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Hands and arms - position

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Having been taught for many ski lessons to keep my arms well forward, I've now been taught to have them further back and balanced/wider out to the sides. I have to say that this helps me to keep a better upright stance - i.e. less likely to be thrown back, and it has stopped my husband from swinging his shoulders around the turn.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
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p.s. I am pretty chuffed because there isn't a run in Lech/Zurs that I can't ski now ! Don't go saying that it's flat there... wink
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erica2004, it's fascinating to see how beginners, on being told to keep their arms in front of them, adopt a classic "sleepwalker" stance from kid's comics - arms sticking straight forward horizontally from the shoulders. On being told that they are actually allowed to bend their arms, they then adopt the "electricity pylon" position.

Glad to hear that you're loosening up a bit - once you can let your legs go floppy you'll be there Toofy Grin
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With beginners I usually encourage them to let their arms dangle a bit by their sides (no poles of course, and this allows their legs to work independently), but as they get better and for the majority of intermediate skiers I encourage them to push the inside arm forward like a signpost. this keeps the upper body in place and stops rotation dead in it's tracks. After about 3 days of doing this, if they relax their arm it drops into a naturally good position and they never get a recurrance of any rotation. It looks a bit silly, but works really well. I've noticed some of the French instructors copying this exercise lately - quite pleasing!

Strictly speaking your arms should be in front of the body and fairly wide with the inside/uphill arm always ahead of the outside/downhill one. the arms should be fairly extended, but not stiff.

Alan Craggs, I agree entirely - far too many teachers encouraging people to do the sleepwalk!! It does'nt help anything and can actually encourage rotation. Evil or Very Mad
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Best description I've ever heard (from Phil and Steve Mahre): keep your elbows in front of your spine and you hands wider than your elbows.
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ssh wrote:
Best description I've ever heard (from Phil and Steve Mahre): keep your elbows in front of your spine and you hands wider than your elbows.


Most encouraging; I don't think that I can get my elbows behind my spine, so I should be OK on that one.
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I was taught to pretend I was hugging a grizzly... of course you can move - balance requires this... but with your arms wide, up & forward you're pretty balanced anyway.
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Did anyone else ever get the "imagine you're holding a tea-tray" description? For my next trick, I shall be sliding down the slopes, silver tray held above my head with drinks jiggling ....hang on, no, that's cocktail trays. Dammit. Back to the tea and bickies.
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Manda, You beat me too it! I think the tea tray description is one of the better ones. It goes like this. Imagine you are carrying a tray and try to always keep it parralel with the fall line. It also helps you keep your shoulders parralel with the fall line.

Another little tip that helps is to imagine the pole as a gear lever. Now, when traversing to the left you plant your pole and, as you make the turn, push the gear lever from second gear into third. It directs your weight down the fall line and also stops the old downhill arm being left behind and the "body to the hill" rather than "body to the valley" syndrome!! Too many intermediates leave the arm behind and that is what pulls the shoulder round. This is made worse by the instrucors always looking around after the turn to watch their class. I actually met somebody a few years back who thought that was part of the turn! Puzzled
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Quote:

This is made worse by the instrucors always looking around after the turn to watch their class.


The instructors need to learn to ski backwards! Very Happy
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I don't think I've ever had trouble with my arm position - although other people might have different opions on this - but aren't they just there to help you balance and occasional help you start a turn? This thread makes it all seem very complicated. I kinda assumed that just so long as your skis/lower legs are doing what they should be doing the rest of the body just falls into place. Or am I being naive?
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I don't remember being told to look as if I was carrying a tea tray, but a friend and ski class mate of mine was told that he looked like a Japanese man sitting on the bog reading a newspaper, which oddly enough, he did (he was skiing at the time, not sitting on the bog reading a newspaper, BTW).

I'm pretty sure that the instructor felt that this was not a good look for skiing.
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rob@rar.org.uk, I think working on hand position is a question of helping the legs do the right things and hindering the body from doing the wrong things. That's the way I look at it, anyway!

Another tip I've been told is to keep the hands in the lower part of the peripheral vision.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Manda, & SimonN, The tea tray is generally used as an exercise to keep the body facing down the hill (particularly in short radius turns. This position would generally be conisdered a bit too extreme nowadays when we face more in the direction of travel than previously.

Alexandra, If you were hugging a grizzly, wouldn't your hands be a little high - they're quite large I believe! Shocked

ssh, Excellent description - they were great weren't they? I dearsay they still are. Very Happy

rob@rar.org.uk, Your arm and hand position can definitely hinder what your legs do (and consequently your skis). They can help considerably too - watch the arm position of the racers on TV and note how often they're in trouble if their arms fall back and how much effort they go to to get them forward again. laundryman, is right!
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easiski wrote:
Your arm and hand position can definitely hinder what your legs do (and consequently your skis). They can help considerably too - watch the arm position of the racers on TV and note how often they're in trouble if their arms fall back and how much effort they go to to get them forward again. laundryman, is right!


OK, thanks for that. A follow-up question if I'm allowed - would arm position be similar for all skiing conditions, or would it vary depending on what your were doing? For example, I've posted a few photos of me skiing on the snowHeads Media site (see link in my sig). My arm position seems similar when I was in fairly deep powder and while skiing through GS gates. I've never really thought about this, but would you recommend I change my arm position in either of these two circumstances?
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Instructors teach an exagerated stance knowing full well that as soon as their backs are turned arms drop and hands go backwards with them. I they taught a more realistic stance from the start we'd all relax into hands behind hips, weight back and all that goes with it. Learn the lesson early and don't have to relearn at 40 like me Sad
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rob@rar.org.uk, I can see no reason why anyone's arm position should be substantially different qhen ski-ing in different conditions. The same principals apply. Your arms look OK to me - could be a little more forward, but I shouldn't think I'd quibble much! Smile

rich, Not everyone teaches an exaggerated stance. In fact it's possitively passé nowadays! We do, of course, exaggerate with exercises (see Tea Tray), but that isn't the same thing. Your instructor should have explained this to you (and everyone else). I also find it does help a lot to explain what we're looking for in the final result - it makes more sense to the student. Smile
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What do people mean "hands behind hips"? And what is this "weight back" Rich? If my interpretation is right you're going wholly against the principles of good skiing... weight should be forward, you should be attacking the hill, not hiding behind your knees.
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Alexandra, yes no one ever told me it was bad to ski with my hands tied behind my back, my backarched backwards with my head touching the tails of my skis, you'd have thought someone would have said something rolling eyes rolling eyes
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richmond wrote:
ssh wrote:
Best description I've ever heard (from Phil and Steve Mahre): keep your elbows in front of your spine and you hands wider than your elbows.


Most encouraging; I don't think that I can get my elbows behind my spine, so I should be OK on that one.
Really? Most people can and do all the time! Especially, it seems, when skiing.
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rob@rar.org.uk, the hand position looks very good to me in those photos. Except maybe this one! snowHead
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rich wrote:
Instructors teach an exagerated stance knowing full well that as soon as their backs are turned arms drop and hands go backwards with them. I they taught a more realistic stance from the start we'd all relax into hands behind hips, weight back and all that goes with it. Learn the lesson early and don't have to relearn at 40 like me Sad
I don't understand what you're communicating here, rich, can you please help me understand?

I teach a relaxed but ready stance (much like one would use when waiting for a serve in tennis). If my students "relax to hands behind hips" then I would bet that their alignment is off, among other things.

What lesson do you think needs to be learned early? Thanks for helping this yank understand...
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I don't think either hugging or the tea tray work very well. They both tend to devolve into very static positions, which is not the point. The hands are used primarily as an aid to balance (including their use of poles). As a result, they should move fluidly (as the rest of the body), but return to a position that is forward and ready whenever they need to move to help with balance and/or a pole touch.
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ssh, those who teach skiing and some others are a bit prone to over analysisng what are often glib short posts (well mine are anyway) meant only to illustrate a small point not to be a complete and full explanation of 20 years skiing and the good and bad lessons learned in that time. The one and only point that I intended to make was learn the lessons early becuase it takes a damn site linger to unlearn bad habit later. Heard the comment once it takes 200 repetitions to learn something and 2000 to unlearn, sounds about right to me.
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ssh, Have you tried the variation of the tea tray with the poles balanced on top of the wrists? Palms should be facing downwards. I find this very helpful for people who wave a lot! It also helps the calmness of the upper body. You can do it either keeping the poles down the hill in the classic tea tray stance or more relaxed.

I find the tea tray useful for people with a serious rotation, or else in short radius turns to help them keep their body quiet, but otherwise I don't use it much. Hugging (but I use the classis scene from "10" with the person's own idol on the beach - not a grizzly) can also be helpful in some cases, but I would only use it as a "fix" not as an ideal way to hold your arms. I really like Alan Craggs' "sleepwalker and electricity pylon" image. Laughing

rich, Please don't tar us all with the same brush - some of us do explain!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Shocked
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easiski, I've done the pole balancing exercise at some point. Wasn't aware that I waved a lot though!
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rich, well, as an instructor, I want to make sure that I don't do what you've accused instructors of doing, here. I just don't get what you're suggesting I make sure to do! I get that unlearning is harder than learning, so I like to give folks something to do rather than something to stop doing. That said, you made some specific comments about hand position that I still don't understand: what's the "more realistic stance" that you think should be taught?
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easiski, I think the balancing one is fine. I think that the tea tray image tends to create a static stance with arms held out ahead. As with a tea tray, the rest of the body works to keep the hands still, and that's not really the goal. The hands should adjust as necessary to keep the rest of the body in balance, with an understanding that the best "neutral" position from which to do this is "elbows forward of the spine, hands wider than the elbows, naturally held".
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ssh, Have all that hand position stuff, trouble is I keep looking at the tea tray and dropping into the back seat!
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comprex, ha! Notice the beautiful scenery--look down the mountain! wink
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
what's with this tea stuff? in my lessons it's a tray of gin and tonics.
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Alan Craggs,
Quote:

what's with this tea stuff? in my lessons it's a tray of gin and tonics.

In My lessons it was only Headlights.....Not a drink in sight Sad
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Rich - the sarcasm was a little uncalled for.
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easiski, I've done poles on back of the hands too. V. interesting to try down a (relatively) simple mogul patch....the idea of having to hike back up hill to collect strewn poles is annoying enough to make one concentrate on one's form!

If I feel my upper body stance is a bit poor I'll use the tea tray, and/or the back of the hands, to check. Overly rigorous use of a tea tray tends to upset my balance tho, especially when I'm holding a tray of vin chaud in the other hand... Toofy Grin
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Manda, I have had similar with "gloves on the back of the hands". And there was a really "nasty" one where a bungee cord was looped round the knees-to keep it taut the knees had to be kept apart while skiing !
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comprex wrote:
ssh, trouble is I keep looking at the tea tray and dropping into the back seat!


I sometimes use a variation on this one, which does address the issue of focal distance - try holding the poles vertically, and imagining the view through the poles as a TV picture which you need to keep constant.
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snowbunny, THat ones's brilliant ! Tried it this year for the first time. It's my favorite exercise at the mo. I've also been playing with with holding my hands a bit higher, using longer sticks, seems to keep my back more open...
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Rich,
Keep your hands at the end of your arms (furthest away from your shoulder) at all times. Try to keep at least one hand in front of your hips during Apres ski.

Hope this helps
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DB, not unless you want the ladies to think you're a bit odd.... wink
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Okanagan, this is another one with which we must be careful. It can tend to cause a static upper-body as one focuses completely on keeping the head between the poles and looking downhill. There are better ones.

Perhaps the best one for hand position is "pole boxes". For this exercise, draw a box in the snow at the sides of your boots (yes, while you're standing still!). Place your pole tips inside the boxes and plan to keep those tips there, dragging in the snow, while skiing (note: this is a drill! This isn't correct skiing!). Then, do it. You'll discover all kinds of things about your stance and hand position. It really helps.

A variation on this gets the hands out wider and drags the poles, but is more for angulation than hand position.
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