IJS Footwork Tips – Part 3 (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 and Part 2 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.

As part of a footwork/step sequence, it’s important to choreograph in opportunities for the skater to push and create speed and flow. Sometime this is as simple as a forward inside three turn and a step forward/push or a back outside power three turn with a mohawk. But Karen makes another important observation that is often lost on coaches and skaters. Skaters can create power whenever they are on strong edges, so having deep lobes throughout the sequence is a great way to allow them to either push or pull from the edges. Many skaters simply need to understand where these opportunities to push are in their program/sequence.

IJS caller are notorious for demanding high turn quality. Karen notes, “Another tip for trying to make sure your skaters are getting their turns called is to make sure you give them enough time to do the turns and to do the turns cleanly on one foot.” Typically when footwork is rushed, skaters will put their other foot down immediately after a turn, thereby ensuring that the turn will not be called. Choreographing a sequence with the necessary pattern for deep edges and proper one-foot turns as well as the required time for those turns will dramatically help most skaters.

Many skaters simply struggle with the concept of flat turns. Karen explains that “diagonal” turns should be avoided, as they appear to IJS callers as turns entered and exited on flats, or perhaps worse, turns with edge changes on the entry or exit. It’s important for the skater to understand the “axis at each point” of the sequence, so they can perform quality turns from clean edges. It can help to draw out the entire step pattern. Karen finishes this discussion by encouraging coaches to understand how turns and steps fit together, so skaters can more easily transition from one to the next. Sometimes skaters struggle with flow and putting quality turns together because the turns simply don’t go well together (at least at that skating level).


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