leg position at the moment of take-off.  This position is critical to jump efficiency and safety.  As she notes, it’s not an h-position with the hips facing the direction of the jump.  Instead the hips begin to turn while the skate is still on the ice and the knee is on one side of the flight path or target line and the foot is on the other.  Many skaters who are taught to do an h-position for single axel really struggle with double axel because they often do not turn to this sideways position and if they do, they tend to swing the free foot inside the flight path or target line.  This major error creates a jump axis that leans out of the circle and prevents safe and consistent landings.  The positions Michelle recommends is what happens for most successful double and triple axels.

Michelle also discusses the size of the free leg movement.  Many skaters (including the demonstrator) lift and extend the free leg too much in this drill.  Often they are trying so hard to jump high that they create movements that are too extended.  This creates inefficiency because it’s hard to collect the leg into the proper air position for fast rotation.  So a high free leg may help lift, but it often hurts initial rotation.

The head and shoulder position are also important.  Michelle mentions head position, but notice the position of the upper body in the demonstrations.  The upper body is facing toward the flight path or jump target.  The hips have already started into rotation but by keeping the shoulders behind the hips rotationally, the jump rotation is minimized on the ice while still creating the overall rotational energy for fast rotation once the jump gets into the air.

Notice the air position simulation in the drill.  This gets the skater used to pressing the landing leg down quickly and flexing the toe.

Starting at 3:44 in the video, Michelle clarifies and reiterates one of the most misunderstood aspects of the double axel already discussed above.  But it’s so important that it bears repeating.  Michelle says, “As we’re taking off on the double axel, I want to make sure we’re turning on the take-off.  I don’t want the skater practicing lifting straight up into an “h” on the axel take-off.  I want it to turn.  We can’t create enough rotation if we’re going straight up off the toe.  You’ve got to turn to sideways, past the quarter.  And that ideally puts the free leg to the side.”  In the demonstration at 4:15 in the video, notice the sideways position of the lower body while the upper body faces the jump direction.

Great video!

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4 Responses to “Double Axel Exercises At the Wall (Michelle Leigh)”
  1. October 30, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Zac wonderful demo and instruction, any help with landing Flat footed in this jump

  2. November 5, 2013 at 9:48 am

    Sylvie Maheux Thank you very helpfull, I would love to see your instruction for the 3 salchowl

  3. March 4, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Jessica Kettler This is very very helpful! I was taught the h position initially, but my first axel I taught myself since the h position wasn't working. Now looking at this, i have well over enough height but bad rotation, and this helped drastically, and I did I few really nice clean double axels!! Thanks!!

  4. March 4, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    Trevor Congrats Jessica! Way to go.

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