Jumping is one area where I believe private lessons are critical to achieving success. So much of jumping is about timing and rhythm that a one-on-one interaction with your instructor is most helpful to getting the nuances of each jump down.
There are always four parts that a jump can be broken down into and it's important to understand how each part works:
- Preparation - The preparation for a jump is just as important as the jump itself since it's the approaching footwork and body alignment that prepares you for the jump. So make sure you go over with your instructor what your body, arms and legs (and head) should be doing before the jump. The most common mistake I still find myself making is that I anticipate the jump way before it's supposed to happen. Oftentimes, my shoulders and hips will start rotating too soon. Also, I remind myself to keep my back straight and not start hunching over.
- Takeoff - Whether the takeoff is from an edge or toe pick, the power of the jump is initiated from the knees, so make sure to do off ice exercises that strengthen the muscles surrounding the knee for maximum height. Timing also plays a key role during the takeoff and with practice, you eventually get the timing.
- Rotation in air - For an edge jump, the rotation is initiated when the curve on the takeoff edge deepens. For a toe jump, the toe pick tap initiates the rotation. In the air, the body must be straight (see right).
- Checked landing - Checking, or stopping the rotation, is important in order to land the jump with control (and also to exit a spin with control). When you check out of a jump (or spin), the hips are square, the free leg extended back, and the upper body strong. My coaches used to have me repeat the checked landing position regardless of whether I completed the jump or not. Many a times, I would fall out of a jump or fall on a jump, and still, get up from the ice and end with a checked landing position. This was repeated so many times to the point that I almost felt uncomfortable unless I ended with a checked landing position. A common mistake I still try and correct is that my exit edge is on too tight of a curve because my body is over-rotated.