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Arm position

Like I said in my previous post, I'm still a beginner but am quite serious about improving. I have been reading up a lot about technique and have noticed that many people mention keeping the elbows close to the vest. I am a little confused as my instructor had pointed out to me about a month ago that I have a tendency to pull on the handle on the turns which is a no-no. So I've fixed that and keep my arms fully extended and straight at this point. I have just started running slaloms so I am not even discussing one handed turns at this point. For now I want to know if I get the basic idea right: Elbows close to the vest, and the handle lower than my chest level. Does the arm position change or does it have to stay intact throughout the entire course? Thanks!


  • Orlando76Orlando76 Posts: 1,244 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    Yeah im a lil fuzzy on that too. When I first started skiing I was the worst at bent arms. Now I'm good (I think) at keeping my arms straight, elbows pinned to vest and keep handle towards hip but I find it impossible to ski around the buoy like this. At the buoy I can't help but move my arms and do some pulling but once back to the wake I feel like I'm decent arm position again. But then again, 15,009 hours watching slalom YouTube videos and 90% are doing something similar.
  • skibumsamskibumsam Posts: 72 Baller
    Arms to the vest is something I focus on every time I ski. As long as my arms are pinned down and the handle is low before the "wash" or just outside of the wake, I have a good, fast wake crossing. As soon as I let the handle and my arms drift out, I have trouble getting my hips forward and sometimes get pulled forward enough to go out the front. Keeping arms in and handle low just helps me accept the load from the boat in the correct position.
  • KarlbachKarlbach Posts: 18 Baller
    @Orlando76 yeah I've been watching so many videos it's got me really confused. it seems to me that the one handed turn is one big pull or am I missing something?
  • KarlbachKarlbach Posts: 18 Baller
    @skibumsam thanks! Going skiing Thursday morning, will keep that in mind
  • KarlbachKarlbach Posts: 18 Baller
    @skibumsam I managed to film my attempt at the slalom this morning. would you mind giving me tips?I really focused on getting my arms closer to the vest and felt a huge difference in picking up speed at the turn, but couldn't maintain the edge so I'm still flying off the wake at this point. Two things I noticed, which I think are wrong
    1- when I am nearing the turn, I am standing tall, so you can see my going from knees slightly bent to extended before turning.
    2-I was told that I am leaning and trying to turn with my shoulders instead of my hips. any tips on that?

    Much appreciated!

    Link is here : https//
  • Youd270Youd270 Posts: 29 Baller
    @Karlbach have a read of this. @Than_Bogan wrote it a couple of years ago. Not sure if there is anything he would add now but it is good simple reading.
  • skibumsamskibumsam Posts: 72 Baller
    edited August 2015
    @Karlbach watched the video this morning although not sure I'm really qualified to give much coaching. I'll base my advice pretty much on the help I received from some of the sites more experienced skiers when I posted my help discussion "beginner help" last year. If you can find and want to check out that discussion there are a ton of tips and links that would help you. Ohterwise here's my shortened version based on what I've learned so far:

    1. Find any resources you can on the 'stack' position. Until you can make this position natural and consistent with your skiing you are not crossing the wakes as fast or safely as possible. Getting the base of a good stack will catapult your skiing.

    2. I would say the issues you are having with your turns are all related to speed. In slalom you want speed. Once you master the stack I think you will notice everything comes a little easier. At this point I think at the ball you are still struggling with outbound direction and then lack the speed needed to make a quick direction change at that point. You turn with your upper body because you are trying to force the ski to change direction faster than it wants to given the speed and direction into the ball.
    3. Basically focus on your position through the wake, gaining speed, and getting wide. Turn will generally take care of itself at this point.

    Sorry for the lengthy response. Hopefully one of the higher ups will take a look and maybe give a little easier answer. Hope this helps for now though
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,823 Mega Baller
    edited August 2015
    See if this helps to explain it. Arm to vest applies during the wake crossing and through the initiation of the edge change (handle control). Once you start your reach, it no longer applies. At the finish of the turn, ideally your rope hand/arm comes down and across your body to the hip that was on the outside of the turn, while that hip comes around under the handle. This puts your hips forward and arm lower while you prepare to engage the boat for the next wake crossing.

    Another way to feel what is meant by this is with a rope on a pole on the dock or a tree in the yard. Get into a leaning position. Now stick your butt out behind you. Impossible to get arms to the vest, right? Now, position your hips forward over your front foot such that you could almost lift up your back foot (most of your weight is on the front foot). Are you arms (inside,back of the elbows) touching your vest now?

    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,607 Mega Baller
    edited August 2015
    Not sure I'd call my wall of text "simple reading," but nevertheless you are exactly the target audience. Fundamentally you need to be more efficient in creating leverage. That will change everything and catapult your skiing forward (somewhat literally!).

    The biggest aspect that you are currently missing is a straight line from knees to shoulders. Part of the fix is simply to force your hips forward to eliminate that bend. But also getting you upper body much more away from the boat will help make that position possible. The good news is your arms are already straight, which is something many at your level struggle to achieve.

    When you watch video of high level skiers, don't even look at their turns (yet). See how they create leverage against the boat and emulate that.

    Btw, I try to keep that "up to date" -- it's a google doc so I can edit it whenever I want. But changes typically only relate to how to teach it; the fundamentals of the position haven't changed much in a long time.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
  • KarlbachKarlbach Posts: 18 Baller
    @Than_Bogan Thank you so much! great read, and I was under the impression that my knees had to be bent instead of Soft. I'll work on that this weekend along with all the other points! thanks again!
  • KarlbachKarlbach Posts: 18 Baller
    @Than_Bogan would appreciate your help with this question if you don't mind. I'm trying to figure out how to interpret being "stacked". You mentioned having a straight line from knees to shoulders.
    1-Does that mean that throughout the slalom my knees should remain in the same position from start to finish? So no additional bend or straightening at any point?
    2-I know I shouldn't be focusing on the turns very much yet but it sort of relates to being stacked. I'm guessing the turn has to start from the hips and not with the upper body leaning sideways? What I think I do at the moment, is rock from one side to the other to change positions.
    3- Shoulders being "square" or level, does that mean that technically both shoulders should be parallel to the water? how does that work when you're turning?
    Hope these are not stupid questions but would appreciate any help I can get. Going skiing tomorrow and looking forward to seeing any improvement
  • Than_BoganThan_Bogan Posts: 6,607 Mega Baller
    @Karlbach Firstly, there are 100+ folks on here qualified to answer your questions. I just happen to have written some of this down.

    At a broad level to answer most of your questions: The leverage position only applies when you are resisting the pull of the boat. As a beginner slalomer, this position applies from the moment you complete your turn to landing off the second wake. (For more advanced folks, the entire process becomes a bit more fluid, but to begin with it's easier to consider one relatively static stance at a time.)

    1) Note: I recommend you completely ignore this paragraph and do whatever you feel like in the turn as this point in your progression. But the answer to your question goes like this: In practice, you'll have to bend your knees a little extra as you hit the wake, but you're better off if you DON'T try to do that on purpose. Better to try to squash the wake than to try to absorb it. Then into the pre-turn you want to stand extra-tall -- this is the point where most skier's knees are only barely bent. As you finish the turn, some like to exaggerate the knee bend for just a moment to initiate a hard turn.

    2) Very insightful. In fact, I am trying to fix that aspect of my skiing right now! I do a terrible job of this on my "on" side turn. Driving the hip back to the handle is indeed the best way to complete the turn, such that you ski right into your leverage position.

    3) I hope I didn't say the shoulders should be level. The shoulder that is further away from the boat will also be closer to the water. The concept of "open" means that your upper body is somewhat facing toward the boat. If you literally faced your chest directly at the boat, you'd lose some leverage. But most people's instinct is to try to face completely perpendicular, which turns out to create a lot of load but no advantages. Chet Raley calls it facing into "zone 2." Zone 1 is straight ahead of you and zone 3 is straight toward the shore. Zone 2 is in between.

    Don't worry about your shoulders in the turn -- certainly not yet and maybe never depending on your instincts.
    Nathaniel Bogan -- GUT Padawan
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