Hello fellow skiers!
I’ve decided to write a short article about stance to follow up on my last article about balance.
Stance and balance are closely related. You may remember from my overview of ski technique that stance and balance are treated as a single skill. How you stand determines where you balance but balance is just one element of stance.
Why is stance important?
Stance refers to how we stand – how parts of the body are arranged relative to one another.
My last article on balance discussed the importance of good balance in skiing, but balance is determined by stance. Imagine looking at someone (standing) from the side. If they were to bend at the ankle joint, the portion of the body above the ankle would rotate about the ankle joint, moving the body (mass) forward, moving their balance forward. Bending at the knee would move their mass and balance back while bending at the hip would move their balance forward.
This corresponds to the third point of the technical reference outlined in my overview of ski technique:
- Use of all joints helps maintain a centred stance and provides the ability to manage forces acting on the ski and skier
Stance determines where we balance and is therefore key to being centred. Furthermore, being centred provides the ability to manage forces acting on the ski and skier. However there are other elements of stance that also give us the strength and mobility to manage the forces that we encounter.
Consider a soccer goalie. They stand with the ankle, knee and hip joints slightly bent. This slight bending engages the muscles so they are ready for action. Even if the goalie is centred, standing too tall means the mass is supported by the skeleton and the muscles are relaxed and slow to respond. Bend too much and you load the muscles too much, using up their capacity to do work.
As is often the case in skiing, there exists a natural trade off – in this case, between strength and mobility. An “athletic” stance that provides the best combination of strength and mobility can only be determined through experimentation.
Use exercises that challenge your stance/balance/mobility/strength:
- Shuffling your feet backwards and forwards (together or alternating)
- Anything involving jumping
- Spiess turns
- Hopping in the transition
- Use terrain
- Ski bumps
Interested in skiing with me?
If you are interested in joining me for some on-snow coaching and you are able to make it to Idre Fjäll in Sweden, you can book a session with me through the Idre Fjäll Ski School. Just be sure to ask for James Nunn!
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