Off Ice Harness Axel Training (Sheila Thelen)

Figure skating specialist coach and inventor Sheila Thelen demonstrates off-ice jump training using an electric spinner and stationary off-ice harness system. She begins by spinning an experienced skater on the spinner, who then jumps into the air into an efficient jump air position. After coming down and stopping rotation, Sheila then throws a HECOstix to challenge the skater’s coordination and decision-making process while still dizzy.

Next, Sheila shows how to perform an “axel take-off” from the electric spinner. To do this, the skater puts the take-off foot in the middle of the spinner platter and then places the non-takeoff foot at the edge of the platter, touching just the toes. After spinning up to speed, the skater briefly lifts the non-takeoff foot from the edge of the platter before swinging it through and jumping into the air position.

For axel training, Sheila also recommends using a movement in the harness she calls “fast axel.” This movement is intended to train quickly transition from the open take-off position to the fully locked out air position. In particular, Sheila explains the concept of tucking or snapping the axis foot behind or under rather than just stepping down in the air and pulling the free foot in to cross the feet. The difference is subtle, but the tucking method once learned can be faster which is why so many elite coaches use it. Nevertheless, learning the tucking method can be challenging to learn without a stationary harness which is one important benefit of this tool. Sheila explains the tucking method as feeling a three turn on the take-off foot, then snapping the axis foot under or “stuffing it under.”


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