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Jump Principles – Speed and Pre-Rotation (Frank Carroll)

Olympic Coach Frank Carroll talks about the realities of jumps in figure skating, and how this knowledge pertains to coaching methods of double and triple jumps.

Frank starts by discussing the difference between speed over, or on the ice and speed off the ice or into the air.  Although speed across the ice is important for generating jump height, Frank explains that many skaters need to slow down at first in order to focus on increasing the speed into the air.  In other words, he often asks skaters to slow down to gain more control to jump higher.

Editor’s note:  Speed across the ice can dramatically enhance jump height thanks to the additional loading of the edges and body joints that happens naturally with this speed.  Much like pole vaulters running at top speed before setting the pole into the pole box, skaters can generate more vertical forces by skating fast and using proper technique.  But Frank’s point is that many skaters really need to slow down and get their timing and technique more precise to allow them to properly vault into the air.

Frank uses the example of the double and triple axel.  He comments that a single axel can be done easily with a lot of speed.  However, when learning a double or triple axel he recommends that skaters slow down to develop more control.  Once they have learned the double or triple and are perfecting it, it is then possible to add more speed.

The second topic Frank discusses in this video is pre-rotation of jumps on take-off.  This means, rotating part of a jump before even leaving the ice.  One key point Frank makes in this video is, every jump pre-rotates, and the pre-rotation increases with difficulty of the jump.  For example, Frank shares that a triple axel will sometimes rotate a half turn on the ice before jumping.  Notice that even though Frank knows this, he does not share it with his skaters.  He is concerned that by telling his skaters thism, they will tend to rotate too much on the ice and not produce the needed lift.

So, instead of having his skaters think about pre-rotating on take-off, he has his skaters focus on having a strong check, be in control, balance, and think about jumping.  The pre-rotation will then take care of itself if the skater does not take too much speed into the jump, and uses proper technique.

Editor’s note:  This brings up the important topic of teaching methods.  Many coaches like Frank often use teaching methods that do not directly reflect what happens in a jump or jump take-off.  For example, he does not talk about pre-rotation with his skaters even though that’s what actually happens.  He’s had great success with this method and he has additional tools and concepts to make this work with his skaters.  But other coaches like Michelle Leigh use teaching methods that focus more on what actually happens and she tells her skaters what actually happens.  In other words, she wants her skaters to know that jumps pre-rotate.  Again, she has developed her own tools and concepts so this method work for her.  There is no right or wrong way as long as a coach can create results and has the tools and concepts to support their methods when something goes wrong.

But all coaches really should know what actually happens in a jump.  (And obviously Frank does!)  Because coaching education usually focuses on teaching methods and top coaches often assume that everyone knows what really happens in a jump, many coaches are left in the dark.  Coaches are typically taught teaching methods which they mistakenly assume is what really happens in a jump.


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