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That one thing?

Ntq206Ntq206 Posts: 78 Baller
edited May 2011 in Technique & Theory
Hi everyone,

I've been lurking here for ages - it's fascinating reading for me.

Anyway, I'm a total rank beginner. I feel a bit awkward asking such beginner questions on here, because most of the skill level here is WAY out of my league.
(There was a similar thread previous to this - but I thought I might ask a question with a different twist.)
I started skiing about one year ago (turning 40 this year) - learned deep water starts and can now go back and forth behind the boat with my on side much much better than my offside.
My on-side is still pretty bad as far as skiing technique goes. On my offside (I'm RFF), I feel really awkward turning and getting any kind of angle whatsoever.
I'm skiing on a 67" HO Burner. I weight 160 lbs, 6' tall. So far, just free skiing.
I have a personal goal to at least try the course by the end of the year. Even if I only get 1 or 2. I really really want to get better, and I'll work at it.

So, here's my question: - (especially for those who may have coached real beginners)

If you had to pick "that one thing" that you have experienced as a coach that helps a novice skier out the most at this stage, what would it be??



  • mrpreussmrpreuss Posts: 133 Baller
    learning to set and hold good, solid position. Practice on the pylon with a handle. Copy your favorite pro skier. If you can, go get some good coaching or ask the best skier you can find to help you out.
  • BoodyBoody Posts: 613 Baller
    I would have to say hips and handle control. The connection, they go together. It seems like it takes years to get new skiers to get their hips up and commit to that position, and keep the pull coming from the hips, not shoulders. It's easier said than done of course but this is the first thing that needs to happen to ski well. Video tape yourself and the problems should be obvious, especially in slow motion.

    Oh, some of the best advice from a pro came from Kris LaPoint who told me to stand tall (got my hips up) easy concept.

    #2 thing - counter rotate (makes the ski turn).
  • HortonHorton Posts: 30,602 Administrator
    99% if my coaching is about "stack". (this is the only thing I have ever written that has held up for years)

    You need to find a way to keep your body in-line at all times. Everything else come after ....

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  • skibugskibug Posts: 2,126
    After 7 to 8 years of coaching (harping) at my wife; she finally got it last weekend. I second Boody, hips and handle. My wife could run the course at 15' of at 30 mph & sometimes 32 mph. She always pulled with her upper body; got across course, ski turns great (2006 X5); then she would be in a good stacked position coming out of the ball; but, always gave the position back to the boat. I think it has to do with a level of confidence that the boat is going to be there for you after you have been free of it in the preturn and rounding the buoy. It is that transition from being free of the boat to leveraging against the boat picking you up. I think a lot of poeple wind up in a good stacked position; but, wind up letting the boat win by not getting the HIPS UP & HANDLE DOWN.

    My suggestion to the wife was "I don't care if you fall; but, when you round 2 ball (good side) RARE BACK AND DON'T LET THE BOAT WIN". This is not necessarily sound advice to a more advance skier; nor the right words, but it is a mind set and she finally got it. Sometimes I think that you have to tell someone (especially novice) to over exaggerate a movement to get them to feel what it should really feel like. Even now, with counter rotation, when I think I am really countered well, I look a the video and I am barely there.......
    Bob Grizzi
  • 94009400 Posts: 646 Crazy Baller
    I agree with Boody, don't worry about anything else until you can ski connected. Some people take forever to learn it (like me) and some people never learn it. Also read what Skibug wrote. Sometimes you have to get it jump started, then to truly feel fluid with it, there needs to be some softness with the legs to allow the ski and lower half to swing out. Connection is the key to comfortable direction, width, proper speed, etc.
  • ScarletArrowScarletArrow Posts: 822 Crazy Baller
    I've been skiing for the course for 5 years and I'm still a hack.

    I agree with everyone above.

    If your goal is to be a better skier as you free ski, then forget big walls of spray as you turn, pulling yourself out wide, etc.

    Focus on keeping your elbows connected to your vest when you are directly behing the boat - that's 80% of of the task, the rest is window dressing.
    Anthony Warren
  • MattPMattP Posts: 6,263 Mega Baller
    That one thing - Get some professional coaching. Yeah your ski buddies may know how to run the course and possibly into short line but sometimes great athletes do not make great coaches. I would advise you not to copy your favorite pro skier the techniques used to ski at a professional level are just that for professionals learning them first will just delay the improvements you can get from learning how to stand and ride your ski the correct way. Thats step one. @Ntq206 Where do you live? Is there a coach near by?
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,913 Mega Baller
    edited May 2011
    Totally agree on the body position behind the boat being the core foundation to everything. I worked on this almost exclusively for years, and I think it's the main reason that I got much better while a lot of other folks around my level back then have just stayed the same.

    One other note for when you do finally get into a course: "Just getting 1 or 2" may be quite a bit harder than you think. Because turning is much easier than what happens behind the boat (at least up through intermediate slalom skiing anyhow), once you can get 2 you're actually extremely close to getting 6. Don't let yourself get too frustrated if those first two buoys seem impossibly close together at first. Just keep working on your body position and they'll "get" further apart! Also don't be afraid to start at a Wicked Slow boat speed in the slalom course.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • Ntq206Ntq206 Posts: 78 Baller
    Thanks everyone for taking the time to reply to this. It is very helpful to me at this stage.
    I think it's clear to me one thing I should really focus on.
    I'm hoping to get many many hours behind the boat this year to get it right.

    I am going to really focus on getting my elbows into my vest and get that stack going. I don't know why I have such a tendency to roll my shoulders forward in the turn, which just sets up that horrid crunching forward position. I see what it "should" look like on video with good skiers. It's just getting ME to do it. ;)

    At the end of last year, my main target was trying to focus on staring down the pylon during wake crossing. I found that immensely helpful - I just need to work on getting that back - sort of lost the ability to do that over winter as I recently proved....
    Maybe just more time on the ski is needed and it won't feel so foreign.

    It's funny how what seems so stupidly obvious and simple on land is so evasive when I'm at the end of the rope.
  • BoodyBoody Posts: 613 Baller
    The reason this sport is so addicting is because its not easy (like wakeboarding) but you will improve with practice. Practicing the right things is a big part of the equation, but you will have to put in time on the water like all of us. But with practice comes improvement and you just need to keep at it. Take it seriously, get on the water as much as you can, and you will be chopping the line before you know it.
  • H2O_FootH2O_Foot Posts: 1
    Boody, I think your comment about practicing the right thing is really important. I always remember my music teacher telling me that if I didn't practice the right technique, all I would do is "get better at doing it wrong".
  • robscholl-OFrobscholl-OF Posts: 290 Baller
    I do agree with what has been said, but the one thing that has helped me most was, "Always try to ski with people that are better than you." It was very hard to do because I felt out of place, but skiing with the them, listening and watching has helped me most. I also found that most of the "Good/Great skiers" were more than happy to let me ski with them......OF
  • HortonHorton Posts: 30,602 Administrator
    For sure

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  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,913 Mega Baller
    Yep. With VERY few exceptions, serious skiers want to get more soon-to-be-serious skiers into the fold. When the time comes that I have to get a new ski partner (knock on wood not very soon, but he does sometimes sound like he's going to move to FL), by far the primary qualification will be dedication. Being a passable driver is a nice-to-have, but easy enough to learn. Current skiing skill level is totally unimportant.

    And I can also tell you that I did exactly that when I was in your position: I pretty much invited myself to ski with the best on the lake, and most of the time they were happy to have me along. The two things I brought to the table were a) showing up consistently and on-time and b) bringing my own equipment and gas.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
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