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Pressure on the front of the boot....

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
that seems to have been the mantra ever since my first lesson.....

Last week I took a leval 7 bump lesson while vacationing in Utah and the instructor (PSIA Level 3) told me that no, I shouldn't be doing that. ????

Can someone explain this to me?
post #2 of 18
Hi Maggie,

That's a great question. One I've been struggling with since I started teaching. In our clinics, and training a lot of instructors keep telling me that we should be teaching the student to "Pressure the front of the boot" and yet every time I take lessons and do guided practice I'm told not to "pressure" the front of the boot. So "what to tell the student?"

I like to tell my students maintain contact with the front off the boot but it's not necessary to create lots of pressure there. Many old time skiers/instructors have this habit/technique from when we had to pressure the front of the boot in order to leverage and pressure the front of the ski. The new skis don't need this kind of input. We find that we need to keep contact with the boot to keep our balance in the right place but "Pressure?"

So on to your question and the explaination.

Often we find that in order to get the student to move "over the center" of the ski we have to move their weight forward (get them out of the back seat) if we just tell them weight foward they often hunch over the toes and stick their butt out but it doesn't accomplish the goal. The idea is to move the CM so it is aligned with a good balance point. Usually this is just behind the ball of your foot or in front of the arch. The way that seems to work is to tell the student to pressure the front of the boot. Better instructors will use a variety of images to get their student centered. I like to use experiences from other sports. Since skiing and balance are a very dynamic thing, constant pressure is not as important dynamic balance. I like to think of tennis: Think about getting to receive a serve, or Basketball: Jump shot or ready to receive a pass. I think a lot of the newer instructors (including myself) do not have the huge bag of tricks to come up with all these different ways to get their students centered and since pressure on the front of the boot seems to move our students forward, we use that one. and it works until another instructor has to break the habit.

It's almost like over doing an action to learn it, then backing off to get the subtle results you want.

Let me think about this some more and I'll put up some more thoughts. I'm sure several other instructors here will have something to say too.
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks dchan.

Sigh.... I guess it's just another case of having to leave something behind in order to take it to the next leval. Guess that's a good thing then, means I'm improving my skiing....

Kinda blows to pot the day I spent one legged skiing with the instructor telling behind me saying "see? if you don't have enough pressure on the front of your boot you can't turn"!!!

Latest instructor's take on that was - Your leg's turn the ski. I'd like to see HIM get down this bowl just with pressure on the front of the boot.

Hopefully I'll be able to remember the feeling next year! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #4 of 18
dchan, great explanation. as a former pencil ski skier who rode 204cm Dynamic VR27 SL at 155 lbs soaking wet, I used to have to drive pretty hard against the boot to initiate turns under 20mph.

when I returned to skiing in 1999 after a ten-year hiatus, excessive forward pressure was one of my most difficult habits to break. I still do it in steeps with big bumps, and it is dumb.

contact with the tongue is the most one needs. all else should happen at the feet first.
post #5 of 18
Contact IS the better word. I have folks hoist their toes inside their boots as hard as possible while on the chairlift with their legs otherwise dangling and suggest that the amount of pressure they can generate that way is as much as they should need on the FRONT of the boot cuff for most turning applications.
post #6 of 18
I agree that you don't need much pressure for shorter, shaped skis to initiate a turn. Kneale's suggestion of "amount of pressure" is really, really good! However, there are situations where you have to turn it up a notch in order to get that tail to slide around (such as an edge set or a turn that has to be quickly tightened via a "scarve"). Controlling your skid via shin pressure is still a desireable skill. Of course, due to the wider shovels and shorter skis the pressure is less than before, but contact alone will not do in many situations.

I find that some skiers rely too much on the shape of the ski to negotiate a turn. More and more skiers ride the turn in a very static position afraid to change turn shape or pump out quick turns, which require much more shin pressure and inside ski action. Shaped skis can buy a decent turn for almost any decent skier. But if you want to override the shape of that turn, shin pressure, an active inside ski and edge angles are options that you have to master.
post #7 of 18
Another analogy:

The front of your boot is your "gas pedal"
The back of your boot is your "break pedal"
Where you put pressure and how much depends on your "driving style" - there is no universal answer. Racing turn - you always want to maintain pressure on the front of your boots; PSIA turn - you can stay "neutral", especially with the shaped skis.

post #8 of 18
Hi Maggie-
You are getting some great advice from TomB, Kneale, and dchan. I will agree with all they have been saying!

On the older(read" straight") skis, we had to lever forward and back fairly actively, to get the ski to do what we wanted. The idea of "pressuring" the front of the boot was also a means which many instructors used to get students not to sit back(kinesthetic awareness).

Enter shape skis. Softer, wider, shorter, etc. We no longer need the strong leveraging aspect. But steady contact between the shin and the tongue of the boot remains as a positive thing!

Now- for the rest of the story.....

Many skiers think that because we've(instructors) asked them to feel that contact, that it also means to be pressuring downward under the ball of the foot.


Appropriate stacking of the body requires that we be standing where the leg attaches to the foot. I've yet to see anybody whose leg attaches in the front half of the foot!!!

So- get used to the feeling of pressing down through the back half of the foot, while maintaining contact with the shin/tongue. This aligns the body more naturally, allowing the leg to effect stronger edge control, and directional control. All of this provides greater balance, and manueuverability.

Good luck, and don't get frustrated! :
post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
Vail sno pro...

"pressing with the back 1/2 of the foot"

think I'm there. I can remember when I first started skiing it was my quads that hurt.... then it became my outter thighs. Then nothing hurt for awhile.....

After 2 days of skiing last week, the back of my legs, behind my shins were very sore. This same instructor told me that alot of people, when learning to flex at the ankles get that.... sitting here at my desk, pressing with the back 1/2 of my foot I see where that would have made me sore!

My only frustration is that it's full blown spring in NJ and not another ski day to practice until Nov/Dec ~pout I NEED to move!! [img]smile.gif[/img]

Thanks for all the input guys!!!
post #10 of 18
Maggie- I almost for got to add-

For this stance to be effective, you must flex not only the ankle and knee, but also the hip. It may feel at first as if you are sticking your butt out, but in reality, you will be truly centered. Think of keeping the hip joint pretty much right over the ankle joint. Not sure where the hip joint is? (Most people aren't) Lift your knee to 90 degrees, several times. With the hand on the side that you are lifting, find where the femur and pelvis actually meet.

Many skiers keep the hips too extended, causing them to be "forward", pressuring the front of the boot. But they also sacrifice the ability to rotate the leg. Leg rotation is greatly inhibited when the hip joint is extended. Since edging/tipping movements are actually a rotational movement of the femur, they likewise are sacrificed.

Hope this helps :
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Vail snopro....

well, since I won't be getting out to Vail anytime soon, I'll just have to post a picture of me from last week. Then you guys can rip my stance to shreds! lol
post #12 of 18
Maggie- the only time I get into ripping and shredding is on my skis...

I've spent the last 28 years helping people, not ripping and shredding them!

(Unless somebody really pisses me off!!)

post #13 of 18
I think feeling the pressure on the tongue of the boot is a feedback of where the body is over the skis, you should not try to push the shins forward into the tongue.

To pressure the tips of the skis the only thing that has to be done is move the hips at the hip bones forward toward the tips, a couple of inches will do it, it is a rocking motion with no compensating movement. No other change has to take place, leaving the rest of the body to deal with balance, edging and absorbing. It means that by just rocking the whole body more forward, more pressure is applied to the tips of the skis.

And the feedback will be the feeling of more pressure on the tongues of the boots. One must never limit the free flow of the body by involving it in forward pressuring, that should be automatic, just as when starting to walk from a standstill. Notice that the first thing you do when starting to walk is move your hips forward in the direction you want to go, they always lead as long as you keep walking.

As you speed up your walk, the hips go forward more and vice versa. Even if you walked in high boots where you could lean back against them, you don't, rather while the weighted foot is still on the ground pushing you forward you feel pressure on the tongue.


Edited for clarification...

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 11, 2002 12:52 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Ott Gangl ]</font>
post #14 of 18
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by vail snopro:

So- get used to the feeling of pressing down through the back half of the foot, while maintaining contact with the shin/tongue. This aligns the body more naturally, allowing the leg to effect stronger edge control, and directional control. All of this provides greater balance, and manueuverability.

Vail snopro --

I think you've really nailed the description here. As a former straight ski skier, I have found that recognizing the need to maintain front contact yet maintaining weight on the back half of my feet has been key in taking full advantage of the "new skis". Once I sorted this out, I found a dramatic improvement in ski stability and edge control throughout the entire arc of the carved turn.

As dchan suggests, I think that part of the difficulty is the inherent tendency of all new skiers to be in the "back seat". By consciously forcing ourselves to the other extreme, we gradually achieve a more balanced stance on our skis. In time, however, the balanced stance becomes second nature, and I found myself having to unlearn the tendency to consciously force myself forward.

In other words, Maggie, I think it IS a case of leaving something behind to move ahead. By the way, I am also recovering from lower lateral leg pain after 2 solid days of working on ankle flex through my turns. And I thought that I had finally achieved the leg strength/conditioning I was aiming for this season... :

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ April 11, 2002 09:20 PM: Message edited 1 time, by BobY ]</font>
post #15 of 18

I congratulate you on noting where the leg attaches to the foot and asking us to think of our weight pressing through that place. Kneale's toe lifting helps flex the ankle for driving forward while getting the weight of the body mass to pass through the ankle to the arch-heel for effective pressure control.

That's good advice!
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
I KNEW you guys would all be able to sort this out for me.

Thanks all!

Guess this guy DID earn his tip! ~grin
post #17 of 18
Just to add a little confusion, Maggie:

VSP writes about pressing DOWN with part of the foot.

I find that raising the opposite sides of each foot (outside edge of the outside foot, inside edge of the inside foot) makes me less "tight" about my edge pressuring. In other words, if I press down on an edge instead of raising up on the opposite edge, I tend to stiffen the entire body alignment more.

An examiner friend of mine refers to VSP's hip flex as "cocking the hip" to assist in creating edging angles. My friend suggests developing a separation in the torso between the shoulders and hips and "twisting the hips slightly" without moving the shoulders significantly while letting the hips slide inside some to improve edge action. I think this is what I've heard others refer to as a "strong" inside hip position.

For me, I get the most dramatic edge bite with the most precise steering if I can allow (as opposed to MAKE) all the following to happen together:

Begin with feet equally weighted.
Raise the unedged sides of my feet.
Slide my inside hip forward and into the turn without "countering" in the shoulders.
Collapse the inside ankle so that foot doesn't move ahead while I edge/steer into the turn.
post #18 of 18

>>The front of your boot is your "gas pedal"
The back of your boot is your "break pedal"<<

I'm not so sure I understand that one. If you mean that if I push forward on the front of my boot that I will go faster, and that if I sit back, so that there's pressure on the back of my boot, I'll slow down, NOT! [img]tongue.gif[/img] If anythang, it's just the opposite. -------------Wigs :
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