Ski skills: how to develop leg steering and rotation for better control on steep slopes

Warren Smith

When you turn using your hips and upper body it is impossible to edge your skis says Telegraph Ski and Snowboard ski technique editor and coach for Channel 4's The Jump, Warren Smith. Leg or thigh steering describes how we rotate our legs within our sockets. This allows us to ski more efficiently in steeps, bumps or narrow and tight spaces – here’s how to develop the technique.

Warren is part of the Völkl International Freeski Team and one of Europe’s most acclaimed ski coaches. He’s a Level 4 International Instructor and Tutor (IASI) and Level 4 Performance Coach (IVSI). He set up the Warren Smith Ski Academy 18 years ago to offer recreational skiers performance coaching rather than standard ski school lessons. Its groundbreaking courses  (held in Verbier,Cervinia, Niseko, Revelstoke and at UK indoor slopes) have transformed the skills of thousands of recreational skiers, instructors and athletes, and received extensive praise.

Warm-up exercise

Copy the exercise in the video above for both legs before you go skiing. It’s an excellent way of waking up the muscles and imitating the movements you need to make.

Use braquage to simulate skiing in tight, steep areas

Aim to keep the hips and shoulders facing towards the fall line then initiate the steering movement by rotating your legs within the hip sockets. Watch the technique in the video above.

Use the power punch exercise

This will increase the rate and strength of the thigh steering movement. Try to keep the flow moving down the fall line and the legs steering powerfully through to 90 degrees without the hips and shoulders rotating, as demonstrated in the video.

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Simple stretches

To increase leg rotation, simple stretches can really help such as this one - get on your back and pull one foot towards your chest and hold for 10 seconds then repeat on the other side. Repeat five times.  

Test your range

Make sure you find out what your steering range is off skis. A simple hip-hold range test will give you a close to exact reading – watch the video to see how. This test shows a 45 degree rotation on one side and 75 degree on the other. A 30-degree difference between left and right is very common and clearly demonstrates which is the weaker turning direction.