Oh man, I'm going to have start charging a commission.
There are two big problems with beginners and toe side turns:
-they don't move enough weight to the edge
-they don't have any way to adjust back if they move weight too far over the edge.
If you think about it, these things fit together quite nicely. If, after every time they move enough weight, they keep going, go too far and fall, then they will stop going too far. If they are already smart enough to sense where too far is, they won't go anywhere near far enough, because that is too close to too far. Watching more advanced riders doesn't help because advanced riders have a good innate sense of balancing over the edge and can make micro adjustments with their ankles that beginners can't see. What beginners do see is advanced riders leaning into their turns.
But advanced riders also have a slight arch to their back. Having an arch is the only physical mechanism that you can use to bring your weight back during a toe side turn if you've gone too far. Once you lean over with the upper body, you have no muscles that can pull you back (closing your ankles only helps a tiny bit). If you have your back arched, you can dearch (i.e. pull your hips back) to straighten up. Advanced riders don't have to arch a lot because they don't need to correct a lot. Beginners need to have a lot of correction ability stored in reserve.
The other thing that the arch does is set up for weighting the edge. If you are in an arched back position and you bend your knees, your heels will quickly lift off the ground. If you do this while you are riding two things will happen almost immediately:
- the edge will engage
- the feet will get feedback from the board
If your students have their weight centered or forward (preferably forward at this point), they will have the ability to ride the accelerating board and things will click. If they don't, then they will bail after the board gets ahead of them. This is why the knee wiggle exercise comes first.
I will often start the arch the back exercise as a boot drill by asking a student to stand facing me with their arms out so that we can touch palms to palms. As I lean towards them to get on my toes, they have to hold my weight up. Then I ask them what will happen if they let go (you have to be careful because some of the smart alecks will drop you). Then I repeat the exercise, but this time get on my toes by arching my back. They can feel much less pressure on their palms. When I ask them to let go, I don't fall over. I ask them to specifically watch my hips move as I recover. Next it is their turn.
After they get this I will ask them to raise their hands above their head, arms as straight as possible. Then I ask them to hold their palms facing the sky. This forces you to arch your back. I tell beginners that this helps you get into the right position, but eventually you will be able to arch your back without doing the hands thing. For first timers, we do this before we even get our first foot in the board (not for every lesson, only when they are having troubles with balance and not getting the toe side move when directly demonstrated). For levels 2-4 I will simply task the students to raise their hands above their heads, palms facing the sky while they are riding. Some students get this right away, some students try to keep their hands high through the heel side turns instead or keep them high all the time. So sometimes you need to keep demonstrating and quickly give feedback to get the exercise done right.
I will also use this trick as part of introducing flexion and extension. If you task the students with reaching high on the toe side and reaching low on the heel side, this is one way of getting greater range of motion out of the legs. On heel side, I'll start with hands on hips, then go to hands on knees, then to boot tops, then to toe tops. For instructors, I'll ask them to actually grab the toe side edge of their boards while doing heel sides (that's an "Evil Rusty" trick - it's overkill and too risky for most students). Although this is not an ideal way to ride, it is an effective sledge hammer exercise to get students to bend their knees more during turns. Once you've broken through the stiffness, you can then work on extension through the heel side turns to smooth things out.
Sometimes I will use the mantra "Hands up, belly out, knees bent" while students are riding. Sometimes "belly out" is enough of a reminder. The goal is to get their weight over the toe edge in a balanced position. The key is arching the back. The trick is the palms facing the sky forcing the arched back position.
Happy riding and even happier students!