Head Position and Control on Jumps (Michelle Leigh)

World and Olympic coach Michelle Leigh talks about head control on jump take-offs. As she notes, it seems that head anchoring is ideal, where the head remains fixed with respect to the rink and the whole body turns under it as the skater pivots up and into the jump take-off. She says, “It certainly adds to control for jumps.” Many coaches also note that it improves skater body awareness as well as a their awareness of where they are in the air. But Michelle also notes that anchoring the head in a neutral position with respect to the shoulders also seems to have similar benefits. Some skaters have more awareness when their head is moving naturally with their body, locked in a neutral position between the shoulders.

The problem comes when skaters turn the head in the direction of the jump prior to or ahead of the shoulder rotation. This can still work (especially for skaters whose dominant learning style is visual), but usually only if they anchor the head to the rink at some point before leaving the ice. Michelle notes that those skaters who sneak a peak and continue to keep the head turned over the non-axis shoulder really need to correct it, or it will affect their ability to get into a safe and efficient air position and it could also negatively affect the jump axis.

Michelle makes a point of reminding us to focus on anchoring the head throughout the jump development process. This starts with simple off-ice jumps and includes on-ice jumping exercises as well as single jumps and eventually doubles and triples. She says, “There are some different successful ways to handle the head on the take-off. Just be very very careful.” From a safety perspective, head issues should be corrected before a skater works on triple jumps. Michelle talks about the process she uses for skaters with head issues.


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