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Thread: Mental Block (aka Axel "fun")

  1. #1
    Wakabond Forever Seren's Avatar
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    Mental Block (aka Axel "fun")

    I was hoping I could get some advice.

    I have been working on the axel for almost a year. Last fall I was getting a lot closer and was usually landing on one foot but on a flat and short 1/4 turn so not cleanly landed yet. I sprained my ankle in October last year doing an off ice axel and was off the ice for a month and a half and not jumping for almost 2 months. Since then I am back to normal skating and jumping. I started working on the axel again in January. My problem is my stupid brain. I can land the axel in the harness about 75% of the time. Once the harness goes away I have a really hard time committing to the jump- I end up doing a wonky bell jump (half axel) half the time and falling wonky the other half. What frustrates me is that before my injury I was always landing on one foot- I wasn't afraid of falling so I committed to it. Even though I don't think I'm afraid to fall there is something off in how I am approaching it that wasn't there before. It feels like doubt.

    Does anyone have any advice on getting over a mental block or getting over fear of an element? My skating goals are not overly outrageous, I really want to land the axel and maybe double salchow someday but if I can't get over this fluke accident I'm afraid my doubt will hinder me (I have no problem with my other single jumps).

    Thank you in advance!

  2. #2
    #HatersGonnaHate Ic3Rabbit's Avatar
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    Without seeing your jump technique, I can't help you much there. What I can tell you as far as trying to get past mental blocks is this: I always found that visualizing and "running through" the jump in my mind before hand while breathing helped. Have you tried that?

    Good luck, I hope you are able to find a way to break this block and land your axel!!

  3. #3
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    Everyone's hesitation manifests itself differently in terms of technique errors. However one thing that helps with mental fear is to go back and do a ton of drills - I like doing waltz - backspin from standstill, then gradually pulling in sooner and sooner until after 5 or 6 I am doing the full standstill axel. I think this forces the brain to calm down and stop overthinking it. Also, it's possible that there's something that's improved about one aspect of your technique that the rest of your technique hasn't caught up with - axel often gets worse before it gets better.

  4. #4
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    Sorry to hear about your injury! I can totally sympathize with your frustration---I had a similar injury last summer, which turned out to be a "dancer's fracture" that kept me off the ice for 2 months. Upon returning, I restricted myself to 1 month of moves, before restarting jumps, which by that time was 3 full months of no jumps. Only to discover that my usually reliable flip completely disappeared!

    I think 2-3 months is enough time for muscle memory to fade. Probably, as you were learning the axel (and me, the flip), your muscles retained some memory of what they should do, so that you don't actively think about it when you go into the axel. With 2-3 months off the ice, what worked for me was to return to basics, review each step, arm placement, leg motion, as if I were learning it for the first time. Of course, it takes quicker to regain an element than to learn it new, but this relearning process is effective to refresh the neural pathways that your muscle memory rely on.

    Regarding the mental block, I find that having something concrete to focus on doing (e.g., coach says swing leg through in such and such way) gives me no time to think about chickening out of doing it. (And I'm a person who *is* afraid to fall... lol)

  5. #5
    Rinkside
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    Well from what you have said it does not sound like you have a strong backspin. You cannot get the snap in the air or balance for the quick rotation and check out.

    Do you have a coach or professional helping you?

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    Wakabond Forever Seren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by posha View Post
    Well from what you have said it does not sound like you have a strong backspin. You cannot get the snap in the air or balance for the quick rotation and check out.

    Do you have a coach or professional helping you?
    I do have a coach, technique wise we have figured out a lot of my issues and are working through them- I can land it in the harness but my nerves hinder me without it.

    Haha, the backspin and I have a complicated relationship. It's gotten pretty solid but my open hips don't help.

  7. #7
    Wakabond Forever Seren's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cl2 View Post
    Sorry to hear about your injury! I can totally sympathize with your frustration---I had a similar injury last summer, which turned out to be a "dancer's fracture" that kept me off the ice for 2 months. Upon returning, I restricted myself to 1 month of moves, before restarting jumps, which by that time was 3 full months of no jumps. Only to discover that my usually reliable flip completely disappeared!

    I think 2-3 months is enough time for muscle memory to fade. Probably, as you were learning the axel (and me, the flip), your muscles retained some memory of what they should do, so that you don't actively think about it when you go into the axel. With 2-3 months off the ice, what worked for me was to return to basics, review each step, arm placement, leg motion, as if I were learning it for the first time. Of course, it takes quicker to regain an element than to learn it new, but this relearning process is effective to refresh the neural pathways that your muscle memory rely on.

    Regarding the mental block, I find that having something concrete to focus on doing (e.g., coach says swing leg through in such and such way) gives me no time to think about chickening out of doing it. (And I'm a person who *is* afraid to fall... lol)

    That's really good advice, thank you! I think focusing on the basics will help me get over my nerves. It didn't help that my injury was on my landing foot.

  8. #8
    Rinkside
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    Haha, the backspin and I have a complicated relationship. It's gotten pretty solid but my open hips don't help.[/QUOTE]

    There is the problem. Your axel is only as good as your backspin. Never better than. I would go back and work on a tight centered backspin with controlled exit before resuming work on an axel. You don't want a "Waxel" as it's called.

    Harness is tricky bc in a way it's cheating. You neither control nor support your weight, so it doesn't give your muscles a true idea of the force or torque needed to land it on your own.

  9. #9
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    A mental block can be overcome if you add a certain type of routine. You can actually see this with many professional skaters or athletes in general. They do something in advance, to take of the pressure and become more relaxed. Some give fist bumps with their coaches, others drink a bit of water, others sneeze their nose, praise god ...

    In tennis we have a player who touches her leg, shield, knee before every single return she plays or Marsha who always does the same before each single serve. Even Chris Ronaldo has such a routine before each free kick. It´s not for show, as silly people claim, it´s for relaxation.

    Try to find something you can do before going into the Axel, it will take your fear and help with the blockade.

    Laurine Lecavelier, is my recommendation if you want to see a nice double Axel, without hesitation.
    Last edited by Alex D; 02-12-2017 at 02:39 AM.

  10. #10
    Wakabond Forever Seren's Avatar
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    Thank you all for your advice, it has helped a lot. Skating yesterday I felt a lot less afraid and was not bailing the jump halfway through. I am back to landing on one foot (still under rotated but getting closer).

    @Posha, your advice on the backspin was spot on. I made a huge breakthrough on my backscratch last week. As I previously stated, I have really retroverted hips (great for a spread eagle, not so great for trying to get into a tight position). There was a definite improvement in the axel after focusing on this (what worked was focusing on keeping my skating hip in internal rotation). I will keep working on it with my coach.

    Thank you again all!

  11. #11
    Rinkside
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    What helped me land my single axel was a waltz jump without checking your leg all the way back, quick back spin and then strong checkout. Google 'waltz jump back spin' I think there are some examples on Youtube. Once you start doing this over and over it will help you get comfortable rotating over your right side. If you are still a bit nervous.. grab some butt pads! I used to wear them everytime I was learning my double axel when I was younger Good luck!
    Last edited by Lex; 02-19-2017 at 10:38 PM.

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