Drop Knee

  DROP KNEE

Drop knee stance
Why drop knee?
Drop knee turn to cross steps

 

Drop knee stance

Drop knee stance takes a bit of practice if you're used to flat foot backside turns. The back foot is placed far back on the board and turned in so it's parallel with the stringer and the ball of the foot is pressed on the tail. The heel is lifted. The toe can be placed in the center as shown or on the heelside (left) rail.

 

The skater then drops his back knee down to get weight on the tail. Most of the skater's weight will be transferred to this toe point during the turn.

 

Why drop knee?

The drop knee turn is a traditional backside turn in surfing and has its place in longskating. The back knee is dropped and the heel comes up, giving it an unusual look. There's an argument about whether it is done for style only or has function.

It indeed has function, and the key word is angulation. Angulation is the ability to lean the board up on a rail without losing control. Backside flatfoot turns have limited angulation because your foot can only flex up so far, thus you have to lean out. This can be a problem, especially at low speed. If you adopt a drop knee stance, turning in your foot and pushing the rail down with the toe, it is possible to minimize leaning, stay centered over the board, and yet angle it deeply. This is the functional object to the drop knee turn.

The drop knee is a very stylish turn and every rider or surfer who does it well seems to lend their own signature to it. Also it can be done neatly on the back half of the long skateboard, leaving room to take four steps.

 

Drop knee turn to cross steps

Drop knee turns lead into cross steps really well. This is because your back foot is turned parallel with the board. The first cross step out of a drop knee feels like a natural walking step, like you're strolling right out of the drop knee to the nose.

From the drop position, the skater is again "fading" onto the frontside rail a little bit. The foot is on the toe side of the stringer. The arms are neutral, which to me doesn't mean flopping all over the place. That's one bit of 60s surfing which I like to see only in old 60s surf films.

The back foot is reached back to "feel" for the spot where the drop knee works best, where the toe hits on the heel side of the stringer, all the way back on the farthest back edge of the tail. The fade frontside turn continues up to the last moment.

The skater has thrown his arm way back to the left and dropped solidly onto the rail. The back foot is pushing down hard on the toe, and the knee is practically bottomed out onto the board, or against the front foot. It's possible to do a drop knee without going so deep, but a deep drop gives more torque and rail to the turn. You can see his knee is actually out past the rail, crossed under the front leg. Throwing the knee under the other pulls the body right into the "banana" shape of a counterleaning turn.

As seen in the frontside kick carve sequence, counterlean is used to get more weight over the board and onto the turning rail.

The turn looks very much like a free-heel skiing telemark, only it's more solid, because here the back big toe does the carving whereas in skiing the weak little toe side carves the back ski. The drop knee reverse turn resembles more exactly the telemark. More about reverse turns later.

Straightening the posture upright, the back foot is picked up and cross stepped. Notice that the old front foot (left foot) stays exactly where it was, slightly to the left of the stringer. This time the cross step continues to trim the same turn as the original drop knee. The ball of the front foot goes right over the stringer, and the heel is weighted a bit to trim the cross foot turn to the backside.

The left foot has come out of the cross and is planted further up the board. The right foot is beginning the next cross step.

The next cross step happens right at the nose. The crossed front foot is placed on the front trucks. Note the tightly crossed position. This is an example of "digging" the heel to save space, explained in the section on cross stepping. One more step could be taken right onto the tip for a hang five.

 

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