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Upper body vs lower body. Where do you start?

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 

In the 'commitment to the turn' thread there was some discussion about the relationship between actions of the feet and legs and the relative position of the upper body and how these two things interact with each other. I would like to follow up on this a little.

 

First the chicken and egg question. Do you have a bias toward teaching one or the other? Do you feel that only if the body is in front of the feet will the actions of the feet and legs be effective in moving us where we want to go? Sort of a move the body and the feet/legs/skis will follow approach. Or, do you feel that if you train students to effectively use the feet and legs the relative position of the upper body will fall into place? If your answer is "It depends on the student' then what clues are you looking for when you watch the student ski to decide which path you want to take? With a first time student due you tend to focus on one or the other?

 

Do you feel that one or the other of these approaches is more effective and why?

 

I'll save my thoughts on this until the thread gets going. I'll also have more questions as it goes along.

 

fom

 

 

post #2 of 33

let me begin by stating i usually work with "never evers" or beginners with a few skills.  When working with those students, i emphasize the foot movements and discuss them in terms of inside of the turn foot and outside of the turn foot.  While that's where the emphasis is placed, typical instruction regarding upper body is to get them pointing the eyes and belly buttons where they wish to go.

 

as the student advances, i find i typically begin a more detailed discussion regarding the upper body when introducing them to steeper terrain usually in the context of some simple traverses.  Then, my main goal is to have the belly button point downhill of the ski tips even if just a little bit.  As the skiier progresses to even steeper ground, side slipping helps to further instill the need for upper and lower body separation.

 

In terms of your chicken vs. egg question, obvious balance (fore/aft in this case) is a continual discussion in this process, but i prefer to put my eggs in the big toe/little toe basket rather than the move the body and hoping everything else follows.

 

I prefer the focus on the lower body initially, since i believe those movements are so fundamental to good skiing and that the upper body movements while fundamental are less necessary early on on relatively flat terrain.  While we do some upper body work, i don't really discuss it much or explain it beyond getting the eys, belly button, hips, and knees and then eventually feet pointing where you want to go.  The other answer is because my psia training instilled this bias in me.

 

dave  

post #3 of 33

I prefer to stand on the lower body. All the blood rushes to my head when I stand on my upper body. 

 

With respect to skiing, one wants to average around a centered stance. Lots of body parts need to move in skiing, they need to move in harmony with each other no matter how you think about it and the upper body and lower body parts need to move relative to each other no matter how you think about it. Until coordinated movements can be made unconsciously, some amount of conscious movement must be made. But we can not consciously control all movements simultaneously. And sometimes what we think we are doing is not what we are doing. So if I tell someone to move their right hand forward and their left foot pulls back and that's what I'm looking for, I really don't care how I got there. Ideally I want my students to get to the point where they are thinking about "where to go" vs "how to get there". There are many different paths from here to there.

post #4 of 33

Pendulums and Metronomes both swing rhythmically back and forth. Both have rigid arms that pivot around one end. If that stable pivot point moves, or the arm is not rigid, or has joints that flex, do those machines still work the same? A pocket watch on a chain will still swing like a pendulum. But try to make it swing like a metronome. Not happening?

 

So how does the human body relate to this? We can do either, or a combination of both. To a point at least. Are we trying to swing the feet under an immobile upper body? Are we swinging the body over immobile feet? Or once we start moving do either of these models represent what's really going on? That's the problem we face when discussing Human Locomotion on snow. The observer sees it one way and the moving skier another. But accelerated perspectives and observers perspectives is a subject best left out of this one for now. At least as much as we can.

 

I watch folks trying to step uphill using a variety of movements. What I want to offer is two distinct visual examples.

  • If they rely on traction from setting an edge and pushing themselves up the hill they get exhausted pretty quickly because they must create a strong enough edge platform to push off from and they must actively move away from Gravity.
  • If they pick up their uphill ski and fall uphill they use existing traction and are allowing Gravity to be a motive force. Net energy output is lower since they are exploiting forces that already exist, so they don't get as fatigued as fast.

 

 

So now that we have those clear visual images let's talk about snow for a moment.

 

If the snow is hard we all tend to shift our thinking to the first example because logic say it's necessary to create more traction. But is that tactic always a good idea? Can we alway create more traction? Do we even want to?

 

Before offering any conclusions, please let me tell you about two guys.

 

A long time friend of mine used to say, ski hard snow soft and soft snow hard. The obvious meaning was that it's easy to overwhelm our edge platform on ice, since our edge doesn't penetrate the ice very much. Conversely if you are in a race course, or anywhere else where you want the turn to be smaller you will be trying to create more edge purchase from additional pressure. Sometimes a higher edge angle will also involved but all the extra balancing requirements that introduces mean our fundamental skills need to be higher as well. That another story though, the important point is that it's not enough to get the skis out that far, pressure needs to be managed so the skis maintain purchase yet don't overwhelm the edge platform. As the skis come back under the body we have to be actively managing that pressure to even let the skis come back under the body. The joints in the legs are what we use to do this. IMO this requires a combination of a stable but not static upper body and a very supple (flexible) lower body. BTW, Bud was a very elegant skier and had such great touch. Not a lot of skiers ever approached his smooth and flowing style.

 

 

 

I also have another long time friend that skied with a lot of power and a fairly inclinated stance. He was a bull and could drive his edges into any snow / ice. As a world cup level racer he spent a lot of time developing that power. What was unusual was his accuracy with gross body movements, it was better than anyone I've ever seen. So for him using the skis as a pivot point was never a problem. He was so accurate that even in his later years when he couldn't feel his feet that highly developed sense of overall balance allowed him to still rip fabulously accurate turns. Serge made it look easy but that bullish quality always was there, powerful, aggressive, imposing his will on every turn. Among so many PSIA folks the Loveland Bank was used to describe his school's movement bias.

 

 

 

Which skier do you resemble? Which style is "better"? How do we teach either? Let's return to the sidestepping newbies I mentioned earlier. If you are a bull and own the strength to power your way up the hill, you will more than likely do exactly that. If you don't own that bull like power, that second falling up the hill approach makes a lot more sense.

 

So where do I start with newbies? I feel strongly the first thing they need to know is how to balance and move across level ground. Projecting the body into the turn and getting enough traction with the feet to get the body moving in the first place both need to occur simultaneously. How many folks slip and slide while trying to do even that simple task? Without some traction that will always occur. So how many folks step a foot somewhere and leave the body behind? Without that projection of the body that move does very little to actually move them anywhere. So again, it takes a combination of both to actually move across the level ground.

 

On inclined ground though Gravity suddenly becomes a motive force and in the lower friction environment of a ski slope there is a lot less intrinsic traction. So to return to the climbing newbies again and the idea that it takes a combination of foot movements and the body falling up the hill to actually get up the hill, I would ask if that should that change as they slide back down that hill? Logic say no but fear of sliding out of control down the hill often overwhelms that logical conclusion. So there in a nut shell is the greatest mental challenge we face when teaching newbies. How do we get these folks to trust their ability to control their speed. Do we teach them to dig in those edges and brake, or do we teach them to turn across the hill for speed control? How much is it about tipping and riding, and how much is it about turning the feet and letting the body follow the skis as both turn across the hill? Again the best approach is a combination of both but exactly how much of either largely depends on that student's confidence in their ability to stay in control of their speed and direction of travel as they slide down the hill.

 

Whew, that's a lot of stuff to write before actually answering your question FOM. I feel it is necessary information though, even if it's a total review and not all that interesting to our more experienced coaches. Nor will I shy away from saying it all depends. Not as a cop out though. IMO if I suggest one method over the other that is only because of an intrinsic bias I observed that is inhibiting that student's progress. Again that's because IMO the objective is to get them to use a balanced combination of these two options to produce turns that will keep their speed and directional control within their skill level. I'm setting them up for success and that success raises their confidence in their ability to produce exactly the directional and speed control appropriate for their skill level. There is power in that success and as their skill level rises we can and do explore other options like edge biased turns (lower body focus) , and the laterally larger RoM needed to produce higher edge angles (upper body focus). But not before those students know how to link skidded turns on easy blue terrain. Before then I find their confidence level is way too low to ask them simply to tip and rip. We did that for a few years in Aspen but found we were producing too many locked on an edge skiers searching for a place to land and explode. That form of speed control and lack of directional control is why we shifted to a more blended objective. Less injuries to our students and staff seem to occur with that blended approach as well.

 

One final thought before I finish here concerns the Kinetic Chain idea. Which is sometimes directly associated with the subject of upper lower body usage and focus. I don't subscribe to it because it implies a wave of movement rising up through the body instead of the entire body simultaneously and continuously participating in balancing. Only when the entire body is involved in balancing are we capable of accessing or changing to any combination of the fundamental skills at will. If that KInetic Chain saying helps a student shift their bias to a more balanced use of upper and lower body movements, great. If it communicates a political opinion about foot first movements, well that's dogma and IMO a very bad idea. Knowing exactly why we are shifting a students movement bias and mental focus to the feet, or body is what's most important. Although I also feel it's important to communicate to that student that shifting that focus is a short term focus meant to create change, not a long term immutable focus to use for the rest of their skiing carreer.

Good subject FTM, sorry for the extra long post,

JASP  


Edited by justanotherskipro - 6/11/11 at 12:43pm
post #5 of 33

Edited for content and brevity...

... FOM, there is always a bit of a controversy surounding what upper and lower body seperation and usage means. I think Barnes said it well when he said we may focus on the feet but if the body is not where it needs to be the whole movement breaks down. Ideas like the Kinetic Chain focus on the feet, ideas like my hula hoop drill focus on the core. Neither are worth a damn if they are seen as dogma and an "always do this" rule. The best way I can describe using either is as a short term corrective change activity.

  • If a student is using good foot and leg movements but not allowing the core to move into the new turn, I take them over to the beginner corral and make them side slip and that eventually leads to hip circles where the core is moving but the feet are the pivot (anchor). Visually I would say they move like a spyder, lots of leg movements but relatively little core movement. So getting the core moving would facilitate their needs.
  • If a student is using a lot of core projection (excessive), or big upper body tipping, or rotary moves, I look for why they need to use that big move. Often it's a matter of their foot / ankle being too static and they have trouble releasing their skis, or even sometimes maintaining a centered stance. In short their feet and legs are stuck in place. So they overwhelm the edge platform instead of simply releasing it, then they struggle to find balance through the rest of the turn because of the excessive momentum they created. Getting them to quite down the upper half and be more active with the lower half is the cure here.

 

 

Problems develop when we get too rigid and dogmatic in real world application of either idea. Everything about skiing is situationally dependent. No universal advice, or universally appropriate movement pattern exists. The best we as coaches can do is articulate corrective advice with that caveat included. Don't solve one problem by creating another...

 

JASP


Edited by justanotherskipro - 6/12/11 at 10:54am
post #6 of 33

Originally Posted by justanotherskipro View Post

Edited for content and brevity...

... FOM, there is always a bit of a controversy surounding what upper and lower body seperation and usage means. I think Barnes said it well when he said we may focus on the feet but if the body is not where it needs to be the whole movement breaks down. Ideas like the Kinetic Chain focus on the feet, ideas like my hula hoop drill focus on the core. Neither are worth a damn if they are seen as dogma and an "always do this" rule. The best way I can describe using either is as a short term corrective change activity.

  • If a student is using good foot and leg movements but not allowing the core to move into the new turn, I take them over to the beginner corral and make them side slip and that eventually leads to hip circles where the core is moving but the feet are the pivot (anchor). Visually I would say they move like a spyder, lots of leg movements but relatively little core movement. So getting the core moving would facilitate their needs.
  • If a student is using a lot of core projection (excessive), or big upper body tipping, or rotary moves, I look for why they need to use that big move. Often it's a matter of their foot / ankle being too static and they have trouble releasing their skis, or even sometimes maintaining a centered stance. In short their feet and legs are stuck in place. So they overwhelm the edge platform instead of simply releasing it, then they struggle to find balance through the rest of the turn because of the excessive momentum they created. Getting them to quite down the upper half and be more active with the lower half is the cure here.

 

 

Problems develop when we get too rigid and dogmatic in real world application of either idea. Everything about skiing is situationally dependent. No universal advice, or universally appropriate movement pattern exists. The best we as coaches can do is articulate corrective advice with that caveat included. Don't solve one problem by creating another...

 

JASP


JASP,

This post is very carefully stated  -- and thought-provoking.  Thanks... from a relatively new ski instructor.

 

post #7 of 33

...

post #8 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by justanotherskipro View Post

Problems develop when we get too rigid and dogmatic in real world application of either idea. Everything about skiing is situationally dependent. No universal advice, or universally appropriate movement pattern exists. The best we as coaches can do is articulate corrective advice with that caveat included. Don't solve one problem by creating another...

 

JASP


Firstly, I agree.

 

So my question is then why do we talk about movment patterns on here so much? I always found the concept strange.

 

post #9 of 33



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post




Firstly, I agree.

 

So my question is then why do we talk about movment patterns on here so much? I always found the concept strange.

 


 

An understanding of practical biomechanics links ski technique to physics, and helps to describe efficient and effective body movements. Movement and Motion successfully explains observed movement patterns at all skill levels and situations.


 
 

 

post #10 of 33

Technique is all about how we move and how it affects the skis. More exactly it's about how we change the interaction between the skis and the snow. The DIRT and our tactical line choice are often the overall parameters that we use to evaluate the efficacy of a movement pattern. Or any optional movement pattern we may recommend as an alternative. Expressing our fundamental skills through specific movements is a saying that's been around forever as well. So movement patterns are often a language for prescribing changes. If anything communicating an idea without a concrete and specific movement change is harder when the the theoretical idea is lost on a student who thinks in terms of movements.

post #11 of 33



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by justanotherskipro View Post

Technique is all about how we move and how it affects the skis. More exactly it's about how we change the interaction between the skis and the snow. The DIRT and our tactical line choice are often the overall parameters that we use to evaluate the efficacy of a movement pattern. Or any optional movement pattern we may recommend as an alternative. Expressing our fundamental skills through specific movements is a saying that's been around forever as well. So movement patterns are often a language for prescribing changes. If anything communicating an idea without a concrete and specific movement change is harder when the the theoretical idea is lost on a student who thinks in terms of movements.



My experience is that getting students to do "the movment" is actually quiet easy, and only a fraction of what good skiing is, and thus only a small part of my lessons.  I find that things such as doing the move at the right time, at the right rate or rates as the case maybe takes far more skill to develop, but once developed offers far more skiing ability and performance.

 

It is for that reason that I focus alot on "feeling" this or that.  I then try to get them to maintain that "feeling" is this phase of the turn or that phase, in this scenario or that scenario as the case maybe.  Once someone "feels" somthing, then the variability in the movments that are required for a particular situation can be instantly and instinctivley be done by the student to suit their particular situation.

 

post #12 of 33

Movement patterns - also referred to as fundamentals - are a part of all sports.

post #13 of 33

Because teaching in terms of movement patterns makes more sense than teaching positions.  

 

Sure learning through sensations, proprioception, feel, or thinking with the feet are ultimately where the skier begins to own the movements.  Perhaps one could be viewed as a macro focus and the other as more of a micro focus.  In other words we can focus on the gross movements and the DIRT of those movements then fine tune them with more intrinsic sensory focus.  Just a thought...

 

Personally, I like using movement segments to relay complex combinations and vectors.

post #14 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by skiatansky View Post

Movement patterns - also referred to as fundamentals - are a part of all sports.


Certainly.  But if you read here, you would think that is all it was.

 

I think you will find "fundamentals" covers alot more then just "movement patterns".  This is particularily true for "Open Skill" sports such as skiing.  Less so for "Closed Skill" sports such as darts, or bowling, or basketball "free throws" etc.
 

 

post #15 of 33

Duration , intensity, rate, and timing is we express the how, how much, etc...

Ultimately, the feeling you mentioned is a result of the movements they made. For some that experiential learning is sufficient, for others who are less intuitive we need to awaken that conscious competence before we can expect them to hang onto what they are feeling.

post #16 of 33



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bud heishman View Post

Because teaching in terms of movement patterns makes more sense than teaching positions.  

 

Sure learning through sensations, proprioception, feel, or thinking with the feet are ultimately where the skier begins to own the movements.  Perhaps one could be viewed as a macro focus and the other as more of a micro focus.  In other words we can focus on the gross movements and the DIRT of those movements then fine tune them with more intrinsic sensory focus.  Just a thought...

 

Personally, I like using movement segments to relay complex combinations and vectors.


 

Bingo.  So why not spend the time there? 

 

I mean seriously, how much time do you need to spend on getting somone to extend the knee/hip/ankle?  I usually just say somthing like "rise up here"....and they can do it.

 

The bulk of the time is then spent getting them to make that same rise while feeling for example, a neutral balance point.  I would never say to someone, only extend the knee 43 degrees to compensate for your ankles at 17.  I would say, yes extend like that into the turn, but try to keep the feeling of your weight over your arch....for example.  So am I teaching a movment pattern, or a feeling?

 

And which ultimatley gets us to our goal?  I agree with you Bud, your bolded bit is exactley my point.
 

 

post #17 of 33



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by justanotherskipro View Post

Duration , intensity, rate, and timing is we express the how, how much, etc...

Ultimately, the feeling you mentioned is a result of the movements they made. For some that experiential learning is sufficient, for others who are less intuitive we need to awaken that conscious competence before we can expect them to hang onto what they are feeling.



Ah!  Are you sure?  Is one the cause and the other the effect?  Is it the other way around...."I could feel myself getting too far forward, so I lowered my hips".

 

Or is it both?

 

Which is more important?

 

Which makes for better skiers?

 

post #18 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post



 


 

Bingo.  So why not spend the time there? 

 

I mean seriously, how much time do you need to spend on getting somone to extend the knee/hip/ankle?  I usually just say somthing like "rise up here"....and they can do it.

 

The bulk of the time is then spent getting them to make that same rise while feeling for example, a neutral balance point.  I would never say to someone, only extend the knee 43 degrees to compensate for your ankles at 17.  I would say, yes extend like that into the turn, but try to keep the feeling of your weight over your arch....for example.  So am I teaching a movment pattern, or a feeling?

 

And which ultimatley gets us to our goal?  I agree with you Bud, your bolded bit is exactley my point.
 

 



I see your point of view here, but let's say you tell the student to "rise up here" but do not talk about the vector of that rising up motion?  I don't think anyone here is advocating degrees of movements rather being more specific about the rise up movement.  What happens during the rising up?  are the edges changing? is the pressure distribution changing? are the skis realigning with the torso?  Without being specific with the direction of these "movements" we are throwing darts.  We both know that most skiers left to their own demise will rise up like a tree which hinders edge change which causes rotation, and on and on.  On the other hand a short concise description of the movement patterns with a good visual demonstration will set the goal.  Once the skier performs with reasonable success or as part of their guided practice time we can try to elicit conscious awareness of sensations in the body.  It would seem anchoring the sensations is the ownership part while introducing the gross movements is more of the introduction.  Of course this is how it is coming to mind at the moment.  I certainly agree teaching the sensations and smart feet is the goal.

post #19 of 33

I dont disagree with you Bud, I mentioned at the start we need to give a breif discription of the move to start...but I guess my view is we can then move into the "anchoring the sensations" part almost straight away....ie certainly within the first 15-20minutes.  I would then spend the rest of the day on the achnoring part.  Of course during the anchoring the movments become more refined, but this is due to them making the necessary adjustments on the fly, based on the sensations taught to them.

 

It should be noted we can use this appraoch with all learning styles.  For example with thinkers I might explain why we "feel light" in transitions...that would contrast to for example explaining why we should flex in transtions for performance skiing...even thou the reason is the same.

 

 

Which explains my query...as to me I spend 90% of my time on the anchoring, and doing what is needed to make that happen...yet here we spend 99% on the movment pattern.

post #20 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

I dont disagree with you Bud, I mentioned at the start we need to give a breif discription of the move to start...but I guess my view is we can then move into the "anchoring the sensations" part almost straight away....ie certainly within the first 15-20minutes.  I would then spend the rest of the day on the achnoring part.  Of course during the anchoring the movments become more refined, but this is due to them making the necessary adjustments on the fly, based on the sensations taught to them.

 

It should be noted we can use this appraoch with all learning styles.  For example with thinkers I might explain why we "feel light" in transitions...that would contrast to for example explaining why we should flex in transtions for performance skiing...even thou the reason is the same.

 

 

Which explains my query...as to me I spend 90% of my time on the anchoring, and doing what is needed to make that happen...yet here we spend 99% on the movment pattern.

 

Aha!  now I see!  Totally agree with you dude,  and believe perhaps the reason we discuss mostly movements here is they are much easier to put into words than are sensations.   Example: explain to me what, where,when, and how I should feel the sensations related to "rising up"?
 

 

post #21 of 33

To the OP,  

 

I believe we need to focus on our center (cm)  and where it is moving, then by manipulating our base of support we can redirect our centers on the path we choose.  Though this may sound simplistic, it involves managing all the skills and the DIRT in concert.  It requires a feel for the snow, anticipation of accelerations and decelerations, knowing exactly how long, how much, how quickly, and when to edge, pressure, and twist.  Hey, if it were easy....

 

Funny thing is a good skier feels all these sensations coming up through the soles of their feet as Skidude suggests and reacts or proacts to them.

post #22 of 33



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bud heishman View Post



 

Aha!  now I see!  Totally agree with you dude,  and believe perhaps the reason we discuss mostly movements here is they are much easier to put into words than are sensations.   Example: explain to me what, where,when, and how I should feel the sensations related to "rising up"?
 

 



Yes that is the answer I was expecting.  But are we short changing ourselves by not discussing somthing because it is hard to put into words?

 

And do the majority of readers here appreciate that there is this whole other aspect, a really really really important aspect that almost never gets mentioned? 

 

If you read alot of stuff here you could see how alot of people think that skiing is about doing this move here, and that move there, reading the terrain at lighting speed (particulariy for bumps etc) and then sending the signal from the brain to the feet/legs/arms/torso to make this move altered by Y to compensate for X...blah blah blah.  When in reality skiing is abit of that...anticipation....but it is also alot about reaction and constant adjustments on the fly.

 

You will never be a great skier if you cant make the constant adjustments...and you will never be able to make the constant adjustments if you cant feel when they are needed...it doesnt come from muscle memory...it comes from knowing what things need to feel like...namely pressure and balance points.

 

Does one balance on a pedal bike by muscle memory....or by feel?  I'd say if I had to rely on muscle memory to stay up, I would have training wheels!

 

post #23 of 33

Agree, and to take it a step farther, you will never be a great skier if you cannot learn to anticipate these sensations and proactively move rather than be in a constant state of reacting which will always have you in the recovery mode.  Our bodies learn that based on what we see coming, feel happening under our feet, and desire to do or where to go, we move proactively to maintain equilibrium.  All of our balancing senses are in full use!

 

Thanks Skidude for the slightly different perspective and making us (at least me) think a bit, and offering a challenge to communicate skiing's sensations more! 


Edited by bud heishman - 6/14/11 at 10:29pm
post #24 of 33

In theory I agree Ski Dude but in practice that percentage is all about the mental and emotional buy in from the student. I can show them something all day long but until they make that commitment to try new things (get out of their box) and trust themselves to make a positive outcome occur, we can't help them very much. Just sayin...

post #25 of 33

I would agree about the importance of "student buy-in".  But to me that is a core skill of a good instructor.  Having the ability to get that buy in.  But I dont see how my approach would result in any less buy in, then any other.  Practice has proven that it isnt the case...I have no trouble achieving "buy-in" on the hill. 

 

Actually the only place I have trouble getting "buy-in" is here! 

 

post #26 of 33

IMO, what SkiDude describes (while true) can't be taught.  But it will happen automatically once the student reaches a level of both competence and confidence that allows them to "let go" and ski "without technique."  You practice the same movements over and over and then one day you are bombing down something and you realize that you are on automatic.  You see the video and you realize that whatever it was that was making your skiing look slightly contrived, stiff, or forced, is just gone.  The application of technique is as causual and uncontrived as Witherell's example of running down a mountain.  Which is why I continue to maintain that there is no toolbox, there is just a simple set of movements from which everything flows.

 

Probably, it isn't reasonable to expect this to happen in a ski lesson.  The job of ski instructors is to teach people how to practice.  And teaching people the movements that are required for high level skiing is the best, most concrete way to do this.  Also, not every student is dedicated enough to reach that level.  It requires constant, dedicated focus, over multiple seasons.  Skiing is no different than any other sport.  You practice the fundamentals.  Greatness comes when they are as automatic as breathing.

 

Even intermediate levels of understanding can only be achieved through doing.  The more you practice a movement, the more you begin to understand it.  Concepts are meaningless without experience.  There are some things that you literally have to figure out for yourself and the best a coach can do is point you in a direction and say, "you'll know it once you do it."  That is why we should be focused on movements.  They are the path to understanding.  They are the one tangible thing that we can offer.  I may not be able to adequately convey to someone what it means to "hook up a ski", but I can certainly teach them how to tip their ski on edge.  If they take that movement and practice it dilligently, eventually they will actually hook up a ski and come to understand the concept.

 

So IMO it isn't wrong to discuss concepts, feelings, etc.  IMO these are the things that demonstrate understanding.  They are the end result; i.e. "when you feel X you know you've got it."  But to try to teach that way is probably less than ideal.  Focus on the movements and judge success based on the students ability to demonstrate them.  That way the lesson isn't a failure if the student doesn't "get it".  Instead, the student leaves the lesson with the ability to create a breakthrough for themself in the future.


Edited by geoffda - 6/16/11 at 10:45am
post #27 of 33

Actually teaching through task and command is generally about the movements, reciprocal and guided discovery are about observable outcomes and self awareness, while problem solving is about solutions. Strategy and tactics we can use to bring about the desired results.

 

The further towards problem solving we get the more investment a student must make and the more experiential the lesson plan must become. The fact that we cannot actually practice stuff while sitting at a computer makes getting that buy in a bit more difficult since we are limited to words.

post #28 of 33



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by geoffda View Post

IMO, what SkiDude describes (while true) can't be taught.  But it will happen automatically once the student reaches a level of both competence and confidence that allows them to "let go" and ski "without technique."  You practice the same movements over and over and then one day you are bombing down something and you realize that you are on automatic.  You see the video and you realize that whatever it was that was making your skiing look slightly contrived, stiff, or forced, is just gone.  The application of technique is as causual and uncontrived as Witherell's example of running down a mountain.  Which is why I continue to maintain that there is no toolbox, there is just a simple set of movements from which everything flows.

 

Probably, it isn't reasonable to expect this to happen in a ski lesson.  The job of ski instructors is to teach people how to practice.  And teaching people the movements that are required for high level skiing is the best, most concrete way to do this.  Also, not every student is dedicated enough to reach that level.  It requires constant, dedicated focus, over multiple seasons.  Skiing is no different than any other sport.  You practice the fundamentals.  Greatness comes when they are as automatic as breathing.

 

Even intermediate levels of understanding can only be achieved through doing.  The more you practice a movement, the more you begin to understand it.  Concepts are meaningless without experience.  There are some things that you literally have to figure out for yourself and the best a coach can do is point you in a direction and say, "you'll know it once you do it."  That is why we should be focused on movements.  They are the path to understanding.  They are the one tangible thing that we can offer.  I may not be able to adequately convey to someone what it means to "hook up a ski", but I can certainly teach them how to tip their ski on edge.  If they take that movement and practice it dilligently, eventually they will actually hook up a ski and come to understand the concept.

 

So IMO it isn't wrong to discuss concepts, feelings, etc.  IMO these are the things that demonstrate understanding.  They are the end result; i.e. "when you feel X you know you've got it."  But to try to teach that way is probably less than ideal.  Focus on the movements and judge success based on the students ability to demonstrate them.  That way the lesson isn't a failure if the student doesn't "get it".  Instead, the student leaves the lesson with the ability to create a breakthrough for themself in the future.



 I agree Geoffda. Thats the way I coach. Drills, drills, drills, and then eventually things fall into place in the gates. This season we had a plan to do much more drills than before, and we did. Initially it was quite frustrating because we did not see so many technical changes in the gates, but towards the end of the season we had almost all the kids doing the proper movements for edging, flexing etc. That was really rewarding.

 

Off course it is a great advantage to have the same group 3-5 times per week for the season. I imagine that in a ski lesson where the student wants to have maximum gain in the lesson other approaches must be used. Also you can have a different approach when you don't have 20-30 kids to manage.

post #29 of 33

As a learning journey we certainly do go through the four stages of competence. Although as teachers I would say we have to have the skill to lead a student through each phase of that journey. Is it through endless drills? Burning out students is a big risk when we do that. Lateral learning where we apply new moves in a variety of situations allows us to have some fun along that journey. They are still in learning mode and we're pretty much in teaching mode just not in the command and task mode. We might not even be in guided discovery mode. The important thing is we are still actively setting up situations where our students can develop their fundamental skills.

post #30 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by justanotherskipro View Post

As a learning journey we certainly do go through the four stages of competence. Although as teachers I would say we have to have the skill to lead a student through each phase of that journey. Is it through endless drills? Burning out students is a big risk when we do that.

 Yes thats a bit of a problem, the Kids we have can handle about 30 minutes of drills and then they are fed up. We mix in Jumps, powder, bumps, wood skiing, pair skiing etc, which are excellent balance drills without them knowing it. Then we do some gates which they always love.

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