Tutorial: Rotational Steering


Rotational steering causes some debate. After all, you’ll have been told ‘never cross your hands’ at least once before. Ultimately, it is best used for applying large amounts of steering lock as quickly as possible, but is not a good choice for general cornering. It should not be confused with one-handed palming of the steering wheel. The two main situations when this is the best steering method are during rapid application of large amounts of steering in confined spaces and for skid control. It may be required to control a large oversteer skid and is, therefore, a useful tool for racing drivers.

The technique starts as for ‘fixed grip’ steering, but involves changing grip before half a turn of the wheel. The pictures below show the steps involved for the most common approach to rotational steering.

Step-by-Step Photos

1. Straight ahead position
2. To steer to the right, rotate wheel towards half a turn using a fixed grip.
3. The lower (leading) hand releases grip and crosses the trailing arm.
4. The crossing hand grips the other side of the rim and starts to pull to continue rotating the wheel.
5. The other hand releases grip, rotates and re-grips the rim as the wheel continues to turn.
6. Both hands form a fixed grip position ready to continue adding lock.

Example Video


Although rotational steering may appear useful for many situations, this isn’t the case. For sharp corners on a country road or alpine hairpin, where more than half a turn of steering is required, the ‘pull-push’ technique is a better choice. Using rotational steering would end up with arms crossed and with poor control for the duration of the corner. This would be particularly important if there is a pot-hole to avoid during the bend.

Rotational steering is best kept for the situations when lots of steering is required very quickly. Additionally, in order to maximise control, you should always physically unwind the lock rather than letting the wheel self-centre or slide through the hands. Since the rate of natural self-centring is affected by vehicle mass, tyres and suspension geometry, it will vary from car to car.