Figure Skating Jumps – Minimum Air Times (Trevor Laak)

VT_TrLa_009With so many coaches now using smartphones and tablet computers, air time measurements are easy for everyone to make.  As discussed in the article below, minimum jump air time estimates are incredibly important.  But it is necessary to measure air time correctly (described below) and have some reasonable assumptions and expectations when applying the numbers to any given skater.




Figure Skating Jumps – A Review of Minimum Air Times
By Trevor Laak

With the prevalence of low cost video analysis apps on mobile phones and tablet computers, video analysis of figure skating jumps is within reach of EVERY coach and skater. Past research into minimum air times for each jump can now be used by all figure skating participants to help assess skater progress and minimize injuries.

To my knowledge, no formal publication of jump minimum air times has yet been made. However, a large number of researchers including this author have compiled statistics on minimum air times that should provide helpful guidelines for those interested.

I have received a huge number of requests for this information so I hope this post addresses the interest in this topic.


Why Minimum Air Times Are Important

Knowledge of minimum air times is important to coaches because it provides a relatively clear way of assessing a skater’s athletic progress and technical progress with any given jump. If a skater is matching or exceeding the minimum air time for the jump and has solid technique and an appropriate body type, they should be able to get close to full rotation of the jump under ideal conditions.

Air time information serves two important and related purposes in the development of figure skating jumps.
1. It reduces the pressure on skaters to complete elements that they physically have no chance of completing, and
2. It dramatically minimizes injuries from attempting jumps a skater is not yet ready to attempt.

Skaters have historically been under extreme pressure to land more advanced jumps at younger and younger ages. As the sport progresses technically, this pressure is only continuing to grow.

How many skaters feel guilty about not landing their double axel (or any jump) after working on it for months or years? Skaters often feel that they are letting their parents and coaches down and they often experience extreme frustration at themselves for not learning a new jump sooner.

But minimum air time measurements can help to reduce this guilt and frustration. If a skater knows she or he is not jumping high enough to land a jump cleanly, the focus turns to solving that problem rather than remaining fixated on just landing the jump.

Similarly, coaches can help their skaters dramatically reduce injuries by knowing their skaters’ air times and not expecting or demanding that the skater stand up and land the jump when they are simply not ready. It then becomes the coach’s job to help the skater optimize jump technique and develop the necessary jump height through off-ice training.

The days of repeated futile jump attempts are over, or at least they should be. In this day and age, no coach should continue to apply the just-stand-up-and-land-it mentality without knowing air times.


How These Numbers Were Generated

The minimum air time numbers for each of the major figure skating jumps provided below were compiled from measurements of many jumps over a long period of time. By measuring air time on as many jumps as possible over a period of many years, certain air times stand out for each jump.

Some of the measurements were made on practice jumps videoed directly by a coach or skating parent while others are a result of digitizing televised broadcasts of competitions or other events of elite skaters. Historically, a televised skating competition or event could be recorded and then digitized to provide model jumps for analysis.


Caution With The Numbers

It should be noted that attaining minimum air time does not automatically mean a skater should be able to land a given jump. Minimum air times are typically only possible by skaters with extremely efficient technique and an optimal body type.

Skater body type plays a big role as smaller and thinner skaters typically have an advantage for faster rotation. Even this is an overgeneralization because some tall skaters can rotate very fast, but as a general rule, it is small and thin skaters that these minimum air time numbers were generated from.

Thus, larger skaters or those that have a more substantial frame will almost always need more than the minimum air times listed below.

Rotation rates are obviously also affected by take-off mechanics. This means that a skater may jump higher than the minimum air time but lack the ability to create enough rotational energy on the take-off to spin fast enough in the air, even with a perfect air position and body type.

Coaches should strive to help their skaters optimize jump take-off technique and air position. Jump height is a result of jump technique as well, but overall skater athleticism appears to have a very strong influence on the ability to jump high. The development of athleticism is probably best attained through significant focus on off-ice training methods.


How to Measure Air Time

For accuracy, it’s important to maintain correct measurement methods. When analyzing jump air time, the measurement should be made from the first video frame a skater’s blade is in the air to the first frame the skater’s blade touches the ice.

It is NOT accurate to measure from the last frame on the ice to the first frame back on the ice. This measurement method will result in air time measurements that are too large. The details of this are beyond the scope of this article and will be provided elsewhere.

Simply use first-frame-off-the-ice to first-frame-on-the-ice and you’ll be fine. Most apps don’t have a way to reset the clock to zero on the first frame in the air, so record the time at the first frame in the air and the first frame back on the ice and subtract to get air time.


Shout Out to Christy Krall

At the 2011 PSA World Conference in Dallas, TX, World and Olympic coach and video analysis expert Christy Krall gave a presentation in which she provided insights about minimum air times for all the main jumps from double loop through triple lutz. To my knowledge, Christy has not published these findings elsewhere, partly since she uses these only as guidelines and there may be some skaters with successful jumps at lower air times.

I am publishing both Christy’s numbers and my own observations here for your reference. But remember, these numbers only represent our experience and are not absolute. Christy provided numbers for both male and female skaters (female/male). Air times are provided in seconds.

Jump Abbrev. Trevor Laak
Air Time
Christy Krall
Air Time
1A 0.30
2S 0.30
2T 0.30
2Lo 0.33 0.35
2F 0.35 0.35
2Lz 0.35 0.35+/0.36
2A 0.45 0.45/0.47-0.51
3S 0.47 0.47/0.48-0.51
3T 0.48 0.47+/0.48-0.51
3Lo 0.50 0.51/0.52-0.53
3F 0.53 0.53+/0.56-0.58
3Lz 0.53 0.53+/0.56-0.58
3A 0.60-0.62
4S 0.63
4T 0.63

These Minimums Are Not Absolute

Again, these numbers are not absolute. For example, I’ve seen 2 double axels with an air time of only 0.43 seconds. One was during practice sessions with a young skater in Korea with extremely efficient technique and a very thin body type and the other was off video taken by another coach of a similar Japanese skater who eventually became a World Champion. I do not consider 0.43 seconds to be a reasonable minimum air time for double axel because my experience shows that only an extremely rare and talented skater can pull it off.

Similarly, Sasha Cohen was capable of landing a quad salchow with just 0.60 seconds of air time. This astonishing feat of optimization may represent the absolute lowest possible air time for quad salchow, but most quad salchows are being landed with air times of 0.65 and higher. A significant number of skaters have landed the quad salchow at 0.63 seconds which is why it’s listed on the chart as the “reasonable” minimum.

When we use minimum air times with our skaters, we want them to target a reasonable number for their body type. So based on the skater’s body type and my experience, I may shift the numbers slightly so they have a more appropriate air time goal. We want skaters focused on meeting and exceeding air times that should provide success.

I hope this article is helpful. I did not ask Christy for permission to publish her air time numbers here but felt that her work deserves your awareness. Her groundbreaking research was a starting point for my own observations and this article would not be possible without her contributions.


Final Note

To get an idea of what these air times mean in regards to actual jump height, please see my previous post comparing air times with projectile height. Sometimes it’s helpful for skaters to understand how much more jump height they need. Knowing that your double axel air time is 0.40 seconds and you need 0.45 seconds is somewhat abstract. But knowing you need to generate an additional 2 inches of jump height is very tangible to most skaters.

Please leave a comment and let me know if this article was beneficial.


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5 Responses to “Figure Skating Jumps – Minimum Air Times (Trevor Laak)”
  1. July 27, 2014 at 11:05 am


  2. March 3, 2016 at 10:03 pm

    Michelle Does a skater require much more jump height if they don't need it - that is, if the skater is not under-rotating the jump and has a clean landing?

  3. March 4, 2016 at 7:23 am

    Trevor Michelle, a jump does not REQUIRE more height if the jump is clean. But additional jump height can be used by a skater to create more flow and many judges prefer higher jumps as well. On the other hand, there is also evidence that suggests a skater can jump too high, meaning they have trouble controlling landings or doing combination jumps because of the impact forces from coming down from such a high jump.

  4. March 4, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    Michelle Thanks so much Trevor! But do some judges consider giving bonus points for higher jumps?

  5. March 4, 2016 at 12:24 pm

    Trevor Yes Michelle, higher jumps often get more points/higher GOE from judges. But this advantage goes away if the jump is out of control as a result of the extra height or if the it lacks other characteristics of excellent jumps or if something about the jump is "distracting."

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