Pros: Simple, Effective, Efficient; Light, Compact, Portable
Cons: "Toy-like" Construction Materials
The SkiA Sweetspot Ski Trainer is a novel approach to training the body to balance on skis. Primarily utilizing the fore-aft plane of movement, the device consists of a platform that attaches to the boot with plastic straps closed with ratchets and buckles so you can line up the center point of the device with the center line of the boot, which ideally would be situated over the center point of the ski. See the Company's "Ski Performance Breakthrough" background document to learn more about the mechanics behind the Sweetspot Trainer.
The trainer comes with four sets of blocks graduated from green to black that attach securely to the bottom of the platform, on which the skier balances. These blocks are rockered slightly on the sides so one's balance is challenged immediately, even on the green blocks, and the body must adapt. There's no cheating on this device.
As I progressed on the trainers I found I became more attentive to stacking my body over my feet, which I discovered had the side-benefit of requiring less work on the part of my feet and ankles to get my body lined up. Voila! Less work is good. That kind of reinforcement apparently makes the brain and body learn really fast.
I spent 10-20 minutes per session once a day, then literally slept on the experience, and found that despite a lack of success in a previous training session, there was significant improvement the next time on those blocks. Once I got good at vertical movement on one set of clocks, I moved up. I found that after an initial state of confusion as my body refreshed the stance it learned from the easier blocks I quickly progressed. In the progression from blue to red, I found I had to regress to the blues to re-anchor the learning, but again, a short review was all it took to get re-stacked over the smaller base.
Of course I'm a ski instructor, not a neurologist, but I strongly suspect that I was creating some neural pathways through this training process. It was uncanny.
Yesterday I tested this training on the ski hill and was pleasantly rewarded with a sense of being utterly bulletproof the first day of the season -- on the groomed slopes. That locked-in feeling was not so pronounced in the chowder and bumps, as one might expect, due to the greater demands of the variable snow and terrain. On the other hand, I actually experienced not retreating with my hips, which was an epiphany, and those muscles that bring the hip out of "park" are letting me know about it today.
I'll add any further insights to this review as the season progresses.
Conclusion: Some people will have no need for this kind of training tool, but I definitely recommend the product for anyone looking for a extra performance boost. It works while you sleep, but you have to put in real time on the blocks, going through the progressions, to work that magic.
Those who have purchased the device have remarked that it has a toy-construction quality, which is true enough especially if the comparison is to Legos, but if you think about it, Legos are very sturdy and this device probably is too as long as a person doesn't subject it to forces it wasn't intended to withstand. One suggestion for the manufacturer would be to include a soft carrying case so the myriad pieces are kept together and it is easier to transport.