Double Axel’s Are Truly Rare

October 30, 2007

Lately I’ve been fascinated by the double axel.  This is probably pretty obvious if you’ve read many of my recent posts.  It is also obvious to the coaches that have signed up for updates from Skating Coach Quiz.

A large number of those coaches recently took a survey about the double axel.  The purpose of the survey was to determine how rare it is for a coach to teach a clean, consistent double axel.  I made the claim that “Most figure skating coaches never coach a skater to a consistent clean double axel.”

The survey results did not prove my claim, but they did provide food for thought.  60% of the responding coaches said they’ve never successfully taught a double axel to a female skater.  Of course, many of those will successfully teach a double axel at some time in the future.  But 60% is still a very sobering number!

71% of responding coaches worked with at least one female skater on double axel.  But only 40% have been successful teaching it.  These results confirm how rare it is to teach a double axel!  Some of the other survey results also suggest that most of the coaches that have successfully taught a double axel have been coaching for more than 20 years.

The other results of the survey were also very interesting.  The results can be viewed by signing up for updates from Skating Coach Quiz.  Those results include data on coaches’ experience levels and competitive success at the National level.


I’ve commented in this space before why so few ladies skaters get a double axel.  It largely comes down to physical ability.  Video analysis coaches with computer programs such as Dartfish have measured double axels with as little as 0.45 seconds of flight time.


Using projectile motion calculations, we can estimate the vertical jump from this flight time to be about 9.8 inches (see Flight Time versus Jump Height Table).  Actually the number is slightly greater due to ankle extension but 10 inches is a reasonable estimate of minimum height.  This assumes exceptional rotational speeds and jump control.


According to Audrey Weisiger and Chris Conte of Grassroots to Champions, the good minimum number for double axel flight time is 0.5 seconds which corresponds to a little over 12 inches of height.


Ultimately, that’s the challenge.  Most female skaters simply can’t jump that high off one leg.  Add to that the need for a proper axis and rotational control, and it’s clear why it’s so difficult.


I’m putting together a study of vertical jump height versus age for skaters.  The study will measure and correlate vertical jump height using multiple measurement methods, off one leg as well as both.  Ultimately, I’d like to correlate those measurements with on ice jump height as well.


I don’t really know what to expect.  What percentage of female skaters that skate for at least 3 years or more have the physical ability to do a double axel?  10%?  5%?  Even less?  It should be very interesting.






  1. Hi, I was still wondering at your info’s ideas..
    Thanks for sharing the ideas..

  2. Hey, I agree with you! I am a female skater and it took me 4 years (and a coaching change) to get a double axel. My first coach gave up on me for that jump so I went to a higher level coach. I now can do a db axel and it took me 4 years, I consider myself a good person to look up to for not giving up. I could jump high but had a poor technique. I now have the technique and more than enough height.

  3. Wow great video. I’m also doing box jump. Tough and explosive but very effective.

  4. 9 inches, huh? Charles Poliquin, who does some off ice training work with figure skaters, he said he’s worked with female figure skaters capable of triples that only had an 18 inch vertical jump (off two legs) which would be considered very weak in any other athletic endeavor.

    I think in figure skating, power production is a very very underrated field people don’t think about. I wonder if with proper power training, if we could even get good skaters starting as adults or later teens, rather than the current paradigm that exists now where you won’t get anywhere unless you start in single digit years.

    When I first started (I’ve only been skating about 2.5 years depending on what you count, and have been self taught for 2 years of them) and saw various adult figure skaters, I had the thought the biggest thing holding them back was lack of power training. Almost no actual jumping training, box jumps, jumps on one leg, almost no weight training (ie, back squats.) I think when you’re younger the power production aspect doesn’t matter quite as much, but once you’re older it gets a lot more important. I see weight training and off ice as a shortcut. Ideally, yeah, we’d all skate with a coach 4 hours a day. However, that costs money and is impossible for 99% of people. But going to the gym is basically free.

    I think the most ideal thing to do with a skater is, when you’re working on the edging and moves in the field type stuff in your first year or two, incorporate a very serious off ice regimen of strength and plyometric training, and stretching. The reasoning is, once you’re jumping a lot, that’s when your jump training has to be specific to the actual skating jumps, on and off ice. As far as I understand it, the Soviet model of sports basically works this way, you develop “general” strength and conditioning first, then later you develop your sport specific movements.

    Anyway, to some extent, that’s what my blog is about. Off ice training for figure skating and my observations. It might be like…totally wrong, but it seems nobody else is really giving a serious shot at figuring out a good off ice conditioning system for figure skaters. So my blog, besides being about all my personal life stuff, is about that, and ideally I’d like something put together like you have with figure skating jumps about off ice conditioning for figure skating. So if you wanna skim through for observations (muddled with stories of nothing) feel free.

    Best regards and thank you for your videos!

  5. Some basic and personal observations about skating: Adults have significant strength and power advantages over young skaters. Simple age and maturity creates strength automatically, making pure strength training unnecessary for most adult skaters. Where adult skaters need strength training is usually in mobility and stability, as those that start as an adult typically lack those. Thus, core work and the ability to apply their existing strength should be top priorities. On the other hand, young skaters who have not developed the necessary strength yet but wish to push the boundaries of their physical abilities, must train for strength and power. Also note, the skills of actually skating typically have very little to do with strength but require balance and fine motor control that only comes through practice on the ice. I agree that strength training is important, but probably not as important as many suspect, except at the elite level (or optimizing any level).

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