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Pushing the outside ski forward Subscribe Pub

I hear this coaching cue every now and then and we should take a few minutes and think about it, because it may not help create the best mental models for your skiers and athletes. I think it denotes a misunderstanding of ski technique and of the basic physics of how my beer fridge moves through space-time!

As good coaches, we must be careful about the mental models we create in our athlete's minds and, as we'll see, this one likely causes more problems than it solves.

What do you see here: pushing the outside ski forward? Or pulling the inside ski back?

Negative implications and effects

There are a lot of negative implications of the skier thinking push the outside ski forward:

  • you're back
  • you're out of balance
  • pushing the base of support away from the body
  • not keeping the feet underneath
  • starting the next turn way back on the skis
  • delaying the release (keeping a long and strong leg too late)
  • losing direction and turn shape
  • getting late in the line (racing)
  • losing impulse across the hill (which requires hips ahead of boots)
  • losing shin pressure - deactivates dorsiflexion
  • etc

Let's look at a few of these below.

You're back!

Whenever I push something, by definition, I am behind the thing that I am pushing, at least in the direction that I'm pushing it in.

Take a minute and breath that in! Here's a more down to earth visual model: whenever I push my beer fridge around, I'm always behind the beer fridge, looking from the direction that I'm pushing it in!

Thus, by the exact same definition, if you push the outside ski forward, you are behind it - i.e. back!!!.

Sometimes, the argument is that: well, the turn ends anyways - you could be back! Nothing could be further from the truth. Pushing the ski implies the presence of pressure, meaning you'd still like it to turn. But, as soon as you get back on it, the ski stops turning, because you just lost the sidecut!


It is pretty hard to push the outside boot forward (from the hip) while keeping the hip back from rotating into the turn... so this may also introduce a focus on pushing the outside hip forward, which usually results in a rotation of the upper body.

This has all sorts of other negative influences on the turn performance.

Also explains why you're out of balance

In the forward direction, the ski is gliding on snow. Now, imagine you're sliding on ice and you're trying to push the feet more in the direction that you're sliding! Do you think you'll end up out of balance and on your bum?

YES! That's the most likely outcome... and the exact same thing happens if you focus on "manually" pushing the outside ski forward!

More issues

There are other, more subtle negative implications of pushing the ski forward, from being on the heels to delaying the release.

What to do?

There are a few reasons why you may hear this cue, most commonly to prevent an excessive shuffling of the inside ski, which also puts you back and out of balance.

For the reasons we've seen above, a much better cue is pulling the inside ski back, or keep the inside boot back. A ton of advantages, comparatively:

Pulling the inside ski back will keep you more forward than otherwise... you can try this right now, standing up: tension your legs so as to pull your heels back - the hips will move forward as a result! We call this action-reaction, the basic principle of physics.

Also, it will keep you in balance, as you're keeping your boots underneath you - this is the universal principle of skiing and especially racing!

Did I mention that one obvious outcome of keeping the inside ski back is also Dorsiflexion and Shin pressure? Both good things, as we know.

Another reason for this cue is to carry speed on a course and keep the ski carving... however, as we saw, as soon as we start pushing the ski forward and away from the body, the carving will lose turn shape and it becomes self-defeating.

Sometimes, this is used to avoid skiers jamming the outside ski late in the turn - but in this case, a simple workout on a good release (Flexing workout session) will fix that issue, without many side effects. Note that jamming the outside ski frequently can also be a result of a boot that's improperly aligned fore/aft.


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By: Razie | 2019-02-04 .. 2019-02-05 | Tags: post , technique , coaching

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