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Fore/aft Balance- Where is the "sweet spot" and how to get there? - Page 2

post #31 of 55

Sounds like an interesting product.


I have two tips to help find the sweet spot feeling in your ski boots. 

 

1.) Go for a ski with your boot buckles not done up. 

 

2. Boot skiing

 

 

Now you can spend that money on getting a proper foot bed for your ski boots.

 


Fs^^

post #32 of 55

I received my trainer last week.  I do a lot of balance training, and was able to quickly move to the green block.  I also found that one of my first movements was to break at the waist, but once I made adjustments and got my hips over my feet, I was able to stand up with my arms out in front like I was holding ski poles.  Like Rod, I also found that my back was very slightly curved.  I found the sensation very comparable to the BOSU but I liked that I was firing the small twitch muscles in my feet while in my ski boots.  I will continue to use the device daily until I get on the snow again and then report back on how this training transferred over to my skiing.

 

I want to add that I bought these devices more as a boot fitting aid for myself more than a Sweet Spot Trainer.  After using them, I feel that they might be helpful in that application.  I purchased new ski boots last month and wanted to make sure that my canting was dialed in.  When I put the SkiA trainers on, I was able to check to see if I could tip both boots laterally while keeping my lower leg shafts parallel with no "A framing".  I found that I was keeping my leg shafts parallel, but my right boot kept wanting to slide to the right a little.  Interestingly enough, when I skied for the first time in my new boots on Wednesday, I was having the exact same problem on the hill; my right ski tip was diverging on all of my left turns.

post #33 of 55

I thought the green block is the easiest one?

 

Looking forward to your impressions later.  Still waiting for my package to show up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowmiser View Post

I received my trainer last week.  I do a lot of balance training, and was able to quickly move to the green block.  I also found that one of my first movements was to break at the waist, but once I made adjustments and got my hips over my feet, I was able to stand up with my arms out in front like I was holding ski poles.  Like Rod, I also found that my back was very slightly curved.  I found the sensation very comparable to the BOSU but I liked that I was firing the small twitch muscles in my feet while in my ski boots.  I will continue to use the device daily until I get on the snow again and then report back on how this training transferred over to my skiing.

post #34 of 55

Oops!!! I stand corrected Marznc!  I was using the Red blocks! 

post #35 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamt View Post

I have a theory that people who grow up on ice have a much easier time learning fore-aft balance on skis. Where I live we have ice during almost half the year, and the kids slide on their feet on ice all the time, both on flat and hills. The slippery surface becomes second nature, and when you are on skis it continues to be quite natural. However, if you grew up in areas without ice, you never get these patterns ingrained and you find it quite strange to walk and glide on ice.

We have had some immigrants from warm countries here, and when they first arrive they can hardly walk at all on ice, not to mention how difficult time they have to learn skiing.

The comment has merit, but....

 

The same people can also come from areas where they balance on different objects and situations (better than you or I).  I think it is more of a muscle memory training from childhood based on the local environment.  The responses are different for different situations, it doesn't mean they have bad balance, it just means they have to expand their skill set and that may take a few days, or hours with the right coaching.

 

A very good example of  this is a a female skater who for the first time tries hockey skates.  Completely different feel and balance points.  Will adapt very quickly, but will have difficulties initially. The opposite, the gut will catch the points on the toes.  Difference radiused blades vs straight(er) blades and toe picks.

 

The second issues is that some people can not adapt as easily even though they have good balancing skills, not that they don't want to.  Again they can be greatly helped with the right coaching.

 

Finally, some people have no balancing skills at all, just enough to get through everyday life, with those this skills becomes very difficult to learn.

 

Remember the biggest issue for balance is being relaxed, stiffen up and any imbalance/error instantly becomes magnified and accelerates.  Relaxed you give a little the error slows and can be corrected, some cases self corrects (simple put).

 

 

Sorry edit for spelling.

post #36 of 55

2nd coach:

 
"What is unique about it is the fact that you use it in ski boots. Seeing as our ankles have a pretty limited range of movement in ski boots we need to learn to balance by compensating with different parts of the body than what we are normally used to. Many intermediate and even advanced skiers have a perception of where that center point is on their skis, however, perception and reality are often two very different things. I believe the trainers would be helpful for many of these people to feel that spot more accurately. I certainly don’t like to preach a static stance but it is important to know where neutral is." 
 
 
This is a good point with regards to the omission of the ankle flexion for the most part in the balancing equation on the "sweet spot" trainer.  With ski boots on and with this device the subject must use other joints (ie; knees, hips) and body parts to balance and quiet the impulse to use the ankle motion as in bare feet.  This does help to train the body to make the necessary adjustments which should translate to actual skiing.  As we know flexing deeply with ski boots on is noticeably different than in bare feet.  In this instance this device may have merits as it adds difficulty to this task which simulates flexing while skiing!?
 
I am speculating as I have not had the opportunity to test this device.
 
If I may share an experience from the past.  Years ago I took a Summer job teaching grass skiing at a local PA resort.  I grass skied every weekend over the Summer and honed my skills and balance point on this relatively short rolling platform.  They had a very short sweet spot and that spot was ingrained in my motor memory when I began the alpine ski season.  Unfortunately, that sweet spot on the grass skis was markedly different than the sweet spot on my alpine skis and consequently I was off balance rearward and out of control the first few runs on snow!  So while the grass skis were very short and required a very precise fore/aft balance position, this position did not relate to the longer snow skis and the relatively frictionless snow, compared to the rolling friction from the grass skis.  So again, while there are many ways to challenge our balance and find the sweet spot on whatever piece of equipment we are using, this "sweet spot" may not and probably does not translate perfectly to actual skiing?

Edited by bud heishman - 12/4/12 at 10:15pm
post #37 of 55
Bud,
Does the sweet spot in your ski boots change when you go from SL to gs skis? Shouldn't everything inside the boot be experiencing the same thing no matter the length of the ski?

Ken
post #38 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

Bud,
Does the sweet spot in your ski boots change when you go from SL to gs skis? Shouldn't everything inside the boot be experiencing the same thing no matter the length of the ski?
Ken

  I would say (not to interrup, l&airc, bud...) that you are in the proverbial "sweet spot" for a longer duration on a gs ski due to the increased length/radius...the movements (retraction/extension, etc...) in gs aren't as...frenetic, usually. As far as if it "moves", I personally cannot discern....

 

  I would also submit that the sweet spot varies from skier to skier...(due to anatomical diffrencesl/ability levels/snow conditions...etc)...imho

post #39 of 55

The sweet spot is not inside my boots it is where my skis and boots tell me I must position my CoM to optimize my fore/aft balance.  Changing any of the four sagittal plane parameters will affect where this sweet spot is.  Using the "sweet spot" trainer the sweet spot is set directly under the center of the boot sole and demands the skier recognize this spot and make the necessary adjustments to remain there.  Now move that "sweet spot" trainer slightly forward or rearward and the skier must adjust accordingly to balance over this different sweet spot.

 

Using binding mount position as one example, moving the binding slightly aft on the ski (ie; powder skis) will necessitate the skier bias his/her CoM slightly more forward to be over the sweet spot, while moving the binding ahead (ie; park skis) will necessitate the skier bias the CoM more aft to be over the sweet spot.  Binding position is one of the four parameters which affect fore/aft alignment.  

 

Or, changing the delta angle of the binding (the external boot sole angle created by the difference in binding heel height and toe height) will affect how the skier must adjust his/her stance to remain over the sweet spot.

 

The human body will intuitively find balance and make whatever necessary compensations needed to accomplish this However; These compensatory movements and positions are visible cues to these misalignments and hinder optimal balance.  Correct the alignment issues and balancing becomes easier devoid of extraneous movements and gyrations.   

 

Bud,
Does the sweet spot in your ski boots change when you go from SL to gs skis? Shouldn't everything inside the boot be experiencing the same thing no matter the length of the ski?

 

So to answer your question L&AirC, yes it does slightly, primarily because of each ski has it's own sweet spot and I must adjust accordingly.  

 

Now insuring all the skis in your quiver have the same binding model mounted on them will eliminate one of the variables (delta) provided this delta angle is the optimum one for your morphological needs.  Many skiers have a mix of binding brands and/or models on their quiver which may create inconsistencies in delta angle.  This in itself will change the sweet spot over each pair of skis.  If this is you, find where your optimum angle is then shim your bindings to equalize all their angles to your optimum angle.  If all your bindings are the same any change in delta can easily be made by using lifter plates on your boots.  

 

Also, if your slalom skis are mounted slightly forward in comparison to your gs skis, this in itself will change where you must stand to be in the sweet spot.  If you have access to a pair of skis with a demo binding which allows independent toe and heel movement you can easily experiment with this parameter to feel how changing the binding position changes where you must stand over the skis to find optimal balance and turnability.

 

bud

post #40 of 55

Bud,

Thanks for the detailed response.  I agree with everything you stated but think something is being misunderstood and I assume it is me. 

 

I know and agree that moving things around in any of the planes will force you to make some sort of change for better or worse.

 

Let’s pretend I had a boatload of money and brought me and all my skis to spend a couple days with you on the slopes and in the shop with the sole intent of making things optimum for me in my boots.  Since I have (theoretical) a boat load of money, even if I had to buy new bindings/skis/boots, we do that.  When I head back to NH, instead of having a boat load of money, I have gs skis, sl skis, and an all mountain carver all optimized to me and the sweet spot is set. 

 

When I start skiing, not matter which pair of skis I’m on, inside my boots, shouldn’t it feel the same.  That’s been the point I’m trying to make.  It sounds like to me that the trainer is to aid you in discovering what that sweet spot feels like and how to balance in it and NOT to find the sweet spot on a particular pair of skis.  I guess it could help you do that by letting you know that the skis you’re trying (let’s say on a demo day) aren’t in the sweet spot because you feel yourself having to get more forward than on the sweet spot trainer or the matched set of skis you helped me fine tune to my body/skiing mentioned above.

 

I agree wholeheartedly about moving the binding mount position.  I also think because we talk about moving the binding position, people miss sight (not you – in general) of what is actually happening.  If you move the binding mount position forward, you are actually moving the ski backwards under your foot to get the sweet spot to where it should be, instead of where it happens to be.  That little line on the bottom of the boots (provided they’ve been aligned to you) is a very good indicator of (sans skis) where my balance point is.

So if I can balance over a skinny little block in my ski boots in my basement, but I can’t do that on the hill, something needs fixing.

 

If in my basement I attempt balancing on a skinny little block and can’t, I might have boot issues or balance issues.  More importantly, I might have technique issues.

 

It almost sounds like a similar experience to doing drills with your boots unbuckled on the slope; you need to relax and be balanced. 

 

Yes/No/Maybe so?

 

Ken

post #41 of 55

I've always thought there are two ways of skiing centered.  These relate to each other, but are not the same.  Having one does not mean you have the other.  You can have one and not the other.

 

1.  Centered in the boot.  This means you feel equal pressure pushing up on your ball-of-foot and up on your heel.  Thus you know your foot is centered in the boot.

2.  Centered on the ski.  This means you feel equal pressure pushing up on the tip of the ski and the tail of the ski.   Thus you know your body and its center of mass is centered over the ski.  Tip and tail of the ski are not usually equidistant from the arch of your foot; being centered in the boot may not equal being centered over the ski.

post #42 of 55

Good point L&AirC.

 

Let me put it this way.  If your bindings were mounted so that the sweet spot of the ski was directly under the center line of your boots and your bindings had ZERO delta (toe and heel the same thickness), then the "sweet spot" trainer would be most realistic. This would be more like a center mounted park n pipe ski than what you probably ski on?

 

Now add forward motion with accelerations and decelerations, and an extended slippery platform with sharp metal edges and it gets even more like real skiing.  

 

Here's a balance challenge for you.... with the trainer strapped to your boots stand approximately six inches in front of your toilet, practice sitting down on the seat without losing balanceeek.gifwink.gif

post #43 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by bud heishman View Post

Good point L&AirC.

 

Let me put it this way.  If your bindings were mounted so that the sweet spot of the ski was directly under the center line of your boots and your bindings had ZERO delta (toe and heel the same thickness), then the "sweet spot" trainer would be most realistic. This would be more like a center mounted park n pipe ski than what you probably ski on?

 

Now add forward motion with accelerations and decelerations, and an extended slippery platform with sharp metal edges and it gets even more like real skiing.  

 

Here's a balance challenge for you.... with the trainer strapped to your boots stand approximately six inches in front of your toilet, practice sitting down on the seat without losing balanceeek.gifwink.gif

 

 

Couldn't resist the toilet humor opportunity here.

 

Is the "eek.gif " when you forgot the to leave the seat down for this exercise? Or was that the incentive to ensure balance? biggrin.gif

post #44 of 55
Bud said:
Quote:
The sweet spot is not inside my boots it is where my skis and boots tell me I must position my CoM to optimize my fore/aft balance.

Yep. I bet that if you took two pair of skis, same model & length, and mounted a different binding on each, both at recommended mounting point, but one binding has a flat stance and the other has +6mm delta at the heel, the sweet spot would be different despite same skis and same boots!

Ken said:
Quote:
When I start skiing, not matter which pair of skis I’m on, inside my boots, shouldn’t it feel the same. That’s been the point I’m trying to make.

I find every different pair of skis feels different and requires a different sense of where the sweet spot is, even if I'm using the same binding on each ski and each is mounted at the mfr's recommended point. Some mfrs put you closer to the running surface center (Rossignol, Elan); some mfrs put you nearer the tail (Dynastar, Head). But I think you could get nearer the Universal Sweet Spot if you experimented with binding position on each pair of skis.

To me, the feeling should be the same otherwise it would be not the sweet spot but a cluster of sweet spots. But feelings are hard to describe accurately; we all have different body awarenesses.
post #45 of 55
Quote:
To me, the feeling should be the same otherwise it would be not the sweet spot but a cluster of sweet spots. But feelings are hard to describe accurately; we all have different body awarenesses.

You just described the outcome of training with the Sweetspot Trainer. I can't explain the science, if that's what it is, but each session of a few minutes on the trainer (maybe 20 minutes) pays off the next time you use it, even if the prior session was largely unbalanced. The body is learning even in failure, without that ideal repetition called "perfect practice." Furthermore, the body seems to process the learning while you are off the blocks. I think this trainer is the real deal, but I haven't gone skiing yet. I'm on the red blocks now after some remedial time on the blue blocks and it was obvious that the time I put in on the blue blocks paid off when I moved to the reds -- I hardly feel a difference. I look at the skinny little black blocks and think, "Someday..."

 

Like all of us, I'm getting older and find that I need to do extra physical work to keep going hard. I do circuit training; at $1/lb I have way more money in iron than I do in this little trainer, and I expect both to give me a great ski season!

post #46 of 55
I did go skiing after using this thing, and I felt that I was able to derek the pressure simultaneously on my heel and ball of my foot much better than last season.

?? ??
post #47 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post

I did go skiing after using this thing, and I felt that I was able to derek the pressure simultaneously on my heel and ball of my foot much better than last season.

?? ??
Finally, some testimony! How long/much/often did you use it?
post #48 of 55
sorry,i was able to FEEL the pressure.
Thats what happens when I post from my phone.
post #49 of 55
I knew what you meant so well that I didn't even need to ask who this Derek is. roflmao.gif
post #50 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post

I did go skiing after using this thing, and I felt that I was able to derek the pressure simultaneously on my heel and ball of my foot much better than last season.
?? ??

Seems like it's helping you find your center so you are aware when you move from that spot fore or aft.To make good use of fore /aft you must have center defined as well as the other two.

post #51 of 55
I've used this device three times, and got to the red inserts.
Interestingly,i had a post a few months ago about how you feel that youre in the backseat.
This device helped me feel my balance in the soles of my feet (i think), but also realize that after bending down,i was slightly to the back when extending again.
post #52 of 55
I think the lack o snow is really getting to the folks round here. Serious over thinking going on.


http://youtu.be/B1pWftuBMJc

Skia Stoke!

Testing in the clinic today: take a look. The interns set me up for this! What better than Medicine Ball Box Jumps in ski boots with the trainer on?

Think your balance is good, try staying on the sweet spot with this drill!

Had anyone had caught on to this? AT boots don't fit the trainer!!! Heels in / toes on top! Darn interns.....

FWIW: you can position the block fore / aft by adjusting the straps.

It is a tool & a good one at that! My encouragement to the readers is be open minded & stress the details less!
post #53 of 55

Still waiting for mine to arrive. Box jumps using it look interesting. Better put my helmet on first.

post #54 of 55

Hugh Monney, who is one of the ski pros associated with the project, wrote some comments for us on fore and aft balance - I thought they were worth sharing for this thread:

 

 

'There is a great deal of misunderstanding on the subject of centeredness, centre of pressure, variation of the latter through the curve, etc.

 

I've found it helpful to distinguish between steering inputs and the structural integrity of the body under load

 

It's possible for very skilful skiers to be structurally centred: so that the LARGE forces generated by skiing, from the action of snow and terrain on the skis, are placed centrally underfoot and the body is stacked to transmit those forces in a balanced way through the skeleton, while moving to respond to those forces and influence them…while selecting precisely where the SMALL steering inputs are placed underfoot, to influence the ski with subtlety. 

 

This includes the use of the forefoot and/or heel to modify the precise location of pressure inputs, and the use of balanced flexion and leverage of the ski boot to engage the fore body of the ski, without sacrificing centred balance.

 

I think that it is the mastery of centeredness and of the management of the forces of the performance, that allow really connected skiers to influence the pressure centre with subtlety and skill.

post #55 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by rod9301 View Post

I've used this device three times, and got to the red inserts.
Interestingly,i had a post a few months ago about how you feel that youre in the backseat.
This device helped me feel my balance in the soles of my feet (i think), but also realize that after bending down,i was slightly to the back when extending again.

@rod9301: did you keep using the Sweetspot?

 

Also, curious to know if anyone has gotten past the red blocks to the really skinny black blocks.

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