Stationary Off-Ice Harness for Jump Training – Part 6 (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 Part 4, she offered more helpful insights about using the harness, including sizing the support vest for small skaters. In Part 5, Sheila focused mostly on skater air position and in the video below she covers some additional air position options as well as how to put the harness away.

[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.]

This video starts with an experienced young skater who is comfortable with a variety of air positions, including both hands near the ears. Many skaters struggle with performing jumps with one or both arms up and the off-ice harness is a great way to build this skill. Sheila discusses the “starfish” position which is very helpful to “reset” a skater who has lost the axis and is struggling with position. As Sheila notes, the starfish is also related to a toe loop take-off and simulates the double and triple toe loop snap into rotation.

When putting the harness away, Sheila recommends putting the pull rope inside the harness belt and closing the belt. By closing the velcro belt, the right side shoulder strap cannot pop off. She mentions losing the D-ring but that rarely happens unless the coach unhooks the d-ring from the overhead clip. The big reason to close the velcro is simply so the right shoulder strap stays on and is ready for the next use. Sheila notes that fuzzy sweaters and mittens take a toll on the belt velcro, so all users should plan to periodically replace the entire belt unit. It will need replacing sooner if the harness is used heavily.

Sheila finishes up by disparaging “kidney belt” harnesses that support the skater from the low back. Obviously that kind of harness doesn’t work at all as an off-ice tool for learning air position, but as Sheila notes, it’s also not ideal as a jump training aid on the ice. By lifting from the lower back, these harnesses negatively affect hip position and overall axis. The only way those kinds of kidney belt harnesses should be used is for the coach to provide no assistance during the jump and simply use it to “catch” the skater to avoid bad falls.


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