Too Wide or Too Narrow? Why your Knees are driving you nuts.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Your knees are too wide! Your knees are too narrow! Everyone seems to have an opinion about your stance. Luckily, I have the best answers! Here I will give you a complete and nuanced response to the question of how wide knees ought to be.

 

A Very Short and Easy Answer

The concise and practical answer is your knees should be approximately shoulder-width apart. Shoulder-width is a good answer for most people most of the time; and the best place to start. There is more to than this statement, read on for more.

 

Not static

In fluid dynamic flying, knee width isn’t static. You can widen and narrow them to contribute to forward and backward, for example. You can also narrow and align your knees when doing turns or slides. So your neutral may have one knee width; it could change while you are moving around. Any knee width is good if it contributes positively to your intended movement.

 

Narrow for arching

If your knees are super wide, you will lose some arch. This effect is why “narrow knees” is an AFF instructor’s favorite problem solver. If you aren’t arched correctly, it could be because you are trying to do the splits in the air. Bringing them closer together should allow your hips more range of motion, and voila – arch!

Flexible people can keep an arch with a broader stance. However, the perfect position for one person might not be suitable for everyone!

Shoulder width for arching

Too wide – reduces arch

Wide for balance

But of course, there is a catch… the wider your knees are, the more balanced you will be. You’ll also be more stable and tougher to knock around in the sky. On the other hand, if they are almost together, you’ll feel wobbly and will have to fight a stronger natural backslide.

 

Narrow backward, wide forwards

Want to go backward? Pinch your knees! Conversely, wide knees will help you go forward. Check out Rhtyhm’s forward and backward video to see this in action.

Bonus Tip: Occasionally, I work with a pre-bootie suit student who has a permanent backslide, no matter how much leg pressure they have. Widening their stance often helps.

 

Narrower for sliding and turning

When I am teaching sliding and turning with knees in the tunnel, I signal my students’ stance to be a bit narrower. When using your legs, your knees should be aligned so one leg can go down and the other can go up. If you are wide, the mechanic becomes harder.

Eventually, you can learn to fly wide as a base and bring your knees parallel when your knees need to move.

Narrow for sliding, turning, or carving

Wider when absorbing

Are you expecting some… turbulence… from other jumpers? If you need to stay rock-solid, keep your knees wide to help you stay put and absorb any pushes and pulls.

 

So if you aren’t sure, aim for shoulder width. Like a lot of flying, the cookie-cutter answer gets more complicated when you start digging. Keep the following points in mind!

  • If you are flexible or need stability – be wider.
  • If you are having trouble arching – go narrower.
  • If you are learning leg movements – target narrow.
  • If you are moving around, it is ok if it changes!

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I've watched Christy develop as a competitor and coach for 17 years and I've seen her do this again and again. There is one risk when working with her. You're going to want more, lots more!

» Dan BC – Airspeed

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