Apr 19, 2010

Posted in Featured Articles, Jump Harness | 7 Comments

Figure Skating Jump Harnesses: Ceiling Harness v. Pro Motion Pole Harness

Figure Skating Jump Harnesses: Ceiling Harness v. Pro Motion Pole Harness

I bought the Pro Motion Harness a couple of months ago. The reason why I bought it is the main rinks where I teach at did not have a ceiling harness. My students and I would re-arrange lessons to get to the one rink in the area with a ceiling harness all the time. That was getting old. I had looked at the Pro Motion Harness before, but it was just too costly for me. This time I bit the bullet and bought the harness and I’m very glad I did.

The Pro Motion hand held harness is a wonderful tool to aid your skater when learning new jumps. More specifically Axels, doubles, and triple jumps.  A lot of skaters learn by trial and error. Learning jumps with the aid of a harness helps give a skater more confidence. Instead of learning a new jump and falling over and over again, they learn how the jump actually should feel.  If you have a tool that can dramatically improve the time to learn a jump, why not use it?

Today is Rinkformation’s joint posting day. Check out our other posts about jumps

Synchro Mom: can synchronized skaters jump?

Ice Girl: swinging like bait from the jump harness

Ice Mom: the jump harness is pretty amusing, I tell you

Hand Held vs. Ceiling Harness

There are advantages to using both.  Before a skater goes in either harness she must have a good understanding of the jump. I prefer the Hand Held Harness for two main reasons. It allows the skater to skate on the same axis and takeoff like they normally would, and it allows the skater to feel the jump and train muscle memory more accurately. When you use a ceiling harness, you must stay directly under the harness.  If you jump too far to the side, the harness pulls you back towards it, which throws off a skater’s take off and the axis of the jump.  When you use a ceiling harness, most coaches pull the skater into the air giving the skater height she normally wouldn’t achieve on her own. When using the Pro Motion harness, a coach does not lift a skater into the air, which means the skater actually feels how much effort they need to make on the takeoff and landing. On a ceiling harness when a skater is about to fall, many times a coach will pull them up; on a pole harness you assist them on the landing, but its pretty hard to actually prevent a fall.

This week’s Ask the Expert: World-level Coach and Pole Harness expert Nick Perna. This Wednesday, April 21 on IceMom.net.

There are a couple downfalls to the Hand Held System, for me anyway. The first was the price, $799. I don’t know about you, but for me that’s a large chunk of money. For the $799 you get the harness, a carrying case, an instructional DVD and and off-ice pulley system. Since there is nowhere in my rink that I could hook up an off-ice system I asked if I could buy the harness without this piece at a discounted price. I was allowed to do so, and saved about $50. This wasn’t an option on the Pro-motion website, so if you’re thinking of doing the same thing, make sure you call or e-mail a representative.Fish jumping

The instructional DVD was  dated, which doesn’t actually matter if the content of the video is good. The first DVD I received didn’t work, so I had another one sent to me. I personally think the video could contain a lot more content for a first-time coach using the harness. How to hold a harness, how to instruct a skater, what it will feel like, what to expect. After watching the video, I was hoping to come away feeling quite confident using it on the ice for the first time, but I didn’t.

Learning how to use the harness is an experience. It wasn’t easy, but not too hard. It’s more awkward then anything. Ice Girl was my first skater “fish” to try the harness with me. I warned her in advance that it would be a learning experience for the both of us and she was a good sport. It took a couple of sessions to get a technique down pat, and probably a couple weeks before I felt comfortable using it. Ice Girl is taller then I am, which makes it more difficult because I have to hold the harness higher in the air then I would for a munchkin. For each skater it will be different; you have to learn how to skate together because you need to stay in close proximity to each other. For myself, I stay even closer then some coaches, because it’s easier for me to control the harness like this . Lets face it, I don’t have arm strength. My upper body was quite sore the first couple weeks of using the harness, but now I have adapted and grown some  biceps -  thanks Ice Girl!

The harness itself doesn’t seem heavy if you just pick it up, but for me it was a challenge to figure out the best way to hold it. Think about holding a 5- or 10- pound weight with your arm extended straight to the side. The 5-pound weight isn’t very heavy to pick up, but how long could you hold your arm out like that? If you bend your arm and hold it closer, it becomes a little easier. Same thing with the harness: by holding the harness closer to the skater, it’s easier for me to control it.

Overall I am definitely happy I bought the Hand Held Pro Motion Harness. I can see the advantages it has with my skaters in just a couple months. I would recommend it to anyone and everyone. I only wish I would have bought one sooner!

There are many more things I could talk about here but I’ll leave it up to you. Do you have a question about the Pole Harness? Do you or your coach have one? What do you think of it?

Have you entered our April contest yet? Submit your embarrassing rink story to: info@rinkformation.net Deadline: 4/30/10

Photo credits:
Fishing lure: rust.bucket on Flickr.com Creative Commons
Fish jumping: guebosch on Flickr.com Creative Commons

  • http://twitter.com/icemom icemom

    Great post, Ice Coach! I think that Ice Girl has made some real improvement on the pole harness, too. She likes that she gets the feel of a real jump entrance on it, but she's terrified that she's going to jump right on top of you!

    She was very excited to be your bait on the harness, I tell you.

    From a parent's perspective: not as entertaining as the ceiling harness, but the vision of Ice Girl hanging like a fish on the hook is pretty good.

  • http://twitter.com/icemom icemom


    You should know that Pole Harness expert NICK PERNA will be my guest on Ask the Expert this Wednesday. If you have questions, let's get 'em out there!

  • icecoach

    She definately has. She won't jump on top of me since I skate in front of her but we skate so close I totally know how she feels that way. I mean typically you wouldn't jump that close to someone. I told her today if she would ever jump on me it would be my fault, and she said true :) So hopefully she feels better.

  • http://twitter.com/icemom icemom

    Well, today was not one of her better jumping days. She was pretty upset when we left the rink because Monday night she was jumping really high and she landed one double Salchow. This morning: all crap. V. grumpy in the van this morning. I think she wanted to impress you and, well, not her best work.

  • http://twitter.com/Synchromomnet Synchro Mom

    I say we hang icecoach from the harness until she gives our girls free lessons….. I do love you ice coach!

  • http://twitter.com/icemom icemom

    Hey, Synchro Mom!

    That idea has merit. Meet you at the rink at 6 a.m. Ice Girl, you lure Ice Coach onto the ice with a pair of new Coach shoes and some crystal earrings.

    We'll trap her under one of the hockey goals and string her up in the harness.

    Ice Coach, you can come down when you agree to Synchro Mom's free lesson scheme.

    Right. Let's synchronize our watches and draw up the blueprints.

    Love ya, Ice Coach! Watch your back!

    Ice Mom

  • icecoach

    You know if coach shoes and crystal earrings are involved you don't really need to trap me. I'll trade lessons for those any day! Or anything in Ice Grandmas jewelery box, or Synchro Dad's car. I'm telling you I'll work with you :)