Equilibrium; is it a Skiing Good Thing ?

How many times on the average day does your foot slip? How many times do you stumble? How many times are you thrown off balance?

Unbalance pic

Heaps of folk never have these adjustments to make; their lives are spent on horizontal, high friction, smooth predictable surfaces which never challenge their balance and equilibrium.

This is a pity if you want to improve your skiing, because these are pretty much exactly what you have to do when you get on the slopes, and if you have not had any practice at it for about a year, it must come as something of a shock.

Swedish Freestyle skiers learn it differently.

I’m lucky, these thing happen to me many times every day.  I go for walks around the place with my little terrier, Totty, at least twice a day.

Our land is hilly, and crossed by a couple of streams, equipped with slippy stones. The slopes are often muddy in places, and the grass grows in tufts. I have to climb over stiles, and fences without stiles.

As a consequence I am constantly having to adjust my posture, correct for slips and slides, balance on fence posts, and generally have to keep pretty agile. (For my age!)


Some years ago at a coaching conference I heard a talk given by a top Swedish sports coach. The Swedes have an incredible international record at Freestyle (bumps) skiing competition; and an enviable reputation for off-piste back-country skiing.

This coach, I’ve forgotten his name, told us that any youngster who wanted to take up skiing seriously, and elected to go in for training would join a club that had a coach, and get some skiing training.

But here’s the rub – for quite a while this did not include putting on any skis, or even going on snow. What the kids did was to take part in walks and runs in hilly terrain that was heavily wooded (not difficult in large tracts of Sweden!)  The were encouraged to run down short slopes, and to weave in an out of any trees on them.

They were asked to run along gulleys, weaving a pattern along them by running part way up one side and down again to run part way up the other and back again, and so on.

In fact anything the trainers could do which required the kids to make rapid bodily adjustments as they were continually thrown off balance. It had been found that this wobbly training gave the children a terrific advantage when it came to putting on a pair of skis and beginning to throw themselves about.


I’m not going to suggest that everyone reading this should do the same – too many law suits might ensue!  But if you go for walks, even perhaps just in the garden, you could benefit enormously from deliberately choosing not to take the easy path. Why not volunteer to step over awkward places you could avoid? If there are any slopes available to you, don’t avoid them, deliberately walk straight down them.

If you feel like a bit of a jog, do it through some trees and weave in and out of them. You don’t have to be super fit and very young to do these things, very few of us are incapable of doing things like this even if we’re over 60. We just get a bit lazy about trying it.

The “slopes” idea is extremely useful. One of the key abilities worthwhile of your spending time and effort on, is getting acquainted with the soles of your feet. To be a good skier you need to be able to feel what’s going on under your feet, and the more of the time you can be aware of the sensations the better.

Walking down a slope is a first class opportunity to do some easy painless training. Before you set off, decide what you will choose to feel yourself aware of. Only choose one thing. You could choose to feel where the pressure is under your foot, and what kind of pressure it is. Or you could choose to be aware of how the small of your back feels as you do it. Or how your legs feel and how flexed they are.

There’s no limit really, and all that matters is that you slowly become aware that you are becoming more aware of the sensations. It is not a competition. You cannot lose. And it passes the time.

I heartily recommend it. One of my pupils tells me that ever since I suggested it to him some years ago he cannot now walk down a hill without being aware, and he finds he transfers this awareness, without thinking about it, to any slope he skis down.

Why not give it a go, and let us know how you get on?

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