Stationary Off-Ice Harness for Jump Training – Part 3 (Sheila Thelen)

Figure skating specialist coach Sheila Thelen continues her series on using a stationary off-ice harness for air position and rotation training for figure skating jumps. In Part 1, Sheila discussed basic setup and safety issues. In Part 2, Sheila explains how to use the harness and some of the technical details for improving a skater’s air position. In the video below, Sheila focuses mostly on common harness questions and topics of interest to coaches.

[NOTE: 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.]

Sheila begins this video by explaining that skaters who have developed proficiency in the off-ice harness only need 3-4 minutes of training a day in the harness to maintain their skills and help them continue to build consistency for transition to air position improvement on the ice. She explains how coaches can use this tool effectively in an off-ice jump class or during ice resurfaces between sessions, explaining how coaches can build a bit of extra income in the process.

Sheila also uses the harness to demonstrate how a skater’s errors or bad habits in the air affect their rotation. This is a motivational technique that is helpful for getting more effort to make corrections on (and off) the ice. Just to be clear, Sheila does not want skaters to close their eyes, stick out their elbows, and tuck. She is simply using this to demonstrate to the skater that these bad habits negatively affect rotation.

As Sheila explains, skaters that initially struggle with which foot to cross in the air usually can get this permanently figured out within a week or two. She also notes that the harness can save huge amounts of on-ice training time. She says, “I feel like I save a year worth of on-ice hassle in the harness. If I can burn off a year of bad habits in a week, it’s amazing.”

To properly time the rope pull, many coaches use a countdown to avoid confusion with their skaters. But as Sheila notes, the more you work with a skater, the less important this becomes as the coach simply gets used to each skater’s timing. But counting is definitely helpful when working with a new skater.

The final discussion in the video is about the technical details of this particular harness setup and things to consider. For high ceiling installations, a “drop rope” is needed to minimize pulley issues and rope tangling. But a drop rope suffers from a non-fixed pivot point for the upper pulley, meaning the coach actually moves the axis of rotation by pulling on the rope. This means the coach can “swing” the skater by moving around or pulling in different directions. It’s important to pull consistently and “hold it” in one position to minimize swinging the skater.


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