Archive for the ‘Chris Conte’ Category

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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.

 

Trevor

 

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