IJS Footwork Tips – Part 2 (Karen Olson)

Coach Karen Olson continues a series of videos talking about how to approach IJS footwork sequences (choreographed sequences or step sequences) in order to prepare skaters for higher levels and to maximize points in competition. See Part 1 here.

NOTE: The rules of the International Judging System (IJS) are constantly changing. This video was recorded in 2018 so the specific IJS rules mentioned in this video may be different at the time you are viewing it. But the coaching strategies and development concepts discussed by Karen remain the same. That is the emphasis of this video series.

Before Karen begins to lay out a footwork or step sequence, she will take the time to grade her skaters’ turns, fully understanding what turns they do well and which ones they struggle with. This helps her emphasize the good turns, and add duplicate turns to improve the chances of getting specific weaker turns called.

Karen notes that brackets are difficult to get called. It’s just hard for most skaters to show clean and defined edges into and out of brackets, especially in the context of the full pattern with flow.

When building a sequence, Karen tries for 2 brackets, 2 counters, 2 rockers, 2 choctaws, 2 loops, and 2 twizzles for a total of 12 elements. It’s important to have excess turns, because at least one or two are unlikely to be called/granted. Karen likes to focus on turns first, rather than on choreography, because building in turns once the choreography is set is much more difficult.

Karen also describes how she starts adding in features like large body movement or rotation, by waiting for a skater to master a section of the sequence representing a solid group of turns.

She also explains the challenge of getting choctaws called. One solution is to do two choctaws in a row. It can also be challenging to find locations with minimal flow to allow quality loops. A solution is to place loops near the end of the sequence, when speed is naturally lower.


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