Finding an athletic position on your ski will provide balance, agility and power
Do you ever feel that your ski partners are coaching you to do things with your body that just aren't humanly possible? Perhaps this sounds familiar: “Get your hips up.” “Place the handle directly on your outside hip.” “Open your shoulders to the boat.” It's safe to say that your friends aren't trying to mislead you about your slalom technique, but what they're forgetting to tell you is that you need to feel comfortable on the water. If you feel as though you're contorting your body into nonathletic positions, chances are high that you're doing more harm than good.
Like any other sport, skiing is an athletic activity that requires natural athletic movements. These movements can only be achieved when your body is in a comfortable, balanced position. Let's call this position your “natural stance.”
To achieve a natural stance, start by practicing on dry land. Stand (without a handle in hand) with your feet shoulder-width apart. Flex your ankles slightly, and have the majority of your weight on the balls of your feet. Your head should be upright, hips neutral, and shoulders up and level. This stance is similar to that of a basketball, soccer or football player in a defensive position, or a tennis player a split second before returning a volley. It's a very balanced and agile position.
Now it's time to duplicate your natural stance, but in a slalom position with the handle tied to a tree. Do not lean back against the rope; just stand in this same poised position with the handle low (at or below your waist). Take a mental note of this position and work it into your muscle memory.
Once you understand the body mechanics of the natural stance on dry land, you're ready for a run behind the boat. To start, simply position yourself about five to 10 feet outside the left wake. Stay up and poised and begin to move back and forth across the wakes using your lower body (while maintaining a static upper body).
Resist the urge to get really wide in order to maintain control of your position. Edging from side to side 10 feet outside each wake is optimal. This is a great supplemental drill whether you enjoy open-water skiing or ripping up the course.
You will find that the natural stance is your ultimate leveraging position. Remember that as an athlete you should never compromise balance, agility or power. Trust me on this one and your skiing will reach new heights.
As soon as you lean back away from the boat, you will be on the tail of your ski and no longer have the ability to move like an athlete.
Seth Stisher, the owner of H2Osmosis Sports, is available for coaching at your site or his. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.h2osmosis.com for more information. Seth is sponsored by D3 Skis, Zeal Optics and Fogman Binding Systems.