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Describing the technical aspects of skiing

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Some skiers like to break down into words the technical process of skiing.  Others don't.  Where does the urge come from?

 

Some like to listen and read technical descriptions.  Others say just go ski.  What accounts for these differences, in your experience?

post #2 of 16

Probably from the way people learn new material. There are all sorts of ways that have been shown that people learn things from sight, sounds, touch, musically, rythmatically, reading, thinking and so on but I think going out and playing around seeing what works an fine tuning those skills works in the majority of guests.

 

You got to know your audience and also what you do and do not know. I once instructed at Nashoba  Valley for a few years and had a group of MIT students and they really wanted verbal explanations so I tried to explain the best I could at that point in my instructing career. Twenty four years later I think I could communicate better verbally the skills they were looking for but I think a more efficient way is to show and have them try and also feel what it is we are looking for. The more I do this instructing thing the more I'm convinced that we learn by playing around out on the slopes like I do running kids groups. I use the mountain conditions to help us learn. That said if some are looking for detailed descriptions and they really want to talk about this stuff I'll give them that on lift rides or after class if it is group lessons. If it is private lessons and they really want to talk and analyze stuff I'll give them what they want but most of the time doing is a much better way to go about it.

post #3 of 16

Mostly learning styles create the difference. I like to separate them into thinkers, do-ers, watchers and feelers. Most people are a combination with a predominance in one. That's how we learn but at the end of the day we have to become feelers to ski well IMO.

 

http://www.turnshape.com/2011/11/to-ski-well-you-have-to-become-feeler.html

 

 

post #4 of 16

Couldn't agree more with Gigatoh here!  However one prefers to process information, in the end, we all need to "think with our feet" and learn to feel the snow through our boots!  We give the thinkers the description they seek but focus their attention toward the sensations coming through their feet.  It seems that watchers and doers have an easier time tuning into their feet and the sensory feedback coming up through the snow.  Thinkers need encouragement to trust their bodies and turn their brains off override so their body can do it's thing!

 

To answer the OP, I believe as our passions for skiing and improvement grow, we try to communicate more precisely the feeling and sensations of our very spacial sport with it's complex movements in oblique planes.  It becomes very challenging to communicate minute sensations into words and when different people have different predisposed understandings of the same words, communicating effectively becomes even more challenging!   This is why using analogies whenever possible helps communicate familiar movements from other parts of our lives to skiing sensations without muddling the waters with words. example: If someone can relate to standing up and pedaling a bicycle up a hill, we can use that analogy to communicate similar movements in skiing.  

 

Let's go ski!

post #5 of 16

Agreeing with bud and Gigatoh,

 

Most people only want to learn through their predominant learning type, thinking, watching doing or feeling.  This is where they feel most comfortable.  To create a change in performance, we have to stimulate people to learn through all of the learning types, and take them out of their comfort zone of learning.  

 

RW

post #6 of 16

"What accounts for these differences, in your experience?"

 

My experience doesn't include an account for these differences, just the acknowledgement that they exist.  And they are profound.

 

I had a group of L5/6-ish adults in a multi-week one time.  The day had come for delving into poles.  I had one gal who was an artist and one of the most graceful and 'correct' skiers at her level I'd ever seen.  She was already handling her poles well.  I, on the other hand, had taken a spill earlier in the day and landed hard on my left shoulder.  I was favoring/babying it.  Anyway, I gave my schpiell on poles (eloquent, complete, and crystal clear) and we set off on a line rotation.  All of a sudden, Sophia's left pole plant was virtually non-existent and certainly not in accord with the instruction I'd just given.  It dawned on me that everything I'd said was, to her (and probably unconsciously at that), completely superfluous.  She processed what she SAW and duplicated it flawlessly.  Visual dominance like you wouldn't believe.

 

On the other hand, the ski school I am at serves the employees of a certain aerospace manufacturer whose name I cannot use (but it rhymes with "rowing").  We get more than our share of highly analytical, very verbal people who actually thirst for knowledge like "the abduction of the subtalar joint is inevitably linked to inversion of the foot," (uh, thanks, Bud) and the implications that has for technique.

 

Happens in the womb, I guess.  And probably explains why some people become artists and others become engineers.  Also explains why instructors have to be geeky about this sport - so that we can communicate with all these people.

post #7 of 16

What they said.  What I normally do for both types of learners is keep it basic but try to explain, briefly, why we're working on something. As in "The way to stop skidding is don't start. So if I steer less and edge/pressure more at turn initiation, I have a better chance of starting a clean carved turn up ahead of the fall line instead of trying to turn a skid into something controlled later on down the line. So here's some stuff we're going to try to make early edge/pressure happen..."

 

smile.gif

 

 

post #8 of 16

That would be eversion rather than inversion..... but who would notice or care?

post #9 of 16
I've found people who want to learn are more interested in words and explanations while those more interested in doing tend to avoid conversation in favor of skiing. This seems an obvious observation - but in the case of people in a class (or clinic) it's not so straightforward.

We generally assume people showing up for a class or clinic are there to learn (meaning develop comprehension) rather than just going out to ski with a better skier/instructor/coach than themselves. When this is true the learner-students generally want more explanation for what they're doing and why they're being asked to do it. The individuals in this group tends to focus on integrating what they hear with what they're doing and seek a comprehensive understanding as well as new abilities. These people often ask questions and verify what they think they've learned.

Other times people are in classes (or clinics) simply with a desire to ski, or perhaps just show off to others what they already (believe) they know. Sure, they're interested in new tidbits and sound-bites - but they're not actually there to learn something in depth nor to build a greater comprehension of skiing (or teaching). They just want to ski with a group.

A third group I've seen are those who assume they can do anything just by observing others and seek to ski with high quality 'observable others' rather than actually hear them speak about anything ("Don't talk about it, just show me!"). These people aren't there so much to 'learn' from others as they are to 'teach themselves' based on their own observations of the things they think are important. While this works well in some ways, it tends to leave them with partial understanding for what they're teaching themselves and almost no ability to teach those ideas to others (in the case of clinic participants).


Of course, that's the snow-bound crowd. Here on EpicSki we have a text-based forum where explanation is everything! Here we need the context explained in words as well as the specific ideas, and even temporal sequence of those ideas if relevant.

Admittedly, I've never understood those who come here and demand that others not create detailed explanations as that's exactly what this kind of forum is ideal for. If a short generalist explanation is provided in one post with a detailed analytical explanation in another, I think we have the best of both perspectives. If someone here wants to "Just Ski" then they're probably in the wrong place...

.ma
post #10 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelA View Post
A third group I've seen are those who assume they can do anything just by observing others and seek to ski with high quality 'observable others' rather than actually hear them speak about anything ("Don't talk about it, just show me!"). These people aren't there so much to 'learn' from others as they are to 'teach themselves' based on their own observations of the things they think are important. While this works well in some ways, it tends to leave them with partial understanding for what they're teaching themselves and almost no ability to teach those ideas to others (in the case of clinic participants).


MichaelA, you know that division of learners into four types by David Kolb - thinkers (word people), doers, feelers (physical not emotional), and watchers?  Do you think those four categories fit your students well?  Does the group you describe above match one of Kolb's groups?

 

Or does your experience with skiers lead to different types of groups than Kolb's all-purpose set of learning styles?  I'm interested in your thoughts.

 

post #11 of 16

An interesting question, but let's keep things straight.  I love a detailed explanation; I want to fit new material neatly into my world model and I enjoy helping others fit it into theirs.  Everybody does to a degree, the only difference is the state of one's world model that one is fitting the new material into and one's ability to comprehend the explanations.  You will find the physical explanations enjoyed by mechanical engineers for example quite different from what a non-engineer would like.  However, just because I like to get a good physical description does not mean I want a detailed explanation on the hill during a lesson.  During a lesson I want to be skiing, not standing there listening.  During a lesson, I want just enough instruction to be able to do what it is I'm supposed to be doing.

post #12 of 16

Gardner's multiple intelligences might  factor in there some where.

post #13 of 16

I believe it all depends on what type of learner YOU are. If you are techie, you tend to talk tech. You get it. Visual learners demonstrate better. Know YOUR style and all styles so you can better serve your class.

post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post

MichaelA, you know that division of learners into four types by David Kolb - thinkers (word people), doers, feelers (physical not emotional), and watchers?  Do you think those four categories fit your students well?  Does the group you describe above match one of Kolb's groups?

Or does your experience with skiers lead to different types of groups than Kolb's all-purpose set of learning styles?  I'm interested in your thoughts.

I think every person's learning style is comprised of all four basic learning styles, and that each individual tends to favor select categories at one time or another. I've found people tend to migrate from one favored style to another depending on the context, the environment and their interest level in the moment. For instance I like analytical detail being provided even on-snow - when I'm not freezing cold and when the provider knows what they're talking about. I'm definitely a DOER type when it's cold out there, or when the information provider is just guessing, BS'ing or repeating old information.

If the information provider is well informed about how some movement pattern should feel, then I'm happy being a Feeler-type and going with it. If the information provider is a Doer and just wants us to ski a pattern they've clearly described (and people "get it") then I'm happy being a Doer - but not if the target pattern has been poorly described or everyone is confused on what they should do. Here, everyone is forced to be a Doer, but without knowing what to do - so they guess.

What I'm suggesting here is that I find a person's own learning style adapts to what is being provided IF that presentation is worthwhile and being comprehended by them. If not, we sense the disconnect and dislike the presentation. I'm not saying we don't have general learning preferences, just that I think our preferences tend to come about due to the quality of what's being offered and our interest in that material at the time.


The standout group I mentioned above (that you quoted) generally seems comprised of those sensing an information-transfer failing (for whatever reason) while it's being presented. We aren't 'receiving' what we feel we need so we want to take what we've got and review/revise/reanalyze it on our own. It's not that we aren't Thinker preference types (though most in this group aren't) we're just not getting what we want from the delivering party. Sometimes, we just get tired of multiple reiterations of the same old idea (for instance, over-describing a pattern) and say, "Stop talking about it, let's just ski it!" Also, such people are generally pretty good taking a 70% understanding of a concept and working out the final 30% on our own.


---
When considering reception of technical material I find there's also the issue of pre-existing 'depth' to consider.

Beginning students and new instructors need brief, broadly descriptive explanations since they've no existing foundation to work from. Intermediate students (and instructors) already have the foundations and therefore desire more specific descriptions - but not too detailed - because they've the ability to comprehend more in the way of nuance, but not necessarily the nitty-gritty. When on snow they're still trying to implement the intermediate specifics so too much detail overwhelms them.

These intermediates are also becoming more interested in "Doing things Right" as they're now beyond the "Just staying alive!" stage wink.gif. Intermediate skiers also seem the ones having the most concern over "The right way to ski" and often latch onto a mentor/authority figure. After that, all else they see or hear is compared to what their Ultimate Source says (though not necessarily what that Source actually does - since this group by definition isn't yet capable of highly accurate observation and analysis).

Advanced students and instructors seem more interested in refined, detailed ideas and supporting information. They tend to detach themselves from authority figures because they've become educated enough to recognize there's no 'right' way to ski and that many other skiers outperform their past mentors and many other coaches provide better information as well.

Advanced students and instructors are much less concerned about the "rightness" of what they're doing and much more concerned about the "rightness" of their understanding. These people are happy to delve (briefly) into the minutia (assuming they're not cold or bored!) even when they're on snow. They seek a genuine depth of understanding and already possess the background and experience to comprehend highly refined information.


Ultimately I think too much emphasis is placed on preferred learning styles. We adapt our style based on what's working for us in the moment and I think the quality of deliverables plays a huge role in our receptivity in each style. Feed BS to an analytical person and they'll become a Doer in no time at all...

.ma
post #15 of 16
Thread Starter 

Lots to think about there, michaelA.  I agree with your last paragraph.

post #16 of 16

To be honest the idea of presenting information in a digestible way means shifting around in all four learning styles. A lesson plan that doesn't include elements from all four learning preferences is weak and says more about the teacher's limited teaching abilities than a student's learning abilities being limited to one style. Here's why...

...Expressing a thought, or idea is how we introduce a learning segment. In this moment the focus is on the instructor and they are on stage. However brief the instructor mentions the idea, or concept to the student. (verbal information). They follow that up with a demo of the different outcome they are suggesting. (visual and conceptual information). The focus then shifts to the students and their guided practice of this change. (kinesthetic information and cognitive understanding). As the practice continues the instructor offers feedback (verbal and non verbal), and finally at the end of that learning segment,  the instructor offers a summary (verbal). Nothing new here beyond the idea that regardless of the student's preferred processing bias we are shifting back and forth among several learning styles all the time.

 

Here at Epic we don't have the luxury of doing, so we are limited to verbal (written in this case) communications and perhaps a video to show visual demos. That's why Epic can never replace a well designed lesson. We can supplement it with a deeper look at concepts and such but the cognitive understanding of the movements gained from actually doing them is impossible on the internet. 

 

A friend of mine calls skiing performance art. To perform well we need to grasp the concepts on whatever level works best for us, and then we need to put them into practice. When we can successfully express our intent through our actions we transcend the need for words to describe what we do.

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