Scooter Drill – The Way We Like It [Video]

Scooter-Drill-ThumbnailThe Scooter Drill is probably the most “famous” cross-country ski drill. We like to use it as a way to practice diagonal stride in slow motion.

Diagonal Stride is a highly complex movement. We’re always looking for ways to break out components of the stride cycle so people can practice those movements separately.

Focussing on the smaller movements and learning them in tiny steps helps people develop new neuromuscular patterns. Eventually that translates to easy and natural integration of those movements back into the whole.

Here’s how we teach the Scooter Drill. Because we don’t want people to actually “scoot” we had to rename it. Sometimes we call it the “One Step Scooter Drill”, other times we call it the “Precision Scooter Drill.”

We don’t like either of those names, so if you can suggest a better name for this drill, we’d love to hear it.

Precision Scooter Drill

*Transcript provided at end of article

The Set Up

Flat, straight track. One ski on, one ski off. Put your ski in outside track. Don’t step on the track with your boot.

Step 1: “The Boot”

All the body's weight is focussed through the toe of the boot. Knee presses forward over foot, creating deep ankle flexion.

Stand so all your weight is on the ball of your foot and none is on the leg that has the ski. Press your knee over the toe of your boot so your ankle is flexed. Your hips are not square with the trail but are rotated or “open” to the side. Your upper body is leaning forward, but not in a way that makes your hips bend back.


Step 2: “The Ski”

Extend-LegExtend the ski behind you so the tail is off the snow. Don’t bend your knee;  keep your leg straight but relaxed. If you are having trouble getting the tail of the ski off snow, try bending your stance leg more to bring your weight further forward over the toe of your boot. Extend your leg further behind you by letting your hips rotate and “open” to the side.


Step 3: “The Arm”

Don't-ReachThe arm that is on the same side as the ski comes forward, the other is back. Do not reach! Keep your arms relaxed and close to your body.

The Execution

Step or slide onto your ski while switching your arm position. Take a very small step. It’s natural for your weight to fall back as you make the step. That’s why you want to take a very small step. It will increase the chance you’ll be able to keep your weight forward.

There are a few ways you can tell if your weight falls too far back. Check your ankle flexion. Your knee should remain bent, pressing forward over the toe of your boot.

Can you feel your weight through the ball of your foot the whole time? It’s bad if you feel your weight fall back on your heel.

The last way to check if you’re keeping your weight forward is to check your hip. Notice how the pelvis is always rotated so that the hip of the lead leg is over the toe of the stance foot.

The ultimate goal is to come onto your ski with a flexed ankle, for your hip to stay forward over the glide ski, and for your trailing leg to stay relaxed and extended behind you.

Try to glide on a flexed leg, with your trailing leg relaxed and extended behind you.

Try to glide on a flexed leg, with your trailing leg relaxed and extended behind you.


Once you have the basic movement mastered and feel comfortable gliding with your weight forward over your ski you can start to work on variations.

First try to increase your glide distance. Next add some “snap” to your push off. Your boot is mimicking your kick. Think about pushing down into the snow with more force, like you’re trying to get better grip with your kick wax. Finally, you can use this drill to work on your hip rotation. Think about using your hips to move yourself onto your ski.

Why No Scootering Allowed

If you "scoot" along the trail you will have a tendency to swing your foot too far forward (orange arrow). That will shift your hips back (yellow arrow) and move your weight onto the heel of your foot (red arrow).

If you “scoot” along the trail you’ll have a tendency to swing your foot too far forward (orange arrow). That will shift your hips back (yellow arrow) and move your weight onto the heel of your foot (red arrow).

Scooting around on one ski is fun, especially when you’re playing a game like one-ski soccer or capture the flag. We’re big fans of playing on skis. It’s a great way to improve your agility.

But we’re not fans of “scooting” up and down the track on one ski. It’s too easy to let your weight fall back on your heels and it allows you to “cheat” by keeping your weight centred between your legs.

We like our way of doing the “Scooter Drill” because it prevents people from standing too upright or letting weight slip back.

With the “Precision Scooter Drill” every movement you practice is correct and relevant to good technique. Scooting along the trail is not an accurate mimic of correct technique.

Video Transcript

Hey! Today I want to show you one of my favourite cross-country ski drills. I call it the “Precision Scooter Drill”. With this drill it’s really important that you take the time to set yourself up properly each and every time you do it.

You’re going to haven ski on, one ski off. And the boot that has the ski…in my case I have my left ski on… so I’m going to stand in the right track. So that I’m not wrecking the track with my boot.

So the set up is in three parts. The first part is what I call “The Boot”. All you have to do is get all your weight over the toe of your boot. The way you do that is by flexing your knee forward. I feel all the weight through the ball of my foot. I don’t feel any in my heel. And I’ve got my hip forward like this. That’s number one, “The Boot”.

Number two is “The Ski”. For “The Ski” you just want to extend the tail of the ski behind you. The tail of the ski should be off the snow. It’s not off the snow because you bent your knee to get it up. It’s off the snow because the weight is forward on this foot and the leg is just extended behind you. The hips aren’t square with the trail, they’re kind of rotated. So that’s number 2, “The Ski” and number 3 is the “The Arms”.

For “The Arm” you just want to bring forward the arm that’s on the same side of the ski. That arm’s forward and this arm is back.

When you do the drill, you’re going to take one step onto your ski. I want you to get really low. As you step you’re going to switch your arms. Just a little step, like that. You want to make it as easy as possible the first time.

One this your should watch for is if you’ve got any kick wax accumulated on the kick wax under your ski. When you go to take that step it might get stuck in the snow and trip you up. You can always clean the snow off first (rubs ski back and forth in track)

So the set up again: all the weight on the ball of my foot (Number 1 “The Boot). Number Two, extend the ski behind me and Number 3: Arm Forward. What I’m aiming to do is come onto this glide ski as I’m switching my arms as low as possible and keeping my weight forward.

As you progress you can do it with longer and longer strides. But don’t start scooting along the trail stride after stride.

Always stop and set yourself up properly: Boot, Ski, Arm. Then you can start to extend your glide more and more.

The other thing you can look for – another common mistake – this trailing leg – instead of leaving it relaxed behind them. It kind of snaps in and they lose their balance.

So things to look for: standing too straight on your ski, this leg snapping in. What you want instead is to be low on your ski and this leg to be relaxed behind you.

I hope you like this drill. I think it’s great for working on your kick, your glide, your weight transfer and all aspects of diagonal stride.

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