Relating Jump Take-Off, Air Position, and Landing Movements (Doug Leigh)

World and Olympic coach Doug Leigh continues his discussion from the previous video covering insights of the seatbelt air position. He begins this video by analyzing a video of the take-off movements of a double axel of one of his skaters, showing how the hands and arms create repeatable and consistent movements and positions that also affect the lower body. He shares important insights about the axel take-off as well, including free leg and axis arm details. Doug says, “Does the exit look like it’s matching the take-off? It does. And the air position is cardio friendly.” This leads to a discussion of creating effortless jumps that “gain energy” and “lose nothing.” If you’re constantly “fighting” for take-offs and air positions and landings, it takes a huge amount of energy during a program.

Returning to the air position, Doug notes that there are “probably a thousand” different air positions skaters can use in jumps. At this time he prefers the seatbelt position for the reasons discussed in this video and the previous video but he also explains the process of finding a technique that works for you. Over time, good coaches change their teaching methods and techniques as they learn more and understand more of the details, and Doug alludes to this by mentioning the technique he taught to Elvis Stojko many years ago compared to what he prefers to teach now. He makes the point that it wasn’t wrong back then, but ideas and methods change naturally over time.

Next, Doug offers insights into the functions and tasks of each arm in jumps, which are “completely different.” He begins with the non-axis arm, explaining that it’s in charge of balance, power, alignment, and jump direction. He calls the axis arm his “secret weapon” since it’s in charge of rotation (“It’s my spinner.”)

Along the lines of jump technique changing over time, Doug talks about the idea of how a big traditional waltz jump with lots of extension can be a big hindrance to performing an axel (or in this discussion, a triple axel). Here he is implying we don’t really want skaters to develop the muscle memory to do an old-fashioned waltz jump if it will affect the development of the axel, double axel, and triple axel. He then demonstrates a valuable axel drill, and talks about how the details of the drill can benefit the axel with “the left (non-axis) arm happening, pivoting happening, free leg small” and the obvious quickness or acceleration of the take-off. He says, “It gets three trigger points and I hardly even moved.” The point of the drill is retrain the body from one muscle-memory to another. He says it’s a way to “deprogram something rather than say I was wrong” and “I tried to upgrade something.” He demonstrates the drill again, using the word “fire” to highlight the quickness and acceleration of the take-off.


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