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Leaning backwards = major flaw?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone!

First of all I would like to say that I just love this forum! I've learnt so much just by reading other people's comments. As I live in Belgium I only go ski once a year (one week). I've been doing this for eight years. I only took courses the first two years. After that I've always tried to pay attention to how others are skiing. I'm a pretty fast skier if I may say so myself, but I have a pretty sloppy technique 'of my own'. This does not mean that I stop ever 10 meters, on the contrary! I even take jumps and go off-piste. This year (January) I really want to work on my technique. I basically can do all of the slopes but on my own way. I tend to avoid black slopes (with or without lots of bumps), whilst I should be doing these to learn. I realize that I almost never fall which is not a good sign in my opinion.. The thing I wanted to ask you guys about is my leaning backwards. I have worked out 'something' for all of my other flaws, but I just can't quit leaning backwards.. :/ This is really bad for the control over my skies and it makes me accelerate really fast althought I've learnt to cope with this I'm determined to do something about it! I hope that it's not too late to get rid of this bad habit? Thanks in advance!

King regards,


P.S.: excuse my English
post #2 of 22
Beaujean - wellcome to epic. Lets take a closer look at you:
- you never took a lesson
- you are self thaught
- you know your technique is not very good
- you only ski 10 days a year
- you dont like steep runs
- you are constantly in the back seat
- you love skiing
- you love off pist skiing
- you want to become better

I think you are very representative of a large number of skiers out on the hills these days. With modern equipment and well groomed slopes its easy to reach a high enough level of skiing without proper technique.

The reason why you are skiing so well is because you are probably athletic and maybe also tallented you are most importantly highly motivated. Maybe you had som luck as well and probably good equipment. What you are lacking however is proper technique and that is your show stopper for now. Most possibly untill you take lessons and probably have to re-learn everything you learned by yourself sofar. But that is no problem as long as you know what to do. Take some lessons. Start from there.

The reason why you need to be in the back seat is because it compensates for your flaws. Its much easier to crank your skis arround from the back seat and with heavy rotation and pivotting than if you are well balanced and forward. If you had a video of yourself it would be the best way for epic members to give you advice.

post #3 of 22
The best way to find a more centered stance is to do other activities that require a similar stance. Especially since you don't spend a lot of time on the snow. Ice skating, hockey, inline skates, snowblades, biking, hiking, and even jumping rope require you to move your body yet maintain a fairly centered stance. Just remember to use those skills once you're on the snow.
That being said, Here's a few on the snow activities that will promote a more centered stance. Start your ski day with a strong focus on doing a few of these drills (ten minutes or so) and then go ski.

1. Start small and simple by doing one footed traverses. Notice what the ski you have off the snow is doing. Is the tip higher than the tail? Try to keep the ski tip touching the snow. Then try to keep the tail touching the snow. Finally, try keeping the ski parallel to the snow.

2. Jump up off the snow while traversing. If the skis don't stay parallel to the snow adjust your stance until they do. Eventually do this between turns on shallow terrain.

3. Make turns while doing a bunch of really small steps. Don't stay on either ski for more than a second. Follow that with shuffling through the turns. Pay attention to how tall you need to be to do this successfully. Too tall and you will have trouble balancing and engaging the edges, too low and the stepping is very difficult.

4. Try to make turns leaning too far forward, too far back, then right in the middle. The object being to find a stance that allows you to stand on the skis through most of the turns without a lot of cuff pressure in any direction. Eventually you will add pressure to the cuff but the idea here is to "discover" being cuff neutral. Which will allow you to be consciously aware of when and where you are adding pressure to the cuffs.

Go ski and keep a soft focus on what you feel happening between your leg and the cuff of the boot. Like I said earlier there are moments when you will need to be pressuring the cuff but avoid feeling constant pressure on the back of the cuff.
post #4 of 22
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much guys! I'm definitely going to do the exercises. I'll try to train for a couple of hours each day (before noon) and I'll definitely get a private instructor for a day or two!

Any other replies/suggestions are more than welcome!

post #5 of 22


Justanotherskipro (jasp) has some really great activities for you.

Any other replies/suggestions are more than welcome!
Think of flexing (bending ankles forward) your ankles inside your boots and not letting the skis get in front of your hips. If your ankles are too straight inside your boots, your hips will get behind your feet and you are leaning back. Jasp's activities are designed to make you stand more balanced on the center of the foot and center of the ski. As you turn, the skis move forward out from under you and the ankle flex will help you stay more centered over the ski. Think of moving with the skis and not being left behind by them.

P.S.: excuse my English
BTW, your English is quite good.

post #6 of 22
Originally Posted by Beaujean View Post
The thing I wanted to ask you guys about is my leaning backwards. I have worked out 'something' for all of my other flaws, but I just can't quit leaning backwards.
By "leaning backwards," I assume you mean that you find yourself with your weight on your heels and/or pressing on the backs of your boots?

It's a common problem that really limits your skiing. It keeps you from being able to react quickly and link short, fast turns -- exactly what's needed for challenging terrain.

My thoughts on what to do about it:
  • Pull your feet (especially the new inside foot) back aggressively as you're about to start a new turn (and during the turn). This is much faster than trying to move your body forward over your skis. Practice it until it's completely automatic.
  • Do the exercises recommended by justanotherskipro.
  • Have your fore/aft alignment checked by a bootfitting expert.
post #7 of 22
I totally agree with justanotherskipro about taking up skating, either on rollerblade or hockey skates. The turning technique is very similar and the lack of a long tail (no phantom foot to hold you up when you sit back) means you will quickly get used to staying centered as you glide and turn. When you get back on skis I guarantee you will be able to transfer this feeling and stay far more centered . Good luck.
post #8 of 22
Careful with the advice that we need to pull our feet backwards all the time. It is a valid corrective movement for when we get stuck in the back seat but if we are doing it during every turn that means we are getting stuck in the back seat during every turn. It is much simpler to keep the body moving with the skis and into the new turn. If we aren't in the back seat to begin with, we can eliminate the need to use this corrective foot movement.
Which reminds me of a movement, opening the new outside knee to drive the hips into the new turn. It was packaged as actively getting the outside femur perpendicular to the ski. I had two very respected and quite famous coaches propose we do this while also saying a few minute later that the extension of the outside knee was more to maintain ski contact with the snow, than to actually drive the hips into the new turn. Basically this contradiction is because the weight was not being transfered onto that ski until we add it by further flexing of the inside leg somewhere around the beginning of the control phase. (Not to mention the addition of momentum).
The subtle difference in presenting the idea profoundly changes the intent of the movement. One allows the hip to migrate into the new turn. While the other drives the hip there. Both end up in a similar entry into the control phase but with a totally different pressure distribution. The "driving" maneuver ends up with more outside ski pressure sooner. Both have a specific tactical use but if I had walked away with just the original idea, I would have missed some very important information about how a second option exists.
post #9 of 22
Thread Starter 
Once again, thank you guys!

Your tips are greatly appreciated!
post #10 of 22
When you ride in the back seat, you can do what I did...Tear the acl. Believe me you will want to stay where these pros tell you!
post #11 of 22
I also agree with Jasps writing. One more thing you can try to do is keep your hands out in front of you and your shoulders forward a bit in a comfortable stance. The stance looks like your taking a crap. Sorry couldnt help it. The steeper the slope the more aggressive the hands out in front thing. Remember to pole plant before every turn!!!!!!! By doing this it helps you to stay more forward than you are and helps you find Nutral in the steeps. Pole plants are just a flick of the wrist but in very steep terrain you need to piviot around your poles. Thats way steep though! Always stay in control buy turnning. Its one thing to be fast but its another to be fast and even a bit out of control. The faster you go the more IN control you have to be. So never exeed your controled speed. Ya know if you took some edge or carving lessons Ill bet you would even enjoy skiing more and not get enough of it. Watch video of good skiiers and notice there hands and shoulders. You want to be nutral but more forward is better than back. You will have more contol forward than back even though thats not good either, so never get cought leaning back. If you stay in the squated position with your arms forward its harder to lean back. I dont know if that made sence but just a little tidbit that may work.
post #12 of 22
Please don't squat to get forward! All that does is moves the hip back behind the feet. You need to be moving with the skis not dropping behind then getting in a rush to catch up.
post #13 of 22
Allow me to disagree with the hands-in-front thing. The hand position can do little to correct a problem but can certainly cause a problem. I've seen skiers sitting way back with their hands extended in front because that's what they were told to do. It doesn't work that way.

Get your feet under your body which will feel like they are behind your body. The inside foot pullback works very well. Pull that foot strongly back all the time every turn. If you finally find that you are putting too much pressure on your ski tips, relax the pull back in the last third of the turn, or maybe the last half of the turn, but for sure pull it strongly back the first half or two thirds of every turn.

While at home, skate. Rent some in-line skates (Rollerblade type) as well as the protective equipment. There is no way you can sit back while skating. This will be a big help to your balance while skiing.
post #14 of 22
If the truth be told, most skiiers, and many instructors too, lean backwards to some degree.

"lean" is probably the wrong term... more correctly, people have their weight back, rather than forward with the direction of the skis.

In fact, for 8 of my 10 seasons teaching, so did I. While trying to do perfect, clear, elegant turns, I was staying too static on my skis and so being left behind through each turn.

It was only when I finally learned to lead into each turn, and through each turn, with all of me, that everything changed.
post #15 of 22
The best way to get into the front seat is to learn movement patterns that put you there.

When we humans walk we extend every joint in the legs or flex every joint. The ankles, toes, knees and hips open up together. On skis this movement pattern puts us automatically in the back seat in response to forward movement. Remember you have to do this without pushing down on the ball of the foot.

What you have to learn to do is leave the toes in neutral, keep the ankle flexed so that your shins rest against the front of the boots with equal pressure under the feet and open the knees and hips. You can flex and extend using this movement pattern and stay in the front seat.

Very few skiers have any muscle memory to do this movement pattern. Most people have so little muscle memory that in fact they usually have to practice without boots, on dry land for a while before they can do it without thinking. Then you have the other chore of blend that movement pattern into your skiing so that you stay in the front seat all the time.

Blending that movement pattern in is along the lines that JASP was talking about.
post #16 of 22
I think good foot discipline is great but I disagree with the idea that we "need" to pull the feet back strongly all of the time, or even half the time. It speaks to the idea that we are moving the feet back and forth beneath a stable (static) body. Something I first read back in the 1970's. The concept behind that idea being the smaller mass of the foot is easier and faster to move than the larger mass of the body. Considering the equipment of the day this made sense. What I've seen change is that on today's equipment (longitudinally softer skis) we can keep the skis on the snow more through the transitions. So as the feet become more "anchored" to the snow, the body needs to moves above the feet to get everything aligned and focus the forces through the edges.

Let me share a visual image with you to explain this. Instead of a spyder reaching out with the legs (sequential) and then moving the body once the legs reconnect with the snow, we now move the body and the legs (simultaneously) articulate to facilitate whatever stance we need. So IMO our movements resemble a kangaroo's movements more than a spyders. Although I would point out that I'm talking about the movements (bilateral) verse (cross lateral), not the fact that a kangaroo spends so much time in the air. I hope that gives you a visual image that corresponds with what I'm trying to say.
post #17 of 22
Originally Posted by Pierre View Post
When we humans walk we extend every joint in the legs or flex every joint. The ankles, toes, knees and hips open up together. On skis this movement pattern puts us automatically in the back seat in response to forward movement. Remember you have to do this without pushing down on the ball of the foot.
I really like this explanation, Pierre. I never thought about it this way, but playing with flexing and extending here in my office it makes a lot of sense. You learn something new every day, and this is my thing for today.

post #18 of 22
1 - Be careful with the hands in front, as someone else said. Don't let your hands go back either. The thing is if you try to exageratingly hold your hands forward you will end up with your hips more back and using your hands to counter balance. The reason having your hands too far back is bad has more to do with the fact that it tends to pull your upper body in that direction for a variety of reasons, and is usually happening hand in hand with too much upper body rotation. Don't use your hands for fore-aft balance!

2 - I agree with JASP, don't squat down. That will move your hips back which is aft. Worse, as your hips go back you will have to bend forward at the waste to remain upright which will have you totally stacked wrong and using all the wrong muscles and taking it way too much in your lower back.

3 - Pulling the feet back and certain points of the turn can be beneficial, but in this writer's opinion its mainly at a few key moments when otherwise a foot would tend to drift ahead. For example, during the bottom half of the turn the inside foot might drift forward, particularly if you are putting too much weight on it at the same time. Holding or pulling that foot back and help. But I agree with JASP, obsession about pulling your feet back all the time can create other problems.

4 - remember that the real goal of pulling your feet back is to change the relative position of your center of mass, relative to your feet. If your COM is behind your feet, then you're aft. If its in front of your feet, then you're fore. Etc. Pulling your feet/foot back can sometimes change that relationship and get your feet back behind or under your COM instead of ahead of your COM. If your feet drift too far ahead, pull them back. Simple. However, I find that a more proactive movement will help far more and its not by pulling the feet per say. I like to think about nudging my pelvis forward as I crossover during transition. Whether this is done by a mental model of pulling the feet back or of actively nudging the pelvis forward matters not to me. What matters is that the beginning of the turn is started with the feet not too far ahead of the COM. During a crossover type transition, the COM is moving up and over from one side of the skiis to the other side. The COM is moving relative to the feet. For me its easier to think about nudging that movement forward towards the tips of my skis at the same time to ensure I start the turn center to forward. Perhaps in a cross under trans, you might think more about pulling your feet back as they zip under you to the other side so that as you apply pressure to them in the start of the next turn it is done with the feet under you, not ahead of you.

Once you start the turn, if you're aft, its hard to get forward. The turn start is crucial. At the fallline I am often driving my pelvis forward with extension.

Foot pullback can sometimes help. Driving your pelvis forward can sometimes help. Personally I feel the greatest focus needs to happen during the transition, after that the rest of the turn is fairly automatic.
post #19 of 22
Actually the hands forward mantra is an old race coaching idea. Get unbalanced and the arms fly. Want more discipline? Bring the hands forward and allow less flailing. Mind you that's a corrective move not universal advice. Once again a specific situation calls for a specific solution. Beyond that specific scope is the idea of quiet hands and upper body discipline. Not so much as an absolute, just as an effective way to ensure you aren't adding movements that have a negative effect upon your stance and balancing.
post #20 of 22
Perhaps sharing the movement decribers with you about stance will help.
A well centered stance will allow us to selectively access all three skills anywhere in any turn. The idea of a quiet upper body serving as an anchor is valid but by no means should that be interpreted as a static upper half of the body. All parts of the body should be participating in our balancing movements. As you observe a skier moving with the skis you will notice the harmony of motion and a remarkable lack of extraneous movements in their skiing. Why? Well simply stated they don't need them to accomplish their intended task.
What this means in a real world setting is that as we ski we are moving across the snow. If our body lags behind the feet we lose the some of the options available to us when we're balancing in the center of the ski. In some cases this is not a problem (it can be a valid tactical option during a certain type of turn) but overall we try to keep as many options open because the snowpack can be so variable under foot. The easiest way to describe a well centered stance is that we will feel like we are moving in and out of a balanced stance but it's sort of like quicksilver in that it isn't one position and it doesn't stand still long enough for us to stand still either. Or in other words we are either chasing balance (corrective movements), or if we wish to be more proactive, we are anticipating where we would need to be in the very near future and moving there (balancing in the future). Experts have gained the experience to know with a high level of probability how to balance in the future but they also know that there are adjustments to that stance that need to happen due to the terrain and the variable qualities of the snowpack. So both corrective adjustments and moving in anticipation of where we want to end up are happening simultaneously.
If you feel like you need to use a big movements to release the skis, or get them into the new turn, you are probably not well centered. If you feel you need to use a big move to change what the skis are doing during a turn, again it's time to question your stance and how you are moving to create that intended turn. Take the time to get back to center before beginning the new turn and move into the turn so you can balance in the future and you will be more successful accomplishing whatever turn you decide to do.
post #21 of 22
My girlfriend was told a mantra by an Austrian instructor in how to get forward. It's not at all polite, but is memorable...

F@*k your turns, don't S#!t them.

The idea being that you should make sure your pelvis is thrust forward, rather than having it sitting on a toilet seat.
post #22 of 22
Originally Posted by Wear The Fox Hat View Post
My girlfriend was told a mantra by an Austrian instructor in how to get forward. It's not at all polite, but is memorable...

F@*k your turns, don't S#!t them.

The idea being that you should make sure your pelvis is thrust forward, rather than having it sitting on a toilet seat.
That's very true and I used it all the time.
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