Stationary Off-Ice Harness for Jump Training – Part 4 (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 explained how to use the harness and some of the technical details for improving a skater’s air position. In Part 3, Sheila focused mostly on common harness questions and topics of interest to coaches. In this video, she offers more helpful insights about using the harness, including sizing the support vest for small skaters.

[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 starts by talking about how skaters can create rotation with the upper body. In the USA in particular, traditional teaching methods rarely allowed the shoulders to precede the hips in rotation. But video clearly shows many (if not most) elite skaters do this to some extent. The off-ice harness is particularly helpful for skaters to feel how to use the shoulders but more importantly, how to get to an efficient rotational position even if the shoulders sneak ahead during take-off. But note Sheila’s insistence that the head remain anchored. She also explains the need to tone down or reduce the size of the h-position at take-off for the skater to quickly get to the rotational position.

As Sheila notes, this demonstrator is very experienced and has clearly mastered the off-ice harness. But younger and less experienced skaters will struggle for a short while. The key is regular practice, allowing these skaters to master their air position without ever even rotating a double jump. As Sheila notes, people always ask if skaters get sick doing this kind of training. And as she explains, when first learning, the rotation speed is low, making it much less likely to become sick. And as a skater trains more and more and gets faster and faster, the body adjusts and doesn’t get sick, even with extremely fast rotation rates.

To end the video, Sheila talks about the “belt” or “vest” and how to use it with very small skaters. She also talks about differences between younger and older skaters and the value in wearing a jacket in the harness for many skaters. The initial physical discomfort that some skaters feel in the harness typically goes away very quickly. Again, by doing this training regularly, the body simply gets used to it.


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