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Old 12-28-2009, 11:47 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default The biomechanics of snowboarding - tall vs short

It seems every time a CASI instructor looks at the way I ride the first thing that comes out of their mouth is "straighten up your upper body and bend at the knees more". Now I don't doubt that I could always use some more knee bend but the one thing I have been wondering about lately is whether there is a difference in the biomechanics of riding stance for tall riders vs short riders. Do you think the same rules apply for a guy who is 5'6" as someone who is 6'2"? Maybe I am just looking for excuses here but it seems to me if I follow the advice of the midget instructors to the letter that my balance feels off.
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Old 12-28-2009, 12:34 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by ChuChu View Post
It seems every time a CASI instructor looks at the way I ride the first thing that comes out of their mouth is "straighten up your upper body and bend at the knees more". Now I don't doubt that I could always use some more knee bend but the one thing I have been wondering about lately is whether there is a difference in the biomechanics of riding stance for tall riders vs short riders. Do you think the same rules apply for a guy who is 5'6" as someone who is 6'2"? Maybe I am just looking for excuses here but it seems to me if I follow the advice of the midget instructors to the letter that my balance feels off.
Same basic rules will apply no matter your height. Obviously, if you are overweight, that will be an entirely different story since bending will be quite a chore. Put it this way... in sports, coaches make their entire team do the same exercise drills. That is because the mechanics will be the same no matter their height. The difference comes into play when they coach for specific positions such as quarterback and receiver etc...

All of your basic snowboarding skills will be the same no matter your height. When it comes to you jumping and doing tricks, that is when you'll need specific advice due to the physics of it all. Same goes for just getting speed down the slope because of drag and float etc...
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Old 12-28-2009, 04:20 PM   #3 (permalink)
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ChuChu , I can't help but picture a lanky 6'2" guy all bent over straight legged with his wings out like an airplane plowing down the mountain.


But really, Leo gave sound advice. Try out the proper way for awhile and overtime you will adjust your riding to suit your comfort needs.
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Old 12-28-2009, 09:27 PM   #4 (permalink)
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ChuChu , I can't help but picture a lanky 6'2" guy all bent over straight legged with his wings out like an airplane plowing down the mountain.


But really, Leo gave sound advice. Try out the proper way for awhile and overtime you will adjust your riding to suit your comfort needs.
lol I just saw some guy doing this yesterday down the hill and I made a mental note to steer clear of him.

Let me try to go into more detail into what I am talking about here guys. This is a quote talking about weightlifting squat mechanics:

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But then I figured something out: There's a limiting factor in squatting, which I call segmental proportion. What I realized was that athletes with long femurs relative to the length of the torso will be lousy squatters. These guys were almost always forwards or centers, six-feet-five or taller.

But it's not just about height some tall basketball players are actually very good squatters. And before you launch into keyboard-commando mode in the discussion thread, let me assure you that these segmentally challenged athletes don't lack desire or put out less effort than anyone else.

The problem is that a guy with these proportions needs an extreme forward lean when he squats, making it look like he's doing a good morning. He'll generally be frustrated with his inability to do the exercise correctly, and may suffer back pain.

Eventually, I could identify these athletes before we got anywhere near the squat rack. Basketball players with exceptionally long femurs always look short sitting down. I remember sitting next to one and realizing that, despite the fact he was eight inches taller than me, we were eye-to-eye in a chair.

My advice to athletes and fellow coaches: If you or an athlete you train is built proportionally and can squat with good form, go for it. If the athlete is "all legs," be careful: You're looking at a square peg.

So you see what I am saying about 1 size fits all stance advice? Guys with different proportions might have to shift their stance slightly to maintain their center of balance. For me that equates to slightly more forward lean at the waist than most other guys. The reason I pulled out the squat quote is because A) I couldn't find anything snowboard specific on this topic and B) I go through this same issue with squats where I get told I am leaning too much at the waist yet if it do it "properly" and to the letter I will literally fall over backwards because "properly" for me = center of balance thrown off.

Hopefull this explains it better.
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:58 AM   #5 (permalink)
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That quote you pulled has to do with stationary squats. There is a huge difference when it comes to snowboarding because for one, you have a snowboard under you feet. Two, you are moving down hill. The third factor you need to consider is toe and heel side turns. If you aren't centered on the board, you will definitely catch an edge sooner or later.

Another huge difference between the squats and snowboarding, you aren't going to be doing an extreme squat like in a defensive basketball position. It is just a relaxed bend at the knees with your back straight and your shoulders squared over the board. Watch a good snowboarder going down the hill while initiating toe and heel side carves (Snowolf probably knows the correct term for this action. It is when a snowboarder is rocking the board from toeside to heelside edges as they go in a straight line). Even though he is carving from edge to edge, he will be going in a straight line with only his lower body making movements. His upper body will be stationary down the whole run.

By the way, Snowolf is the neighborhood expert instructor around here so I advise you listen to his well, advice. Don't try to look for excuses to justify your posture. Try it out.

I take that back, you should bend a little more than a relaxed bend when you are turning and carving. Squatting to basketball defense levels means you are doing aggressive turning and carving.
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Old 12-29-2009, 12:42 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Thanks for the help guys, I'll keep working at it.
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Old 12-29-2009, 03:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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As someone who has let themselves get severely over weight the last couple of seasons I can personally vouch for being bent over at the waist as the wrong way to snowboard. In order to compensate for my gut, my whole body position is thrown off and makes my riding performance much less stable. When I was lighter I was better able to keep my form proper and my riding was significantly better
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Old 12-29-2009, 03:40 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Without saying its "wrong" (different strokes, and all that) and ignoring the specifics of snowboarding, you should think of the best stance being any stance that will allow you to shift your weight/balance quickly with stability.

Bottom to top, the available joints are ankles, knees, waist, back, neck.

Run up to a friend(s) and try to shove them a couple of feet. Watch how they try to maintain their balance. Most people (who don't fall) will probably bend their knees and lower their center of gravity to reduce the moment of inertia acting to tip them over...and THEN bend their waist or torso after they have a relatively stable lower body.

Almost no one (who is sober) will stumble side-to-side stiff legged without bending their knees much. Locking one of your joints into a fixed position (like keeping your legs straight) eliminates one of the tools your body can adjust to right itself, and definitely makes staying upright more difficult.

Its not impossible to ride a snowboard with relatively straight legs, but it requires much finer skill and speed with balancing by a rider

With balancing in general , multiple, quick, small adjustments are better than infrequent, huge adjustments. If you are only using your upper torso to move your body, then your adjustments will be bigger.
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Old 01-04-2010, 06:48 PM   #9 (permalink)
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ChuChu...

I have been working on bending more at the knees and ankles as well. I'm a 6 foot dude with most of the height in the legs. It takes quite a bit more energy to ride with proper technique but it also allows the rider to gracefully manage more difficult terrain. The one thing I have been doing to improve my riding that has produced the most results has been yoga. I'm no yoga master, but it seems to train the body to work as efficiently as possible and improves balance quite a bit. It also trains you how to breath while maintaining strong core stability. My advice to you would be to take some yoga classes; start slow and concentrate on proper technique more than doing all the poses to the extreme. Focus extra hard on the poses you find most difficult; they are difficult because you don't have the muscle that would make them easy.

Good luck!
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Old 01-04-2010, 07:20 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarzanman View Post
Without saying its "wrong" (different strokes, and all that) and ignoring the specifics of snowboarding, you should think of the best stance being any stance that will allow you to shift your weight/balance quickly with stability.

Bottom to top, the available joints are ankles, knees, waist, back, neck.
I'd add hips between knees and waist. Largest joint in the body and important to boarding. Waist, back and neck are all spine.
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