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Getting Out of the "A" Frame

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

 I learned to ski putting all my weight on my outside foot.  Until the last season, I never really had an active inside foot.  I've been working on the 1000 step drill that Bob Barnes recommended to improve inside leg steering.  That's helped, but I still have a bit of an "A" frame.  Any other drills that you recommend or should I really concentrate on perfecting 1000 steps?  Thanks for your help.

 

Tom

post #2 of 16

Assuming that you've ruled out alignment as a cause of your A frame, you might want to try:

1000 shuffles - like 1000 steps, but shuffle the feet instead of stepping

Skate turns - start your turns with a skating step into the new turn (step from the old uphill edge onto the new inside edge of the new inside ski)

Cowboy turns - stand with skis greater than shoulder width apart, turn by moving the hips across ths skis instead of leaning to get onto the new edge

Railroad tracks - turn only by tipping - no steering - do on very flat green trails

 

1000 shuffles will get you more centered laterally than 1000 steps will. This will get you in better position to tip both legs equally instead of the outside leg only (a possible cause for A framing).  Skate turns will get you feeling what kind of turning the inside ski can do at the end of a turn. Cowboy turns will get you feeling the inside ski turning at the beginning of turns. RR tracks only work when you are tipping both legs. This is your final test whether or not you are getting inside leg steering to occur,

 

Caveat emptor - my bias is that the concept of inside ski steering can cause lesser experienced skiers to try to help the steering too much. You must learn to let the ski steer itself first before you are ready to adjust direction with "steering" movements. Mastering these drills is not easy. You may need help.

post #3 of 16

I'm in the same boat....was taught as a house league racer in the 80s to step to the new outside ski and then roll it on to edge with 100% of the load.....  Try some tuck turns.  Also, set up a stubby slalom course and try to get your inside armpit over the stubby and work on shinning the gate with your inside shin.  As you start to reach over the stubbies, you'll start to feel the need to really establish that o/s ski (i.e. you "reach" by having a solid platform under that o/s ski edge...undue weight on the i/s ("banking") is still an error just like it was 20 years ago) and to get the inside of your hip as far away as possible from the o/s ski boot.  Here is a more extreme version of the drill using brush gates and touching the snow with the inside hand:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bzwb4rsmLBo

Remember, you can't get the inclination you need from an a-frame.  The single best article, and the most knowledgeable author, I've come across on the subject area is:

 

http://youcanski.com/en/coaching/inside_ski.htm
 

Good luck!


 

post #4 of 16

Tom,

 

1000 steps is a great drill, but not necessarily the best for shedding an A-frame.  Here are a couple that are better:

 

- HANDS ON KNEES:  Toss your poles, and place your hands on your thighs, just above your knees.  On flat terrain make a series of turns, using your hands to tip your shins/skis to equal edge angles.  Actually look down as you ski to make sure you're shins are parallel.  Once you get it, lock the feeling into your head. 

 

- RIDING THE HORSE:  Make a series of turns on gentle terrain.  Begin each turn by tipping your inside knee, then try to go through the turn with a bowlegged stance, as though riding a horse.  Keep your shoulders level to the snow as you do. 

 

Both these drill can be done in a traverse first, if going right into turns proves difficult.  Work your way up in stages:  traverse,,, half turn,,, full single turn,,, connected turns,,, more difficult terrain. 

 

www.YourSkiCoach.com

post #5 of 16

I've had a longstanding problem with A-frame.  I've tried the drills above.  But what worked for me was realizing that A-frame is the result of inadequate edging of the inside ski.  Of course, when I A-frame, my edges "felt" equal.  However, they were not.  Thus, in order to fix it, I simply tried to exaggerate the edging of my inside ski.

 

What I did, was to simply initiate the turn by trying to edge my inside ski as much as possible.  I tried to tip my inside ski to the highest angle possible, without worrying about my outside ski.  Of course, I still kept most of my weight on the outside ski.  This "felt" like my inside ski was getting tipped on its edge a lot more then my outside ski (which seemed relatively flat).  But my friend skiing behind me said that it corrected my A-frame.

 

I've learned this lesson is true in golf as it is in skiing.  What you "feel" and what you do are two different things.  So even though I felt as if my inside ski was tipped much more than my outside ski--in reality, the edges were equally tipped and my A-frame was gone.

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

Rusty, JM1999, Rick, and Mrzinwin,

 

    Thanks for the drills, video, and advice.  I really appreciate your help.

 

Tom

post #7 of 16

Update: I just got new boots.  Plus, I learned to widen out my stance. Combine the two and my carving improved by leaps and bounds.

 

And now I feel so stupid for waiting all these years to get new boots.

 

BTW, GMOL at stratton, VT.  They rock.

post #8 of 16

I'm sorry to interject, but what is an A-frame?

post #9 of 16

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 5ki8um View Post

 

I'm sorry to interject, but what is an A-frame?

 

Normally, the shins are supposed to be paralell when carving.  When they are not parallel, it's called A frame, because the shins form an "A." 

 

Example of parallel shins (see bottom photo): http://www.ronlemaster.com/images/2004-2005/slides/ROCCA-BC-2004-SL-1.jpg

 

Example of A-frame: http://img175.imageshack.us/img175/5332/bent3zw.jpg

 

 

post #10 of 16

A drill we've successfully used to fix a-framing is to get some plastic ribbon, such as the pink or green stuff used by surveyors.  It should have some strength but still be somewhat "strechy".  Tie a loop of it around the outside of your legs at the knees, with the loop size such that the knees are the correct width apart.  Now go skiing and keep the loop of ribbon from falling down to the boots - to do so the knees have to be kept held apart, if you a-frame the ribbon loop will drop.  To keep the knees apart it is best to think of moving the inside knee into the turn direction, away from the outside knee.

 

We've used this in group multi-day clinic lessons with great effect, and the students find it quite fun as well.

post #11 of 16
 If fixing this requires constant muscle tension to get where you want to be and it is still hard.  You should consider getting the boots worked on and figure out why.  Obviously there are two ways to fix A frame.  
1 with muscle tension and work drills and coaching
2 a boot guy to fix the problems within the boot and unlock the potential of the muscles, bones, brain, and coach.

I would suggest that pronation is always lurking in the boot and needs some adult supervision and some mechanical assistance.  Get checked out and then let us know how this changed for you.
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mosh View Post

 If fixing this requires constant muscle tension to get where you want to be and it is still hard.  You should consider getting the boots worked on and figure out why.  Obviously there are two ways to fix A frame.  
1 with muscle tension and work drills and coaching
2 a boot guy to fix the problems within the boot and unlock the potential of the muscles, bones, brain, and coach.

I would suggest that pronation is always lurking in the boot and needs some adult supervision and some mechanical assistance.  Get checked out and then let us know how this changed for you.


Getting boots that actually work on YOUR feet/legs/body are often the fastest path to more effective skiing.
post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrzinwin View Post

I've had a longstanding problem with A-frame.  I've tried the drills above.  But what worked for me was realizing that A-frame is the result of inadequate edging of the inside ski.  Of course, when I A-frame, my edges "felt" equal.  However, they were not.  Thus, in order to fix it, I simply tried to exaggerate the edging of my inside ski.

 

What I did, was to simply initiate the turn by trying to edge my inside ski as much as possible.  I tried to tip my inside ski to the highest angle possible, without worrying about my outside ski.  Of course, I still kept most of my weight on the outside ski.  This "felt" like my inside ski was getting tipped on its edge a lot more then my outside ski (which seemed relatively flat).  But my friend skiing behind me said that it corrected my A-frame.

 

I've learned this lesson is true in golf as it is in skiing.  What you "feel" and what you do are two different things.  So even though I felt as if my inside ski was tipped much more than my outside ski--in reality, the edges were equally tipped and my A-frame was gone.


 
 
, The initiation we do in the 1000 step turn progression includes a very strong focus on exactly this, especially when we get to the point in that progression where we are shuffling the skis. While proper alignment will tweak your basic stance by leveling your "foundation", you just might be one of those people who prefer a bit of knee angulation. Which is totally fine as long as you understand that this may produce a sequential edge change and adverse lateral loading of the knee joint that will eventually weaken that joint. Which is a lead in to the following question,

TOM, WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO ELIMINATE YOUR A-FRAME? If that a-frame is causing other problems then by all means it needs to be addressed. If it's only to adhere to the relatively current mantra of keeping the shins parallel I wouldn't worry about it all that much. LeMasters addressed this last fall in a seminar he did for our school. He pointed out that Vonn and Bode both use knee angulation and their shins aren't as parallel as other racers like Ligety who uses less knee angulation and more hip angulation. So it really comes down to a skier's unique choices more than any sort of absolute rule. From what I understand Bode's boots aren't set up totally flat but you certainly can't argue with his successs using his current set up. Maybe Mosh knows about Vonn's set up but again I would be quick to point out that it's hard to argue with her success either. Niether of them adhere to the mantra of parallel shins being necessary all the time though and that is the point of my post. Don't adopt the parallel shin idea because someone says that's the newest "best skiing model".

Edited by justanotherskipro - 10/29/09 at 12:21pm
post #14 of 16
 I don't know about Vonn's set up at all I have learned a bit from bode.  I would agree with le master in that certain disciplines reqire lower leg angles but the question is, how much?   Since most of the industry does not have a tool to actually measure pronation this question is rarely asked.  however we use a system that does measure this exactly we have recommendations for how much pronation is preferable fore each ski geometry, and each discipline.  So we can give you exacly as much pronation as you need for any given activity.  It is very nice.    
post #15 of 16
 I thought I'd post another couple of drills I've used to help reduce A-framing other than 1000 steps.  One is to ski without poles, make fists with your hands and then place your hands between your knees.  Now you ski with your hands between your knees like this.  Obviously you don't want to try this on a steep run.  Another one that works for some is more of a thought process - think about your inside knee as the steering wheel and your outside knee as the drivetrain.

You may also have a weak glute medius on that side so you might benefit from doing some glute strengthening exercises at home.  A good option for this is mini-band walks, where you place a band of tubing (or theraband tied in a loop) around both legs just above the knees, stand in a skiers stance and start to walk sideways slowly.  If this is too easy, you can make it harder by moving the band down around your ankles or the balls of your feet.  If you don't have tubing try 

If your glute is weak, just strengthening it won't fix the pattern, so you would still need to do some on snow drills to groove the movement.

Elsbeth
post #16 of 16
 All "A" frames are not created equally and not all "A" frames are bad.  I believe the notion that our goal as skiers should be to ski with parallel lower legs is a bit misguided and based somewhat on form rather than function.  There are parts of a turn where A frames are more likely as well as body builds where they are inevitable.

moral of the story.... Don't get too hung up on a little A framing here and there!

The above is based on the pretext that your alignment has been assessed and optimized of course.
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