Skating Fridays

The Harness and I Do Not Get Along

I may have mentioned in a previous skating post that I have traditionally not used a harness in any of my skating or training. One of my former coaches had a belief that skaters’ bodies get used to the safety of the harness and have a difficult time translating it to the ice. Once that physical safety net is removed, the mind has a hard time executing because it knows that there is nothing to prevent the body from taking a hard fall. And then the mind and body both freak out.

I believed that theory and therefore began my axel (and some double jump) training on the ice. I took many falls, a few of which resulted in some severe sciatic pain (I was out of commission for a least a month each time and could not stand up straight or sit/walk without chronic, shooting pain). But you know what this taught me? Not to be afraid. Adults in general have more fear about falling and injuring ourselves since our bodies don’t heal like they used to. Fear is a good thing, but not when training for a jump like the axel.

After switching to Coach B, she wanted me to practice the jump in the harness. We did several off-ice drills and on-ice exercises and preparations. She thought that the harness would help me perfect the jump.

Well… not so much. I had a fantastic off-ice lesson about 15 minutes before she put me in the harness, and I was confident that it would easily translate onto the ice. To say that it was an utter failure would be the understatement of the year. I’m not sure if it was the way I jumped or the way Coach B pulled on the harness or a combination of all of the above (plus some misalignment of the planets), but I did not land a single jump. I couldn’t even do a waltz-backspin while strapped in the harness, and this is an exercise I can easily pop in my sleep.

What I did end up with was a severely bruised knee and a cut on my leg from my blade. So yes, you can get injured while in the harness and manage to cut yourself.

I haven’t been in the harness since but have been landing the jumps more than 50% of the time. Some of them are even a bit over-rotated, so I guess that is a good problem to have. In the meantime, I’m going to avoid the harness like the plague since I don’t think it’s helped me much at all.

Do you have any success or failures from using the harness?


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