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Back Seat Driver - Please advise

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
This is my 10 year old. He doesn't want lessons as "it's no fun". He skis 4-6 times a season and I really don't want to force him to do something he doesn't want.
He did however agree to accepting tips and pointers from me. However, since all my training has been from watching youtube videos and reading MA discussions (of others) on this site, I'm really not sure what to say to him that would make him abandon the back seat.
I spoke to him about pushing his shins up against the front of his boots. That worked for a little bit but he keeps reverting back.
Is there something specific I could tell him? I know he could certainly benefit from more time on mountain but I'm not sure if that's possible.
post #2 of 19
Thread Starter 
post #3 of 19

I'm not an instructor, but here is what I see.  I would not describe his skiing as being backseat.  He has a residual form of the "little kid power wedge" and he has to be backseat to get enough leverage on his wedge. Maybe getting more forward would  force him to straighten his skis, but I think it is more likely that straightening his skis would allow him to get out of the backseat.

 

Hopefully somebody with real experience teaching kids will chime in here, and confirm or deny my diagnosis.  And suggest a path forward.

 

The important thing is to keep him liking skiing.  If he has any friends that ski, take them along -- that was huge for my son.  They will motivate each other much better than you ever could, and have more fun doing it.  With a few obvious exceptions, kids are not very interested in technique.  My son skied sporadically as a young child, and pretty regularly around your son's age, but really didn't get good till high school.  Now he is  a young adult, an excellent skier, and a good ski buddy.

 

Good luck!

 

 

Oh yeah, hate to play to an EpicSki stereotype, but are you sure his boots aren't too big?  When they were around 8 years old, one of my son's friends skied kind of like your son.  We discovered that his boots (bought used, with a "hoiw do those feel" method) were a lot too big.  When that happens, you have to push your feet (not your shins) forward into the boots to have any leverage on them, and that means backseat.

post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks mdf. That's valuable advice.
I do want to keep him interested. He has an older brother (13) and sister (16) who also ski. Although my daughter decided to switch to snowboarding 3 seasons ago and skis sporadically. The older ones also have some backseat issues. But it's harder talking to them. Puberty smile.gif
My 13 year old does motivate the 10 year old unlike I can and I have seen the little guy doing some carved turns under the older ones guidance but they're fighting most of the time. Some of his classmates do ski. I'll try to connect with their parents.
In the meantime, I'll try getting him more parallel.
The boots were leased for the season. They did take the lining out to see where his toe was. But it still could be big
post #5 of 19

A few screen shots here from the video

do show back seat wide wedge skiing.

His hands are out front, but in the few

seconds I can see him from the side it

looks like he is levering the backs of his

cuffs with wide open ankles, and skiing

in a defensive wide wedge.  

 

I have some suggestions but will have to

offer them a bit later.


Edited by LiquidFeet - 1/4/15 at 6:46am
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thanks LiquidFeet. The screen shots are very helpful.
post #7 of 19

I'm thinking that if you and your son ski 5-6 times a year together, it would be so much more fun for you both if he were progressing to new terrain so the two of you could have more adventurous experiences.  But with his resistance to lessons he's stuck.  You're both stuck.

 

He's ten.  He can delete the wedge and get out of the back seat at this age, but he has to be willing to try new things.  His resistance to lessons, where those new things could happen, may be (really speculating here, so I'm going out on a limb) due to fear of humiliation.  Lessons involve working on new movements in front of an audience (the instructor and maybe other group members).  That can be "fun" for some kids at this age if their bodies cooperate and give them a sense of victory, but it can be the opposite of fun if there is a sense of failure in front of others.  Do you think this might be why he thinks lessons won't be "fun?"

 

If so, he needs the fun factor to trump the humiliation factor.  Here's something you can do with him that may help his skiing.  It's the game "Can you do this?"   He and you take turns coming up with some goofy thing to do, such as skiing with both poles in one hand and the other hand rubbing your tummy (difficult!).  Or hopping in between turns.  Or picking up one ski tail between turns.  Or holding your poles out to the side and flapping them like eagle's wings.  Or skiing without poles and rubbing your head while patting your tummy (hardest of all!!!)  Anything silly or challenging the balance is good, IF and only if it's fun.  Take turns as you ski a run.   The purpose of this game is to do something that you can do but your buddy can't.  If this happens, you win!  Laughter is the goal.

 

Let him win.  He doesn't need to know your'e doing this.  If he gains a better sense of balance while moving down the hill, he might gain bodily confidence and eventually feel better about doing drills whose purpose is to get him off his tails and maybe even out of the wedge and most importantly, using turn shape to control his speed instead of using the backs of his cuffs.  You can slip some of those drills into this game.

post #8 of 19

I've read thru the other comments and have nothing to add relative to what others have said.  However, the issue that I see is common to many young skiers:  He is not balanced well fore/aft for his boots and skis. Relative to his anatomy, he cannot get his weight up over his feet to stand up and ride the skis properly with skeletal alignment. Imagine a basketball player attempting to make a free throw. He is going to shoot the ball with his weight closer to the balls of his feet. No?  This athletic stance (though not identical) is similar in skiing.  Your son is having difficulty getting into an athletic skiing stance and  his body is compensating. It is not his fault

 

If you want to try a cheap experiment, get a couple small heel lifts. 1/8 to 1/4" at the highest point is probably all that is needed. Start with the smaller lift first. You can always add more if you begin to get a positive result. Make sure they extend long enough to taper into the arch so the arch doesn't collapse when you lift the heel. The arch must remain supported, but should not be exaggerated in any way. I recommend taping them to the footbed underneath the liner of the boot. Alternately you can put them under the insole, but that can more drastically change the way the boot feels.  Again heel lifts are a cheap effective way of fixing someone who isn't balanced well fore/aft.  Hopefully it will help get him up and forward and balanced a bit better.  

 

FWIW, sometimes, when folks put heel lifts in, they may find that they need a bit of support underneath the toes as they are now pitched forward a bit more and need something in the front of the boot to push back against. I know I do. I use a couple layers of tape, thinner than duct tape and attach the tape to the bottom of my orthotic to provide support under my toes.

 

Hope you find this helpful. 

post #9 of 19

Pretty tough conditions too. A lot of kids would have been back at the condo playing XBox so give him credit for enduring "The Blizzard of 1-03-15" (with DAD).

post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
LiquidFeet, thanks for the detailed fun drill training description. I'll certainly try those.
His aversion to lessons could certainly be related to fear of failure. I'll try the drills for now. Hopefully in time he'll be willing to go get lessons by himself.

vindibona1, I'll try the heal insert. Thanks for the suggestion.

Fuller, I'll have to give the little guy full credit for toughing it through and loving it. His older brother and sister would certainly be back at the lodge long before. I can see him and I getting into a lot of trouble in future. smile.gif
post #11 of 19

It's a fine line indeed between providing encouragement and the occasionally needed kick in the ass. By far the biggest thing is for the two of you to have fun as long as he wants to be there. If his technique improvement is more important to you than it is to him, all you can do is wait for the light to go on. It sounds like you have a handle on it though.

 

Every sport has it's share of idiot dads who make their kids miserable. You see it surfing, soccer, swim practice, everywhere. Makes you wonder sometimes...

 

btw I agree that getting him involved with other kids who will push him a bit to keep up is probably the biggest motivation of all. Good luck!

post #12 of 19

Jeez nice bluebird day.  THhnk the howling wind is pushing him into e back seat?  :)

post #13 of 19

Often heel lifts cause the lower leg to tip forward, then to balance the skier must stick their butt out and bend forward at the waist.  Not a universal solution.  And, as always, the boots gott'a fit.  Ask the Boot Guys forum about fitting a child, but I think with the liner out and his foot in the shell you'd want something like 3/8 to 1/2" of space.

 

Before you take something away from his skiing, give him a good alternative.  On a nice day and easy slope, try a game.  Have him hold a  bone-shaped carwash sponge or an extra glove between his feet.  See how far he can ski without dropping it.  One footed ski games and drills come after the feet are close together.  Does he know how to turn without wedging?  He needs to know how to make a parallel turn, then make the turns with the item between his feet.  If he's with friends or siblings, the one who skis farthest, or make the most improvement, or drops it the fewest times gets a treat.  Candy or whatever you want.  Have fun learning something new.  Once his feet are walking-width under him, get him standing tall on the balls of his feet.  Don't let him power wedge down a steep pitch.  Have him ski parallel across the pitch.  Keep the priorities for a child in mind:  safety, fun, skills, in that order.  (Pretty good priorities for the rest of us, too.)

post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoftSnowGuy View Post
 

Often heel lifts cause the lower leg to tip forward, then to balance the skier must stick their butt out and bend forward at the waist.  

Actually it is quite the reverse. The butt back/hands forward is caused by an imbalance to the rear.  Think of the boot board as a teeter totter. The teeter totter is skewed a bit to the back thus causing the skier to compensate. In the APPROPRIATE circumstances the heel lift reestablishes the balance point within the boot allowing the skier to stand up straighter with flexed knees and ankle.  It is important to note that I advised EXPERIMENTING and starting with a very small heel lift, only 1/8" at the highest point. 

 

 I recommend you read the works of Warren Witherell- "How the Racers Ski" and "The Athletic Skier". 

post #15 of 19
Guys, whether or not heel lifts are indicated is almost entirely dependant upon ankle rom, tibial length, foot length, etc. Point is, it could go both ways depending on these (and other) factors. Since we do not have this information readily available, advising one way or the other is probably not warranted IMO.

zenny
post #16 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by vindibona1 View Post
 

Actually it is quite the reverse. The butt back/hands forward is caused by an imbalance to the rear.  Think of the boot board as a teeter totter. The teeter totter is skewed a bit to the back thus causing the skier to compensate. In the APPROPRIATE circumstances the heel lift reestablishes the balance point within the boot allowing the skier to stand up straighter with flexed knees and ankle.  It is important to note that I advised EXPERIMENTING and starting with a very small heel lift, only 1/8" at the highest point. 

 

 I recommend you read the works of Warren Witherell- "How the Racers Ski" and "The Athletic Skier". 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zentune View Post

Guys, whether or not heel lifts are indicated is almost entirely dependant upon ankle rom, tibial length, foot length, etc. Point is, it could go both ways depending on these (and other) factors. Since we do not have this information readily available, advising one way or the other is probably not warranted IMO.

zenny

 That is why I mentioned it as an EXPERIMENT as we don't have first hand observation. All we have is generalities. What I'm recommending is a $5 10 minute fix. You'll know instantly if it works. If it doesn't help it's undone in 2 minutes. 

 

 For anyone serious about skiing I cannot more strongly recommend reading the two Warren Witherell books. This man was decades ahead of his time.  Also, in the "must read" category is "No Hill Too Fast" by Phil and Steve Maher. 

post #17 of 19
I just mentioned it because you said it was actually the reverse (in response to soft snow guy)...but again, it all depends. smile.gif

zenny
post #18 of 19
Internal heel lifts are primarily aimed at opening the ankle joint for a skier who has limited ankle RoM. Heel lifts based on body or leg geometry are more commonly external.

Do a quick barefoot sniff test at home to see what internal toe and heel lifts do to your balance point. Put something under your heels and stand normal... How does your ankle adjust to keep you in balance? Repeat with raising your toes. Note what the ankle does.

Now. Armed with that knowledge ask yourself what adding internal heel lifts tends to do for skiers if all other variables remain constant (mounting point, external delta, etc).
post #19 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by vindibona1 View Post
 

I've read thru the other comments and have nothing to add relative to what others have said.  However, the issue that I see is common to many young skiers:  He is not balanced well fore/aft for his boots and skis. Relative to his anatomy, he cannot get his weight up over his feet to stand up and ride the skis properly with skeletal alignment. Imagine a basketball player attempting to make a free throw. He is going to shoot the ball with his weight closer to the balls of his feet. No?  This athletic stance (though not identical) is similar in skiing.  Your son is having difficulty getting into an athletic skiing stance and  his body is compensating. It is not his fault

 

If you want to try a cheap experiment, get a couple small heel lifts. 1/8 to 1/4" at the highest point is probably all that is needed. Start with the smaller lift first. You can always add more if you begin to get a positive result. Make sure they extend long enough to taper into the arch so the arch doesn't collapse when you lift the heel. The arch must remain supported, but should not be exaggerated in any way. I recommend taping them to the footbed underneath the liner of the boot. Alternately you can put them under the insole, but that can more drastically change the way the boot feels.  Again heel lifts are a cheap effective way of fixing someone who isn't balanced well fore/aft.  Hopefully it will help get him up and forward and balanced a bit better.  

 

FWIW, sometimes, when folks put heel lifts in, they may find that they need a bit of support underneath the toes as they are now pitched forward a bit more and need something in the front of the boot to push back against. I know I do. I use a couple layers of tape, thinner than duct tape and attach the tape to the bottom of my orthotic to provide support under my toes.

 

Hope you find this helpful. 

Great advice.   I am reminded of  a young student I had last year in a seasonal program.  His mother was a chaperone for my group.   The kid hated skiing and was being pushed by his mother to ski.   The kid didn't want to ski and was the weakest skier in the group and struggled to succeed  at any of the tasks he tried.   Because of my background and experience in this area it was obvious that his heels sat too low in his boots and his lower legs were too vertical to ski balanced.    His boot setup was preventing him from getting his hips over the balls of his feet.    Showed mom the problem, advised to install heel lifts.   Next week, presto, the kid came back and skied with a smile, and instantly performed the ski tasks as well as anyone in the group.  Ron LeMaster's book,  Ultimate Skiing,  also has great advice about boots.  YM

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