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knee cues vs. foot cues

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
i've found starting at the feet bogs me down. there's too much to think about, at least for me, and "...little toe edge...foot sole toward the sky...pressure inside/outside ball of foot..." etc. doesn't work nearly as well as starting at my knees.

i call it "throwing the knees (into the turn)" and after playing with this at mammoth, i think i've found a cue that expedites things and keeps the skiing smoother and stronger. VERY basically, my Throwing the Knees is not much more than, for instance, when making a turn to the right, i'm moving my knees laterally, to the right. maybe "leading with the knee(s)" paints a clearer picture.

i have found that in so doing, what i had been trying to begin at the feet pretty much just happens. there's none of the downhill ski slipping away, shins stay parallel, edge angles stay consistently uniform, less A-framing, etc.

i noticed also that with my knee cues - "which way? THIS way!" - the new downhill KNEE drops a bit lower then the uphill knee and that foot comes back a little behind the new uphill knee; things really tighten up - a good thing - as a result. (this introduces "tip lead," i guess, but i'll leave that alone.)

interestingly, starting at the knees rather than the feet works better for me where getting the ankles rolling over is concerned. when the knees go, so go the ankles (and ski edges).

and because "throwing (the knees)" may connote something forced, or herky-jerky, etc., it isn't necessarily that way. in playing with turn size/shape, i found again that i was better able to control the timing and degree of pressure. i was informed that this also introduced more rotary into the equation (at which point my brain began to hurt).

for me, anyway, moving my starting point from feet to knees made a noticeable difference in my skiing this past weekend, and falls somewhere in the KISS school of skiing.
post #2 of 23

Different verbal cues work differently for different people. So it really is a "whatever works for you" thing. I'm sure it's doing the same thing for yu, and as it gets easier and you "own" the move a bit more (Don't have to think about it), you may find that you gain just a bit of precision by thinking a bit more about the feet. But that doesn't really matter until you can get to a point where the move you are making ("throwing the knee") is completely unconscious. I had a similar issue with getting my weight forward. Everyone was telling me to put weight on the balls of my feet, but that didn't help. What it made me do was to make me open my ankle joint and push me back. When I figured out to stand flat footed and relac my ankles, is when I finally got forward. So the verbal cues that worked for everyone else did more harm than good for me. It's all in how our brain visualizes the words and how our bodies interperet how we are moving compared to the mental image we have. And unfortunately, if you give a verbal cue to 10 people, they'll have 10 different visuals of what you said.
post #3 of 23
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by JohnH

Different verbal cues work differently for different people. So it really is a "whatever works for you" thing...And unfortunately, if you give a verbal cue to 10 people, they'll have 10 different visuals of what you said.
yes, exactly. i recall bonni, in her KISS/powder thread, getting different variations of what was, in essence, something like The Same Thing.

and yes, i have given some thought to that precision you mention; whether going to a "bigger part" to begin things sacrifices some of the subtlety/nuance one might get from beginning with the smaller part. i suspect you're right and that at some point, once i've got this, a new layer will be added to the cake, going back up the kinetic chain to my feet and starting at my toenails.

something else that kicked in, though, was that lightness in the feet i've sought, and that relaxation in the ankles that seems to slow things down and make for better terrain absorption.
post #4 of 23
As John says, different verbal cues work for different people. I always found the "tip the inside foot" cue very useful for edging, and I never figured out what "weight forward" actually meant until I switched to thinking about pulling my feet (especially the inside foot) back. Clearly my brain was built for PMTS ...

My girlfriend, on the other hand, understood immediately how to get her weight forward, but was utterly baffled by the whole foot tipping idea. Like ryan, she responded much better to the idea of moving the knees from side to side, and later to the idea of keeping the feet still and moving her hips back and forth over the skis to change edges (apparently this is like belly dancing - who knew?)

I think the only risk with "throwing the knees into the turn" as a cue at more advanced levels is that it might lead you to edge your skis too much from your knees rather than your hips, which are stronger. But if you concentrate on staying countered at the same time it should be OK.
post #5 of 23
Thread Starter 
You know, I've read a few references the past couple days to the role of the hips. I have yet to consciously engage my hips, to "discover" whatever epiphany might come from better use of them.
Guess I'm due for a search.
post #6 of 23
Ryan, I think of the whole leg as a gate that I want to open. The gate hinges at the hip, the knee, and the foot. An open gate allows my movements to flow that way. (Conversely, a closed gate is sorta like the dam in that joke about the salmon.)
post #7 of 23
Thread Starter 
Nolo, does the word "collapse" work for you as well as "open" (the gate) in that context? I fully understand you, so I'm only adding when I allude to vocabulary. (Getting back to different cues for different skiers.) Because for me, "collapse" the (soon-to-be downhill) gate elicits that opening up (flowing) effect.

"collapse," by the way, is not just a lightening/unweighting, but also leading into the turn. almost like falling into it, though that word probably wouldn't be favored.

and since i'm playing with words, it seems apt that in this instance, "flowing," if you only added a couple letters, becomes "following," which gets back to opening the gate and f(ol)lowing oneself through it.

sorry. i mighta made a mess with that one.
post #8 of 23
That's good stuff, Ryan. See if it works. True is what works. Just read that today--Piaget.
post #9 of 23
Certainly moving the knees sideways will tip the skis; the tipping torque is force times distance, so if a 1-foot stick is welded onto your ski tops and you move the top of that stick sideways the skis will tip.

I have played with this myself a bit, and have found one problem with it. It can put too much stress on the knee. The knee is a hinge joint and moving it sideways tends to stress it in a direction that is not good for it. Once you've got the idea, you might want to stop driving the turn from the knees and go back to just tipping the skis, or move on to the hip.

Disclaimer: Just my own personal opinion; I'm not ski instructor.
post #10 of 23
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by nolo
True is what works. Just read that today--Piaget.
that works.
post #11 of 23
Yeah, there are a TON of verbal cues out there that can make a difference for a TON of people. I have the opposite problem as Ryan... When I "throw" my knees into the turn, I end up skidding. When I tip my feet inside the boot, it feels faster and more accurate.

To me, moving the knees is more of a rotary move than an edging move. I CAN'T tip my knees sideways. They are hinge joints that only bend along one plane. That's what Ghost was just saying. So to get the knee itself to move outward or inward, I have to rotate my femur (so do you all, for that matter) and that's a pretty big part of my body to move for such a little thing as tipping the ski on edge!

I think of it as the difference between the coarse adjustment and the fine adjustment on a microscope. The Knee can get me close, but the ankle makes it SHWEEEET!
post #12 of 23

I'm going to guess that by your cue to move your knees you have found a way to remove blocking in your kinetic chain which may have been preventing success with the foot tipping movements alone. Potentially you are getting your feet tipped, but not continuing to actively tip them further and activate the rest of the kinetic chain.

Now that you know what effect you are trying to obtain with knee cues, see if you can generate this same effect with a tipping of the foot. You should be able to. Let an active movement of the foot start the chain in motion, and suplement that positive movement with cues at other parts of the chain. It's not going to work unless they are all joining in the act anyway.
post #13 of 23
This is another great thread. It is especially good because there seems to be an acceptance in all the posts (so far) that what works for a person has a lot of validity. Thank heavens there hasn't been some rant against cuing movement with the knees.

BTW, in CSIA land, I've always heard from day one that everything starts at the ankles, but this hasn't really done it for me. At most, I make sure that I "open" my ankles (ie. unbend them) when changing edges. This is a very natural ankle movement that I can feel occuring when I do it. Any sense of tipping or rolling the ankles is elusive. I do feel that inclining my whole body puts the skis on edge. I feel the ankles to a part of this, but not really leading the way. If it's a longer radius turn, I then move my hips into the hill to powerfully add more edge, again something I feel. On short turns I skip the hip thing and start increasing edge angle by moving the knees into the hill. Again, this what it feels like. However, for those who have posted the view that such a lateral move of the knees is contrary to the hinge function
of the knee, let me re-assure you that that bio-mechanically you are not really moving laterally WITHIN the knee joint. You are really turning the whole leg, knee included, by rotating your femur in the hip socket. Not nearly as hard on the knee joint as many folks seem to think.

Once again, interesting thread.

post #14 of 23
Of course the only way you can do it is with the knees, ankles and hip all bent and the femur rotating in the hip. The trouble comes in when you attempt to do same without inducing a rotary steeriing pivot about the foot, or when you accept the rotary steering, but the snow and ski's edge don't.
post #15 of 23
I find that the major difference between starting at the feet and starting at the knees is that the former approach allows you to keep a more active ankle/foot area. Active, responsive ankles are the key to remaining balanced through rough terrain.

Of course, there are many situations where you have to drive from knees or hips (especially in strong rotary actions), but I prefer to keep those situations as exceptions rather than the rule. In general driving from the knees almost guarantees a locked ankle response.
post #16 of 23
Thread Starter 
btw, "throwing the knees" is misleading terminology.
that connotes something herky-jerky, even violent. :

rolling the knees is probably worse, but it's closer to what i'm describing.

thanks for the replies.
post #17 of 23
Ryan, would the image of having that leg shot out from under you work? Bang!
post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 

i love when mere words explode

actually, nolo, a big YES to that.

and that's an image (translating to a feeling) that i can and will take to the hill this saturday.

p.s. something else, having walked around with that a little: that BANG seems to shoot me in the ankle, thus rolling over to the little toe edge of the downhill ski. that's where i feel when my leg is shot out from under me. (back to "collapse.")
post #19 of 23
That's your trigger, then.

BTW, thank you for perfectly illustrating the concept of triggers. Here's what one of the masters, my friend Horst Abraham, wrote recently about them--he thinks that helping students find their triggers is a very big part of the art of teaching:
The pinnacle of the use of triggers is to reduce it to a sound/cue, the sound quality and rhythm spelling out the nature and intensity of what we wish to emulate/achieve -- without any need for interpreting concepts or words, or attempting to benefit from an image too broadly focused.
I'm going to share this link with him. Maybe that will entice him to join us.
post #20 of 23
that is spooky... because when I am asked how my turns feel my natural reaction is to describe them as a sound
post #21 of 23
Is this what you mean by knee throwing? Wrong knee I'm guessing.


Courtesy of Skier Synergy research.
post #22 of 23
Thread Starter 

but that's some deadly music.
post #23 of 23
Originally Posted by Ashski
Is this what you mean by knee throwing? Wrong knee I'm guessing.


Courtesy of Skier Synergy research.
My knee hurts just looking at that: .
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