Jumps: This is the place
to be for AVI and GIF files on all the major figure skating jumps. You'll also find specific tips for each jump
as well as general advice. The advice presented here was divinely inspired from visions after inhaling Zamboni
fumes at the Alter of the Triple Axel. The advice itself isn't as important as getting you to think critically
about technique. You can't always rely on instinct but you can on sound technique.
If you're like most people you probably skipped right past the spin page and went straight
for the jumps. On any given freestyle session you'll see people jump until they drop and only do about 3 minutes
on spins. My first piece of sage advice for becoming a better jumper is to forget about jumping. Spend more time
spinning. Great spinning leads to great jumping, NOT the other way around. The back spin in particular is a very
valuable tool for learning how to do multirotation jumps.
There are a few basic principles that
are common to all jumps. This picture shows the basic air position every multirotational jump should strive to
achieve. Big hair is optional. A major advance in figure skating technique in the 1940's was the concept of crossing
your feet in the air when rotating. Fifty years of skating and that's the biggie. In another hundred years they
might figure out why Zambonis have headlights. Questions such as why ice dancing is considered a sport may never
The problem with jumping is trying to figure out how to get into the rotational position from the various take
off positions. Single jumps are relatively easy to rotate so it's not much of an issue until you get to double
and triple jumps. Even rotation on double jumps is virtually effortless if your technique is good. Here are a few
things to think about:
- The technique for single, double, and triple jumps is the same! That's why I include mostly triple jumps in
this page. The technique for triples has to be nearly flawless, whereas you can get away with a lot of naughty
stuff on doubles and especially singles. Working on doubles is not about learning rotation. It's about learning
how to fix your singles. Don't ask for examples of singles. If you have to ask then you're not working on the right
- The most important part of any jump is the 2 or 3 seconds leading up to the point at which you actually leave
the ice. A lot of people focus on the actual moment of lift off, or, even worse, after they're in the air. Therein
lies the problem. The jump is destined for sucess or failure before this point. The thing you should be
working on is the three turn or the step before the jump. This is what puts you into position for a good jump.
The actual jump will take care of itself if you set it up right. What I'm trying to say here is, don't worry about
the jumping part of jumping!!! Worry about the setup. Or global warming. Anything but the jump itself.
- For a counter clockwise jumper, the axis of rotation is over your right side, not straight down the
middle of your body. A good jump is a backspin in the air. A bad jump is a car wreck in the air. You cannot truly
appreciate the difference until you can do good backspins.
- One of the most common mistakes when doing multirotational jumps is to swing the arms around to get the rotation.
Swinging the arms around usually causes the left shoulder to pull back and get ahead of the rest of your body.
Once your left shoulder is past your left hip the jump is doomed. You become corkscrewed in the air and cannot
do the rotation. Ironically the harder you try to rotate, the less rotation you'll get.
- Jumping is all about shoulders and hips being in the right place relative to each other. By the time you jump
they should be square with each other and straight up. If you look at bad jumps you will usually see the shoulders
and hips are out of wack. If you are looking for something to focus on, focus on your shoulders and hips during
the setup part of your jump. Most people usually concentrate on arms and legs. Where your shoulders and hips go
your arms and legs will follow, but not vice versa.
swaltz1.avi: (730 kb) Scott Hamilton doing an excellent waltz jump. It's a
shame nobody ever does them in competition. This clip shows that a jump can be beautiful as well as simple.
A waltz jump begins with a long glide on a right back outside edge. The skater steps forward onto a left forward
outside edge, kicking the right leg up and through to begin the lift into the air. The arms should be held away
from the body since this is only a half rotation jump. As with all jumps, the skater lands on a right back outside
edge. The waltz jump and the axel are the only jumps where the skater takes off while facing forwards.
There isn't much that can go wrong with a waltz jump, but if you want to make learning the axel less painful it's
worth learning to do right. You know you're doing it right when you feel like you're floating suspended in the
air and you land squarely over your right hip. You can clearly see both of these traits in the Hamilton clip. Not
many people can do this. You're supposed to jump off your left leg up into and over your right hip. Your weight
is supposed to shift from you left side to your right side in mid air. This is not an easy thing to do.
Like all jumps, the key to a good waltz jump is in the setup. While gliding on a right back outside edge the upper
body should not be forced around by the edge. If it is then there will be a tendency to pull your left side back
and swing your leg around instead of driving it up and through. Both arms need to drive forwards and upwards to
counter the forces trying to make you pivot around your left leg.
A lot of people swing their right arm and leg around on the axel which makes the jump unstable and ugly, not to
mention pre-rotated. Instead of rotating around the right side of the body, the jump pivots around the left side.
You can see they usually do the same thing on the waltz jump. When the skater stays over the left side they land
with the left hip back and the body keeps swinging around on the landing. It is a distincively odd way to land
and quite apparent to anybody watching. Some people think they are over rotating the jump when this happens. Not
stsal1.avi (920 kb) Scott Hamilton doing a textbook perfect triple salchow.
If you want to know how to do it right, download this clip. This version uses the normal left forward outside three
dsal1.avi (400 kb) Elizabeth Manley showing a good example of bad technique. This
"wow cow" is a common result of leading with the heel.
tsal6.avi (315 kb) Kurt Browning doing a great triple salchow in slow motion. Note
how he steps up into the jump.
tsal4.avi (390 kb) Alexander Abt doing a good triple salchow. You get a longer look
at the setup on this one.
The salchow is an edge jump which starts with the skater going fowards and stepping into a mohawk to a right back
outside edge. Without pausing, the skater continues the momentum established by the mohawk by stepping onto a shallow
left forward outside edge. The right shoulder should be firmly back and the left shoulder in front during and after
the step. There should be a strong check following a three turn onto a left back inside edge. The right shoulder
should stay firmly back during and after the three turn. The skater brings the free leg around, up, and through
in a scooping motion from the back inside edge to lift the jump into the air. By the time the blade leaves the
ice the skater is actually facing forwards. Some skaters like to substitute a mohawk for the three turn, although
it is recommended a beginner use the three turn approach.
There are two common problems I see in the salchow. The first problem is swinging the free leg around on the takeoff.
The proper motion is to bring the leg through not around. Swinging the free leg around makes the
jump unstable and takes away from its height. The second most common problem is pulling the left shoulder back
as the leg comes around. When the left shoulder passes the left hip the jump is doomed. If you can't stop your
upper body from continuing to rotate around after the three turn you are almost certainly doing the jump wrong.
You end up loosing most of the power in the jump.
It is important to have a strong check after the three turn to stop all rotation in the upper body. The purpose
of this check is to help prevent you from pulling the left shoulder back on the take off. Keeping the left shoulder
strongly forward and the right shoulder back and to the side should help. The right hip shouldn't drop too much.
A droopy right hip could also cause the skater to drop the right shoulder too far and counter it by pulling the
left shoulder back. The hips should also be closed, not open, as the skater lifts into the air..
Here are a couple tips to help avoid swinging the free leg around. You should bring your leg through, leading with
either the toe or the instep. If you're leading with the heel and your toe is pointing up as you bring the leg
around then you're doing it wrong. The Elizabeth Manley clip is an excellent example of what usually happens when
you lead with the heel and your hips are open.
Another tip is to hold off on accelerating your right leg through until it is beside the body instead of behind
it. If you start accelerating the right leg while it is behind the body you are forced to swing it around.
Finally, remember that the jump begins before the mohawk, not when the free leg starts it's swing. Don't take these
elements lightly. Pay close attention to them. Also, when you step forwards after the mohawk don't push forwards
off your right toepick ("spiking" the step). It will push you into a rotation you don't want that will
propagate all the way through to the jump. Step gently from the side of the blade.
Toe Loop/Toe Walley
ttoe2.avi (960 kb) Derrick Delmore doing a triple toe loop from a right three
turn setup. Notice the edges and setup prior to the three turn.
ttoe4.avi (530 kb) Caryn Kadavy doing a triple toe loop from a right three turn
setup. Notice the edges and setup prior to the three turn.
ttoe3.avi (560 kb) Ryan Jahnke doing a triple toe loop from a left three turn setup.
tloop1_s.jpg (190 kb) Scott Hamilton doing a triple toe loop shown in a 16 frame
The toe loop begins with a skater moving forwards with both feet on the ice and apart. The skater does a right
forward inside three turn with a check at the end of it. The skater reaches back with the left free leg and jabs
the toe pick into the ice, thus pole vaulting off the toe pick and into the air.
The toe walley is essentially the same thing as a toe loop except the skater, in theory, jumps off of a right back
inside edge instead of a right back outside edge. Toe loops usually have a right inside three turn setup while
toe walleys have a left outside three turn followed by a step onto a right back inside edge. A toe walley looks
like it's going to be a flip until the skater switches feet at the last second. Most skaters actually do toe loops
when it looks like they are doing toe walleys. In any case, the jumps are virtually the same as far as difficulty
goes and are considered interchangeable.
The key to the toe loop is making sure the setup puts your weight directly over your right foot in preperation
for the take off. Using a flip-like toe walley entrance has the advantge of not having to fight the rotation of
a right forward inside three turn. In any case, the RFI three turn entrance is the more standard way of doing it.
If you do the three turn right then the rotational momentum you take into the jump will enhance it rather than
make it harder.
Before doing the three turn, the skater should step onto a left forward inside edge with both feet slightly apart.
This inside edge is important, even though it might not seem so. Stepping onto a flat or an outside edge will put
you out of position for the three turn which will put you out of position for the takeoff. The upper body may swing
slightly clockwise with the left shoulder strongly in front and across your chest. The right shoulder should be
noticeably pulled back. Step from the left forward inside edge onto a right forward inside edge. Make sure it is
a step and not a lunge. A lunge will put your body in a stretched out position which will make it difficult to
get your weight squarely over your right foot after the three turn. After you step onto your right foot, make sure
your upper body stays where it is and doesn't recoil back in a counter clockwise motion. Execute the three turn
while keeping your right shoulder pulled back and left shoulder across and in front to provide a good check at
the end of the turn. At this point your weight should hopefully be directly over your skating foot. If you pulled
your left shoulder back at anytime before you actually jumped then you will probably be out of position.
Study the clips of Derrick and Caryn carefully. Notice the edges and upper body position of both skaters is the
same and excactly as I described it leading up to the three turn. Like all jumps, the toe loop is going to suceed
or fail depending on whether you can do the setup two or three seconds before the jump correctly.
dloop1.avi (340 kb) John Baldwin doing a double loop.
tloop2.avi (390 kb) Ryan Jahnke doing a triple loop.
tloop1.avi (610 kb) Mathew Kessinger doing a triple loop. This one shows more
of the setup.
The loop starts with both feet on the ice about a foot apart on a right back outside and left back inside edge.
The weight is squarly over the right hip. The skater begins the jump by bending the knees and falling onto a deep
right back outside edge. The left leg drifts across the right as the edge deepens. As the edge is about to turn
into a three turn the skater jumps off the right leg straight up into the air. It should feel like you're popping
The loop jump is the best jump for learning rotation. The reason is because there is no weight transfer during
the jump. The weight is supposed to be squarely over the right hip from beginning to end. Whenever something goes
wrong with this jump it's usually because the skater shifts their weight off the right hip for whatever reason.
Working on the backspin is the best practice for learning the loop jump. A loop jump is nothing more than a backspin
in the air.
Beginners have a hard time with this jump because it's scary trying to jump off of a right back outside edge. For
some people it feels like falling over backwards on your head. I recommend working on power back outside three
turns on the right leg. The motion is almost the same as a the loop jump except you don't actually jump. Once comfortable
with this, then do the same thing but add a little hop right at the cusp of the three turn. You shouldn't work
on the loop jump until you can at least to the back outside three.
The biggest problem on the double loop is dropping the right shoulder and pulling the left shoulder back while
swinging the arms around trying to generate rotation. This usually throws the jump off. As with all the other jumps,
once the left shoulder passes the left hip the jump isn't going to happen. Don't worry about rotation. It will
rotate on it's own when you pull in.
tlfip1.avi (1.3 Mb) Trifun Zivanovic doing an impressive triple flip.
tflip4.avi (470 kb) Trifun Zivanovic doing the same jump but from a different angle.
tflip5.avi (370 kb) Alexander Abt doing a triple flip.
The flip jump starts on a left forward inside edge with the right leg off the ice and in front of the body. The
left shoulder is in front and the right shoulder is in back. The skater pushes forwards off the right toe. As the
left foot passes the right foot it switches from an inside edge to an outside edge. The motion is like a skate
boarder standing on his skate board with his left leg and pushing forwards with the right leg. The skater uses
the momentum from the toe pick push to do a left forward outside three turn to a left back inside edge. The skater
reaches back with the right leg and jabs the toe pick into the ice, thus pole vaulting into the air.
Most coaches believe it is best to be on a shallow outside edge or even a flat before doing the three turn. Going
into the three turn on a deep outside edge will force the body into an undesirable torqued position after the turn.
Some skaters go into the three turn straight as an arrow on a flat and actually jump over the three turn.
When bringing the free leg back the skater should reach back and place the toe pick in the ice. A common mistake
is to lift the leg high in the air and slam it down into the ice. Besides making the jump harder, it can hurt quite
a bit. Slamming the toe pick into the ice also forces the skater to lift up the upper body into an undersireable
tlutz1.avi (880 kb) Shepherd Clark doing a triple lutz.
tlutz5.avi (735 kb) Ryan Jahnke doing a great triple lutz. This an example of very
tlutz6.avi (1.2 Mb) Scott Davis doing another great triple lutz. This one shows
a different angle than the Jahnke clip so you can see a little more of what goes into it.
tlutz1_s.jpg (190 kb) Scott Hamilton doing a double lutz in a 14 frame sequence.
The lutz jump is similar to the flip jump in that it is a toe jump which takes off from the left foot. The difference
is in the setup and the take off edge. The jumps starts with a long glide on a very shallow left back outside edge.
The skater reaches back with the right leg with the left shoulder across and the right shoulder back. The skater
jabs the toe pick into the ice and pole vaults into the air. In theory the take off happened on a left back outside
edge as opposed to the inside edge the flip takes off from.
The lutz is a more difficult jump than the flip because it takes off of an outside edge which is counter to the
jump's rotation. Just about every beginner has trouble getting used to the strange feeling of jumping off the outside
edge. One way to work up to a single lutz is to do a half lutz. Get used to the take off by doing a half rotation
instead of a full rotation.
Many of the same problems with the flip are also seen in the lutz. The most visible problem is lifting the picking
leg high into the air and slamming the toe pick into the ice. Like the flip, the toe pick should be placed into
the ice, not rammed into it. Notice in all three lutz examples how the skaters reach back and place the toe pick
into the ice. If there is no need to smash the toe pick on a triple, then clearly there is no need to do it on
a double or single either.
ax5.avi (385 kb) Dorothy Hamill doing a classic delayed single axel. This is the
way some coaches want you to learn it the first time. Technically this is the way it's supposed to be done. If
you ever want to move on to a double you'll have to be able to do the single similar to this.
delay1.avi (515 kb) Jozef Sabovcik showing why they call him "Jumping Joe".
A huge delayed tuck axel. This is fun just to look at.
dax3.avi (1 Mb) Mathew Kessinger doing one of the biggest double axels you'll ever
see. This is an excellent example of how you're supposed to step up into the jump.
dax7.avi (365 kb) Nancy has pretty good technique here. Note the edge she's on before
stepping forwards and compare it Kessinger. These are the two most common ways people sit on the back outside edge
before stepping forwards.
dax1_seq.jpg (225 kb) Aren Nielson doing a double axel in a 12 frame sequence.
The axel is the only major jump where the skater takes off while going forwards. The setup begins by gliding on
a right back outside edge. The skater steps onto a left forward outside edge kicking the right leg up and through
lifting into the air. Up to this point the axel is identical to the waltz jump. After leaving the ground the skater
pulls the arms and legs in which forces the jump to rotate a little less than one turn. The jump itself is one
and a half rotations. The first half rotation should take place while the skater is in an open position.
For most skaters the axel is considered the holy grail of jumps. Personal milestones of figure skating are measured
in terms on learning the single, double, and triple axels. Learning the axel begins with learning to do the waltz
jump correctly. Most everything you need to know to learn the axel is in the waltz jump. The only difference between
a waltz jump and a single axel is you pull in for a split second while in the air. Probably the best general advice
is to not rush the take off for the axel. Try and convince yourself you're going to do a waltz jump but pull in
after you've left the ground.
A common coaching technique for the axel is to look at it as a combination of a waltz jump followed by a loop jump.
Some coaches have their students practice a waltz jump/loop jump combination as preperation for the axel. The Dorothy
Hamill clip is an excellent example of what a single axel ideally should look like. You can very clearly see a
waltz jump followed by a loop jump. This form of the single axel is also called a delayed axel because the rotation
is delayed. This is the way the axel should first be learned, although almost nobody does it this way. If you have
the patience and discipline then learn how to do it like the Dorothy clip. It's a beautiful jump and you'll have
an easier time learning the double axel.
There are a couple common problems I see a lot on the axel.
The first problem is swinging the free leg and right arm around while pivoting around the left foot. This causes
a pre-rotation of the jump and makes it very difficult to get over the right side. A lot of people can do single
axels in this manner, but the jump looks bad and small. By the time the skater leaves the ice they have already
rotated a half turn on the ice so the resulting jump is actually less than one full rotation in the air instead
of one and a half.
The other common problem is pulling the left shoulder back as the free leg kicks through. Once the left shoulder
is past the left hip the jump is doomed. This also causes a pivot around the left side, much the same as swinging
the free leg around. You have to remember to drive the left shoulder foward to counter to rotational force of the
right leg and shoulder also driving forward.
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