Figure Skating Jumps – Video Axel Lesson with Young Skaters (Michelle Leigh)

Olympic coach Michelle Leigh continues her lesson with two young skaters.  The first part of the lesson focused on a series of warm-up drills prior to jump training.  In the second video, Michelle had the skaters do waltz jumps and single salchows.  In the third part of the lesson, the skaters worked on the loop jump.  In the fourth part, Michelle and her skaters were working on lutz jumps.  In this video, the focus switches to the axel and double salchow.  One of the skaters is learning an axel while the other is just learning a double salchow.

Rather than sharing a lot of technical information, the value in this video lies in seeing the processes that Michelle uses as she works on the axel with these skaters.  Notice the use of external motivation (candy) which works so well with young skaters.  (It works well with any skater, actually!)  Also notice the discussion about what will constitute success so the skater can have the candy  By having the skater participate in deciding what needs to get done, Michelle is tapping into the idea of personal responsibility.  It’s important to recognize that Michelle is not offering an incentive to land the axel, but to fix a small piece that will ultimately lead to landing the axel.

Notice that the younger skater in this video is having a very difficult time staying in and is therefore not finishing the rotation of the axel.  This is a classic plateau in skating and here you can see how an Olympic coach handles it.  Notice the use the video.  Video doesn’t lie.  When watching the video together, the skater sees it.  It’s not an “opinion” of the coach.  In general this increases skater motivation.  Notice how the skater seems amused that she wasn’t doing what she thought she was doing.

As Michelle is working with 2 skaters in this lesson, we break away to a double salchow attempt.  Michelle makes the point that too much bend on a salchow is not beneficial.  It tends to get the skater out of position (particularly with the upper body as it leans way forward) and it can be hard to explode up from a position that is too deep.  Michelle wants more of an “h” on this skater’s salchow take-off, as the position in the video is so common with skaters that are eager to rotate the jump rather than lifting all the way up.

Returning to the younger skater and the axel, Michelle comments that she likes a flat-footed landing on the under-rotated axels.  She likes it because it means the skater is flexing the landing foot in the air and this becomes very important as a skater learns their doubles and triples.  When Michelle is discussing this, she says it incorrectly, but you can understand what she wants.  Skaters tend to bend their knees in the air when they’re making toe landings, but tend to straighten the landing leg in the air if they land flat-footed.


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