Jump Theory: How Elite Skaters Create Rotation (Chris Conte)

International coach Chris Conte continues his description of the physical processes of jumping, especially for toe jumps (although the concepts also apply to edge jumps). In the previous video, Chris discussed the theory of how skaters create lift. In this video, he focuses instead on rotation.

He begins this video by explaining the need for a high “initial rate of rotation.” According to Chris, skaters can typically increase their speed of rotation by a factor of two between their take-off rate of rotation and their most efficient air position. So this highlights the importance of creating a good initial rotation at take-off.

He then offers the example of a “slow-tator” which is a skater that does not rotate very fast, either through the take-off movements or in the air. An example of a “slow-tator” is a skater who might have an initial rotation rate of just 1 revolution per second, meaning they have a maximum rotation rate of about 2 revolutions per second in their final air position.

Conversely, an average competitive skater may have an initial rotation rate of 2 revolutions per second which then becomes about 4 revolutions per second max in the air. Elite skaters typically have initial rotation rates of 2.5 rev/sec and max rotation rates over 5 rev/sec. Chris notes that the very best rotaters in the world are getting up to about 6.1 rev/sec in the air on quads. These skaters are very gifted, and have the necessary narrow body type. Chris also notes, rotation rates above 6 rev/sec start to cause “brown-out” effects for skaters. He then jokes with the class, “So I would like you to try to rotate close to brown-out.” The idea is to get skaters thinking about creating very high rotation rates.

Chris uses a jump walk through into a twizzle as a training tool. He calls this a “baby bear” and it allows skaters to focus on creating a high initial rotation rate without fear or safety concerns. Chris has the skaters do a baby bear of the flip jump, where the skater initially plants the picking toe pick but immediately rocks back to the blade for the twizzle. The twizzle should be done in h-position and not in d-position for better control.

Next, Chris discusses the various requirements for precision from singles through quads. The precise movement of the skater’s center of mass becomes more and more critical as jump rotations are increased, and Chris describes it as “going through that window of opportunity.” He likens the “margin of error” on a single jump to roughly a physio ball, a double jump to a beach ball, a triple jump to a softball, and a quad to a large marble about 2 cm in diameter.

After this discussion, Chris has the skaters do “a controlled single to pirouette” which is just a single flip into a twizzle. Chris typically refers to this as a “mama bear.” By keeping the entry speed low, the focus can be on rotation rates, rather than lift, as in the previous video. By holding the skater’s hand on the entrance for this drill, Chris can increase jump energy slightly. He then shows how to simply do the same drill as “double to pirouette” which is the double jump followed by a twizzle. Chris describes the common error of scratching prior to the take-off as the skater’s way of slowing down and decelerating (“fear of the speed”), hoping to have more control rather than aggressively trying for a higher rotation rate.

He then has the class do a “mama bear” followed by two doubles, with an emphasis on acceleration through the take-off. He offers advice to one skater to narrow the arms and reduce shoulder tension to increase her initial rotation rate, and repeatedly practice these using the “mama bear” exercise. (Very common error, and great solution.)


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