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10 minute skate drills

Wed, Oct  22, 2008 - By Mike Muha

Here's a set of dryland skate drills we learned from CXC Directory Yuriy Gusev during the  recent NordicSkiRacer.com / CXC Skiing Fall Technique Clinic . The skills required progresses with each drill - do the first drill, than add in the lesson of the second drill, which are added the third and so on. It will be a lot to remember by the last drill, so start the progression with the easiest drill first.

The drills work best alone if you have a mirror, or with a friend who can correct your position. You cannot trust what you feel: you need visual feedback!

10 minutes and you're done.

 

The first three drills refer to the photo sequence of Yuriy above.

Drill 1: Ball of your foot

Begin your skate on the ball of your foot. End your skate on the ball of your foot. This will help prevent you from sitting back on your skis.

Drill 2. Balance hips and shoulders over your leg

Now move your hips and shoulders - as a unit - fully over to your other ski. This is weight transfer. You should be able to skate to the other leg, then balance there. If you can't balance, but fall to the center, you're not shifting your weight far enough.

In the first frame and the last frame in the photo above, Yuriy's hips and shoulders - center of gravity - are centered over the foot.

Remember to start and end on the ball of your foot (Drill 1). Your shoulders and hips move as one, not hips first, not shoulders first - both move together.

Drill 3: Feet wider than knees wider then hips

On an uphill, once you skate on to the other ski, you want your weight directly over it, ready to apply power instantly. There's no time to swing your feet together - like many of us do. Keep your feet wider than your knees, and your knees wider than your hips. This will put your legs in a ready position.

Remember, use the ball of your foot and move hips and shoulders as one (Drills 1 and 2).

Drill 4. Drive the knee with ankle flex

In the photo above, Yuriy's ankle is angled so the knee is pressed forward. He starts that way, skates, and lands on the new leg with a bent knee and ankle. This is a position of power!

Most of us start with our lower leg vertical. This puts our hips behind the foot instead of over the foot. Bend at the ankle, bend at the knee. Have someone watch you or do this in front of a mirror.

Oh, and remember to be on the ball of your foot, balance over your leg, and feet wider than knees wider than hips...

Drill 5. Skate side to side, not forward

In the first picture frame above, Yuriy points out that you skate from side-to-side. You do NOT step forward.

What happens when you step forward? The second frame shows the answer: the ankle opens, the knee is not driving forward, and your weight shifts back. Think about climbing a hill: with your weight back like that, you have to pull you a** forward to get your weight back over your ski before you can add effective power. And while you move your weight forward, your ski is losing momentum.  Or, as I learned the hard way, you're compensating by pulling yourself up the hill using your upper body.

If you are doing technique skate drills up a hill, don't drive forward: go side to side with only a tiny movement forward.

Drill 6. Drive the knee down and forward to initiate the skate

The skate begins with a crunch down and forward on the knee. You can see how Yuriy drives his knee down and forward between the first and second frame. The angle of the ankle becomes more acute so that the hips come forward.

After the knee is driven down and forward toward the foot, the weight transfer to the other ski begins. The leg again lands on a bent knee, ready to compress down and forward again.

And do this on the balls of your feet while balanced over your leg, with feet wider than knees wider than hips, with a distinct sideways motion, with lots of ankle flex...

Summary

Trust me - you need a mirror or a friend to watch these drills. Even though you may THINK you're doing them correctly, it's hard to evaluate your position if you can't see it, and even harder to remember all the progression of skills from the previous drills - that was certainly the experience many of us had at the Fall Clinic. We had Yuriy keep us honest.

Try these for a few minutes each week for the next month. See how they change your rollerskiing and snow skiing:

Drill 1: Ball of your foot

Drill 2. Balance hips and shoulders over your leg

Drill 3: Feet wider than knees wider then hips

Drill 4. Drive the knee with ankle flex

Drill 5. Skate side to side, not forward

Drill 6. Drive the knee down and forward to initiate the skate

If you would like learn more on technique and see video of the drill visit www.cxcacademy.com

Thanks to CXC Skiing and Hammer Nurtition for sponsoring the NordicSkiRacer.com / CXC Skiing Fall Technique Clinic.