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Hips open off the second wake?

HortonHorton Posts: 28,136 Administrator


  • Deep11Deep11 Posts: 221 Solid Baller

    @horton - apologies for the delay in getting this thread running, just come back to it now.
    For me hips open is something I've been working on for the past few months and it has helped me get consistent at 13, through 12 and into 11m.
    It's not so much a concept/theory but a how to do it approach which addresses :
    "Maintaining handle connection", "light on the line", "reverse C", "trailing arm pressure - (left arm going to one)", "quick edge change" "riding the handle to width"
    For all sorts of reasons all the above are almost impossible (for me anyway) to do, predictably, when trying to point the ski and hips to the shore.
    "Back arm pressure - (right going to one)" and "hips to the shore" , "countering off the second wake" etc are ideas I have struggled with to some good effect but it has never looked or felt easy. Moreover when comparing my gate shots to Rossi (one or two handed) or Brooks Wilson (photos below) there is no fluidity.
    "Back arm pressure" and "hips to the shore" after the midline means that you are fighting the pull of the boat to try and achieve the width - unless you are super strong, or timing is just right, the handle always separates from the hip resulting in an unbalanced (usually on the tail) position on the ski and loss of the direction you are actually aiming for. (This is always perfectly exampled when trying a new line length and going harder = get pulled up and go fast and narrow at one.)
    "Hips open to the boat" means for me engaging the best stacked position at about the first white water in order to store energy in the ski which is then allowed to release as you come up, using the trailing arm connection, to cast the ski out on to its inner edge. Keeping the hips open, critically, allows you to maintain the connection with the boat which in turn pulls you to width and allows you to keep balanced in the middle of the ski, all on a sustainable angle.

    1. The work zone is narrowed - white water to second wake.
    2. This does not mean giving anything away to the boat, or taking a narrow line, you are still leaned away during the edge change, in fact you can actually load harder with the reduced work zone as you are not fighting to stay down.
    3. Speed has to be maintained through the turn - taking a "hit" changes everything.
    4. The only time you can really practice this is the gate or free skiing.
    5. You do "counter" only a little later once you release
    6. So much easier on the body

    I realise that this is a diametric opposite to what many many skiers are working on, but this is a friendly forum so hopefully meaningful discussion follows ?- please don't flame me outright!
    Lots of you guys are much more experienced "thinkers" at this game than me and will no doubt be able to put this into better words, or rationalise why I'm wrong?
    Anyway I've done my best to explain this - taken ages! Think I prefer to be a lurker.


    The photos are of Brooks:
    1. Late load in the white water
    2. ski releases off the second wake
    3. Hips open whilst connected
    4. Countered in to the turn
  • ZmanZman Posts: 1,523 Crazy Baller
    Only a 32 off skier. But, when I have felt my best, the mental thoughts Kevin speaks is very much what I felt.
    Looking forward to reading thoughts from the smart guys @Horton reached out to.
  • doonezdoonez Posts: 150 Baller
  • A_BA_B Posts: 4,173 Mega Baller
    I'll give it a try - as a few things come to mind when you say hips open after the second wake.

    The most important for me is that there is a load transfer from the leading arm ( or both arms) to the trailing arm. So this is more of a pressure feeling in the hand.

    The transfer of load to the trailing hand/arm helps open your shoulders and the hips follow. The thought process ( and I know pendulum physics are a touchy subject to many, like green 3 balls to @OB), but, when you were a kid in a swing, how did you get high? You leaned back and then transferred weight to the front to carry the momentum out to your highest point, you didn't just lean back on the swing and stay there. The concept of transferring load to the trailing arm is sort of like swinging, you want to take advantage of the inertia going out. If you stay closed, the tight rope on the leading arm pulls you up and on a narrower path. In reality, you are just switching load to use as much rope and reach to run out on.

    The complicated part is that if you think of it, you are sort of countering before your counter into the turn, in the opposite direction. As you need to counter with level head and shoulders into the turn, which most will agree with, to have the best turn while carrying speed.

    @Horton and I discussed this a little out here at the beginning of the season, I think in one of the advanced topic threads. It is a difficult thing to do, and I do it much better into my offside. When you watch the top guys do it, it happens pretty fast and while they are pushing the ski out in front of them, so slow motion is probably the best way to see it and appreciate it. The trailing arm comes in tighter to waist with elbow bent, then extends out for the run out to the ball.
  • bogboybogboy Posts: 699 Solid Baller
    @AB, great point. Although (some) coaches and other skiers have told me that edging with leading arm pressure is an accelerator, and for 15 off skiers like myself that keeping the handle a little longer is good, which both do work for me, I have also been told that I have to keep the handle in the correct way, which means when it am holding on to the handle, and starting my counter, that I start to hold on to it with my trailing arm. Wow, so much to learn.
  • wtrskiorwtrskior Posts: 704 Crazy Baller
    edited November 2013
    In fairness to the discussion, without getting off topic, I petition to stop using the term "trailing arm" or "back arm". It's reference is often misunderstood and used to describe different arms depending on who you talk to (as in me, right now)... Is it possible to change this verbiage to: RH to 1 or LH to 2-4-6, something we can visualize and understand without having to confirm?

    As I sit and type this telling me "back arm" means nothing, and even when you try to visualize skiing, your back arm changes through a wake crossing and edge change. Its confusing to say the least...

    At any ski school I've been to I've never heard those words, only read them in articles or online. The coach always references which arm going in a certain direction, not back or trailing.

    IE I was told by a pro to keep straight and load my LEFT arm more in my pullout or towards 2-4-6. This helps me get width and maintain line tension before turning into the gates as I was narrow, turning in with slack.

  • bogboybogboy Posts: 699 Solid Baller
    @wtrskior, sorry, I meant leading, as rt arm going to 1,3,5 and lt arm going to 2,4,6.
  • wtrskiorwtrskior Posts: 704 Crazy Baller
    @bogboy no appology necessary and nothing towards you in particular, I've read articles from some of the best skiers in the world use these terms, and I still don't understand, LoL thanks for the clarification!!!
  • A_BA_B Posts: 4,173 Mega Baller
    Agree, back arm to some may mean the lead arm, as you are leaning away and back. Lead and Trailing arm seem to make some sense to me. Right is leading into 135 and left is trailing.
    Seems redundant to spell out the arm and the balls every time..
  • mwetskiermwetskier Posts: 1,329 Mega Baller
    @AB -a lot of people misunderstand how a swingset works. the only way to increase your swing and get high is add energy to the system and the only way to get more energy into the system is through your hands that are holding the chains above your center of mass. your hands make a pivot point so you can move your com a head of the pivot point or behind the pivot point.
    i think the load transfer between lead arm and trailing arm works on the same principle, allowing the ski to retain speed outbound after the first wake. heres a link i found that does a better job of explaining the principle.
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,823 Mega Baller
    edited November 2013
    As I considered @Deep11 's post, this is how I put it together...

    If I picture myself in a wake crossing headed to 1-3-5 side and think about openness and arm/hand pressure at the 1st wake (right before the center-line), at that point I should be stacked, centered, and balanced - meaning that the body position is stacked and open to the boat, the pressure on my hands is equal, and the handle and rope are centered across the width of my stacked body and the ski is "theoretically" pointed as perpendicular to the boat's path as possible.

    To illustrate impact consider this conceptual arrangement: If we take this "centered" position and slide it far towards 1 ball WITHOUT rotating the ski's vector (keeping it near perpendicular to the boat's path), then the pressure on my hands must be higher on my right arm since the rope is pointed back behind me to the left. Are you with me? Just recognize the vector of the rope force clearly puts more pressure on the right hand/arm if the skier were to be in this theoretical position.

    Once you cross the center-line on the way to 1-ball with both hands on the rope, the pressure from moving outward puts increased load on your right hand. Therefore, we have to concentrate on our ("trailing") left hand's pressure and work to increase it to put things back into balance. If I don't think about my left hand pressure on the way to 1-ball then I do not maintain that balance. The over-loading on my right arm pulls my right shoulder up and the handle away from my body too soon.

    Coming out of the buoy (let's stay at 1-ball), I want my ski to move into a vector which points back across the wake towards 2-ball, generating acceleration wide and early. Now, since I am still out wide near the 1-3-5 buoy line, the natural pressure on my hands will still be significantly higher on my right hand/arm. I need to establish balance, so I need to focus on my ("leading") left hand/arm pressure to transfer some of that load off the right arm. This pressure then shifts as the ski and I move toward the center-line from being unbalanced and requiring focus to re-balance to that perfect point of balance at the 1st wake.

    Then, continuing on toward 2ball, the ski and I move out of balance as we move outbound and I have to focus again (now on the right hand/arm headed out to 2) to attempt to maintain it.

    The key is that handle pressure varies from one hand to balanced to the other hand as you move from at width to crossing the wakes to gaining width due to the rope's force vector (angle on the boat). This transition is fluid from one hand to both to the other. Our focus in an attempt to maintain balanced pressure must also be fluid from the unloaded hand to balanced to the other unloaded hand. In the case of turn into the gates, through the gates and out to 1-ball, the focus is right hand/arm, then balanced, then left hand/arm.
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • matthewbrownmatthewbrown Posts: 431 Open or 55K Rated Skier
    @wtrskior "port" and "starboard" to describe which arm we are talking about would solve all problems
  • MattPMattP Posts: 6,013 Mega Baller
    @matthewbrown @wtrskior because "left" and "right" arm would be to easy. As a rower/coach my port and starboard are reversed..
  • jimbrakejimbrake Posts: 1,326 Mega Baller
    @matthewbrown - yes, but "windward" and "leeward" are even better. "Helms alee, matey! Helms alee!" Aye?
    "...all of the basic fun banter"
  • HortonHorton Posts: 28,136 Administrator
    @bogboy subjects like this for 15 off skiers are like Kryptonite to Superman. This is absolutely not a core fundamental. Look away.

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  • HortonHorton Posts: 28,136 Administrator

    Have you read this? Counter-Rotation by Trent Finlayson

    This whole idea does not make sense to me but I am always open to find out that I am simply missing something. The idea that my hips or sternum would be pointed to the inside* of the path that my ski is on is pretty much the opposite of how I try to ski. It seems like it would pull me to the inside and kill my outbound direction.

    (*More that normal)

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  • ForrestGumpForrestGump Posts: 6,077
    edited November 2013
    @TFIN was exactly who I was thinking of with this topic. I know he and I had a conversation at Cottonwood after he rode in the boat about my hip alignment. We discussed that I was keeping my hips too open which was causing me to fall inside the arc with my upper body. It's entirely possible that I just don't completely understand what the OP'er was trying to communicate, though.
    Shane "Crash" Hill

  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,823 Mega Baller
    I love that article and was thinking about it, too!
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • TFINTFIN Posts: 86 Open or 55K Rated Skier
    edited November 2013
    Really important thread, and if approached properly, applies to skiers of all levels; especially beginners.
  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 5,972 Mega Baller
    I am with @Horton on this. The idea of having my hips pointing at the boat when I am trying to get the ski to carry out to the ball seems counter-intuitive. Granted I am a mid 35 skier but I can't wrap my brain around this concept. I am going to go back and re-read TFIN's article and see if it makes any sense to me.
    Mark Shaffer
  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 5,972 Mega Baller
    Okay I just re-read @TFIN's article and that makes sense to me and is the way I tend to think about things although I probably don't always execute.
    Mark Shaffer
  • A_BA_B Posts: 4,173 Mega Baller
    Great info Seth. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
  • estromestrom Posts: 512 Baller
    Thanks for piping in Seth. That adds some clarity to both body orientation and arm pressure.
  • MarcoMarco Posts: 1,412 Crazy Baller
    Great description by @Sethski!

    My perception of hip and shoulder position are largely influenced by my 35+ years of fall line snow skiing. When skiing the fall line, my focus is to keep my upper body (from the hips up), quiet and always facing down the fall line. All the movement side to side happens with the legs. It is a very balanced and powerful position to be in.

    Translate to water skiing, I think of the fall line as the direction the boat is traveling. Therefore, I try to keep my hips and shoulders always facing down course (as much as possible, much harder to do on the offside). Off the second wake and into the buoy, keeping the hips/shoulders down course creates a countered position relative to my lower body. I have always maintained that a good countered position at the buoy is actually just a continuation of keeping my upper body quiet and facing the same direction at the buoy as it does behind the boat. Counter rotation is not a move to make, it is a continuation of the same hip/shoulder direction you have at center line.
  • Skoot1123Skoot1123 Posts: 1,825 Mega Baller
    edited November 2013
    Perhaps another way to think of this "Hips Open Off Second Wake" subject is relating it to downhill snow skiing. I have always been coached to keep your shoulders facing/pointing downhill as that will give you the most power and control of where you are going. Granted - we don't have a "downhill" in slalom, but we do have the boat. That boat is taking the place of the "hill" - providing the pull, like gravity does on the ski slope. When we align our shoulders and body to that pull it creates the most effecient use of the power provided by the boat. What may make this a little confusing when applying snow skiing to water skiing is that when we turn on the ski slope the turns are not near as wide (usually) (ie: slalom course wide), but I think the principles are very similar.

    I will not attempt to break this down (ie: into separate movements) any further - @sethski has already done that very precisely. Thanks Seth for posting that excerpt!

    Edit: I posted this before reading @marco's comments.
  • A_BA_B Posts: 4,173 Mega Baller
    edited November 2013
    The challenge becomes how to load out of the turn with chest open to the boat. I am an old timer, so I learned to rotate my shoulders with chest pointed across the wakes, but, I think it is much more efficient to rotate below the waist and stay chest open to the boat. On a good day, I think I am somewhere in between, which loads on the leading arm, with a slightly lower leading shoulder. I feel a definite load switch to my trailing arm/hand in the middle of the wake or second wake at the latest, then push my left hip forward going into 1 ball (RFF). That is my best setup for a good offside.

    Old habits have a way of popping up when focusing on buoys, so I think a lot of younger guys don't have to break this habit, so that is why there is always some discussion on closed vs. open to the boat.

    There are some points in skiing where you just have to hold on, throw the ski on edge, and roll the dice on how you are going to look after the second wake. I have found this past summer that with ZO, it is much better for me to throw in some type of counter move before my offside turn, even if I think I am going Mach 10 and late, which is very counter-intuitive for me. For my onside turn, I literally believe I can scream into the turn and feel like I can drop my inside hip, which feels like I am sitting on the buoy, (which wouldn't be good for the buoy at 250lbs), and then hold onto a pretty large hit and still make it.
  • Deep11Deep11 Posts: 221 Solid Baller
    Hi @horton, the scientist in me is finding this thread really interesting. A bit of "null hypothesis" - you create a theory and then test it by trying to disprove it. Far more meaningful than trying to prove it which generally brings in lots of bias.

    It's great that @sethski has contributed, as I have posted in another thread it is Seth that I have been emailing videos to over the last 2 years. As with all teaching / coaching the students do not necessarily interpret the information to the same end. This thread is interesting as rather than just spouting by rote what we have discussed, I have been explaining my interpretation based not only on our discussions but my experiences and findings (working on myself and other skiers - Cam)

    The basis of the hips to shore for me is:
    1. IF you have a tight line off the second wake AND MAINTAIN a tight line you will head out to width - you have no choice.
    2. If you maintain the tight line - How far up on the boat you get depends on - how fast you are going and how much drag or resistance you impart.
    3. It is of course more complicated as the boat is moving down course so tension in the line helps to maintain your outward speed.


    For me this translates into:
    1. achieving my perfect stacked position ("indestructible" at the wake) and then
    2. allowing that stored energy to chuck me out to width, connected, with a tight line.

    This is the key for me, I can't create the same speed as Nate so being able to maintain the tight line is about the handle to hip connection which in turn is about decreasing the resistance so I can stay leaned away and let the ski move under me and still get to width. Like everything it's a balancing act.
    Personally whilst I seem to be able to ski 13m any number of ways, it is the "feel" of the pass (or even a couple of bouys) which make it feel good for me. The easy pass is the one where I connect at the white water, trailing arm pressure, hips to shore off the second wake, stay connected and balanced throughout. This is the way I want to ski, just making the pass doesn't cut it any more. Much easier on the body also.

    A last point is that the idea "hips to boat" is what works for me. I always hate it when people say that but In the thread which spawned this thread it was asked what have you learned?
    I am knocking 50, 6'4, 210lbs yet still fairly flexible (P90x yoga). After a year of free skiing I found that my perfect stacked position is hips open to the boat - shoulders and hips in line. So "hips to the boat" off the second wake means maintaining what I've got ( not giving up or taking more). As Seth would confirm my problem early in the season was trying to turn my hips away off the second wake and disconnecting. For a skier who's best stacked position is more closed the mental mantra may well be "hips to the shore", but it's not going to work for me. Trailing arm pressure however will probably work for everyone.


  • SethskiSethski Posts: 133 Open or 55K Rated Skier
    Kevin, aka @deep11 you have really spelled this all out beautifully in my mind. The wording is different from what I always say (which is great because it is this kind of thing that helps me keep an open mind about how to deliver thoughts to others), but the idea is the same. I haven't always thought of it the way I described or the way you described. I spent many years trying too hard to manually create the edge change/transition, but the best thing I ever figured out with the help of several people's input to keep me guessing and testing was that the boat swings you out to the buoy line if you "stay behind the handle" and keep your connection balanced.

    Man, we are all geeks huh? Love it though!
    Seth Stisher for water ski training and all of your gear needs!

    "Follow your passion by pursuing your goals within that passion at all costs!"
  • ForrestGumpForrestGump Posts: 6,077
    Shoulders open and transferring the load through to the trailing arm I get. I just can't wrap my mind around hips facing the boat/downcourse off the 2nd wake, though.
    Shane "Crash" Hill

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