Off-Ice Jumps – Part 5: Strong Air Positions (Michelle Leigh)

World and Olympic coach Michelle Leigh continues a multi-part series on off-ice jumping.  In Part 1 she focused on some basics and the axel.  In Part 2, she discussed the salchow and some drills to improve landings.  In Part 3, she addressed issues with the off-ice toe loop, and in Part 4 she covered loop, flip, and lutz.  In this lessons she offers exercises to improve the air position for any jump.

Michelle beings by sharing an exercise to help skaters learn to flex the landing foot and point the non-landing foot in the air.  The skater starts standing on the floor in the air position and jumping up and while in the air, flexing the landing foot upward and pointing the non-landing foot downward.  After mastering this drill, Michelle recommends having skaters jump up in a single air turn from a starting position with the feet side-by-side and then attaining the same air position as before.  This teaches quickness and further develops the desired muscle memory.

Next, to work on quickness and inner thigh strength, Michelle has her skaters jump up and clap their feet together in the air. Start with one clap, and then add a second or third or in some cases a fifth.

Finally, Michelle offers an “exercise that is like a plank” where the skater is laying on the floor in the desired air position.  The coach lifts the skater’s feet off the ground by lifting the non-landing ankle.  The skater must maintain an axis throughout this.  This is an excellent drill for those skaters that tend to “pike” their hips when flexing their landing foot.

Check out all the videos in this series: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.


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