Stationary Off-Ice Harness, Jump Air Position Training – Part 1 (Sheila Thelen)

Coach Sheila Thelen begins a short series showing how to properly use a stationary off-ice (or on-ice) harness for developing jump air position.  Most skaters simply learn this position as a backspin and then do their best when learning double and triple jumps.  But it is possible to train the air position as though the skater is actually flying through the air in a jump.

In this video, Sheila sets the stage by covering the necessary background information and a review of the h-position and d-position.  Ideally in the h-position, the axis knee should lock and the hips should be closed.  Sheila has the skater point the foot “inside the circle” at “2 o’clock” while keeping the knee forward without opening the hip.  This effectively closes the hip.  Sheila revers to it as a “baby h” since she does not want a full h-position with lots of leg separation.  In the d-position, the only thing that changes is the feet or ankles come together (or really the heels if the non-axis foot points at 2 o’clock).

Sheila talks about the desired “flox position” which entails “flexing” the axis or landing foot (not pointing it) and “locking” the axis knee (creating a straight leg).  Almost no elite skaters point their toes in the air and many flox without knowing it or working on it.  Sheila shows how the flox helps keep the feet together in the air.  She says, “It’s almost a locking mechanism in mid-air.”

A good jump air position has the upper body aligned over and strongly twisted toward the axis side which Sheila calls the “side of life.”  She darkly refers to the non-axis side as the “side of death” since skaters that drift to the non-axis side with the shoulders tend to fall heavily outside the circle (often bruising the non-axis hip).  The air position is asymmetrical and Sheila notes that the old fashioned symmetrical air position taught years ago was a limiting factor for many skaters.  Since an asymmetrical air position is not natural, the off-ice harness is a fantastic tool to develop the proper awareness.

And finally, for skaters that tend to turn the head too much in the direction of rotation, particularly at jump take-off but also in the air, Sheila invented the “bite the coat” drill.  Training this skill in the off-ice harness is also helpful, as many skaters simply cannot do double and triple jumps while biting their skating jacket.

In Part 2, Sheila puts the skater into the harness and begins training air position with rotation.


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