One Stride

The one-stride drill is useful in establishing a balanced, extended starting position, generating forward momentum with the arm and leg swing, and preserving that momentum with good body position.

1. Start in a basic athletic stance. Good upright posture, poised with the weight on the balls of the feet. The vertical white line represents center of mass in all frames.

2. Shift the weight to one foot, and begin to move toward an extended diagonal stride position. Keep the basic body position and balance from the starting position, and shift the upper body forward only to counter-balance the rear leg.

3. Achieve a fully extended position from which good arm and leg swings can be used to generate momentum. Body weight should be slightly forward of a balanced position as the arm and leg begin to swing forward.

4. As the arm and leg swing forward and pass the center of mass (represented by the vertical white line), create an "impulse" into the ground with a quick compression of the kicking leg. The heel of the kicking foot should stay down to help "set the wax" effectively.

5. A single frame (1/15 of one second) later the heel of the kicking foot is still down, and the kick is almost complete.

6. As the impulse into the ground is completed, the velocity of the forward swing is at its highest level. Momentum has been generated, and the completion of the stride will help to preserve that momentum.

7. At full extension the forward leg should be relaxed and supple, and the forward arm and shoulder should continue to draw the upper body forward, not up.

8. Because the the relaxed front leg and the forward arm and shoulder position, the body continues to move forward over the foot as the stride is completed. Momentum has been preserved.

Step Drill

The step drill is a very effective way of isolating and encouraging a strong impulse and a supple forward leg in ski imitation. It can be performed on fixed steps, but works especially well on a bench, or steps like the ones shown here, that can be tipped over easily.

Start in an extended diagonal position, three or four feet from the base of a set of steps, or a bench about 16 inches high. The goal is to stride onto the bench or steps with good enough momentum and body position to carry the body smoothly forward. You'll need to experiment to find a good starting position.

The basic stride is identical to that used on the one-stride drill, or in ski walking. As the arm and leg swing forward, generating momentum, an strong impulse must be created with the kicking leg to propell the body mass up and forward over the step.

As the kick is completed, the body should be in a forward position, and the leading arm and shoulder should help to draw the body mass forward.

The front leg should be supple so that the body mass can continue forward over the step.

Successfully completed, this drill looks very much like the one-stride drill, uphill. Unsuccessful completion of the stride in this drill is illustrated below.

A common mistake in striding is the tendency to reach too far forward with the front leg, or to keep the front leg too stiff. This makes it very difficult to preserve the momentum of the body mass. The step-drill is quite effective at isolating this component of striding.

Here's why! On a bench or free-standing steps a large mass behind a stiff front leg will tip the step. On fixed steps it will be very difficult for the body mass to continue forward.This drill provides very good feedback, and is a good prescription for an athlete who may not always have a coach available for instant feedback.

Ski Walk

Ski walking is the natural extension of the one-stride drill. The focus remains on generating and preserving forward momentum. Ski walking is useful in building and refining classic ski technique. It is easily taught and practiced. Ski walking can be incorporated into any running workout as variety, and as a means of reinforcing a solid technical foundation. Ski walking can also be an outstanding means of improving specific strength and ski speed. Resistance can be added with steeper terrain, or with the use of surgical tubing or bungee cords in partnering exercises. It is easy to emphasize stride length with appropriate power application.

For technical specificity it can be very useful to incorporate a brief pause between strides (at the beginning/end of the following sequence). During this pause the skier should maintain an extended position, and it should be easy to see and feel the body mass move forward over the foot. Ski walking with a pause can serve as a good intermediary between the isolation of the one-stride drill and continuous walking.

This sequence starts in the middle of a series of strides. The extended diagonal starting position appears to place the center of mass farther behind the foot than is seen in the one-stride drill. This is because the body mass is already actively moving forward.

As the arm and leg swing past the body, the center of mass is clearly forward of the kicking foot. The heel is down to provide a good impulse.

As the arm and leg continue to swing forward, the impulse is nearly completed with the whole foot still in contact with the ground.

As the kick is completed the lead arm and shoulder swing forward in a relaxed manner, helping to draw the body mass forward, up the hill.

The front leg is soft and supple, allowing for the preservation of momentum.The upper body moves forward, not up.

The body mass continues forward, as the next stride has already begun with the initiation of the forward swing of the opposite arm and leg.


The hop-stride drill is an effective means of building power and emphasizing balance and coordination. The object is to hop up the hill on one leg, using the momentum generated by the arm and leg swing to move the body forward.

The drill starts in an extended diagonal position. Because of the dynamic use of the body weight in generating momentum in this drill, the starting position may be somewhat exagerated, and forward.

As the arm and leg start to swing forward, the body weight is shifted forward, and the hopping leg is loaded with good compression.

As the arm and leg pass the center of mass, the body weight is well forward, and the impulse of the kicking leg is generated through the whole foot, with the heel on the ground.

In order to generate sufficient momentum, the arm and leg swing must be dynamic. The upper body stays forward and the lead arm and shoulder remain relaxed, allowing for the preservation of momentum.

Upon conclusion of the arm and leg swing, and kicking foot returns under the body...

And becomes the landing foot.

After landing in a balanced position the skier starts to extend once again into a diagonal position.

As extension nears completion in preparation for the next hop, the body weight continues to move forward with the momentum generated in the previous hop.