Important Axel Tips (Nick Perna)

International coach Nick Perna continues his discussion of the axel jump. In a related video, Nick described in detail an axel setup he uses and the print left on the ice from a good axel take-off. In this video, Nick clarifies the print further and offers tips to avoid common problems with the setup and step.

Nick takes a moment to talk about the take-off edge and demonstrate why the take-off edge does not point at the landing. Due to how rotation is created on the axel (“hook of the active edge”), the print shows the skating foot pointing into the circle prior to lift-off, even though the jump flies on a tangent to the circle. As Nick notes, this can have a clean edge, or be a skid and is necessary for properly creating rotational energy.

A very common problem for skaters is breaking alignment when preparing the arms for the step forward. This error is often camouflaged by the rest of the movements of the step onto the take-off edge, so skaters should master the arm drill that Nick shares. By just moving the arms and keeping the rest of the body still, the skater can feel the proper movement while maintaining alignment. The details about where to place the hands are very important. The hands should NOT go in front of the skater in the direction of travel or behind the skater to “block.” Instead the hands should be radially outward from the skaters belly button on the back outside edge setup.

Nick also address the common problem of lunging with the upper body during the step onto the take-off edge. This is typically caused by an over-aggressive push, rather than a step (or aligned push). He shares a simple “mohawk step” drill to develop the proper feeling. Notice how the upper body does not really change, and the only change is happening at the hips and feet. For skaters that can do a good controlled back outside three turn on the setup edge, Nick will use another drill where the skater does the back 3-turn to forward and then steps or pushes slightly onto the take-off edge itself.


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