Listen to your feet – They have lots to tell you. (Part 1)

When I first started skiing, a trainer would often ask me to follow him/her and when we stopped, would ask me, “How did that feel?”. Usually I’d be scared shitless because it was way too fast for me. But as I got more comfortable with the speed, my answer became a mere shrug of the shoulders. I didn’t know how I really felt, except that maybe I wasn’t as scared anymore.

I realised that to become a better skier, I needed to develop an awareness of my own skiing. I needed to learn to how to feel whether or not I was making the movements I was suppose to make, wanted to make or even wanted to remove.  This I had heard mentioned quite a few times but no one yet had told me how to achieve that awareness. I eventually figured out that I needed to start listening to my feet. They would tell me if I was doing something right or wrong.

We’ll start with listening to your soles and the story of balance they will tell. Try the following exercise stationary with eyes closed. In your ski boots with skis on, lean so far forward that your heels are lifting up. You would feel this.

Do the opposite still with eyes closed. Lean so far back that your toes are lifting up and you’re standing mostly on your heels. You would feel this now. 
Now with eyes closed still, find a position whereby, your toes, ball of the foot and heels are all in contact with the sole of your boot. Memorise that feeling of your sole having full contact with your boot. That’s what you should always feel when you’re skiing*. (*Disclaimer: There is a subtle variation of this feeling at an expert level.)

This feeling of having your feet always in contact with the sole of your boot is a direct indication of your balance on your skis. If you don’t have balance, every other skill you need to perform is made more difficult. Most intermediate skiers will at some point in their turn feel only their heels. That is an indication that their balance is too far back; what is often referred to as ‘sitting back’ or ‘toilet seat drivers’. For advanced skiers, most have the misconception of always trying to feel only the ball of your foot constanly as they are skiing which results in them being too far forward which then actually throws them back onto their heels inadvertently a lot of the times. 


Left skier: Balanced, full contact. Right skier: Sitting back, feeling heels.

So go out and start being aware of your fore/ aft balance whilst you’re skiing. Know when it is you feel balanced and figure out which part of the turn are you constantly finding yourself imbalanced.

How to correct that imbalance, is another matter. (Part 2)

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