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pivot drills with good built-in feedback

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
 Hi folks, 

I'm hoping you can help with some pivot drills. I'm on my level 2 csia course, and the instructor found that I twist my hips to pivot rather than moving the femur within the socket. This results in poor stance that doesn't support the upper body properly, poor edge angles... a whole chain of mess.

My difficulty is fixing it! Most drills don't give good feedback in and of themselves: you usually need someone watching to tell you how you're doing. The drills we did cover were: 
  • fishhook stops: pointing down the fall line, run the skis until you feel some breeze, then twist at the thigh muscle/femur. 
  • "ski with your feet wide apart and feel the turn come from the thigh". 
  • Spiess (hop turns 180 degrees in each direction)

Unfortunately, the spiess is easy to cheat on - you can wind up your upper body (often without realizing it)... and the middle drill doesn't even seem like a drill... aaahh!! 

I have four more days to fix it (or fail).  What kinds of drills do you guys suggest that give good built-in feedback? 

Thanks!
post #2 of 24
PM sent!
post #3 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post


 Hi folks, 

I'm hoping you can help with some pivot drills. I'm on my level 2 csia course, and the instructor found that I twist my hips to pivot rather than moving the femur within the socket. This results in poor stance that doesn't support the upper body properly, poor edge angles... a whole chain of mess.

My difficulty is fixing it! Most drills don't give good feedback in and of themselves: you usually need someone watching to tell you how you're doing. The drills we did cover were: 
  • fishhook stops: pointing down the fall line, run the skis until you feel some breeze, then twist at the thigh muscle/femur. 
  • "ski with your feet wide apart and feel the turn come from the thigh". 
  • Spiess (hop turns 180 degrees in each direction)

Unfortunately, the spiess is easy to cheat on - you can wind up your upper body (often without realizing it)... and the middle drill doesn't even seem like a drill... aaahh!! 

I have four more days to fix it (or fail).  What kinds of drills do you guys suggest that give good built-in feedback? 

Thanks!

DUDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Most pivot drills give you instant feedback...you just need to know what to look for!

A basic one is your ski tips.  If your outside ski tip keeps level with your inside....you are rotating from the hips...if the inside one moves ahead...you are doing it right.

You can test this in your living room to see what I mean...extend your arms infront of you...with your palms out...(ie finger tips pointing up)...twist both arms left...your left hand will finish "ahead"....go right and the opposite happens...try the same thing but keep your hands, even, you will notice to do that you need to bring yoru shoulders into it...same thing on skis, except your shoulders are your hips...

Just ask your examiner about the ski tips idea....for this, I am sure they will know what I am talking about, they can show you on the chairlift.
post #4 of 24
Pivot slips worked for me.
post #5 of 24

 

Metaphor, have you considered that you may be suffering from an insufficient amount of duct tape?
It may be that the rotated hip position is caused by an alignment issue. If you present as 'over edged' then the hip moves out to compensate (flatten the ski). The easiest way to check on the hill is to place strips of tape on the toe and heel of the binding over the outside edge. This will reduce the 'over edged' condition and allow you to rotate the femur and not the hip.

Is the problem more evident in one direction?
 
If so start with the tape on the problem ski first with 4 strips, if that side is still more of a problem, add more tape 2 thicknesses at a time. If the problem is alignment related you will notice a definite improvement. When that side becomes better than the other side begin adding tape to the weaker side till it becomes the stronger side. Then go back to the new weaker side and repeat. The tape does compress so more may need to be added to make up for this. It compresses the most on the toe of the binding as there is less surface area.
 
This is only a way to test on the hill and can of course have a negative effect on binding release. The proper solution is to have the boot sole planed to the proper angle.
 
Please let me know how it goes, if you give it a try, or if you have any questions.
 
post #6 of 24
 You may also have very limited range of motion in your hip joint to rotate internally.   This can be assessed by standing on one foot and rotating the lifted foot as far as possible inward without twisting your pelvis.  Then rotate the foot externally.  Check both legs to see if they are symmetrical in their range of motion.  It is normal to be able to externally rotate more than internally but compare with some of your other candidates to see what is average!  No quick cure for this but a stretching routine may help in the long run.  Possibly abducted boots?

your examiners should be able to tell you if it looks like a canting issue or a ROM issue!
post #7 of 24
 A means of visually knowing whether your pivot is coming from rotation of the pelvis and spine or from the hip joint is to take your ski poles, one horizontally in front of the pelvis and one behind with tips in opposite directions placed through the straps so that your pelvis is sandwiched between the horizontal poles. Any rotation of the pelvis is obvious by the rotation of the poles. This works with students who think they are doing pivot slips by independent leg action when actually they are rotating at the spine/pelvis.
post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 
Wow! Thanks for the responses all! 

No alignment issue detected by our course conductor. whew...

Here are the problems and how they were resolved: 
  • Initiating turns on front of boot. backing off allowed hip-free pivoting. (too much kink in the gut.)
  • Increasing flex (there was minimal flex before) increased the degree to which hip could pivot. 
  • Feeling sensation of pivoting on flats (just by stepping through a pivot with femur rotation) enabled a proper pivot on snow. 

gcarlson: funny you mention poles around waist--I suggested this a couple of days ago, and the instructor said it would identify but not correct. hmm... I still think it's valid... guess you gotta play to what the instructor wants then do what works after the course :) 

Thanks all! you've fixed me right up!
post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post


gcarlson: funny you mention poles around waist--I suggested this a couple of days ago, and the instructor said it would identify but not correct. hmm... I still think it's valid... guess you gotta play to what the instructor wants then do what works after the course :) 
 

The instructor was correct in stating that identifying the source of the pivot will not correct it. However, it is difficult for a student to accurately sense where the pivot is happening, i.e. from independent leg action at the hip joint or from the rotation of the pelvis at the spine or from whole body rotation. It's common that they think that they are doing the pivot slip correctly with independent leg action and are then amazed when they see the pelvic rotation being the primary turning force. By giving them a visual reference they can better focus on eliminating the pelvic or body rotation once instruction on creating the independent leg rotation is presented. It's just one of the tools, not the only one.
post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post


gcarlson: funny you mention poles around waist--I suggested this a couple of days ago, and the instructor said it would identify but not correct. hmm... I still think it's valid... guess you gotta play to what the instructor wants then do what works after the course :) 
 

You are correct, Metaphor_.  That instructor is full of it.  There's a respectable body of peer-reviewed academic literature showing that motor learning rate is generally enhanced by external cues (like the visible or tactile detection of the orientation of ski poles strapped tight across the pelvis in your case.)  Clear "identification" is the first step to "correction" in any feedback learning / control system (neuromuscular or electronic.)     [I'm not sure this is doing you any favors since I personally believe that pivots and similar rotary movements are the root of all that is bad or inefficient in skiing, but opinions do differ on this.]
post #11 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gcarlson View Post

The instructor was correct in stating that identifying the source of the pivot will not correct it. However, it is difficult for a student to accurately sense where the pivot is happening, i.e. from independent leg action at the hip joint or from the rotation of the pelvis at the spine or from whole body rotation. .

Exactly... no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just because an exercise won't magically correct the pivot point doesn't mean there's no help in using the tool to clearly identify the rotation problem.  

That said, she has improved my skiing tremendously, so I can hardly complain!


Quote:
Originally Posted by sharpedges View Post

[I'm not sure this is doing you any favors since I personally believe that pivots and similar rotary movements are the root of all that is bad or inefficient in skiing, but opinions do differ on this.]
 

I may be opening a can of worms, but... our high level Canadian instructors do blend pivoting (turning with the lower body) with edging in their turns. They look pretty beautiful. On the other hand, so do the high level PMTSers. I think there's a question of which joints you use to create the pivot. If you pivot in your ankle and lower knee, you're torquing a joint that shouldn't be rotated in that direction. If it's from the thigh, you're pivoting the femur in the hip socket, which is your bones are capable of handling without ill effect. So from what I've seen, a clean pivot isn't particularly bad and enables skiers to get turning without rotation. It particularly helps intermediate (and some advanced) skiers on steeper terrain doing a shorter turn radius (ie where they'd otherwise be out of their league if purely carving).
Edited by Metaphor_ - 12/17/09 at 6:33pm
post #12 of 24
Quote:
That instructor is full of it.  There's a respectable body of peer-reviewed academic literature showing that motor learning rate is generally enhanced by external cues (like the visible or tactile detection of the orientation of ski poles strapped tight across the pelvis in your case.)  Clear "identification" is the first step to "correction" in any feedback learning / control system (neuromuscular or electronic.)


Quote:
[I'm not sure this is doing you any favors since I personally believe that pivots and similar rotary movements are the root of all that is bad or inefficient in skiing, but opinions do differ on this.]


Pivot, by definition and by action, is always in the femur joint.  The efficient alternative to carving is to make carving movements but don't lock the edge into the snow.  The big tip on our modern skis can pull the skis around in as tight a radius as we want.  The choice of edge angle allows the skis to slip across the snow and scrub off speed.  Put the skis on edge--not too much edge--load the tips, and they ski curves while controlling speed.  There is rotational movement in the femur joints, but it is incidental, not intentional.  No muscular effort goes into making the legs rotate relative to the body.
Edited by SoftSnowGuy - 12/18/09 at 2:23pm
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharpedges View Post

  [I'm not sure this is doing you any favors since I personally believe that pivots and similar rotary movements are the root of all that is bad or inefficient in skiing, but opinions do differ on this.]
 
Pivot slips get a bad name because they are thought to only teach "similar rotary movements" when in fact their value is in teaching independent leg steering. And the steered turn with independent leg action is an essential skill in carved turns as well as turns with some slipping such as short radius turns. Steered turns give you the advantage of skiing all conditions and terrain on the mountain whether it be gentle groomers, the steep and deep or moguls. And this can't be the "root of all that is bad".
post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by gcarlson View Post




Pivot slips get a bad name because they are thought to only teach "similar rotary movements" when in fact their value is in teaching independent leg steering. And the steered turn with independent leg action is an essential skill in carved turns as well as turns with some slipping such as short radius turns. Steered turns give you the advantage of skiing all conditions and terrain on the mountain whether it be gentle groomers, the steep and deep or moguls. And this can't be the "root of all that is bad".
 

Again, there's more than one school of thought on this.

I can lay 'em pretty far over and tighten a carve up with exactly zero steering.*  In shorter turns, I have no voluntary independent femur rotation although some passive rotation emerges beyond what I can cancel out due to the complex dynamics of the hip joint.  I make these shorter turns using the same movement patterns as for carving, just tweaking the intensity and rate of the movements.  This is a pretty big point.  I use my inside, lightly weighted ("free") foot to control the dynamics of both legs through the ganged dual hip joints coupled via light muscular tension in the hip area.  For all turn shapes and sizes!  This tension precludes independent femur rotation aka "steering" and independent femur rotation likewise precludes inside / free foot control of the entire lower body because it kills the tension.  Thus we actually engage in two different sports with incompatible underlying mechanics:  I do free foot managing on alpine skis and you perform femur-based steering on alpine skis.  It's not unlike the schism between skating and classic stride nordic skiing.  If I were the betting type, I'd bet that 50 years from now many more alpine skiing addicts would be free foot managers than not simply because of that sport's better learning curve compared to femur steering.  So by "inefficient" and "bad" I really meant ear-marked for gradual extinction.

All our sports can share the slopes in peace:  free foot managers, hard boot alpine snowboarders, femur-based steerers, and soft boot freestyle boarders plus adaptives, monoskiers, and other kindred spirits.  But I stand by my 50-year prediction

-----
* C/PSIA certified individuals seem to disagree on what steering means on this forum, and when you throw in other viewpoints it doesn't get any clearer.  My statement stands unless your def'n of steering includes pure edging with zero torque applied via the femurs.
post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sharpedges View Post
I can lay 'em pretty far over and tighten a carve up with exactly zero steering.*  In shorter turns, I have no voluntary independent femur rotation although some passive rotation emerges beyond what I can cancel out due to the complex dynamics of the hip joint.  I make these shorter turns using the same movement patterns as for carving, just tweaking the intensity and rate of the movements.  This is a pretty big point.  I use my inside, lightly weighted ("free") foot to control the dynamics of both legs through the ganged dual hip joints coupled via light muscular tension in the hip area.  

Interesting... are you loading the tips to do this? If so, I imagine you'll get hip rotation... which is what I've been trying to get rid of, as from what I've learned it will negatively affect your balance. How do you mitigate the hit to your balance?
post #16 of 24
Thread Starter 
 Oh.. And I passed my level 2. :)
post #17 of 24
Congrats on the Level 2! good job!
post #18 of 24
     Quote:
Originally Posted by sharpedges View Post
  This is a pretty big point.  I use my inside, lightly weighted ("free") foot to control the dynamics of both legs through the ganged dual hip joints coupled via light muscular tension in the hip area.  For all turn shapes and sizes!

This just doesn't make any sense to me at all. Can you post a link to a video? Do any FIS racers do this?

If this is possible, it's going to blow my mind. It'll be like Clapton the first time he saw Jimi Hendrix.
post #19 of 24
Metaphor,  congrats on attaining your level 2.

retroEric,  as you say at first it is mind blowing.  It's hard for someone else to see how the turn is happening.  That's why Lito Tejada-Flores calls it "phantom edging" and Harb calls it the "phantom move."  It's as if a ghost is making it all happen.  There's plenty of video on youtube, just search for the word Harb or PMTS.  (The epicski usage t&c's don't let me post the youtube links here since it would constitute marketing for an non-epic-affiliated business.)  This technique was developed in the race world (by a former WC skier) and carried back to recreational skiing in the '90s.  Sorry for the rushed response, but I'm trying to get out of town for the holidays.
post #20 of 24
Congrats on the level 2...
I guess I'm a bit late to respond here but a good way to get the feeling of pivoting is off snow. Sit in a chair so your hips can't move and put your heels on the floor in front of you. Now try turning your legs in the hip socket. You will get instant feedback if you rotate because your butt will come off the chair. Once you know what it feels like to pivot you will hopefully be able to reproduce that feeling on snow.  Try it first with your legs straight then try it with them flexed. You'll notice when your legs are flexed and you do this your knees move inside... but this is still just turning the legs in the hip socket. On snow it is usually combined with pronation of the foot/ankle but it sounds an awful lot like what happens when your carving to me!
post #21 of 24
PS.. the "Phantom Move" is teaching methodology... it is not a different technique. I am not knocking it as I know it can be quite effective but anyone who thinks that expert PMTSers are doing anything significantly different from other expert skiers is delusional.

Apologies if that sounded harsh.
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by skinerd View Post

PS.. the "Phantom Move" is teaching methodology... it is not a different technique. I am not knocking it as I know it can be quite effective but anyone who thinks that expert PMTSers are doing anything significantly different from other expert skiers is delusional.

Apologies if that sounded harsh.

The PM is a technique, a movement pattern, and a way of engaging and controlling the musculature.  It is not a teaching methodology; that's called PMTS.

Sure, some non-PMTS expert skiers use similar mechanics but that's because they've moved beyond steering/femur rotation either via formal coaching or their natural athletic self-coaching skills.  That's no surprise since PMTS came out of decades of coaching elite skiers.  If you're being harsh on anybody, it is on the traditional instructor corp who use techniques biomechanically incompatible with pmts -- and similar expert skiers --  in their teaching (however they may individually prefer to free ski.)

When you say "it is not a different technique" you didn't mention the other half of the comparison.  Many top FIS skiers do use relatively similar technique.  However, it is a totally different technique biomechanically and not simply pedagogically from what ISIA national affiliates teach to the skiing masses.  Harsh?  maybe.  True?  absolutely.
post #23 of 24
I say the "phatom move" is a method because it is simply a way of tricking the body into making certain desirable moves... just like when I use any other drill. The mind focuses on the inside foot lifting and tipping... but the outside femur is still turning in the hip socket whether or not the turn is carved or steered.  I have used it many times myself to teach people good lateral and fore/aft balance and I agree that it can work wonders, but there are many other aproaches to achieve the same thing. Many experts use the same moves but were taught through more "traditional" methods. Some techniques in the PMTS progressions may differ somewhat at the lower levels from conventional teaching (I admit I'm not totally familiar with them) but the expert goals appear to be the same. So in my opinion this is classified simply as a teaching tactic.

I am curious to know exactly what biomechanical differences you see in anything above the intermediate level...  I will keep an open mind!
post #24 of 24
Just to check back into this thread...

Unfortunately my mind wasn't blown. After watching the Harb vids I realized I figured out the phantom move  in about '82. If the Mahre brothers did it, I probably got it from them. I warshipped the ground they walked on.

I would like an explanation on how the PM is a totally different technique biomechanically than what the FIS skiers are doing. For now I'm with Skinerd in thinking it's not actually different.
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