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Handle Control - technique?


skibug
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I have read and studied the articles on handle control; but, it wasn't until just this past weekend where I think I figured something out. My question to all that have this figured out and execute it (either consciously or through muscle memory) is what is/was the key thought to drilling this aspect of skiing into your technique?

 

I may be way off base; but, at one point I said to myself..."ok, I am just going to push the handle down off the second wake and hold it there until I need to start my reach". I did this and all of the sudden; I think I understand, and got the feeling of what it was actually supposed to feel like because it made the pass feel much easier. No one ever really explained it to me in the manner which I executed it. I just sort of picked it up when recently watching a video of myself.

 

Comments, does this make sense?

 

 

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If you are pushing the handle down off the 2nd wake you will not

 

1 maintain angle off the 2nd wake

2 be able to get over your front foot at the apex

 

Handel contro starts when you ski into the handle at the completion of the turn. At that point you push the handle down your body. I try to keep the handle as close to my body as possible, as little seperation as possible

between the handle & your body, hip, leg. As you come off the 2nd wake I pin my inside elbow to my body

& crunch the inside oblique. Hold that untill you are past the white water as to counter your upper body away from the boat

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@Rich, thanks for the explanation. I don't have a problem with skiing back into the handle and getting my hips up and handle down through the wakes; but, after watching some of my video I noticed my elbows and arms prematurely separating from my body. Maybe what I am thinking mentally and doing physically are two different things. Maybe what I think is pushing the handle down is actually somewhat of an inside crunch. I will have to take note of it next time out.
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Whatever works in your head to make you do the right thing is the right thing for you. Sometimes to get a skier to do something it needs to be said 5 different ways and then the light bulb goes "on". Elbows tight is a focus for me this year.
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yeap --- elbows tight, always. hands down --- always.

 

The 2nd photo above is just off the 2nd wake at 38' in 8-10 feet, just outside the white water the handle will be on the inside hip, my elbow at a 90 degree bend. This will bring my body over my front foot, the water should break right in front my front foot.

 

Take photos & video. Watch the pros and evaluate what your handle control really is, not how it feels, but what is really happening based upon facts you can see in photos & video.

 

If you use photos you can evaluate and make adjustments.

 

 

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You are a big strong man. On your pull out start from a taller position. Push your hands down and look at the right rear corner of the back of the boat. Bend you front ankle and knee as you slowly start to lean away and out. (you go too easy, then too hard) as you get to the apex pull your hands in bending your inside arm at 90 degrees. Coast over the front foot in a tall position. When its time to go, reach out, but only with your arms, not the body. (I would loose the 1 hand gate as a rt foor forward skier) Keep it simple. ( As a rt ft forward skier the gate in is your good side lean, you are already in an open position just because of htat fact) The initial lean out is the easiest place to start good handle control because you will be carrying alot less speed and angle than you will in the course. As you turn in push your hands down your body pin your elbows to your sides at the same time, stay open to the boat, as you relax your front ankle & knee. (you are using signifigantly more effort & strength than is necessary) as you approach the 1st wake let the ski accelerate under you or shoot it out so you can transition onto the turning edge off the 2nd wake. at that time make sure your inside elbow stays on your hip. As you get past the white water the inside elbow should be at a 90 degree bend, you will be countering with your outside shoulder resisting the pull of the boat trying to twist you towards it. Stay on the handle as long as possible, only allow the ski to go around the ball, you will reach as the line is pulled from you. Based upon the video you don't ever feel the line getting pulled away because you lose angle off the 2nd wake, and experience down course speed instead of experincing cross course speed while maintaining outward angle. (You actually go faster when you maintain outbound angle, however it feels slower and looks slower) Try to keep your body more over your feet all the time, as you lose angle off the 2nd wake and ski towards the ball instead of in front of it or maintaing outward direction, you fall over at each turn, lean way back, get stiff legged to take that huge load. Go back to the start, learn handle control there. 1st, keep handle control through the 1st wake and see if you can maintain outbound direction into 1 ball instead of skiing right at it. I hope this all helps. Based upon your strength if you could just put things in the right place as I have discribed you'll kill it! Good Luck!
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Ask yourself why the water breaks between your feet in the pre turn. As you approach the ball the water should break right in front of your front foot, as you come around the corner the ski will shoot forward and the water should break right behind the front foot. The water does just the opposite on your ski. That is because you

don't get over the front foot in the preturn, you have to pull your upper body over the front foot with your inside arm. The water moves forward as you finish, you have more load and the ski slows down, you are loosing time at that point.

 

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@Rich, thanks a bunch for the critique. I am always looking for feedback. Some of things you have pointed out I have been working on correcting for the last 3 weeks. I have changed my 1 handed gate to have more of a glide and reach like you metioned which does get me started with more balance / weight on my front foot at the turn in; which sets me up better for the whole pass. I am not sure I want to go back to the 2 handed gate as I have been using the 1 handed gate for 6 years now; but, I will consider it. I tried it a couple of weeks ago for the first time in probably 3 years and I couldn't even turn in; it felt like I was going to fall over.

 

I know handle control is the key; now I just need to work on execution. I will try and take some current video and see if there is a noticable change from a couple of weeks ago.

 

 

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Honestly Bob, what I see more than anything is a LOT of movement. You are never in one spot on the ski. At 1/3/5 your shoulder and head drop and your upper body moves forward. Then you reach around to the handle before your hips move and then once your hand is back on the handle, you have no choice but to throw your head and shoulders back to get your hips back to the handle. Throwing your upper body back should be an emergency move on the occasion that you leave your hips behind, not as a standard part of your technique. This series of movements probably has a lot to do with Rich's point about where the water is breaking on the ski. Were it me, one of the things I'd be working on is the release from the handle, reach, and counter motion. Andy Mapple has a beautiful demonstration of the reach and counter where it's almost like he's stretching a rubber band between his hands and starting from a spot at elbow level and finishing at shoulder level. It's kind of like an orchestra conductor bringing his hands up and out to signal to the musicians he's ready to begin. With the right release, reach and counter your shoulders will stay level, your head will be upright, you'll engage the front rocker of the ski in the preturn and turn and you won't have that banana position on the right side of the course and then that big fall back. Also on the 2/4 side you are pulling the handle into your body to get back to the handle, then you drop it down. Every single time you pull in it will stop the ski from finishing it's rotation. You're a big strong guy, but damn man watching that made me tired! If you clean a bit of that movement up, you'll kill it. Plus I think if you can get to where you are conserving movement for when you need to move in order to work the ski, then handle control will become easier and more natural. You were like a rider on a bucking bronco in that video and along for the ride wherever the bronco went. As opposed to a cutting horse where the rider is dictating to the horse where he wants the horse to go. Sorry, we're rednecks down here in Texas! lol
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@skibug I think you are right on with the idea of pushing the handle down, this will allow you to keep your arms straight. When you start to bend your arms to a 90 degree angle it will cause you to pull in on the handle, something you do not want to do. I had the same bad habit and it will cause you to be narrow at the buoy, especially when the line gets short. Think about pushing the handle down and and out in front of you, this will help bring you over the center of the ski.
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@ShaneH, thanks for the feedback as well...and yes I totally agree that I need to be quieter on the ski. For the last 3 weeks or so I have been working on slowing down the reach and more countering to get more of the tip engaged and let the ski finish before I am back on the handle. What has helped me more with this is actually focusing on more extension so I don't short reach it or stab at it. I think some current video will show a little more fluidity in my technique (or lack there of); at least it has been feeling more fluid.

 

My list of technique issues goes on and on (gates, softer knees, counter rotating, quieter on the ski, handle control, reach extension, skiing back to the handle, etc)....I just need to figure out the one or two things I can concentrate on to have the most impact and hopefully act as a domino effect for correcting some of the other multitude of issues.

 

Surprisingly enough, I don't get too tired. I have had skied everyday from last Wednesday - Monday (15 sets in total) with at least 2 sets a day, 3 on Saturday and 4 on Monday...no blisters, no body issues to speak of....If I ever get this technique thing down and become a more efficient skier; I may go broke from having to fill up the boat because I won't ever want to stop.

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@bmiller3536, thanks and yes that is the sensation I got. When I think about that movement, just standing on the floor and mimmicking it; I think in order to do that you have to also do what was stated by @Rich, that inside oblique crunch. I don't think you can't keep the handle down any other way.
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Somethig to consider...

 

first off centered on the ski is important, if your in a balanced, centered position with the way skis are designed today it's money, front foot pressure is antiquated and ineffective with todays products (maybe on a wide ride you can get away with it as it has lots of surface area for support but still not as effective)...

 

the two biggest things that I see is on your gate you create all your load wide, start your pullout a 1/2- full boat length earlier than the pre gates with that style of gate, turn in gradually leading with your right hip and feel your the pressure increase as you approach the wakes, not all out at buoy width, there you should feel nothing...what rythym you start with here is what you get through the course...

 

the second thing is the time spent on your pulling edge is excesive, center of the boat is the max, from there it's time to edge change and carry direction outward...as you feel the first wake think edge change...with this you will have enough speed for the width required and with proper outbound direction that your turns will not be hard loading course width ones...

 

there are other things to point out but with what your doing at the moment will not facilitate the actions of open or counter...

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I would tend to echo ShaneH here. I don't think "handle control" is the thing to be focusing on right now.

 

Your strength behind the boat is letting you get away with a lot of inefficiencies that ultimatley will hold you back.

 

Simpler, relaxed movements will go a long way. I won't go into huge details because that's already been done above. But that's what I'd key on.

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I have found that I should only think about my upper body being still. The more I focus on that, the less energy I use. The other thing I notice is that when you lean out for your gate you lean back and out. Try to think about your left shoulder moving forward over your front foot and out. I like to think of it as my shoulders moving with my ski. Everything moves forward together, everything moves across the wake together. When you turn in for the gate, let the right shoulder move forward with your feet. The more you keep your shoulders with your feet/ski, the less movement you will have, the taller you will stand, and the more relaxed your pass will feel.
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All great feedback, how does that saying go..."how to you eat an elephant?"...answer, ONE BITE AT A TIME! I will have to start with a small bite; becuase I surely won't be able to keep all of this straight in my head for 16.95 seconds at a crack.
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@Razorskier 1 his gate pullout is fine, skibug don't change it, same pullout movements as Rossi, blocking at the gate creates a large amount of speed in a short period of time. The pullout your describing requires much more effort and a longer duration to create the same result...I have done both and the former is much more efficient, the only issue with it is that too much can be created too easily...

 

 

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I appreciate all the comments on the gate; but, I am sticking with the 1 handed gate for now. I am playing with the pull out point and intensity a little bit; but, since that video was taken I have figured out a few things that have been making everything work better. A hint of a glide, stand tall over the front foot, keep shoulders square (pointed down course), reach slow and go. The ski has been coming under me better and allowing for a better / balanced body position than shown in the video. All in all, it is more progressive than aggressive at this point.
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I am a RFF Skier and was originally shown the One Handed Gate skiing with Mike Syderhoud, back in 1992 in Hawaii. Went back and forth for a few years, but have stuck with it ever since. My gate is very similar to what Marcus does, and it without question, gives me the greatest angle through the gate, with sustained angular momentum for the carryout.
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My thoughts / logic has always been..."the gate shot should be as close to a normal 2,4 turn as possible". Why should your gate shot have to be some much different than what we do 5 -6 other times in the course? Obviously, there are differing opinions about this our there.
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Skibug, I think Shane's comments are more in line with what you need to fix. What I see is resulting from your legs being locked stiff in the preturn and turn - that is the biggest cause of you moving around so much. It looks like you have 80% of your weight on your back foot most of the time (except when you have 100% on your back foot). You want your weight evenly distributed on both feet and never shifting fwd and back. Work on Horton's basic relaxed position and try to maintain that in the course on your earlier passes. Get it ingrained at 15, 22 and 28 before you try anything else.

 

Yes, every skier needs handle control, but you need to fix the fundamentals first.

 

My $0.02

If it was easy, they would call it Wakeboarding

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@Bruce Butterfield, Thanks and I totally agree. I have tried to soften my knees and shift my weight forward; but, everytime I do I wind up getting crushed at the ball, broke at the waist and/or OTF. Any suggestions? Or is it just a matter of taking those hits until the technique sinks in?
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Agree with BB and Shane's comments. Stiff legged and leaning is no way to go thru life. If it weren't for the exceptional driving you benefit from on a regular basis, you would be stuck at 22 off. Don't equate leg flex with skiing passively and you will be fine.
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@skibug You probably wind up getting crushed because most people drop their hips when they try to bend their knees instead of flexing their ankles. The ankle flexion allows you to keep your kneecap over the balls of your feet and your hips centered over the ski. Just a hard habit to break for almost everyone.
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Bob, to get the feel you gotta start on dry land. When you stand foot to foot like on a ski and push your knees forward you should also feel your hips slide forward. I'd be willing to bet that when you first do this, your front knee is over your heel instead of the ball of your foot. So it's going to be about a 4" move forward with your knee AND hips. You don't necessarily need Wade Cox or Jamie B knee bend. Just a comfortable stance with your hips centered over your feet. Once you have a feel for where your going with it, as soon as you get pulled out of the water get in that stance. And as soon as you go out the exit gate, get in that stance. Over time, you're body will figure it out. You'll start noticing that you don't have to think about getting in that stance as much.
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I know the motion and can execute it on dry land; but, skiing is a different situation. Oddly enough, my ski partner tonight gave me the same advice, basically to ride around the islands and sets ups in that position. I am also thinking that moving my back binding up (less ankle separation) may help too.
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@skibug if you were the anchor in a tug of war the other team had to lose. Your arms are the size of my legs. Impressive. Going around the island in that ankle bend, more relaxed, and balanced position is a good idea. You may also want to ride your ski just outside the skier buoy line leaning away from the boat in that described position and hold full length of the course. . Do this for both directions of lean. Without chasing buoys, you'll have a chance to feel it on the water. Move into you current way of lean and compare which feels more efficient, comfortable, stable, and more evenly balanced. This may also give you a chance to see if your boot placement is correct.
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