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Physics and Ski Technique - Page 5

post #121 of 139
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post


Edit above as hoodwinked was inappropriate for the point I'm trying to make.  Hoodwink implies they were intentionally misleading and that is not the case.  It is more of a case of not being clear and verifying that there is full understanding.

You've never been in sales obviously. :D

post #122 of 139
Originally Posted by chad View Post

guess it depends on the drill and what someone would consider "fun".  There is often a lot of benefit in teaching someone how to use a drill to gain a diversity in control and self understanding, they are 'fun", even skiing "free" is a drill, where does a person need balance on that spectrum? JASP has already eluded to it, just to add my thoughts, it is more than developing strong focus, it is generating that balance in how to use all types of movement, the ones generated with focus and the ones that come naturally in playful times, there is different information to get from either type.  The troubles JASP mentions in hard line lessons, protocol, etc is a good example, does the lesson move across the whole spectrum, maybe some clients need more time spent on "drilling" or maybe more from "free" skiing, finding that balance but incorporating all of it is where the joy of teaching and learning come together.


Bob stated something important and will leave him to extrapolate if he would like, effortless learning.  What are the qualities in the movement we see in others that would let you know they are in that effortless learning zone?

Must admit I haven't ever experienced the "effortless learning zone," unless I'm forgetting it.  The learning I've experienced and helped people to do looks like this familiar thing:


1. unconscious incompetence (no learning going on with respect to whatever "skill" is in question)

2. conscious incompetence (step one; you or your teacher, someone, recognizes that something is missing or undeveloped in your skill set; you may not know you need it but your teacher may)

3. conscious competence (you are working in some way to get that something you don't yet have; this can be deliberate and conscious on your part, or indirect and guided by a teacher stealthily teaching you something you're not aware of)

4. unconscious competence (you use it effortlessly; it's yours, and you don't have to think about it; it's there when you need it)


--I'm not denying that beginner's luck exists, where someone who doesn't know what they are doing "gets it," but that isn't an owned skill unless the person can repeat it when it's needed.  

--I also don't deny that some things are best learned indirectly; that's a big part of learning. Teachers use indirect means often to bring about enlightenment, as do parents and therapists.
--Often people already know how to do something, but that skill is used only in another context.  They can transfer that skill into a new context.  The thing that gets learned is that the skill applies in the new context. It still has to be embedded in your skill set for the new stiuation.

--Often learning happens peripherally, or accidentally.  Does this mean that the four step process didn't happen?  Not sure.  When I had my accident this March, I learned in one fast fall not to traverse through soft irregular bumps.  I didn't know that it was unadvisable to traverse in soft slush bumps until one ski punctured a soft bump and came to a full stop while the other continued, and the binding did not release.  Now I have the new knowledge to not do that again.  This will be a conscious effort next season to remember not to traverse when bumps are soft until I get it embedded into my skiing (and good things will transfer from what I do instead to hard bumps I suspect).  I moved through steps 1 &2 to step 3 in the progression above painfully.

--None of the above scenarios is an "effortless learning zone," unless I'm missing something.


Chad, can you describe this "effortless learning zone" and how you as a teacher/therapist bring it on?

post #123 of 139
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post

Must admit I haven't ever experienced the "effortless learning zone," unless I'm forgetting it.  


That's because it's not generally true unless you're teaching beginners or from the initiation level (and even then it's suspect). 


Let's consider one way of classifying learning: acquiring new skills/knowledge, or reconciling conflicting skills&knowledge. (This is in my grad studies program on education, so I promise I'm not BSing you or making this up.)


When acquiring new skills and knowledge, you're starting from zero. A good instructor can link your previous experiences to these new skills and knowledge to help you integrate it. Often happens with beginners. No problem because no bad habits exist yet (not really true since we all bring past experiences to the table, but I'm sure you've also had learners who just take to skiing without encountering any hangups). Easy peasy!


On the other hand, when reconciling conflicting skills and knowledge, learners have existing patterns/behaviours that up until now they have believed to be true. When presented with conflicting skills and knowledge, learners experience something called "cognitive dissonance". Cognitive dissonance is a fancy word to explain the conflict your brain goes through when faced with these two different sets of knowledge/skills. You've certainly experienced this yourself; I can even remember a discussion we had about balance where we talked through the beginner/intermediate belief of balancing over the arch, versus the advanced skill of dynamic balance through the arch and even farther rearward. I believe I was responsible then for your brain exploding. :D


When facing cognitive dissonance, learners are faced with making one of these hard choices:

A) accommodate the new knowledge in their framework

B) discard the old knowledge (which the learner already feels to be true)

C) reject the new knowledge.  


It takes a lot of effort to reach the first two outcomes since people have invested quite a lot into their existing beliefs. A good instructor will help you to overcome cognitive dissonance. A bad instructor will really struggle to get the learner over that hump. But the only effortless solution is to discard the new skills and knowledge--which means learning hasn't happened.


Meaningful learning can be (and often is) hard!

post #124 of 139

Setting up a situation where past trues don't work very well and new trues do is the easiest way to help the student abandon the old and believe in the new. Doing that takes a pretty good feel for both movements and the experience to know which works best.

Rather than leave this in the theoretical, here's an example.

Too edgy in the bumps. Or too aft in short turns. The solution is obvious but getting a student to realize this often times takes exposing that short coming directly. Fast short turns from the back seat without wagging the tails and then from the center is one way to do this. 360's in the bumps decouples the excessive edginess.  

post #125 of 139

What is 'hard" Met? I am not sure I agree, look forward to a clearer definition.


I don't see why it needs to be so hard or treated as if learning can only be done under the umbrella of difficulty. In fact I would say there is more to be learned from engaging in movement that is not difficult.  Since the goal is to expand on the person's established dynamics it would seem that spending time teaching someone to be able to recognize those strong attractor states would be the first step, from there you can expand as they can tolerate.  The tolerance is noticeable in their ability to use the new movement and return the established pattern, they can choose to integrate on their time.   It is semantics I suppose, but there are no bad habits, just poor dynamics, we rely on the established way, it is efficient neurologically, so we rarely continue to try and destabilize it, the paradox is the more reliable it becomes the more difficulty we have in remaining dynamic with the environment.


I don't want to answer my own question, yes smiles are a good sign, so what makes you giggle and smile, there is a a quality to the movement or something interesting, not hard, maybe comfortably awkward is better, but it captures your attention. I will add one quality and leave the rest to you folks to add if you would like, there is no interference in breathing in the person while they act.

post #126 of 139

I'd like to think I've laid out the concept of cognitive dissonance in learning pretty clearly. Here's another descriptor if it helps your development. Disagree with established principles of learning psychology if you like. You're actually displaying a great example of cognitive dissonance by disagreeing. 


You seem to be talking about moving around body parts; I'm talking about learning theory. While there's no "one true way" to ski, there are lots of ways to ski inefficiently or in ways that produce poor outcomes for skiers (eg sliding out of control, or being unable to turn down a steep run). As a teacher, I want to enable learners to achieve efficient and productive outcomes. To do so, I must help skiers adapt many of their existing poor habits to be more effective. 


If you could be more clear in what you're saying, it would improve the productivity of this discussion. For example, I really don't get your intent when you use these words: 


Attractor states
Poor dynamics
Remaining dynamic

Edited by Metaphor_ - 4/28/14 at 7:40pm
post #127 of 139
Didn't say I disagreed, I just don't think dissonance is necessarily a bad thing, it is a reality of learning how to move.  My opinion is merely there can be enjoyable qualities as someone is working through variations of movement, working toward more dynamic efficiency while learning would not seem to benefit a great deal from being hard, there is already lots to learn the hard way, those lessons come with extra baggage too.  But since we're talking about different things we can move on happily.
post #128 of 139
Originally Posted by chad View Post
My opinion is merely there can be enjoyable qualities as someone is working through variations of movement


Sure, people love yoga, which strikes me as being about "do your thing, gurl". That's not the same as learning to ski, where most skiers have established patterns, and some idea in their head of the "right" way to ski (which usually involves inefficient or poor movement/tactical choices). It's common for skiers to say "but my last instructor told me to do the opposite!". Bam, instant cognitive dissonance. Not something you can just say "let's all have fun working through some variations of movement." The solution may not be complex, as JASP points out, but it will take emotional and mental energy for the learner to open up to the new learning, particularly since they've invested time in developing their old or inefficient skills/knowledge. 


I truly think it would be in your best interest to take an instructor certification and teach for a season so that your posts move away from thought experiments and more into the reality of teaching skiing. I do think you have a lot to add, but to me, there's nothing concrete in what you're saying. 

post #129 of 139

Nah, just help them let their inner child out and the playfulness will happen. Giggling, laughing, etc...

I remember a group last year where all the guys were very technical buttoned down types. Half of what I taught them was to just ski and give into the feelings and enjoyment of the experience. At that point their progress exploded and learning was easy compared to the hyper technical, emotionally disconnected scientific world they normally lived in. Adult learners are especially bad at being child like but it's usually the key to raising their game. My studies have led me to believe it's because of how the brain is put together and how strongly emotion play a role in easy learning.

post #130 of 139

OK, I'm done in this thread. jasp, you are a master of the straw man argument.

Edited by Metaphor_ - 4/29/14 at 4:48pm
post #131 of 139
post #132 of 139

That is a great read, Jamt, about the critical role of "play" in learning--and the interference with learning that can arise from an overly "serious" approach: "if you approach your practice for a sport or other activity with an overly serious mindset that creates stress, you are activating a brain pattern that is not conducive to learning," writes the author (Todd Hargrove). "If you make sure your practice is fun and stress free, you have a better chance to make it productive. In other words if you are not feeling ready to play, you are probably not really ready to learn either." My experience, like most instructors--certainly supports and corroborates this point.


It does bring to mind the potential paradox of "serious" play, vs. perhaps "mindless play"--as well as the intriguing connection--and perhaps distinction--between "fun" and "play." There is a role for an active mind in play, if it is to result in meaningful learning. "Watch a baby play," reads another article ("Why you should ignore science"), "It might look like random chaos, but every movement is a prediction, an experiment, and an analysis of the results." (Be sure to watch the video that the text links to--a four-hour time-lapse of a nine-month-old infant playing on the floor, compressed into two minutes.)


One evening, a few years back, I watched a small group of kids play on the learning hill of a large ski resort after the lifts had closed and the slopes were otherwise abandoned. Their play was entirely self-directed, as they climbed up the little berms we had set up for instructors to use with their classes and schussed down, feeling the rush of speed, the joy of gliding, and the effects of gravity both to speed them up, and to slow them down as they reached the slight incline at the bottom. Their joy and playfulness was obvious, but so was the "learning" that was going on. They had figured out how to put on their skis, and how to side-step uphill. More importantly, they were learning about their new relationship with gravity as a toy, and as the "fuel" that both speeds them up and slows them down as they slide. Falls were part of the play--not failures or errors, but simply more opportunities for experience and learning. They were moving constantly, learning to glide, intrigued by new sensations, and shrieking with delight at their new discoveries. 


These are lessons that many (most?) skiers never learn, it seems, as they just become more and more effective at fighting gravity, braking, scraping, and hacking their way down the mountains. These kids were learning more about great skiing on their own, unfortunately, than most of the "serious" classes I watched on the same hill the next morning, under the tutelage of "serious" instructors who taught them to brake and resist gravity, and who lectured them about "proper technique" and that "turns are for speed control," and so on. Most of the students in their classes were stiff, often rigid with doubt and fear, paralyzed by self-consciousness and self-analysis, and bored as they waited patiently in line for "their turn." There was little joy, little play, and much stress.


But that's the scene at so many ski schools, all over the world, every day. As instructors, we need to let them play--to show them the playing field and help them (sometimes) navigate it, and to keep them safe--but otherwise to get out of their way! Our understanding of technique and physics and such will help us keep them out of too much trouble, and allow us to guide their play when needed--and as much as necessary--to make the learning more efficient. We can suggest "things" they may want to play with--things they haven't tried yet--to enhance and quicken their learning, or to prevent them from wandering too far, or too dangerously, down a dead-end path. But even there, many "mistakes" offer profound learning opportunities as well, and we must recognize when it is better to let them learn these lessons too. We can help them recognize the learning and discoveries they've made, help them connect cause and effect, and celebrate their successes. And we can step in and make corrections when they really do seem headed inescapably in the wrong direction.


But above all, we must allow them to play, and create an environment that is conducive to play, as we act more as guides than lecturers. We must not rob them of the joy--and the learning--that comes only from discovery. We must remember that the experience is the lesson. The real learning is the new connections, the new sensations and abilities, the experimentation, and the "ahah!" moments they discover. Rarely is it the drills, progressions, and explanations and demonstrations we think we're teaching them--no matter how brilliant they may be. An old Austrian instructor once reminded me that "ze mountain vill teach you."


The mountain, the skis, gravity, snow, and our ability to play and learn--those are the real teachers. Our efforts as instructors--especially for adults, who may have forgotten how to "play"--are often better spent coaching people to become better learners, rather than spoon-feeding them "information." Teach them "technique" and they become robotic, purposeless, monotone technicians. Awaken their playfulness and they will become skiers. They will discover techniques perfectly matched to intent, movements adapted to purpose, and endless learning that enhances, not restricts, their options. They'll learn what they can do--not what they should do. 


Learning is play. Play is not always effortless, but the learning that results from play is. To learn easily, play hard!


Albert Einstein said that “Play is the highest form of research.”


Best regards,


post #133 of 139
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post


Sure, people love yoga, which strikes me as being about "do your thing, gurl". That's not the same as learning to ski, where most skiers have established patterns, and some idea in their head of the "right" way to ski (which usually involves inefficient or poor movement/tactical choices). It's common for skiers to say "but my last instructor told me to do the opposite!". Bam, instant cognitive dissonance. Not something you can just say "let's all have fun working through some variations of movement." The solution may not be complex, as JASP points out, but it will take emotional and mental energy for the learner to open up to the new learning, particularly since they've invested time in developing their old or inefficient skills/knowledge. 


I truly think it would be in your best interest to take an instructor certification and teach for a season so that your posts move away from thought experiments and more into the reality of teaching skiing. I do think you have a lot to add, but to me, there's nothing concrete in what you're saying. 


Maybe someday, I assure you they are not just thought experiments though.  It is interesting you bring up yoga, I will leave the yogi's to say more as I don't do it, but working with them it seems to be it is very much about form, or working toward a form/pose, but done with the keeping some of the qualities of grace and ease so they can feel where they can shed their self restrictions, so often everyone will have to adopt different forms/poses so as to meet their own best organization (body use) at that time, they will all look slightly different, so who is being inefficient?  


using mental and emotional energy is not a bad thing, and if that is where you are coming from with regard to effort than I agree, but it can still be fun, just has pedaling up a mountain, skinning a mountain, descending a mountain, while physically effortful, if done with some occasional attention can be fun, meaning the physical and emotional energy is done at the person's best use on that day.


the article jamt included is a good one, I am only suggesting there is information available on the learning spectrum that is equally important from from the other "hard" end. 


I will use different words Met:


using many parts of the body in a coordinated fashion (dynamics)

preference for a certain type of motor sequence(attractor state)

breaking down reliance on certain motor plans/sequences (destabilize)

how was tolerance confusing?


great read Bob, thanks for taking the time to write all that

post #134 of 139

The Resolute in Yoga surrender results, and gain perfect peace;


 the irresolute, attached to results, are bound by everything they do. 


  • Bhagavad Gita
post #135 of 139
I think the Bhagavad Gita beat you to it, Bob. That's really a compliment, though, if you think about it. smile.gif
post #136 of 139
Originally Posted by Skidude72 View Post

A few interesting side tangents came out of another active thread, but it was getting hard to keep all the conversations straight, so I thought I would start a new thread here.


This comment was presented which I found very interesting.


Is it true?  Sure.



But, do we need to go into this level of detail to understand skiing?  Is there value in going into this level of detail?  I would argue "no". 


The purpose of applying physics to skiing, as well as biomechanics is to develop generic models that can be used by others to evaluate, coach and develop skiers as well as thier own understanding. 


For example, ILS is a cornerstone of modern technique.  Its stablising effects on the upper body easily explained by physics.  As a simple model, it is a powerful tool to develop skiers, do they use ILS in every turn?  Yes/No.  Yes...good, No...bad. 


When evaluating skiing, we only need to be able to qualify what is happening...there is no value in quantifying it.


Again for example, we may see on video that this one guy, started to rotate one leg, 32/100 of a second before the other leg, then increased the rotation of the second leg by 4.5% to make it up, causing......say a 1 degree off axis rotation of his upper body in that one turn...what is the value of this quantification? .....none that I can see. 


In real world coaching we only need to know the goals, and know the problems caused by not achieving those goals. 


Want to be a great coach?  Learn the basic models, they will take you a very long way.




I am sorry to be joining so late into this thread but I would like to address Dude's assertion that physics is all about complexity. 


What follows is a physics demonstration that is fundamental (not complex) and one that all skiers need to understand when it comes to carving a turn.


Before you click on the below link, understand that the balloon surface represents the interface between the snow and ski,  the penny's edge represents an edged and pressured (bent)ski and the surface of the penny represents the skier's mass... rigid and totally inline with the penny's edge.


So go watch the first minute or so of this video and then come back.


Now I don't think learning that was too complex. The simple  message  from that experiment it that centripetal force (not inertial/linear force) is what needs to be created and managed in order to produce a circular path (carved turn).


So in real life, the snow surface and the pitch is not consistent like the balloon. Our skis do not maintain a consistent shape.  And unlike the rigid, perpendicular mass of the penny, our mass is

in-proportionally spread out over a flexible skeletal frame.  Oh, and did I mention that we have not one, but TWO skis?  To deal with these realities, we have invented hardware and we have developed  techniques and methodologies. 


To me, it is technique that breeds complexity.  When wining a race comes down to 100th of a second, complex techniques are critical. When teaching a beginner.. not so much.  Most of us fall somewhere in between.   

post #137 of 139

"A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."


                                                                            -  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

post #138 of 139
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post

Yep, sounds right, Bud and CGeib. From Ski magazine, December 1963:
From that little clipping, I would assume that "rotary power" refers to upper body rotation of some sort, while "reverse action" must be counter-rotation. So "split rotation" is a turn that begins with one and continues or finishes with the other. I'm not sure why they needed to add a special term for that--seems that jargon creation is not purely a modern phenomenon!

In any case, neither McCulloch's "rotary power" nor his "reverse action" appear to describe the so-called "fulcrum mechanism" of Independent Leg Rotation. (Nor did McCulloch apparently recognize the torque we can create with a pole planted with a firmly extended arm as the lever arm.)

"Turning Powers," eh, Bud? I guess that's no worse a term than the confusing misnomer, "turning forces," we often hear these days. These "rotary mechanisms" describe the mechanical principles and techniques we use to create and manage torque. They are neither "forces" themselves, nor can they, alone, cause turns (changes in direction of motion).

You're right, Dakine--there is no small amount of jargon around in skiing, and more created every day. Confusing? Maybe, but it's part of our heritage, part of the rich history of the sport.

Now--how the heck--and why--do you bring Copernicus and Galileo into this discussion? I certainly didn't bring them up--and I believe they preceded Newton by some 200 years. I'm not sure they would have much to add to the conversation, in this case.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

We distinguished turning "powers" as internally generated efforts to turn the skis and turning "forces" as the external forces encountered when turning.  I think this simplified description it helps understanding rather than clouds it but some may disagree?

post #139 of 139

Medial hip (femoral) rotation; Tensor facia lata, Gluteus medius ant., Gluteus minimus.   Lateral hip (femoral) rotation; Psoas major, Iliacus, Sartorius, Obturator externus, Gluteus medius  post., gemellus inferior, Quadratus femoris, Gluteus maximus, Piriformis, Gemellus  superior, Obturator internus.    All these muscles attach to the pelvis and the thigh last time I checked.              MUSCLES  Testing and Function, Kendall, Kendall and Wadsworth         YM

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