Figure Skating Tips: Jump Class – Part 1 (Michelle Leigh)

This is the first video in a multi-video series from Olympic coach Michelle Leigh as she teaches an on-ice jumps class to some young skaters.  It’s pretty rare to see just how an Olympic coach teaches low level skaters, and this class will be eye-opening for many coaches.  At the time this video was recorded, the students in the class had already had a few classes with Michelle so you’ll notice that they know or are at least familiar with most of her terminology and drills.

To start the class, Michelle does a valuable waltz jump/axel drill she calls “forward three turn landings.”  Watch carefully and listen to understand exactly what Michelle focuses on (connect hands, look in direction of travel or “look straight”, big landing, elbows down after coming through).

The information that Michelle doesn’t say but demonstrates is just as important.  Notice that as she steps forward, Michelle does not have her hands pushed in the direction of travel or “over the trace.”  Instead the hands start outside the circle with her hands directly in front of her body (which is not in the step direction because the shoulders are not square to the step direction when she steps).  Also notice how Michelle demonstrates the free leg motion.  This is clearly not an h-position.  This exaggerated free leg movement is important for double axels and Michelle is getting the skaters ready for this as soon as she can.  Notice that the free foot essentially stays behind the whole time.

Next Michelle has the class do “helicopters” and she demonstrates how to do them.  She uses this drill to work on core and alignment (standing up straight and tall for jump air positions).  She has them do a specific exit that uses counter-rotation and arms over the head (she calls it the “Christmas tree exit”).  Arms should be in and touching the body during the helicopter.

We’re very lucky to have Michelle sharing this information with us.  Please leave a comment.


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