Stationary Off-Ice Harness for Jump Training – Part 1 (Sheila Thelen)

Figure skating specialist coach Sheila Thelen begins a series of videos on using a stationary off-ice harness for air position and rotation training for figure skating jumps. Sheila is the President of Champion Skating Harness which offers some of the best on-ice and off-ice harness systems available anywhere in the world today, including replacement parts for pole harnesses. She also has a tremendous amount of experience using harnesses of all kinds, as well as extensive experience with installation and maintenance of these systems.

In this series of videos, Sheila will cover details regarding important harness design features, tips and insights for safe and effective use of a harness, and coaching tips for skaters and coaches to get the most benefit possible from this valuable tool. She begins by explaining the “body harness” or “belt” which the skater wears, allowing the skater to be suspended in the air. Sheila explains the benefits of her body harness design, including the “quick adjust” feature.

Next, she has a skater put on the body harness. Some skaters need assistance, especially initially, but the goal is to have a body harness that skaters can put on and tighten themselves. The body harness should be very tight, because the skater is being suspended from it. Sheila notes that the shoulders straps and sometimes the main belt can “dig in” so skaters should definitely wear a jacket or other protective clothing while training on the off-ice harness. As she notes, even if the body harness is on correctly, the skater will be likely be uncomfortable while rotating based simply on the dynamics of suspending the human body.

Although Sheila and most coaches like the shoulder straps tightened, she notes that most skaters seem unaffected by these straps being loose. She also notes that the harness cannot really hit skaters in the head, but rather skaters can hit their heads on the harness by doing undesirable or unnecessary head movements. So the harness helps teach proper head positioning and usage for jumps as well.

Next Sheila talks about the rope and how to safely tie loops and knots into the rope. Many coaches wrap the rope around their hand, but this can be painful and it could cause injury. Wrapping the rope around the hand also twists it in a way that potentially damages the rope itself or causes problems with the pulleys. Having a loop in the rope provides a great “handle” so the coach can use full-body leverage to lift a skater, rather than just their arms.


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