Summer Activities can improve your skiing!
Those that are active during the ski season also tend to be active during the off -season. You might mountain or road bike, play tennis, hike or a multitude of other activities. Most of these activities can help keep your cardiovascular conditioning tuned up and help keep your legs strong. However, with just a little bit of effort, these activities can also help improve the skill sets that we all use when skiing. Think back to our fundamentals: fore and aft balance, lateral balance and vertical balance.
Fore and aft balance: That tennis serve receive stance puts you in that forward balance position. Try to get back to that stance between every shot. Have that position become part of your muscle memory. With hiking, remember we have better balance when we are perpendicular to the hill. When you are descending, rather than leaning back, think about that forward stance and your feet won’t slip out from under you on the loose trails.
Lateral balance: When you coast on your bike, you probably have a favorite foot to be in the front or bottom of the pedal stroke. This is also probably your favorite foot when you’re skiing. Work on being equally comfortable with either foot in front or on the bottom. As you switch back and forth, that is a “weight transfer” and lateral balance. If you run, consider running on a trail and using the terrain to force yourself to move side to side over obstacles. Moving up over a log or rock equally well with either foot---lateral balance! This should help you with making earlier weight transfers to initiate your turns in skiing.
Vertical balance: Back to that tennis game--- ever have someone tell you to bend your knees? Bending those knees to hit that low ball rather than breaking over at the waist and reaching for it, gives you more power and control. Just like bending or “sinking” on your skis lets you absorb more centrifugal force and hold your edge at the bottom of the turns.
For those gym rats out there, often in the gym we only move in one plane at a time. Add exercises that require you to move in multiple planes at the same time. This could be lateral side steps over a bosu ball, (fore-aft, lateral and vertical) lateral lunges, (lateral and vertical), etc. Also make sure that your program includes all muscle groups, especially in your lower body. The ones that most commonly get missed are the lateral hip or gluteus medius and the peroneals in the lower leg.
While these little things can help fine-tune some of those skiing skills, the most important thing is that you find something you enjoy and that you keep moving and having fun!