or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Where do we want our hips over our feet? Why do we want to move our hips forward?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

# Where do we want our hips over our feet? Why do we want to move our hips forward?

So as to not hijack the current thread about moving the hips forward, I thought I'd start a new thread to ascertain exactly what people mean when they say "hips over the feet" or "move the hips forward". I hear so many pos(t)ers here on Epic use these terms willy nilly, and in some cases- interchangably!

But the so called validations I read for either of these two phrases don't hold water! They are far too ambiguous, lacking the specificity of exactly WHERE and WHY they claim to be gospel.

My hip socket is probably just under 2" in diameter, while my feet are approximately 11" long. Keeping my 'hips over my feet' gives me a wide range of positions, some beneficial, most not.

'Moving my hips forward' can either get me out of the back seat (if I'm there) or it can reduce my ability to edge, guide, or flex functionally, if it is over done.

So my questions are simple- though I know the answers will not be (though they should be)-

Where do we want our hips over our feet?

Why do we want to move our hips forward?

Let's see how many of you have an "A" game, and can directly support your ideas using physics, anatomy, ski design, and contemporary technique as your logic base.

Let the fun begin!
OK, I'll bite.

Whereas the advice to "keep your hips over your feet" is useful and often helpful, it's technically inaccurate. Looking in a sagittal plane, we should really talk about the centre of gravity (not the hips) and the feet being aligned with respect to the balance axis. The balance axis goes through the CoG and is perpendicular to the bottom of the skis. Unless we're standing straight up, the axis is inclined at the same angle as the resultant vector of the sum of the force of gravity and centrifugal force. So, having our balance over our feet means that the balance axis passes through the feet usually somewhere between the balls of the feet and the back of the arch. In a flexed, neutral stance, the hips themselves are behind the CoG and the shoulders in front of it. Standing up taller moves the hips forward and the shoulders back if the CoG doesn't move fore/aft.

In the frontal plane, the strongest skeletal alignment of the outside leg (which obviously bears the majority of the load in a carved turn) is such that a line drawn from the CoG to the inside edge of the outer ski passes through the head of the outside femur (which sits in the acetabulum of the hip). In that sense, the hip is also aligned with the foot, unless the knee is kinked in - this isn't what is usually meant by "hips over feet'.

So, precisely where our balance axis should intersect with our base of support depends on the phase of the turn but the range for ordinary skiing in balance is somewhere from ball of foot (most forward) to the back of the arch (most aft). There is an optimal neutral point for each pair of skis based on certain design characteristics which it is worth testing out on the slopes (pivot slips are good for this).

There are some wrinkles. First, the position of the CoG is not fixed, but changes as the relationship of body parts vary with respect to each other - and may even lie at a point outside the body. Second, skiers are not always in balance; in turn transition, the skier deliberately allows the balance axis to pass out beyond the base of support so as to create an imbalance that topples the CoG into the new turn. Then the skier reestablishes his balance axis in the new turn.
Edited by HardDaysNight - 1/14/10 at 2:46pm
Ahhh VSP, getting feisty are we?

Aside from the obvious answers of it depends and you've answered your own question, I'll take a stab at public self humiliation....

"Exactly where we want our hips over our feet" has 2 problems: we don't want to be in a static position and physical and gear differences have an effect on the optimal location.  Static will get covered in the next answer. For a reference (or average) position we want the hips to be positioned vertically somewhere between over the heels and over the toes. One reason for this is to let the skeleton support body mass instad of muscles. Ideally we want to have our reference position put our center of mass over the sweet spot of the ski so that we can bend it most efficiently and have the most flexibility over managing tail and tip pressure while simultaneously giving us ankle, knee and hip positioning that is in the center of the range of motion to be used for those joints. Exactly where this position is is not important because there is a range of positions where we are able to ski effectively and efficiently. Anywhere in that range is effectively "good enough".

For people skiing with their hips behind their heels, most instructors don't worry about telling students exactly how far forward they need to be because it's highly unlikely they will be able to move too far forward. It is unfortunate that students will take advice given to them specifically, experience good results from that advice and then repeat that advice to others for general consumption. With the inevitable "telephone tag" dilution of the message, we get what we have in that other thread: "failure to communicate". Oops - wrong movie. Do you remember the "grapevine" scene in Johhny Dangerously?

Quote:
Lil: Get this to Johnny on the grapevine. Vermin is going to kill Johnny's brother at the savoy theater tomorrow night. Got it?
Polly the parrot: Got it.
[flies away]
Polly the parrot: [arrives at prison mess hall and lands on the shoulder of a prisoner] Vermin is going to kill Johnny's brother at the Savoy theater. Pass it on.
Prisoner: [to the next prisoner sitting next to him] Vermin is going to kill Johnny's brother at the Savoy theater tonight. Pass it on.
Prisoner: [to the next prisoner, "telephone" style] Vermin is going to kill Johnny's mother at the Savoy theater tonight. Pass it on.
Prisoner: [to the next prisoner] Vermin's mother is going to kill Johnny tonight at the Savoy theater. Pass it on.
Prisoner: [to the next prisoner]
[unintelligible]
Prisoner: ... at the Savoy. Pass it on.
Prisoner: There's a message through the grapevine, Johnny.
Johnny Dangerously: Yeah? What is it?
Prisoner: Johnny and the Mothers are playing "Stompin' at the Savoy" in Vermont tonight.
Johnny Dangerously: Vermin's going to kill my brother at the Savoy theater tonight.
Prisoner: I didn't say that.
Johnny Dangerously: No, but I know this grapevine.
VSP - You know this grapevine. You know the "prisoners" passing the message don't really understand the content of the message. You know that most instructors can't tell the difference between gear and technique as causes for weight too far back. And you know that almost all intermediates and low experts have some technique driven problems staying with their skis (i.e. failing to move their hips and getting caught in the back seat) even if ill fitting gear is the primary source of their problems. Finally, you know that it does not really matter what students think about how they move their hips forward (e.g. via ankle, knee and/or hip movement) or exactly how much because their perceptions are rarely accurate. At the end of the day, "flex your ankle", "bend your knees", "knees over the toes", "expose your belly button to the wind", "stand taller", etc. can all be intended to solve the same problem and be either brilliant or totally useless depending on the specific situation. And when these words of advice are reapplied outside of that situation they are most likely to be useless. Unless Johnny D is at the end of the grapevine.

Experienced instructors have a bag of tricks containing generic solutions that have worked for them and other instructors in the past. It's a crap shoot when they reach into their bag for a solution to a problem. Better instructors have more tricks and know to keep pulling tricks out until they find one that works. The best instructors can diagnose the problem well enough to choose "THE" trick that will solve the problem. When those pros try to change the hip position, they'll know where is for that one student by looking and know that exactly where does not make a bit of difference because the advice can't be reused. I tell my students "Tony knows how to ski" (toes, knees and nose in vertical alignment). It's an over simplification, but it's advice resistant to telephone tag syndrome and won't cause a lot of harm if it's reused.

So why do we want to move our hips forward? One reason is to stay with the skis. It's the difference between the skis pulling us down the hill and us riding on top of the skis. Another reason is to increase tip pressure so that the ski tips will engage in the snow and push us into the next turn. Racers may sit back on their tails at the end of a turn to accelerate the skis forward. Recreational skiers may only need to let the skis "catch up" vs forcing them ahead. But we all need some relative aft movement through the end of a turn so that we can begin the new turn with forward movement to create tip pressure and be in a position to get pushed as the skis accelerate down the hill. Finally, if forward movement is started from a countered position, then that movement facilitates the edge change of the inside ski (from wedge turns through parallel). The amount of movement may be too small for many skiers to be consciously aware of, but some movement can make a huge difference. We don't have to ski this way but we can gain either efficiencies or speed if we do.

Logic? We don' need no stinking logic! I just made all this stuff up. I may not have used physics, anatomy, ski design, and contemporary technique to support my ideas, but I did use spell check! Have fun. Chew it up. Hopefully, I'll learn something.
VSP , I just pulled a 10 year old Skiing Magazine from my stack with Jeremy Nobis on the front cover carving a great turn with the downhill leg extended, demonstarting the "Gorilla Turn" taught by Al Hobart. I bought Hobart's DVD on the gorilla turn and no here on Epic really ever acknowledged this movement pattern that I can ever remember. Maybe evrybody in the know thoought it was crap. I thought it was good stuff and its hard to believe its 10 year old now.

Anyway, the subject is hips over the feet. In order to get your hips down and low , and create big carving angles, you pretty much have to be able to get your hips lower and forward. It appears to me that this movement pattern also need sto be accompanied by a fair amount of leg flexing.  I correctly or incorrectly associate this with getting the hips over the feet.  I can't help but associate this with the mantra from the 60"s of FORWARD Forward Forward. But with modern equipment getting forward can be better accomodated by getting lower too.

So there you have it I've probably mixed everything up in making a high edge angle turn. Hips down and forward i.e. hips over the feet, a decent amount of leg flex.

I'm first to admit I can get confused very easily and not see the forest for the trees when it comes to the discussion of a ski turn. Brash enough to believe I have made a few good ones, but after being on Epic Ski and reading everything maybe by accident!

I respect what you have to say . I met a former poster on Epic now banned that went to a Epic instructional camp a few years back and raved about VSP and how you ripped.

Hips Forward and Down !  I'm heading your way the end of next week, and I think snow might be making a comeback more importantly.
As alwais, Epic is being Epic in it's content!

I would like to ask an on topic, but slightly sideways question:
What is the CoM difference between men and women *while*
in carving skiing position? Maybe not downhill, but a 90 degree
femur to tibia posture?

Has anyone ever tested this?

Thanks.
As a non-pro, non-instructor and just an average Joe Q Skier who, on occasion, is a consumer of the ski industry lessons, my two cents:

Where do we want our hips over our feet?: I never really thought about it much in terms of technical details. I guess I would think of it in terms of where my hips should not be as opposed to where they should be. It's also easier to discuss in terms of feel.

Over the years, I simply discovered through trial-and-error and some drills learned through instruction, that having the hips sitting back like you are getting ready to take a dump or standing with the hips stacked on the heel likely will result in not being able to control the front of the skis, having to fight the skis, and when moving at a good clip, feeling a bit like you are teetering on the verge of loss of control.

I never thought of my hips as being forward or back. It's like I am either centered or I am not.
Being centered makes it easier to engage the edges and tips, react to terrain, pivot, stay balanced, and just have a greater sense of total control. When your are not centered and your hips are too far back for the task at hand, you feel like you are just along for the ride and trying not to do something that will make your skis run away from you. You cannot be proactive and are always reactive. You take whatever is in your way and deal with it. With hips more forward and centered, you have the sensation that you can do whatever you like when you like.

Based on some instruction I have had in the past, I think the role of the hips in relation to the COM and feet is often presented in a vague manner which can give a student a false sense of what is being relayed. I know from personal experience that the result might be trying to get too far forward or becoming too concerned with where the hips are in relation to the skis and feet. Intentionally moving the hips forward might also put someone even further in the back seat because they throw themselves on their boot cuffs and get pushed back. 'Getting forward' has always been a subtle thing for me, not a push. Skiing is experential in nature and trying to analyze it too much might actually be counter-productive. For most people, the idea of being centered eventually will click or it won't.
Man those are really long techy answears.
I try to keep my weight sligtly on the balls of my feet but like to feel the pressure along the entire foot length.
I am constantly in motion and try to anticipate the next action my body will make from the always changing terraine.
Id rather be slightly pro active then responsive. I think of it as a ball mounted on top of a sping ( you really have to try hard to visualize that one)
Body mass vs gravity plus force= body position ,this changes always
OK I have to edit this because the answear about where my wgt is , is crap.If I am going into a turn that is where I like my wt to be but as I almost complete my turn ( this is a completed turn ) I like to feel my wht slightly more to the rear but never static.
A smart man once told me skiing the bumps is like riding a bycicle, this analogy holds true for all aspects of skiing.
Edited by Old Boot - 1/16/10 at 8:25am
My hip socket will stay stacked over my leg bones in line with my ankle no matter where I move my center of gravity if I am balanced.  I may rotate my femur, absorb forces coming up to me, ride up a bank in a ski park and my hip socket will stay in line with my ankle stacked with the bones in my legs to create no undue force on my skeleton or muscles if I stay in balance.  I stay in balance by adjusting my fore aft position to slope and terrain I am on.  If i move my foot forward without a simultaneous movement from my hip to keep my bones stacked I will not be able to use my weight to control the pressure or apply pressure to the ski to bend it.  If i move my foot backward without a simultaneous movement of my hip to keep my skeleton stacked the same will happen and I will be out of balance and have a lack of strength in my turn.   If I head up a ramp wall and my feet take off ahead of me and I don't simultaneously move my center of gravity forward with my feet up the ramp I will end up laying with my head on the ground and my feet up the wall.  Basically, the actual hip socket stays above ankle and we must anticipate and move simultaneously to keep it here to stay in balance no matter what the slope, pitch or conditions are.

This stacking of bones happens no matter whether my CoG is inside my turn, on top of my skis or heading up or down a mogul if you want to stay in balance.
You keep your body where you need to as not to fall over?this changes in every situation. There im done LOL
Quote:
Originally Posted by roundturns

VSP , I just pulled a 10 year old Skiing Magazine from my stack with Jeremy Nobis on the front cover carving a great turn with the downhill leg extended, demonstarting the "Gorilla Turn" taught by Al Hobart. I bought Hobart's DVD on the gorilla turn and no here on Epic really ever acknowledged this movement pattern that I can ever remember. Maybe evrybody in the know thoought it was crap. I thought it was good stuff and its hard to believe its 10 year old now.

Excellent drill roundturns.   I remember the discussions we had here about it, and though I didn't call it by that name, I'd been using my own self devised  version of that drill for many years before that article.  In my DVDs I refer to it as high edge carving with a training wheel.

Sorry for the interruption, VSP, carry on with this great thread.  By the way, my simple answer to the "why" part of the question about hips forward is:  LONG IS STRONG.

OK, as the new kid on the block, let me take a crack before the "A" team comes in.

Technically, I don't care where the hips are, just where the Center of Mass is (or Center of Gravity).  In reality, well....

Where:
First the skis.
Skis have a "sweet spot" where they are equally flexed/pressured fore and aft to create a smooth arc when pressured at that point.
I'm not a ski engineer but I kinda thought that spot was marked on the skis and used as a reference for mounting the bindings but you can nail me to the wall on that one.
So now I have a single point on the skis that is where they have balanced pressure fore and aft.
BB calls this the Point of Contact or Center of Pressure in his Encylopedia I believe.  Some have it called the Base of Support.
The reaction force from the snow that pushes back at you is perpendicular to the base of your skis at that point.
BB calls this the "Line of Action" and LeMaster calls it the "Axis of Balance".
This point is the inside edge of your outside ski somwhere between the ball of your foot and the back of your arch.
Go do some side slips and/or pivit slips in a line straight down the hill. Don't vary more than a boot width.
Gently come to a stop and feel where you are balanced over your feet.  Dat's da place!  Take a picture!  That's home.

Now the skier.
All of our body, boot and ski weight/mass can be represented by a single point.
We call this the Center of Mass (or Center of Gravity which is just a bit offset from the CoM)
While it can be represented as a single point it is not in a single place.  Your CoM moves as you and your body move.
If you stand up straight, this point is somewhere below and behind your navel.  If you just bent at the waist, it might be somewhere in front of your body.

So being in balance means your Center of Mass is somewhere along the Balance Axis (a line perpendicular to the Center of Pressure).
You can "play" about 1"-1 1/2" forward and back from that point depending on where you are in the turn and what you are trying to do. You can "work" further out from there.

Since we can't see out CoM (or CoG) we tend to generalize and say the "hips" but....

Why move the hips forward?
Cause the skis are going that way!  Well usually and mostly.  We want to stay up with the skis and we want to be balanced while doing it.

My tendancy is to try to stay a bit forward of this balance point because IMhO there are more things trying to move me backward from this position(fear being one of them) than there are trying to move me forward (just don't go into the bumps thinking that!)  and my reaction time is getting slower.

Two thumbs up for the thread topic, VSP!

Personally, I think that the current dogmatic trend to keep "hips over feet" (witness now at least three concurrent threads discussing the topic) is among the most devastatingly inaccurate and misinterpreted bits of technical dogma to come along in a good while. Although there may be some validity to some aspects of this notion, sometimes, it has screwed up a whole generation of instructors and their students in more ways than one.

While I have always maintained that it is not necessary to understand ski technique to ski well, any significant misunderstanding of ski technique destroys all hope of making a good turn. And the "hips over feet" doctrine does just that.

First of all, though "hips over feet" or "move the hips forward" seem to be a simple statements, they beg many questions, as others have already mentioned. What part of the foot? What part of the hips? What part of the turn? Do you mean "center of mass" instead of hips? (Embarrassingly, in our professional journal last season, there was an article suggesting that we equate hips and center of mass "for simplicity." That's a critical misunderstanding that leads to many false conclusions in itself!) Which direction is "over"? (Vertical? Perpendicular to the hill? Along the "line of action" or "balance angle" of the body? Other?) Forward of what? Feet? What frame of reference? Which direction is "forward" anyway? (Direction the skis point? Direction the body points? Direction you're going? Down the hill?) Do I need my hips to BE forward, to MOVE forward, or both? If they must move forward (whatever that means), does that imply that I must exert muscular effort to cause the movement?

And, most critically important, WHY? Why do I need my hips forward or over my feet? What is the purpose?

I sometimes envy snowboarders, who have often been able to escape such crippling dogma. There is no stigma against hips moving left or right (along the length of the snowboard), or of pressuring one foot (and one end of the board) or the other. Snowboarders are free to do whatever works, whatever causes the desired effect. They are free of skiers' historical prejudice against ever pressuring the back end of the ski, getting "in the back seat." We can learn from them!

To accurately address the wisdom of "hips forward," or "hips over feet," we must first answer all of my questions. Watching any great skier, we will very often see hips way behind the feet, feet "jetting" ahead of hips, and other such apparent contradictions to the advice to keep "hips over feet." How do we explain that?

Well, VSP, if that doesn't add some momentum to your original question, I don't know what will!

Carry on....

Is this representative?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick

Oh my goodness.... I spit beer out my nose!

Hey Reiter, we skied together in Ruapehu.  Glad you're well.
Quote:
Originally Posted by whygimf

Oh my goodness.... I spit beer out my nose!

Yep, whygimf, it's an attention getter of a drill alright!  Glad to hear my rendition of it passed the beer test!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes

Personally, I think that the current dogmatic trend to keep "hips over feet" (witness now at least three concurrent threads discussing the topic) is among the most devastatingly inaccurate and misinterpreted bits of technical dogma to come along in a good while. Although there may be some validity to some aspects of this notion, sometimes, it has screwed up a whole generation of instructors and their students in more ways than one.

Are you guys just trying to be contrary for sport, or what? Sure you don't want to take any of these rules as absolutes, but what are you guys trying to say? Don't get your hips over your feet? Say what you want about a whole generation of ski instructors, but there's also a whole generation of skiers who have never had their hips anywhere close to over their feet. WHo have never used anything but the tail of the ski.

Balance in skiing is a moving target, but I think it's fair to say that for the most part, most of the time, the hips need to be somewhere over the feet. The skier should be able to use the whole envelope.

So yes there are exceptions to the rule, but that doesn't totally invalidate the whole thing, does it?
Well said.

Your comments on snowboarders illustrate one of "Chetta" Woods best teaching thoughts; "there is no one way to hit a golf ball!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes

While I have always maintained that it is not necessary to understand ski technique to ski well, any significant misunderstanding of ski technique destroys all hope of making a good turn. And the "hips over feet" doctrine does just that.

First of all, though "hips over feet" or "move the hips forward" seem to be a simple statements, they beg many questions, as others have already mentioned. What part of the foot? What part of the hips? What part of the turn? Do you mean "center of mass" instead of hips? (Embarrassingly, in our professional journal last season, there was an article suggesting that we equate hips and center of mass "for simplicity." That's a critical misunderstanding that leads to many false conclusions in itself!) Which direction is "over"? (Vertical? Perpendicular to the hill? Along the "line of action" or "balance angle" of the body? Other?) Forward of what? Feet? What frame of reference? Which direction is "forward" anyway? (Direction the skis point? Direction the body points? Direction you're going? Down the hill?) Do I need my hips to BE forward, to MOVE forward, or both? If they must move forward (whatever that means), does that imply that I must exert muscular effort to cause the movement?

And, most critically important, WHY? Why do I need my hips forward or over my feet? What is the purpose?

I sometimes envy snowboarders, who have often been able to escape such crippling dogma. There is no stigma against hips moving left or right (along the length of the snowboard), or of pressuring one foot (and one end of the board) or the other. Snowboarders are free to do whatever works, whatever causes the desired effect. They are free of skiers' historical prejudice against ever pressuring the back end of the ski, getting "in the back seat." We can learn from them!

In' rick's picture the ankle is in line with the hip socket, this is what I'm referring to by the bones are stacked/inline.  If he did not have his bones stacked in line with the forces from the bent ski and the hip was behind or ahead of the ankle (though it is inside the turn), he would be out of balance and have a weaker force to bend the ski with.  As he absorbs the pressure he will fold but the hip socket will stay inline with the active ski ankle so he can apply the most pressure or absorb it efficiently.  He would not have the same weight, muscle and pressure available if he moved the hip either forward or back, he would be in a weaker position.  This is so hard to explain in written form!  But Im glad that picture is there, I'm not saying keep the hip over the ankle, I'm saying to have the most efficient use of force, muscle, weight and skeletal frame the hip socket will be in line with the ankle much like when we walk, run and jump, we realign to what ever position and make sure on landing the bones are stacked to absorb forces as equally as possible over the skeleton so as not to have a weak area take all the force and something get injured.  Best to have all area work in sync.
Quote:
Originally Posted by HardDaysNight

OK, I'll bite.

Whereas the advice to "keep your hips over your feet" is useful and often helpful, it's technically inaccurate. Looking in a sagittal plane, we should really talk about the centre of gravity (not the hips) and the feet being aligned with respect to the balance axis. The balance axis goes through the CoG and is perpendicular to the bottom of the skis. Unless we're standing straight up, the axis is inclined at the same angle as the resultant vector of the sum of the force of gravity and centrifugal force. So, having our balance over our feet means that the balance axis passes through the feet usually somewhere between the balls of the feet and the back of the arch. In a flexed, neutral stance, the hips themselves are behind the CoG and the shoulders in front of it. Standing up taller moves the hips forward and the shoulders back if the CoG doesn't move fore/aft.

In the frontal plane, the strongest skeletal alignment of the outside leg (which obviously bears the majority of the load in a carved turn) is such that a line drawn from the CoG to the inside edge of the outer ski passes through the head of the outside femur (which sits in the acetabulum of the hip). In that sense, the hip is also aligned with the foot, unless the knee is kinked in - this isn't what is usually meant by "hips over feet'.

So, precisely where our balance axis should intersect with our base of support depends on the phase of the turn but the range for ordinary skiing in balance is somewhere from ball of foot (most forward) to the back of the arch (most aft). There is an optimal neutral point for each pair of skis based on certain design characteristics which it is worth testing out on the slopes (pivot slips are good for this).

There are some wrinkles. First, the position of the CoG is not fixed, but changes as the relationship of body parts vary with respect to each other - and may even lie at a point outside the body. Second, skiers are not always in balance; in turn transition, the skier deliberately allows the balance axis to pass out beyond the base of support so as to create an imbalance that topples the CoG into the new turn. Then the skier reestablishes his balance axis in the new turn.
HDN- great effort! This is a solid treatise for the positioning of the CM, with relative mention of the sole of the foot. But it still does not give any specific or precise of why/where we want to be physically positioned over the feet. Should the CM be positioned relative to the feet, or should the feet be positioned relative to the CM in the examples you have given?
Should you keep your feet under you or should you stay on your feet?

Where?
Usually, though not always, at the apex.
Also, quite often, at transition.
Rusty- I'm going to comment on parts of your post. I'm not looking to humiliate anyone- just trying to dispel some fallacies that seem to be endlessly recycled till they are accepted as truths.

Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty

Ahhh VSP, getting feisty are we?

Aside from the obvious answers of it depends and you've answered your own question, I'll take a stab at public self humiliation....

"Exactly where we want our hips over our feet" has 2 problems: we don't want to be in a static position and physical and gear differences have an effect on the optimal location.  Static will get covered in the next answer. For a reference (or average) position we want the hips to be positioned vertically somewhere between over the heels and over the toes. One reason for this is to let the skeleton support body mass instad of muscles.

Ideally we want to have our reference position put our center of mass over the sweet spot of the ski so that we can bend it most efficiently and have the most flexibility over managing tail and tip pressure while simultaneously giving us ankle, knee and hip positioning that is in the center of the range of motion to be used for those joints.

This is a very good statement, Rusty, but the preceding statement does not support this idea. The idea of stacking the skeleton is great when dealing with a static position. But when it comes to the movements of skiing and remaining in balance at the same time, "stacking" goes out the window. Yes, we can still use the skeleton to a certain degree, but there is a necessary flexing of joints and the subsequent muscular involvement to achieve the range of movement you suggested.

Exactly where this position is is not important because there is a range of positions where we are able to ski effectively and efficiently. Anywhere in that range is effectively "good enough".

This is where I will have to disagree with you- Exactly is IMPORTANT! Thats why I started this thread! Good enough is not good enough! "Exactly" is where our benchmark must be- all variations should come from that point to be accurate and relevent.

For people skiing with their hips behind their heels, most instructors don't worry about telling students exactly how far forward they need to be because it's highly unlikely they will be able to move too far forward. It is unfortunate that students will take advice given to them specifically, experience good results from that advice and then repeat that advice to others for general consumption. With the inevitable "telephone tag" dilution of the message, we get what we have in that other thread: "failure to communicate". Oops - wrong movie. Do you remember the "grapevine" scene in Johhny Dangerously?

VSP - You know this grapevine. You know the "prisoners" passing the message don't really understand the content of the message. You know that most instructors can't tell the difference between gear and technique as causes for weight too far back. And you know that almost all intermediates and low experts have some technique driven problems staying with their skis (i.e. failing to move their hips and getting caught in the back seat) even if ill fitting gear is the primary source of their problems. Finally, you know that it does not really matter what students think about how they move their hips forward (e.g. via ankle, knee and/or hip movement) or exactly how much because their perceptions are rarely accurate. At the end of the day, "flex your ankle", "bend your knees", "knees over the toes", "expose your belly button to the wind", "stand taller", etc. can all be intended to solve the same problem and be either brilliant or totally useless depending on the specific situation. And when these words of advice are reapplied outside of that situation they are most likely to be useless. Unless Johnny D is at the end of the grapevine.

Experienced instructors have a bag of tricks containing generic solutions that have worked for them and other instructors in the past. It's a crap shoot when they reach into their bag for a solution to a problem. Better instructors have more tricks and know to keep pulling tricks out until they find one that works. The best instructors can diagnose the problem well enough to choose "THE" trick that will solve the problem. When those pros try to change the hip position, they'll know where is for that one student by looking and know that exactly where does not make a bit of difference because the advice can't be reused. I tell my students "Tony knows how to ski" (toes, knees and nose in vertical alignment). It's an over simplification, but it's advice resistant to telephone tag syndrome and won't cause a lot of harm if it's reused.

So why do we want to move our hips forward? One reason is to stay with the skis. It's the difference between the skis pulling us down the hill and us riding on top of the skis.
Again, I'm going to have to disagree with you on this-. You have this exactly backwards! Though I could write pages on this, I'll try to keep it brief.

What is skiing? Is it our equipment taking us for a ride, or is it us going for a ride on our equipment? You may think I'm splitting hairs, but the difference is what separates the average or good skiers from the gifted skiers. And I believe everyone, with the right coaching can be "gifted".
The "gifted" skiers use their core as the center of their skiing experience. Just like a WC racer- the goal is to manage the core in a way which promotes the most effective/ efficient achievement of whatever mission they set for themselves. The legs, feet, skis are used to support that mission, not the other way around! The average skier is too focused on the mechanics of the turn, rather than the mission.
Any skier who has felt this level of skiing, even if only for a few turns, will never forget it! It becomes virtually effortless, with effectiveness beyond imagination!

Another reason is to increase tip pressure so that the ski tips will engage in the snow and push us into the next turn.
Here again, a statement which is unsupported by modern technology. The tips of modern skis are wide enough, that very little pressure is necessary to achieve the engagement required to initiate a turn. Given the flex patterns of most contemporary skis, too much pressure to the tip will actually cause it to 'stall'  and can make the ski unstable at that point in the turn.

Racers may sit back on their tails at the end of a turn to accelerate the skis forward. Recreational skiers may only need to let the skis "catch up" vs forcing them ahead. But we all need some relative aft movement through the end of a turn so that we can begin the new turn with forward movement to create tip pressure and be in a position to get pushed as the skis accelerate down the hill. Finally, if forward movement is started from a countered position, then that movement facilitates the edge change of the inside ski (from wedge turns through parallel). The amount of movement may be too small for many skiers to be consciously aware of, but some movement can make a huge difference. We don't have to ski this way but we can gain either efficiencies or speed if we do.

Logic? We don' need no stinking logic! I just made all this stuff up. I may not have used physics, anatomy, ski design, and contemporary technique to support my ideas, but I did use spell check! Have fun. Chew it up. Hopefully, I'll learn something.

Better have your spell check checked! Also the grammar check!  (joking)

Quote:
Originally Posted by epic

Are you guys just trying to be contrary for sport, or what? Sure you don't want to take any of these rules as absolutes, but what are you guys trying to say? Don't get your hips over your feet? Say what you want about a whole generation of ski instructors, but there's also a whole generation of skiers who have never had their hips anywhere close to over their feet. WHo have never used anything but the tail of the ski.

Balance in skiing is a moving target, but I think it's fair to say that for the most part, most of the time, the hips need to be somewhere over the feet. The skier should be able to use the whole envelope.

So yes there are exceptions to the rule, but that doesn't totally invalidate the whole thing, does it?

Good question, Epic. Yes, I am challenging this "new conventional wisdom" partially for sport--because I believe that true understanding begins with asking questions and challenging "wisdom," not from blindly accepting the ideas of others. I am also serious, though, about the real vagueness of the deceptively simple phrases, "hips over feet" and "move hips forward," as I detailed in my previous post. And I am seriously dismayed in observing sometimes entire ski schools whose skiing betrays a profound misunderstanding of these "simple truths."

Yes, there are exceptions to most rules. But in this case, "hips over feet" is far from a rule. Casual observation of great skiers reveals that it is not often even a reality.

Considering the extreme, imagine what disaster would result from trying to keep the hips vertically over the feet when dropping into, then skiing up the far wall of, a half pipe. Moguls, with their troughs resembling small half pipes, are much the same, requiring that the feet move actively forward and back relative to the center of mass (as well as the hips!) for balance. And of course, turns are well-described by the concept of the "virtual bump." Even on smooth snow, turns require accurate and sometimes vigorous fore-aft movements of the feet relative to the center of mass (or vice-versa), simply to remain in balance.

To make it a little closer to a "rule," let's make a few assumptions in answer to my questions in post #12. Let's assume that, since it is the relationship of the center of mass and the base of support that determines balance, "hips over feet" really means "Center of Mass over feet." (For those who believe that the hips are even "almost" the same as the center of mass, I implore you again to question, rather than accept, what you are told! As a start, consider that for a high jumper doing the "fosbury flop," the entire body, including the hips, must pass over the bar, while the center of mass passes beneath the bar!) Let's also assume that "over" means "on a line from the feet perpendicular to the skis," not necessarily "vertically over the feet."

If the advice, then, becomes "center of mass should remain on (or forward of) a line passing through the feet and perpendicular to the skis," I will have slightly--but only slightly--less concern about it. First, as others have stated, we must maintain the freedom to adjust pressure along the length of the ski as needed, just as a snowboarder shifts pressure from foot to foot. Second, the dynamics of skiing--the dramatically and rapidly changing inertial forces involved with turning, changes of pitch or snow consistency, and other accelerations of both the feet and the center of mass on their separate paths--require that the "rule" be broken often more than it is obeyed, simply to remain "balanced" over the sweet spot of the ski. Again, fore-aft movement--constant forward or back movement--is vital for dynamic skiing. Considering that, how crippling is the advice to keep the hips--or any other body part--OR the center of mass--over the feet, or "over" any other static reference point?

So keeping the cm "over" the feet is, at best, too static a reference for such dynamic activity as skiing. How about "moving the hips (or center of mass) forward" (or pulling the feet back, which amounts to the same thing, depending on your frame of reference)? At the very least, that would give us permission to move correctly when dropping into that half pipe, or bursting out of a start gate. But what about going up the other side of the half pipe? Nope!

Whatever "rule" we adopt, it must allow for the feet to move forward beneath the center of mass as we traverse the bottom of the pipe, and then move forward even more as we ascend the far wall. In a pipe, feet move from more-or-less horizontally behind us (behind our cm) to directly underneath us, to horizontally in front of us. (Again, a half pipe may be an extreme example, but the principle is representative of what happens in all skiing.) If we substitute "perpendicular to the skis" for "vertically over," it does come a bit closer.

Now, let's look at turns. Our half pipe example is simple--as we drop in, ski across the bottom, and then up the other side, we travel essentially the same direction--"forward"--the whole time. "Forward" is fairly unambiguous--it implies straight ahead, the direction we're going. But in linked turns, our direction of travel changes constantly. And our body remains "countered"--usually facing a different direction from the skis. Furthermore, our feet travel on separate paths from our center of mass, traveling both a different direction and a different speed."Forward" is suddenly not so clear, is it?

One way to simplify would be to define "forward, back, left, and right" in relation to the slope, not to the body or the direction of travel. In this case, "forward" would mean "down the hill," regardless of what direction your body or skis are traveling at any moment. And, at least through the all-important initiation and first half of a turn, this definition of "center of mass (or even hips) forward of feet" will usually apply. Yes, the center of mass must (usually) move downhill (ahead) of the feet in the initiation and much of the control phase of the turn.

Now, here's the kicker. Consider that, in linked turns, the feet always move faster than the body (cm), as they travel on a longer path outside the arc of the body. This fact requires that the feet literally pass the center of mass in every transition, moving beneath and ahead of the body (relative to the body's direction of travel), while the body takes a beeline shortcut on the inside line, cutting the feet off at the pass, so to speak. That's right--when transitioning from a left turn to a right turn, the feet must obviously move from the right side of our body (in the left turn) to the left side of the body in a right turn. Since we're traveling at least somewhat across the hill in this transition, that means that (relative to the body's direction), the feet move from behind the center of mass to in front of the center of mass, even as the body crosses over and moves downhill of the feet, into the new turn.

It all sounds right if we describe direction relative to the slope, rather than the body. The center of mass moves downhill of the feet ("forward"), while the feet move from the right side of the body to the left side. But envision it (as I submit most people will) from the perspective of the skier's body, and the feet must clearly move "ahead" of the body in the transition.

Now, compare these thoughts with the common interpretation of moving the body "forward and diagonally" at the beginning of the turn. This is the concept commonly known as "foragonal" (east) or "forwagonal" (Colorado) movement--a trendy concept that I resolutely reject..

As the illustration shows, there is some truth to this idea--the body does travel diagonally (relative to the feet) and "forward" down the hill through the transition. But here's the catch: the feet don't stop moving!  As the body moves into the turn, the feet travel even faster in a slightly different direction. So, at least relative to the feet and the direction of travel, the body moves backward and diagonally in the transition, as the feet pass beneath it! Again, this is the part of the turn where the feet must pass the body on their longer, faster path. Look at it as a lateral move--the feet move from right of the body to left, as the body moves ahead (downhill) of the feet, and it makes sense. Look at it from uphill, or from the perspective of the skier's direction of travel, though, and it surely gives the impression that the skier is "in the back seat" for a moment. But he isn't--his CM is downhill, clearly "ahead" of the feet, from that perspective.

Here's another look, from a familiar diagram:

Observe the transitions, for example frames 3-5. In the left turn, the skier's feet are, obviously, to his right. At 3, they are still somewhat to the right (on the diagram)--but behind the skier relative the his direction of travel. At 4 ("neutral," where one turn ends and the next begins) his feet are directly beneath the skier, but moving from right to left (on the diagram) faster than the skier. By 5, the feet are now to his left (relative to the hill)--clearly "in front" of his center of mass and hips relative to his direction of travel. From his perspective, in figure 5 the skier is "in the back seat," although he is also clearly downhill of his feet. By 6 and 7, when pressure is re-established on the ski(s), the "shortcut" his body takes puts his center of mass quite clearly where most people think it should be--both downhill of and (from his perspective) somewhat ahead of his feet (especially if measured from the line perpendicular to the skis and slope).

I cringe when I see instructors--or their students--try to "move the body (cm, or worse, hips) forward and diagonally" of the feet to start a turn. The transition cannot be smooth with this thought, and the edge engagement cannot possibly be clean. How could it be clean, when you are literally moving your body to the left side of your feet to start a right turn? How could it be smooth when the body suddenly (and through muscular effort) moves faster than the feet, which must slow down and stay "behind" in order to create the movement? Furthermore, how can the transition be smooth and continuous, no matter what movements you make, if you start those movements to initiate the turn? Note in both illustrations above that the relative movements of the feet and body through the transition are the "middles" of movements that began much earlier, and that merely continue through the transition.

Yes, the ideas of "hips over feet," hips moving forward of feet, and "forwagonal" movement of the hips into the turn (relative to the feet) cause so very much misinterpretation, misguided instruction, and frustratingly poor turn transitions, that I stand firmly by my contrariness! While there are glimmers of truth, the confusion and downright contradictory outcomes when many people misinterpret these "truths" have created a major problem that has stunted the growth of skiers from beginner through the highest levels of instructor.

How's that for sport?

Best regards,
Bob
Here are a few illustrations and animations of great skiers that clearly illustrate the points I have tried to describe in my previous post:

Bode Miller, by Ron LeMaster (www.ronlemaster.com)

Competitors at a Noram GS at Keystone, by Bob Barnes

No--it's not a new thing! This video was shot in 2001.

More GS...

Tanya Poutiannen, by Ron LeMaster

Michael Janyk, by Ron LeMaster

Cyprien Richard, by Bob Barnes

Erik Schlopy, by Bob Barnes

Enjoy! Spend some real time looking at these images, and imagining what the skiers would look like from various perspectives. Look at the smoothness of the transitions ("float phase"), and the cleanness of the edge engagement, once pressure is re-established after the transition. Observe the skis moving quickly beneath the body, from one side of the slope to the other, even as the body moves downhill ("ahead of the feet") into the turn.

Despite what may appear to be "in the back seat," in no case are these skiers out of balance or, in fact, "in the back seat"!

Best regards,
Bob

How about the average intermediate skier who is relatively static over their skis (compared to a WC racer), who does not create angles and who has trouble initiating a turn because they are so far in the backseat and hesitant to release the old turn?

These people are "passangers" on strage sliding objects and they are often taken for a ride. Do we talk to them about WC racers and perfection? Do we talk to them about driving with the core and trusting the skis to "come around" or "catch up to the body" in a highly dynamic turn that 1% of skiers can really achieve?

My point is that hips over feet may often be "close enough", in the way Newton's Law is close enough, even though Einstein's Theory of Relativity is the more accurate description of what is going on in our universe.

Great photos Bob. But those are the best athletes on Earth doing a single run that takes one minute and thirty seconds. Next time I am teaching level fours out of lineup and they look like they are taking a crap, should I just work on something else?
It is about alignment for me gang. Alignment and forces. The greater the forces the great the need to have alignment. when we have alignment and we are experiencing the substantial forces of skiing our body acts as a conduit of sorts, we have the feeling that the forces are passing through us. As we get out of alignment and we are experiencing the same forces then the body becomes a kind of pressure cooker. We have to find tension to contain that pressure or it will release somewhere.

As we release the forces to move from turn to turn, alignment is only dictated by type of transition we make. We can make anticipatory movements at these times that project our alignment into the future, giving up momentary alignment as we let our goals and intent drive our movements. We can also give up foot up balance at this point and let other parts of our body drive our balance at this point with no negative consequences if we are moving accurately.

Out of alignment with forces present leaves us feeling like we are being pulled around by our skis playing catch up and having to keep the forces bottled up within us liek a pressure cooker. Having alignment with forces present have us feeling like we are being pushed through the turn with the forces passing through us. this living posture is the mother of all possibilities and will find soft, elastic, and versatile, while the previous will find us tense, static, muscling everything.

My quick thoughts, and I didn't read everyone's answer, so hope I'm not repeating anything.

Just to add a thought, alignment is not a static position and alignment does allow range of motion.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick

LONG IS STRONG.

This is a good thread, with many impressive explorations of common themes going on.  Thumbs up to Bob and VSP for that effort.  My concern is that with the depth of the discussion, the learning value for the average reader may become lost.  Do carry on with sorting the fine details, guys.   I'll just throw in some semi KISS (keep it simple stupid)  thoughts for the average Joe and Jane reader to ponder.  You will have devote a bit of thinking in reading this, but it will be worth the effort.

While skiing, forces are always acting on our body.  At times they can be massive.  In the photo above you can see the magnitude of those forces at work.  In that photo I'm carving at a moderately high speed, and the forces are so strong that even though my Center of Mass is way inside my outside foot, the forces are actually beginning to lift me up and pendulum me over the top of my outside ski.   As evidence of that, notice that my inside ski is lifted right off the snow.

I'm not a little guy.  I stand 6 feet tall, and have tree trunk type thighs born of 46 years of intense skiing.  To be able to lift my lug of a body speaks to the magnitude of the forces I was encountering in that picture.  Yet I was able to sustain that force load rather comfortably, because my outside leg was extended.  This is what I mean by "LONG AND STRONG".  By extending my outside knee, my hips move over my feet, the bones in my outside leg become aligned, and my stacked bones easily assume the duty of resisting the forces acting on my body.  It allows my muscles to relax.

It's easy to self discover the greater force resistance strength found in an extended leg.  Just stand up, flex your knees to 90 degrees, and see how long you can remain in that position.  Gravity will quickly have your leg muscles burning.  In contrast, you could stand with extended legs for hours, because your stacked bones are bearing the load.

Skiing is a dynamic sport.  Between transitions and undulating terrain, we do not maintain an extended outside leg at all times, but once we get into the middle of a turn where forces are building, a long outside leg is an important goal to strive for.  Many recreational skiers perpetually ski with the outside leg overly flexed and their hips behind their feet, not only during transitions, but through the entirety of each turn.

Overly flexed knee, hips behind feet, aft balanced

It creates multiple problems for them.  Not only does it overly tax their leg muscles and lock them into an inefficient stance, it usually moves their balance point aft, degrading the performance of their skis.  It also makes learning the most basic balance and edging skills needed for higher level skiing a virtually impossible task.

Even when the ankles and waist are flexed forward enough to leave the skier center balanced, this overly knee flexed and hips aft stance, when held all the way through a turn, is still weak one which compromises performance.

Center balanced, but overly flexed knee.  Weak stance.

The first order of business in to get a skier with a default hips-aft stance such as these to stand up.  Extend the knees and get the hips back over their feet.  From there, basic skiing skills can be better learned and refined, and more dynamic transitions and edge angles can be learned by venturing in and out of this home base stance.  At even the highest levels of skiing, this long and strong outside leg will be observed in the middle of a turn.  While severe ranges of flexion will be seen through transitions, and fore/aft balance states will be utilized at different stages of a turn, long and strong and center balanced is almost always returned to at each turn's apex.  Look at Bob's montages and you will see it happen in each one.  It's for good reason great skiers do that.  As the forces of a turn grow, a long and strong outside leg makes light work of them.
I like this statement by Bob:
Quote:

One way to simplify would be to define "forward, back, left, and right" in relation to the slope, not to the body or the direction of travel. In this case, "forward" would mean "down the hill," regardless of what direction your body or skis are traveling at any moment. And, at least through the all-important initiation and first half of a turn, this definition of "center of mass (or even hips) forward of feet" will usually apply. Yes, the center of mass must (usually) move downhill (ahead) of the feet in the initiation and much of the control phase of the turn.

This is a great thread!  and while this is the D team's mantra this year I agree it is easily misunderstood.  The best visual or sensation for me has been to continually move the cg. down the hill and minimize the settling or"back and in" movement prevelant in so many skiers.  While I find it very difficult to communicate every little detail and nuance of the sensations through the transitions, I know it's good when I feel it and the feeling is a connected balanced feeling throughout the turns.  I also know that seeking and achieving this sensation repeatedly on groomed corduroy is much easier than off piste or in more challenging snow surfaces.  It comes down to feeling balanced against the ski and the subsequent forces throughout the turns, and there is no "position" for this.
BOB I really like the visual assistance, unfortunatly you can't process the information fast enough when skiing or we could just carry the diagrams with us and check body position vs point of turn in referance to the "map"
I find this question real interesting all in it's own , can a developing skier tell when as VSP pointed out when he has felt the "feeling" of the skies passing across your body with no effort and into the next turn?
I only ask this, and VSP or you can take a stab at it ( I know its off the thread a bit but u2 have me thinking) At what point is a skier truely aware of that feeling for the first time, just the mention of the feeling might have strong up and commers thinking " was that the feeling:" ?
VSP - "So my questions are simple- though I know the answers will not be (though they should be)-"

So what is the simple answer, VSP?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
Return Home
Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › Where do we want our hips over our feet? Why do we want to move our hips forward?