How To Do An Axel – Axel Class Part 3 (Tom Zakrajsek)

Olympic coach Tom Zakrajsek teaches an axel class at the Grassroots to Champions Supercamp held in Faribault, MN in July/August 2013.  This video is the third in a multi-part series by Tom sharing the information he covered in his classes at camp.  In the first video of the axel class, he discussed warming up properly and shared details of the forward take-off edge.  In the second video of the axel class, Tom focuses on the standstill axel and shares more details of the forward take-off edge, including very important timing information.

All parts of this series:
Axel Class – Part 1
Axel Class – Part 2
Axel Class – Part 3
Axel Class – Part 4
Axel Class – Part 5
Axel Class – Part 6
Axel Class – Part 7

In this video, Tom starts by saying, “Your rotation is going to start from the edge.”  The explanation he gives as he continues this discussion focuses on what actually happens in an axel take-off.  [Editor’s note: This approach to teaching the jump is still relatively uncommon, especially in the United States.  Most coaches don’t provide this depth of detail and focus instead on a “straight forward take-off” that typically results in a high jump that lacks rotational energy.]  Here’s what Tom says (and demonstrates in the video below).  “Even though your body is going to jump straight, your hip is going to turn [while still on the ice].  Your left hip is going to turn, you’re going to use your pelvis.”  Then Tom clarifies, “But that’s tricky because the only part of your body that can do that (start into rotation) is your left part.  Your arms and your free leg have to be climbing into the air.”

Tom then shares a drill he calls the pogo stick exercise.  It involves a hop on one foot using the proper timing and arm movement for the axel take-off.  Tom demonstrates the exercise and emphasizes that the shoulders should be twisted to the right and the arms go to the right.  He says, “When you do the exercise, you keep yourself checked the whole time.”  He continues by explaining when the rotation happens and he gives a very brief demonstration of the movement of the ankle twisting through (at 2:20 in the video).  But returning to the purpose of the pogo stick exercise Tom says, “The forward edge on your axel is so important.  We don’t want it to swing or twist.”

Next he explains just how close the feet should pass so that the jump doesn’t swing around.  He explains it as having the feet “kiss” each other on the way by.  He says, “When your free leg comes through, your right foot should kiss your left heel.”  This helps prevent the lower body from swinging around.  Tom also explains that the arms pass very close to the body and the left arm “cuts across your body” to the right, which keeps the upper body going straight into the jump even though the lower body is beginning to turn on the ice.  He wants the class to make a hoop with their arms. As Tom notes, the hoop he wants has the elbows down.  Jumping with the elbows up is one of the most common axel errors.

This is the last video from Tom’s first class at Supercamp.  This series will continue as Tom teaches a slightly higher level class.

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5 Responses to “How To Do An Axel – Axel Class Part 3 (Tom Zakrajsek)”
  1. November 6, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    hayley moran yes! the lift using lats with the traps down is crucial. thank you SO much for being THAT specific. rock on.

  2. January 2, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Nancy Thanks Tom!! I have loved this series on the axel. I love your specifics and also how you make everything simple and relatable for the kids!

  3. February 7, 2014 at 9:11 am

    B Parsons I am 56 years old, and have been working on the axel off and on for a while now. When I moved to Europe, everyone wanted to change my technique in a different way and I just got frustrated. My current coach basically uses this approach, but I was just missing something. After watching these 3 videos (4-6 not as helpful) I landed an axel within the week. It's the head, the "load", the spring off of the toe, and the arms, in that order. Yay!!! Priceless!

  4. April 6, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    Becca Wegener- North Great way to learn the Axel! He makes it look easier to learn.

  5. January 9, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Dawn Excellent step by step explanation to the skaters .

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