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"TAPP" A new skier analysis tool

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

"TAPP"  a new acronym for Skier Analysis (Technique, Alignment, Psychology, Physiology)


Instructors and coaches can use this tool to better assess their clients/athletes to more efficiently and accurately reach a skier's potential.  Once we come to the realization that working on technique alone or thinking that everything can be improved by working on drills and exercises is a bit naive, we can use TAPP to take a better inventory of areas of weakness and move to address these four areas which will ultimately improve and optimize skiing performance most efficiently.  


Imagine a diamond with one of these four parameters on each corner (sorry Weems, I stole a diamond).  Once we understand each parameter and how it can affect our skiing we can move freely from one to the other assessing skiing performance and working on the area(s) needing attention to permit progress.  In other words, if we watch a skier like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQwHrcHIhv4  we can assess each corner of the TAPP diamond and find four different possibilities for his issues.  While most instructors go right to technique and work solely in this corner, they would see greater results if they first fixed the equipment issue by suggesting a better boot and proper alignment.  This would change his skiing immediately by removing some impediments cause by his current set up.  Then perhaps addressing his psychological INTENT, which clearly is to use turning to brake or slow his descent. Notice he is skiing the fast line slow rather than a slow line fast and his skis are scraping sideways to slow down rather than moving forward with the tip and tail passing more through the same spot on the snow.  Changing his intent would also dramatically affect his technique without doing a single exercise or discussing turn mechanics.  I doubt the fourth corner of Physiology is a major contributing factor for this particular skier as he is young and fit and has a hockey background but it should be visited. 


So you can see that evaluating the four corners of the TAPP diamond will give the instructor/coach a better picture of areas which need addressed to clear the way for improvement!



post #2 of 12

I think it's GREAT Bud!!!!  I know firsthand how much your equipment can hold you back, and the psychological and physical issues are just as important to figure out.  The technique may not ever change unless you can fix the other pieces of the puzzle!  Nice Work!

post #3 of 12

I'm Sold...

post #4 of 12

I think it's brilliant. 


I would suggest that the relative importance of each will change for each skier, and that if we think about it, we can probably look at a skier and their background (as in - are they a novice or expert) to predict the relative importance of each tip of the diamond.


For the skier in the video, you note athletic and young, so physiology may be less important. Probably a fair point, but there may be a specific weakness that, if found via assessment, could be quickly rectified as young and athletic = quick response to physical improvement. 


For a 55 year old woman who has skied for years, psychology and physiology will probably be the biggest contributors to overcome, but both will take longer to improve here, because she's probably spent a long time "building" her fear and her lack of strength and poor movement. Where does alignment fit here? Not sure. I think technique becomes the least important diamond tip here. 


For a novice teenage girl, I would suggest that physiology will trump all. Teenage girls tend to be very weak and bottom heavy, making skiing a challenge. Getting them stronger will make a huge impact on their skiing. Technique would be just as big. 


For the expert, I think all are close to equal, and then the challenge becomes figuring out when each one is to be addressed. I wouldn't place any priority on alignment, psychology and physiology, but I would suggest that technique becomes the integrator at this point. In other words - we work on alignment, and then we address technique to help use that new found positioning positively in their skiing; we work on psychology, and then we address technique to let them use their new found perspective optimally; we work on physiology, and then we address technique to let them take maximal advantage of their newfound strength and mobility. 


So in this case, A-T-P-T-P-T. I think the order of the A and two Ps is less relevant at the elite level. Odds are one of them will turn into a real "a-ha" moment, but it may be difficult to predict which one.


This is a cool concept. Well done Bud!

Edited by evaino - 9/23/11 at 10:22am
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

I agree Evaino, using this tool we can separate and identify weaknesses and develop what needs work then work back into technique.  As the instructor/coach becomes more knowledgeable in each area the more effectively they can use that point of the diamond.  For example a coach does not have to be a boot fitter but should be able to recognize visual cues of misalignment on the sagittal and frontal planes.  They don't need to be a PT but should be able to recognize weaknesses or asymmetries caused by physical weaknesses, or functional limitations.  The more rounded the instructor/coach's understanding in these four areas is, the more effective they will become and the better the outcomes will be with their students/athletes.


Again, this concept is not real applicable to a one time interaction with a student rather an ongoing coaching environment as with a staff trainer, race team coach, or ongoing ski programs where the interaction lasts a whole season or more.  Certainly a skier can use this concept to address and evaluate their own skiing if they use experts in each field to help them improve.


IT'S ALL ABOUT CAUSE AND EFFECT!  Find the real cause and address it rather than the symptom!

Edited by bud heishman - 9/25/11 at 8:45pm
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

After more thought on this concept, I now believe technique is just one of the four parameters which all help SKILL development and that the skills are the center piece of the puzzle.  So improving technique, alignment, psychological intent, physiological strength and flexibility all contribute to skill development.


If we look at elite athletes, world cup racers or even PSIA National team members, it becomes evident these athletes have developed these four parameters to a very high level and eliminated any impediments they may have had stemming from poor alignment, poor conditioning, poor technique, or poor intent!

post #7 of 12

I like the concept.  Trying to actually see how I can use this, I will ask a question. Thinking that an alignment issue will probably lead the skier to develop compensation mechanism... and that a muscle imbalance will likely do the same (create compensation mechanism), I was wondering if you have thought about how to look for specific signs that can help identify the cause of these compensation mechanisms whether they could be coming from  alignment or muscles imbalance (something like visual cues that we can use to guide us to the cause).

post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 

Great question snownat!


While this concept is targeted as a skier analysis tool for instructors and coaches, anyone can visit these four areas to identify and evaluate their personal issues in those areas.  The physiological issues and alignment issues may or may not be interrelated though it is not uncommon.  My philosophy on this topic is that changing ones physiological condition takes the most amount of time and effort on the skiers part, while alignment adjustments take the least amount of time and effort to realize the benefits.  This being said, I recommend getting your alignment assessed and adjusted for where your body is NOW, then reassess the alignment periodically (once a year or more often if aggressive physio work is done) as your body changes through exercise, stretching, PT, manipulation, etc..  


Doing a Functional Movement Screening will help to identify imbalances and weaknesses in your body and using targeted exercises will help improve these areas of weakness.  Some asymmetries are caused by issues that can not be changed with exercise, for example a functional leg length difference, where there is actually a difference in length of the bones.  This issue needs corrected with lifts as no amount of exercise will change this fact.  Some imbalances caused by muscle imbalance or spasm can certainly be affected more easily with PT.  


It is interesting to note that higher level athletes tend to have fewer alignment issues than the masses and is in part, one reason they rose to the top.  It could also be possible as dedicated athletes train insatiably and fine tune their bodies, most physiological issues are minimized and consequently help in their natural alignment and stance in their equipment.  It is notable however that all the top athletes are very sensitive to alignment changes and experiment regularly to  fine tune their set ups for each venue and snow condition.  It is amazing how seriously some take their skiing performance!  It is also amazing to me how few people realize how much more they could enjoy their time on the slopes if they just took a little time and money to get these four areas tuned up a bit better than where they are now!  


Each of the TAPP areas should be revisited in a regular rotation to reassess and fine tune to reach higher skill levels.  Look at any top skier and you will see a dedication and refinement of these four areas which got them where they are today!



If you are planning on coming out to the Tahoe  Gathering in February, there just may be an opportunity to visit TAPP in a two day ESA/Synergy Camp!?!?  keep your eyes open!!

post #9 of 12

Thanks Bud,


So from your answer, if I stay with the approach of the skier's analysis tool...some minor alignment issues can be compensated by 'fitness', right?

"It is interesting to note that higher level athletes tend to have fewer alignment issues than the masses and is in part, one reason they rose to the top.  It could also be possible as dedicated athletes train insatiably and fine tune their bodies, most physiological issues are minimized and consequently help in their natural alignment and stance in their equipment."


"...reassess the alignment periodically (once a year or more often if aggressive physio work is done) as your body changes through exercise, stretching, PT, manipulation, etc.."


It seems though it is all a very subtle balance... and unlikely to happen for the masses.


And yes you are right, I should explore this for myself... did a FMS, and scored pretty high I was told, still exploring symmetry through single leg squats (eye opener) for example..

Really wanted to look at alignment but I broke some ribs last year... so really... what is the point of spending $ if you can't test the thing...


What I like in your version is that it forces us to think more about the cause instead of just describing the effect as in turn shape, type power, balance rotary edge and pressure skills.


I love the idea of a 2 day camp... will this show up at convention? 

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 

I actually have two Synergy Camps scheduled for this season and will be advertised in the upcoming edition of the PSIA W newsletter.  I also have other alignment clinics schedule through PSIA but the problem with these PSIA events is they will not allow me to do any work or adjustments to attendees equipment because of their liability fears.  This is why I am simply promoting my own two day camps through the shop.


Let me stress again!


 The easiest and quickest way to improve your skiing NOW is to get your boots aligned  (see 9 parameters of alignment) properly for where your body is at now!


While many skiers waffle like yourself and find excuses to avoid spending a few bucks to optimize your stance and alignment, they are missing out on the best bang for the buck!  Before I would spend money on PSIA clinics, lessons, how to books, exotic ski vacations, new skis, etc...  I would put the money first into my boots and get them as perfect as possible and my skiing performance would improve instantly and open the door for accelerated improvement.


Technique and skills take time to develop

Physio strength and flexibility and symmetry take even longer and more effort

Pschological issues sometimes take an epiphany to change

Alignment issues can be corrected quickly by an expert in the field and have instant results in overall skier performance outcomes and contributes positively to the other three areas above.



post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 

Try using this tool for your own skiing analysis by drawing a circle for each area, forming a square with a center circle representing "skier performance".


Then evaluate each area related to your personal skiing.  If you believe your "Technique" is strong then this circle size, which represents the size of your issues in this area, will be smaller.  Then draw a circle for "Physiology" and again size it proportionate to your level of fitness and flexibility.  Rate your fitness and strength on a scale from WCup athlete to a couch potato and size the circle accordingly.  Then a circle for "Alignment & equipment" and size this circle according to how big of issues you have in this area (many times we don't know the grass could be greener here)?  Then the last circle for "Psychological" issues.  Do you understand the "GO" intent, are you tentative, defensive? 


Using this method to assess our own TAPP, we can get a clearer picture of where to place our efforts this season.  For me it is very obvious, I recently tore my rotator cuff so this Summer I could barely ride or paddle or train effectively and consequently my "Physio" circle is quite large in comparison to my other areas and I know my primary focus to improve my skiing performance needs to be aimed in this area.


This self analysis task will also help you if you are a coach or instructor to identify TAPP issues in your students/athletes and plan their lesson or training focus.  This assessment is a living ongoing tool to continually tap on each circle to assess and fine tune with the goal being to minimize issues in each of these areas which simultaneously increases the size of the center circle "Skier Performance".


Ask yourself this; Can I ski perfect pivot slips progressively moving toward arc to arc carved turns with ease?  If you have issues somewhere along that spectrum, evaluate TAPP to figure out why!  I would look at Technique, and Alignment first for issues as these are the most likely areas with issues but there could perhaps be some issue with Psychological issues and moving offensively to release edges?  But probably not a Physio issue unless perhaps there are asymmetry issues related to joint flexibility or past injury causing an imbalance from one side to the other.


Ask yourself this: Can I ski a whole run on only one ski making fluid round turns?  If you have difficulties with this task, touch on each circle to identify the cause of your issues.  Chances are here that Alignment and Physio issues will rise to the top!?  Correcting your alignment and increasing strength will likely do the most to improve skiing performance here!


Ask yourself this:  Make up your own task to evaluate using TAPP!...


The great thing about our sport is that we never perfect it, we never reach the top, never reach full potential.  Look at the best world cup skiers in the world.  Lindsey Vonn is on fire right now but look at her TAPP circles and we would see her skier performance circle is very large compared to ours and the other four areas would be rather small in comparison but notice that she continually works in each of these four areas all year around.  Her fitness training is intense trying to gain whatever edge can be gained there.  I am sure the Teams work with Sports Psychology experts frequently to hone their minds, and her quiver of skis and boots and their set-up angles are meticulously honed for optimum performance in any course condition,  and certainly her technique is constantly honed and trained.  She is at the top of the heap yet continually touches on the four areas of TAPP to minimize any issues in each area to maximize her performance.  An injury causes setbacks and requires increased focus on this area to regain top performance.  An equipment sponsor change can cause a set back in performance until intensive attention is given to testing boot or ski set-up.  


So you can see we can all improve in each area to improve our skiing performance.  Identifying our weakest area and focused work in that area to minimize issues in that area will increase our performance a bit.  Continually evaluating each area and focusing attention where needed most will put us on a positive path to better skiing performance.





Edited by bud heishman - 11/9/11 at 8:48pm
post #12 of 12
Thread Starter 

Interestingly, the TAPP model applies to any sport if you think about it....


Auto racing



you name it


In each of these sports peak performance relies on optimizing each area of technique/tactics, the Equipment used, Psychological attitude, and Physiological state.


In auto racing the equipment is a huge part of the equation while in tennis not as large of a factor, though the racket construction, tension of the strings, composition of the strings, grip tape, shoes, socks all play a part in peak performance.  Conversely, in tennis physio conditioning is a much larger part than for the auto racer, though I would imagine the auto racer who experiences great g forces must have some level of fitness to perform well.  


Pick your sport and evaluate performance based on TAPP and you will discover areas where you can gain performance by addressing issues that are holding you back.  Few sports are as dependent on equipment and their pre determined angles as much as skiing!  In fact I would challenge anyone to come up with a sport where equipment has as large an influence on performance as skiing.


Yet very few pay much attention to this fact?  This of course gives those who do a huge advantage over the ones who ignore it!

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