Adult learning the axel

tinna

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Hi knowledgeable people of this Forum! I don't post often but enjoy reading your posts!

I wanted to ask for you insights on learning the axel.

For background info: I am a 42-year-old female who has been figure skating since a year and a half. I played hockey as a child and did gymnastics to a good level, and have maintained a good physical condition by being a competitive rider and a runner. I do advanced yoga. I am small (5.1'') and light (about 110) but fairly strong and flexible (can do a good biellmann).

I have learned all my single jumps and get good height, especially on the waltz jump. Just before Christmas my coach surprised me and announced that she is starting me on the axel. I did a few attempts and the preparatory exercises of waltz-jump and backspin.

Why it surprised me was that I have read a lot that skaters who started as adults can not get an axel. (or a double salchow etc.) And I started at 40, not at 20. When I asked my coaches (they work as a team) they were both very matter of fact about it, but I do not think they know how old I am :laugh:

So I don't know what to think. Is it this seriously possible for me? Do you know of adults who started at forty and got their axel? :scratch2:

If so, what should I expect? That it takes a few years? As for off-ice - do I have to get it first off-ice and only then do serious attempts on ice?

I skate four and a half hours a week with a coach in a semi-private lesson with a few skaters at different levels and four hours training by myself on public sessions, so a total of 8 to 9 hours on ice a week. I absolutely love skating and finding this new sport has been such a thrill for me for the past year and a half.

Any input would be appreciated. Thank you in advance.
 

Yannis94

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Personally I think you can get that axel and double jumps. Judging from your physical condition, you should be able to pull it off.

Don't let age hold you back. Sure an adult skater in their end 50s and higher will most likely be having trouble getting to an axel. Many also have a fear of falling and therefore won't perform jumps at all.
The time it takes to get an axel depends on person to person. Some get it within two weeks, other take a year. I took about half a season in getting my axel down. But that was when I was 16, didn't have too much fear of coming down crashing onto the ice on my tail bone for a solid half hour.

As for off-ice, it's definitely a good thing in trying to get it off-ice whilst also working on it on ice. I got the axel down off-ice first. I still land it off-ice but I'm working on getting it back on ice as well. So far I've gotten down to my bell jump. So the once around, and I just need to snap into that back spin position and just go for it. But each time I just chicken out at the last moment.

I would definitely give it a try and I wish you good luck on learning your axel.
 

kolyadafan2002

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The reasons most adults dont get the axel in their 40s:
1) they are scared of falling.
2) injury or physical limitations.
3) get very frustrated - this isnt a stereotype however many adults get frustrated early on with lack of progress.

Physically if you can do it, you can succeed if you keep mentally strong and practice enough and do good off ice and work ethic.
Best of luck!
 

1111bm

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Besides the mental side of it, i.e. the fear of committing and 'going for it', I'm not actually sure every adult is physically capable of a single Axel or doubles. :think:

It's hard to separate the two of course, but I do often feel that even without the mental barrier, many adults would still struggle with the quick snap needed for a single Axel and other, higher rotational jumps. I think it might be because of inherent muscle composition and how it's been developed at an earlier age (or not) through certain physical activities.
But to be fair, I personally haven't met any adults who've done some serious exercising to improve their explosiveness, so who knows what's possible with proper training. :shrug:

I know many adults who have all their singles save for the Axel, and they're very comfortable doing them, but they just can't progress any further than that. And this is also true for many people who started out in their early 20s. I also know many who've had an Axel as a child/teen and they struggle a lot with getting it back and maintaining it.

But who knows, you might be one of the lucky ones, where rotating is easy for you. I wouldn't be surprised, with your background in gymnastics. And I take it, thanks to your experience from playing hockey (ice hockey, I assume?) you must be already very comfortable on the ice, compared to someone who's never skated before, so that's already a big plus.
 

gkelly

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Try it and see how it goes. Compared to other 40-something skaters, you've got a lot more advantages than most.

As a teenager I had a bad beginner axel and was just starting to work on double salchow. Then I didn't skate much or at all for almost 20 years. In my late 30s I was able to get the axel back to about the same level as before, and I was able to make more progress on the double salchow than I had as a kid, to the point that for at least one day I could land some not-too-cheated doubles. I wasn't as physically fit as you, though having started to learn those jumps as a kid was surely helpful.

And then I lost them again in my 40s.

Maybe you'll never get it consistent enough to put in a program. But you may well get to the point that you can sometimes land something you can be proud of as an accomplishment in its own right.
 

hanyuufan5

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My coaches don't know how old I am either. All the better for it, because that means they goes by my ability and not my age.

No one can predict for sure, but if you got that far in a year and a half at any age over 10 or so, I think it's very possible that you'll get an Axel and beyond if you want. The fact that you have a good waltz jump is a good sign. A lot of why some people struggle with Axels is because they're uncomfortable with the forward takeoff.
 

tinna

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Thank you all for your valuable input! This is actually what I am asking, 1111bm, ie. if there is something other than straight forward physical strength that would have had to have been acquired in childhood.

What would be the proper explosiveness training you are referring to? Plyometrics? Is there any other training advice you could think of?
 

Ic3Rabbit

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It may happen or it may not. If it does: It may come quickly or take years. You cannot predict it and based on what you have told us you have a better chance than others your age group or older, but you really have to go for it and see.
 

WednesdayMarch

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As your coach has suggested training it, I'd say there was more chance of you getting it than somebody whose coach is reluctant to teach it to them. I certainly wouldn't be encouraging an adult I didn't think was capable of it. Coaches don't really like setting students up for failure! Go for it.
 

1111bm

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Thank you all for your valuable input! This is actually what I am asking, 1111bm, ie. if there is something other than straight forward physical strength that would have had to have been acquired in childhood.

What would be the proper explosiveness training you are referring to? Plyometrics? Is there any other training advice you could think of?

I'm sorry, but you're asking the wrong person. :laugh:
I know that there are exercises for that, but I don't know any. I think catching a heavy medicine ball or things like that (just guessing)? :scratch2:
I don't know about plyometrics, I thought that's more about jumping power? but who knows, might help with explosiveness, too. Certainly won't hurt on the road to your Axel.

I seem to be at a similar level like you, got all my singles within a short time, but contrary to you, I haven't started working on an Axel or any prep exercises on the ice since then (I've practiced off-ice Axels for years though, right when I took up figure skating, but it's something I only do once in a while). I guess I was always waiting to reach a point where I feel secure enough and ready to try it on the ice, but that day hasn't arrived yet :laugh:.

For me personally, should I find that getting a single Axel requires that much extra work, I think it wouldn't be worth it. Sure, I'd love to be able to do one, as a personal goal, but I don't feel like sacrificing valuable time on something that's so hard to attain and maintain, when I can use that time to improve other, more worthwhile and longterm aspects of my skating, such as edges and footwork (which incidentally was also the reason why I took up figure skating in the first place, initally I never intended to jump, except maybe a Waltz jump). But we'll see, I may get obsessed with it against all common sense ;). FWIW, it certainly sounds like you're better equipped to learn an Axel than me.
 

Charlotte 71

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I can't see much of anything holding you back from learning an Axel. You're small, light, flexible from your yoga and other physical conditioning and have good single jumps. Maybe you can work on it with your coach on a harness to get the feel for rotating and landing it, to reduce the fear of falling? And work on it off the ice, as others suggested. There is nothing like the sensation of sticking your arms out and feeling your blade riding backwards on the ice after landing your first Axel. I still remember the feeling, even though I was 12. I hope you will experience it soon!
 

Scout

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Some elite figure skaters (Sasha Cohen, Jenny Kirk & Surya Bonaly come to mind) did gymnastics as young children and I always wondered if being comfortable flipping / rotating "upside down" with your feet over your head meant that the "right side up" twisting done in figure skating jumps would seem relatively much easier, given how good their body and spacial awareness must be (as well as the explosiveness/power/quickness needed in gymnastics).

From a physical abilities perspective, I think that a single axel is a very real possibility. Good luck and have fun with it!
 

Ic3Rabbit

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Some elite figure skaters (Sasha Cohen, Jenny Kirk & Surya Bonaly come to mind) did gymnastics as young children and I always wondered if being comfortable flipping / rotating "upside down" with your feet over your head meant that the "right side up" twisting done in figure skating jumps would seem relatively much easier, given how good their body and spacial awareness must be (as well as the explosiveness/power/quickness needed in gymnastics).

From a physical abilities perspective, I think that a single axel is a very real possibility. Good luck and have fun with it!

As someone that did gymnastics and figure skating from young age, (later dropping gym) the answer is no, because it's different.
 

hanyuufan5

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Some elite figure skaters (Sasha Cohen, Jenny Kirk & Surya Bonaly come to mind) did gymnastics as young children and I always wondered if being comfortable flipping / rotating "upside down" with your feet over your head meant that the "right side up" twisting done in figure skating jumps would seem relatively much easier, given how good their body and spacial awareness must be (as well as the explosiveness/power/quickness needed in gymnastics).
As someone that did gymnastics and figure skating from young age, (later dropping gym) the answer is no, because it's different.

Same for the reverse. I've always been pretty fearless with jumps and spins, but you couldn't pay me to do so much as a somersault. :laugh:
 

Charlotte 71

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Some elite figure skaters (Sasha Cohen, Jenny Kirk & Surya Bonaly come to mind) did gymnastics as young children and I always wondered if being comfortable flipping / rotating "upside down" with your feet over your head meant that the "right side up" twisting done in figure skating jumps would seem relatively much easier, given how good their body and spacial awareness must be (as well as the explosiveness/power/quickness needed in gymnastics).

From a physical abilities perspective, I think that a single axel is a very real possibility. Good luck and have fun with it!

I did gymnastics as a kid before switching to skating around age 11. Nowhere near elite level in either sport, but, yes, the fear factor in skating was less. I was at the point in gymnastics where I was learning back handspring on beam, and I was afraid to jump upside down/backwards, afraid of my hands missing or slipping and landing on my head on the beam. It was like I hit my fear limit in gym - back walkover on beam - okay - but back handspring on beam - no way. And I remember jumping and falling on ice seemed a lot less scary. Gymnastics wasn't exactly transferrable skills, but the strength and conditioning, especially core strength, was probably the biggest help. Not sure about spatial awareness and sense of rotation in the air. I think ballet and dance training might do more for that, but gymnastics probably helped some. I learned my Axel within a year of starting skating, so I think doing gymnastics prior helped me make more progress early, but whatever advantages stalled out at puberty. :drama:
 

tinna

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Thank you for all these interesting insights.
As you said WednesdayMarch, my coach must think I can do it, as otherwise it would not make sense to teach it to me. I am the only adult skater at the rink she is teaching it to.
I have bought crash pads and am going for it. We don't have a harness at out rink. I am just keeping in mind that I am doing this for fun and also because I am very goal-oriented as a person. I'll see how it goes!
 

vlaurend

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Thank you for all these interesting insights.
As you said WednesdayMarch, my coach must think I can do it, as otherwise it would not make sense to teach it to me. I am the only adult skater at the rink she is teaching it to.
I have bought crash pads and am going for it. We don't have a harness at out rink. I am just keeping in mind that I am doing this for fun and also because I am very goal-oriented as a person. I'll see how it goes!

You can get your axel. I landed my first axel at 38 and had one or two of them in my competition program until I was 49 (I only stopped doing them because they never became as consistent as my other jumps and I was sick of spending half of my practice time just battling the axel). The most important thing is to get the correct takeoff and weight transfer timing and technique into your muscle memory. That's what makes or breaks the jump. The rest is just pulling in once you are backward in an open backspin position. Train smarter, not harder. Focus on getting that technique instead of trying to fling yourself into the air 100 times hoping to land it. 20-year old bodies can get away with that, but not 40-year old bodies, so make every attempt (or preparatory exercise) very focused. I had my axel on the floor for a year before I landed it fully rotated on the ice (I recommend basketball shoes for that. Youth sizes fit most women and are cheaper).
 
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