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post #1 of 79
Thread Starter 
For me, getting the arms/hands right has been the hardest thing in skiing. They're still too low, but at least they're symmetrical--I'm not dropping one, which is my big victory for the year. Anyway, Dave Cook says, in his article in the last TPS, "The Five Sames," that we want our hands the same distance from (above) the snow and the same distance ahead of the shoulders. He goes on to say "Don't over apply this same."

Do you have any personal rules about where to hold your arms/hands?
post #2 of 79

Hands have been a question for me for years. In fact it was the first question I ever asked a ski instructor. "What should I do with my hands?" No answer, the instructor was infatuated with his new ski boots and "carving". Bad experience for me.

I like the look and feel of "firing from the hips" as when ripping a zipperline or just picking short swing turns. Quiet hands, close to center, just in front of the navel. But... That get's me into trouble (How many ways can I get in the back seat?)

I am self consious about the big tree hugger arm position that gets great results in the tough stuff like crud or wind packed breakable crust. You know the more I reach with a pole touch, the more likely I am to hang on to that touch, turn it into a plant, then ride around the pole shoulder back with my arm feeling like I got hung up on a snag. :-(

In the trees, I keep the arms and hands high and in, to protect my face. ( ask me why;-)

Mostly now, I just consider "when in doubt, get the hands forward down the fall line" That's where they'll be needed anyway.

Like the notice on the mirror of my motorcycle reads "Objects that appear in this mirror no longer matter".

If I could just stop checking the contents of my back pockets, my skiing would be much more predictable. ;[)

Thanks for the topic Nolo. Like I said, this has been a question for me.

post #3 of 79
Hand position. Hmmmm. My rule of thumb has been elbows in front of the bellybutton. Farther forward and my arms lock into a Frankenstein position, which leads to all kinds of unusual stuff.

How wide? That's that I've been working on late this season, and I've resolved nothing so far.

I do like thinking of lifting the inside hand to level the shoulders. That cue makes my shoulders a little looser, as opposed to strictly trying to keep the hands even- I tend to tense up with that one. I also try to imagine "floating" my arms down the hill, like they were suspended in water, to keep my arms and shoulders loose and level.
post #4 of 79
I have heard & I think this is what I try to do, Hands 1 foot out, 2 feet forward.
post #5 of 79
Form here follows function. Just carry and move them so they contribute to what you intend to do with your skis, and not detract from that intent. If someone prescribes a "position" that feels awkward or conter-productive to you, experiment and adjust until you find a zone for them that produces positive results.

Within that context you still retain some freedom for personal style and comfort.
post #6 of 79
What feels naturally comfortable to us is usually not the best.

Change by it's definition takes you out of your comfort zone.

Moving your body to a new position is normally very awkward feeling at first and even a samll change feels "uncomfortable"

I have always told people that I have helped with their skiing to "exaggerate" the change. In other words apply it twice as much as i am asking and you will still be only 1/2 way to where you need to be.

You must get out of your comfort zone to make meaningful changes.

Practice the new body or arm position until it becomes your comfort zone, until it is the way you ski!

Few of us look in reality, like we see ourselves ski in our minds eye! Video is invaluable when it comes to changing these things. I have seen many people totally amazed when they see themselves ski.

"I don't ski with my hands down there, do I?"

I think better advice then; do what you think helps your skiing and do what is comfortable would be to watch other skiers that you aspire to, whether they be local racers, WC racer photos or people that you admire on your own hill and try to emulate what they do with their hands/arms. Any of their movements for that matter.

Copy, copy, copy!!!!!!
post #7 of 79
keep the hands moving down the hill ahead of the body, they are never static , even in the pole touch I try to think the pole is a large stick shift like in a truck and I'm shifting forward with the touch which keeps my hands and everthing that is attached to them moving down the hill
post #8 of 79
Thread Starter 
I think Atomicman has hit on the crux of the problem of trying to focus on hands--we don't ski with them, so it's easy to minimize their role and excuse laziness. How many threads have we had discussing why we even use poles these days? But the more precision I want in my skiing, the more I respect the role of the arms, hands and poles, or rather, what my lack of discipline is costing me in precision.
post #9 of 79
Too often this advice regarding keeping the hands forward results in a hand-arm-shoulder posture that resembles a crabs claws as they are pulled form the steamer, high and rigid ... kind of curling in.

It seems that they leave out the most important part ... relaxed and fluid.

It was the first thing I noticed when I skied with a PSIA examiner.

You may take a student to a point with "the rules", phrases like .... "a rule of thumb is that if you can't see your thumbs you are breaking the rules, or the pretend or (virtual) video camera exercise to get the hands and shoulders down the hill; you get them to pretend they are taking a picture of things down the hill ... nothing to the sides ....

Those are tools/steps to get them to accept a "correct position or motion" but, it's important to take them to the next step (when ready), to break the rules and allow for fluid corrections to match the bumps and fall line deviations.

Same thing in flying. We are taught to use "correct" control motions for perfectly coordinated flight, keeping (god help you if you can't), that little ball in the center. Three weeks later the "tyrant" flight instructor is teaching you cross controled slips and skids ... breaking all of the rules to match variations in wind and terrain.

Just like skiing, gripping the stick or poles too tight ..... Relax ... ?
post #10 of 79
To me, the hands are an indecation of our balance. If you are in balance, the hands are where ever they need or should be (easier said than done). As a rule, the sames you mentioned are a good guideline. While carving (train tracking), I hold my hands a little farther to the side to leave room for angulation and the CM closer to the snow. In the trees, I keep them more forward and a little higher to allow for deeper snow and not getting my baskets caught on something(wrists straps off too). In gates, they are all over the place as needed. I really don't think too much about my hands, they seem to find the place they need to be for the situation (hopefully off the snow). Often something a little strange with someones hand position is caused by being out of balance as you know. One skiier I helped, wiped his nose on left turns with his right hand, his lateral balance was off. He was dropping his hip to the inside of the turn and compensating by bringing his right hand up and forward. I worked on his hip position which balanced him better and the nose wipe stopped.
In general, a head retreater has their hands too high (no ankle flex), a butt retreater has their hands too low (no ankle flex, but knee flex). If someone breaks a little at the waist, the hands are a little too low, but a flex at the hip in place of a bow forward will balance the body better.
Never seeing you ski, I really can't help you. The "sames" are derived from common attributes of good skiers and more for movement analysis than trying to copy the positions. The positions of hands, feet, etc, are a result of good skiing. "Form follows function" is an old addage that holds true for skiing. Once you are really in balance, the hands are a non-issue. Hope this helps a little.
post #11 of 79
For me, elbows slightly in front of hips, forearms parallel to the ground, hands about 3 feet/1 meter apart. Appropriate lead to match feet, knees, hips, and shoulders.

This keeps my hands forward and moving down the hill. Also, the hands apart keeps me open, not locked up.

Its the athletic stance thing. Very similar to a baseball fielder awaiting the pitch. You want to be open, relaxed, and ready to move.
post #12 of 79
Originally Posted by T-Square
For me, elbows slightly in front of hips, forearms parallel to the ground, hands about 3 feet/1 meter apart. Appropriate lead to match feet, knees, hips, and shoulders.

This keeps my hands forward and moving down the hill. Also, the hands apart keeps me open, not locked up.

Its the athletic stance thing. Very similar to a baseball fielder awaiting the pitch. You want to be open, relaxed, and ready to move.
It's all about athletic stance!
post #13 of 79
Though best suited for beginners, here aer a couple exercises I've used to help keep the hands up and to simulate the correct position.

Instead of poles try carrying a tray with your favorite beverage on it, keeping it level so you don't spill it as you go down the hill. Ok, Ok, you can't bring that out on the slope, there is an open container law in your state. Pretend that you are carrying it.

Here's one you can really do: balance your poles on your wrists with your hands simulating a pole grip and ski down the hill with them that way. If you drop your arms, or just one of them, the poles will become unbalanced and start to slide off. (this one is easier to chow than it is to describe)

I was dropping my hands terribly a few years back (early 80's). An old Norwegian Instructor I knew taught me to keep them up by using these techniques with me. There are still times when I drop my hands, but if I notice it and think of these excercises I bring them back up.
post #14 of 79
Congrats on your new hands, Nolo! That's a good change for you. I think your inside hand was dragging you around too much.

There are so many variables but for me, it boils down to (as
Arcmeister said) what contributes and what doesn't--both to the direction of the turn and to the balancing of the skier. One thing for sure, hand/arm discipline is huge and really supports the rest.

This is one of those things like porn--hard to define, but you know it when you see it. When the hands/arms move with the turn/skier, and find the general positionings which help drive and balance (fore/aft, and laterally), it seems that they are so beautifully quiet without being rigid. So many of the hand drills create rigidity but don't help the skiing.

My son, Packy, last summer in NZ made some great changes in his hands. He was dropping his inside hand. His correction was not actually in the hands. He developed that strong inside half, and the hands just came right.

It's subtle, and fun, but difficult to work with.

I usually tell students to just give me a big hug, while I'm skiing switch in front of them. That is usually just about the right position to start with. But be careful skiing switch. It makes your pants baggy.
post #15 of 79
Thread Starter 
Here's some video from ESA last January. I still have plenty of work to do.

post #16 of 79
Nice and easy skiing. Yup. Your hands and arms are dropping. It seems also that your upper body is too far back. Putting your arms forward and keeping them there should help with this.
Also the poles are skittering somewhat. Grip harder.
post #17 of 79
I love the gracefulness in your skiing. I would love to see you balance that with a sense of "attack". The hands and hips would help in this--both by driving constantly forward. There is a lot here that feels like just going with gravity rather than trying to beat gravity to the bottom of the turn. I believe a certain willful, aggressive, charging through the turn, might amp up your gracefulness for greater effect.

You don't have timidity about the fall line, but neither do I detect a sense of urgency--what Joubert called the "dive" down the hill.
post #18 of 79
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I'm nonviolent to the point of laziness, I see. I appreciate the feedback!
post #19 of 79
Originally Posted by weems
... But be careful skiing switch. It makes your pants baggy.
As long as your underware doesn't show and you don't sit on the snow all the time, its ok.
post #20 of 79
Originally Posted by nolo
Yeah, I'm nonviolent to the point of laziness, I see. I appreciate the feedback!
weems nailed it. Get forward and take it down the hill, like you mean it!

You have the potential to be powerful and graceful at the same time, a rarity!
post #21 of 79
Originally Posted by T-Square
As long as your underware doesn't show and you don't sit on the snow all the time, its ok.
If your underwear doesn't show, you're way uncool!
post #22 of 79
You are too hard on yourself nolo!
Functional hands are free to move around as needed to contribute to our balance much like a tightrope walker or a figure skater. They can accelerate or retard rotations, they stabilize our torso, they aid in overall balance when used functionally. To set a position is to limit their productivity. Though if they constantly make the same abnormal move in a series of turns they indicate a problem somewhere else in technique or equipment.

I think of hands/arms as either:

an asset
- they contribute to functional turns and balance

a liability
- they detract from functional turns and balance

a tell tale
- they tell us there is a problem with turning powers or alignment issues (ie: a hand that drops back on every turn or crosses the centerline in front is idicative of an added rotational force needed by the skier to complete a turn. Usually it helps flatten a ski to overcome too much edging or a lack of functional turning power.

Just a thought Joan, but which boot did we shave 1/2 degree from? It was your left hand in the video that dropped correct? Your thoughts? any relationship? I did not write up an assessment sheet on you so I don't remember which foot it was.
post #23 of 79

She's not hard on herself. She's just a believer in continual improvement. There is always something you can do to be just a bit better than before. Its not arriving at the destination, but the joy and beauty of the road getting there. Nolo is enjoying the road. (Does that make her a road scholar? Hmmm, better not go there.)
post #24 of 79
Thread Starter 
Haha, T2, a good'un.

It was indeed my left boot, Bud. And it made a big difference! I believe you shaved the boot after this video was shot.
post #25 of 79
Nolo - I always focus on being able to just see my hands.... If they are in my periphereal vision they are not too far out to throw me around .....

When I feel in trouble now I tend to look for them - they are usually lower than I can see without watching my feet!

I had a problem with my elbows sticking out & snagging on things - that seemed less of an issue last season....

When I started with my main instructor he spent so much time yelling "hands" & I thought they would NEVER get close to where he wanted....
Last season 2 instructors complimented me on them (so I'm improving! YAY!) because they are much more stable & on-piste (at least) they tend to be pertty well behaved.... Off-piste they are often the measure of "trouble" I am in.... when they behave I struglle less... yet the position that now feels reasonably "normal" once felt so awkward and tiring I wondered how anyone could ski like that for more than a few minutes
post #26 of 79
Nolo, nice video very graceful easy going skiing. One thing I noticed is that your hands drop especially in the latter stages of the turn, almost as if you are pivoting around the pole and the hand drops out of the way for you to ski around, when the hand/arm drops on that inside your shoulders are dropping inside also puitting you a little behind the skis, this showed up in some heavy snow spray on one of your right turns in the steeper section of the video, try to think about keeping the shoulders level with the horizon when coming into to the fall line and thru the bottom of the turn, this would then keep your shoulder, arm and hand from dropping behind your direction of travel. One way to visualize this would be to think of having 20' longs wings on your shoulders if the shoulders are tipping and dropping in then those wings will corkscrew you right into the ground. I do like the nice rounds turns you where showing!
post #27 of 79
Originally Posted by weems
If your underwear doesn't show, you're way uncool!
What underwear? Crackage, my friends...
post #28 of 79
post deleted by spg
post #29 of 79
Nice turns!

IMO, nolo's poles may be too long and hindering the "dive" downhill weems is talking about. A skier won't reach downhill and commit to the dive if the pole pushes back during the turn.

I had my poles cut 2" shorter and saw a huge improvement in the "dive" downhill, even though every instructor I spoke to this year thought my poles were the right length.

The hands held low could be a response to the length of pole: the pole pushes up, and the skier thinks, "No! Stay down!".

Just a thought.....
post #30 of 79
Originally Posted by SPG
I believe hands are not really that crucial in alpine ski technique. Instructors talk too much about hand positioning as of late in my view. It is just rhetoric and it is part of a cycle. Ten years ago people were talking about the same thing. Hands are theoretically connected to the movement of the feet neurologically, they also direct the committal movement of the rest of the body; however they do not really contribute much to forward flexion or a forward body position and they do not weigh very much. They control the poles and are used for balance and timing and propulsion, but let’s be honest, would we be unable to ski without hands or arms? I would. I do not want to lose my arms. I am just saying they are not essential to alpine skiing. Different nations and teaching systems have different ideas about hand positioning. I do not find it significant as long as we do not drop our hands far behind our torso during normal skiing.
I agree with absolutely nothing you have said! Where did you get these ideas?
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