Stationary Off-Ice Harness, Jump Air Position Training – Part 3 (Sheila Thelen)

Coach Sheila Thelen continues her short series showing how to properly use a stationary off-ice (or on-ice) harness for developing jump air position.  In Part 1 she discussed the desired fundamental h- and d-positions, and it Part 2 she put a skater into the harness and showed the overall process.  In this video, she works with the skater on improving the air position and she also addresses a number of important issues for skaters and coaches.

In the initial attempts, notice the focus on locking the landing or axis leg and flexing that foot.  This concept alone is priceless for many skaters as it virtually eliminates the tendency to point the toes in the air (almost no elite skaters, past or present, point the toes in the air).  Skaters that point their toes tend to bend the landing leg which results in a less efficient air position and it also tends to cause hooked landings that get called as under-rotated.  The lesson:  NEVER teach a skater to point the toes in the air!

In this video we see the h- and d-positions as well as what Sheila calls the “starfish.”  The point of the starfish is to hang and relax to recenter a wobbling position.  It also helps many skaters feel the rotational acceleration that must happen in triple and quadruple jumps.

When we see most video of high level skaters in the off-ice harness, we think of very high rotational rates.  But as Sheila explains there is a huge benefit to spinning slowly and working on the position.  There are many ways to balance and spin fast in the off-ice harness.  But the goal is to create the desired asymmetrical position to spin fast AND allow for controlled landings.  The old-fashioned symmetrical air position may spin fast, but it makes landings much harder.  Thus Sheila’s focus on the twist of the upper body with this skater.

Sheila offers additional insights and tips including how to properly put on the body harness, the need for the skater to wear a jacket, and what the skater should wear on their feet (skates or athletic shoes are recommended).  Sheila also explains that starting this training early can really help avoid problems later and can accelerate overall jumping progress.


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