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- topicBalancing Movementstagged by nolo, 4/11/13
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- Angulation With Kiss By Weems WestfeldtLast edited: 4/20/11
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- Angulation With Kiss By Weems Westfeldt
The longer I teach skiing, the more I think everything is about balance .... and the rest is just details.
Learning to be balanced while moving on snow is a trial-and-error process, with coaches guiding the trial-and-error challenges.
skiing is taught differently because we are balancing on a moving platform, walking the moving platform does not exist.
also go around turn while walking with out turning your legs.
You don't usually teach people to walk by having them go down a hill wearing roller skates.
We're literally hardwired to walk. The 'muscle memory' for (aggressive) dynamic balance has to be built up. Most people can't do it right off the bat unless they have extensive experience in related activities.
In theory, staying in dynamic balance while skiing is not very different than doing so while running down an incline, at least if you take a broad view of just keeping your COM in an appropriate relation to your BOS.
But in practice there are a lot of subtle things you can do with your feet and legs on skis that aren't intuitive while you're walking or running. (Rotation of your legs in the hip sockets in particular.) And some possible movements that you lose, or at least that feel very different.
Stay hydrated. This is step #1. Balance comes from the inner ear.
I don't think balance is taught as much as challenged.
I lost my ability to be balanced about 17 years ago from severe dehydration. I regained it through experiences. I went from being well balanced to not being able to walk without assistance for a couple weeks. Across the next year or so, every time I did something for the first time after my dehydration episode, I would almost fall over until I did it a few times.
I don't think balance is taught differently for skiing as much as it is challenged differently.
my skiing mentor is my old race coach with 40 years of ski instruction and 25 years of coaching experience. needless to say, i have learned many things from him. one of them is the truth that, as modern bipeds, we spend the vast majority of our lives moving about on FLAT surfaces, and relatively little time on inclined ones.
whether you work in an office, a warehouse (as i do), a bank, etc...you are rarely subject to the pull of gravity except from directly below our Cms--with only small fore aft lateral adjustments being required. we almost never have to angulate, or counter (things needed to varying degrees in skiing) to any appreciable degree in day to day life. for instance, when was the last time anyone reading this thread countered their way through a door opening, or around a 90* turn in a hallway?? what about HEAVILY weighting your outside foot as you did so?? we are trained as toddlers that the world is flat...and we continue on about our lives this way.
now, realizing this, imagine the difficulty a new skier faces when confronted with a suddenly inclined surface...how do they always respond?? by embracing the abyss which lies below, or clinging to that which lies above, trying to remain vertical like the trees which surround them, trying to move down a slope with no down? no wonder the fear!
IMhO, the skills and movements for balancing on a moving platform are very different than the ones required to balance on a high friction non-moving (and to zentures point), flat surface. When you feet are "anchored", the large balancing movements tend to come from the upper body don't they? A slight slip and you throw your hand/arm up to "catch" your balance. It seems like it is more a function of trying to move the CoM in a way to keep it over the BoS. The ability to move the BoS does not exist when you are standing on the ground. Yes, you are moving your feet when you walk but once you have planted it and moved onto it so it is the Base of Support, you no longer have the ability to move that foot (perhaps I should say easily move it since we sometimes hop/jump/skip on that foot to move it such that we can continue to use it as a BoS, typically when what we are standing on moves unexpectedly). We can move our non-supporting foot to help maintain balance but isn't that just another way to move the CoM at that point? When walking, we are always throwing ourselves out of balance knowing we can move our feet to another fixed platform which will become our new BoS and regain our balance over.
Skiing on the other hand (as well as the other slippery sports) involves a moving BoS. We now have the dynamic of being able to move the BoS under the CoM to maintain balance. Now we can move the BoS to balance and direct the CoM in the direction we want to go. One uses the upper body and the other allows the use of the lower body. Most new skiers struggle because they want to continue to use their upper body for balancing and moving their CoM in the direction they want to go. Don't many intermediate skiers still "walk" to make their turns? They step, twist so they can "stand" where they need to be balanced? In skiing we are also throwing ourselves out of balance but until we have done it enough to know it works (almost all the time) we struggle letting it happen. We have to learn how to dynamically move our BoS, our feet, to maintain balance over them.
On the other hand, I would think that the finer movements involved in fine tuning our balance might be the same in both walking and skiing. The ankle, knee, hip, torso, arm, hand, head continue to refine our balance point.
Yes, snowhawk! Stated most simply, as everyday "streetwalkers" , we make upper rotary movements all the time, for instance. My mentor always likes to mention this to those we are working with--as now we are asking them to do something quite different! Point being, it is difficult due to everyone's flatlander background....
Skiing is all about balance. I have a friend who is almost completely uncoached, but he skis everywhere, chutes, tight trees, steeps, frozen crud, at high speeds all day long. His technique is awful. He pushes his feet, he has limited flexion and extension, and he only occasionally get a decent carve going. But he has excellent balance, and he skis everyone else into the ground.
Balance is a general athletic skill and it transfers to skiing from any other activity you do. That's why skiers do strength training on unstable platforms. The balance they learn on balance balls transfers well to skiing. Specific skills like edging or rotary don't transfer at all, except form closely related sports like skating.
Skiing is taught to little children the same way walking is taught. You put them in the equipment, push them outside and show them people having fun doing it. Skiing is taught differently to adults because they are too goal oriented to enjoy the process of learning skills, as opposed to achieving the goal.
Yes. But adults rock.
Adults are in charge of their skiing; they have made a conscious choice to ski and the results of making that commitment count to them. There is a different kind of motivation than simply having fun skiing around and falling and screeching with delight. They want results that follow from their efforts. If we all remained kids being pushed along to have fun unconsciously, we wouldn't have interstates and ski areas and cars and modern ski gear. Let's have some applause for adult-type motivations. They have their place.
Adults' bodies are taller with respect to their base of support than little kids. Their bones and connective tissues are less elastic than those of little kids. Falling is a bigger issue as the crash produces more dramatic stresses on their bodies. Of this they are aware. Adults want to advance and have fun without getting seriously hurt. They have financial commitments to others after their skiing ends which are fulfillable only if they do not break while skiing. This is an understandable goal. It's our job as coaches and instructors to take this into account as we teach them to ski and ski better. This is doable!
Adults don't want to be in a wedge for as many years as little kids are. The ones who take lessons want to move from wedge to parallel and on to higher levels of skiing as fast as possible. This is a reasonable objective. They can advance faster than little kids because they have the advantage of a mind full of memories and the capacity for logical thinking. There is a fine line between using thinking in a functional way and paralysis by analysis, but a coach/instructor can help adults manage this pesky dilemma.
I like being an adult skier and I like teaching adults.
IMO this is not about whether the platform is moving or not. If I am walking/running on a boat or a bus the platform is moving, but it is still not like skiing.
The key difference is the lack of friction. If I walk a lot on ice I am sure it carries over very well to skiing. Even better, if I walk on a hilly trail which is icy I will have to glide on my feet sometimes. This is exactly like fore-aft in skiing.
Adults want to advance and have fun without getting seriously hurt. They have financial commitments to others after their skiing ends which are fulfillable only if they do not break while skiing. This is an understandable goal. It's our job as coaches and instructors to take this into account as we teach them to ski and ski better. This is doable!
I like being an adult skier and I like teaching adults.
Well articulated Sir!
Walking is not unlike skiing because both are forms of human locomotion. The runner and the skier are not so very different, though certainly they are not the same in many respects, such as that "moving platform," but certainly both the runner and the skier are in a dance with gravity. My body, namely my foot, doesn't care if I am skiing or not. It still behaves according to the same rules it does when I am locomotoring anyway, anywhere. When loaded, the foot pronates. When unloaded, it dorsiflexes. That is a huge point of leverage (transfer) in teaching flatlanders to ski.
I also love the transferable idea of the "leap and the landing" which occurs in every step we make, and every turn we take.
Regarding the notion that balance is everything: Balance is the egg, movement is the chicken. Got to have chicken to make egg.
I really like that, but don't you have to be in balance before you can move effectively? Which came first???
I like seeing instructors talk about balance. I have long thought that is the most important thing and when helping others improve their skiing I generally talk about balance because that is something that everyone can understand. Keeping it simple.
Nope, fellas, listen to Nolo, she's telling you something very important. From that internal "accelerated perspective" balance is the very same task regardless of the terrain and the traction beneath our feet.
Edited by justanotherskipro - 4/2/13 at 1:02pm
For some reason this reminds me of (http://xkcd.com/123/):
Obviously the laws of physics don't change when you're on skis, but the kind of movement and acceleration you deal with while skiing subjectively feels quite different from walking around on flat ground.
Motion creates the need for dynamic balancing
the gen pop seeking ski lessons exhibit these movement errors because they never learned (fully anyways) the effects these movements have as momentum and forces increase, so they assume the same movement patterns they use in day to day life will work in skiing.
they then begin to learn the difference (hopefully:) )
On what I flatter myself by thinking is a practical level, I decided last week at the Gathering that if I make the event next year in Utah, I'll offer to take a group of "Guinea Bears" skate skiing over at Soldier Hollow for a half day. I continue to imagine that this activity helps my balance a whole lot, and that it translates to my alpine life. (It's also fun, of course. ) If you're flying along on skis that are 40mm wide, with tips like noodles, and you're attached only at the toe via a relatively flimsy shoe, basically either you learn how to get centered and balanced, dynamically and athletically, or the consequences are blatantly and immediately obvious. If you're going down a hill, you are likely to crash and burn quickly and repeatedly. Regardless of whether you are going up, down, or on the level, the primary result of poor balance is that you just go dog slow ... or maybe you go fast, but only with an exorbitant and unsustainable amount of effort. There is no mistaking this when your buddies are pulling away from you and you are panting in their dust; it's not a matter of subtle interpretation. Now exactly HOW you get good at this is a different and more thorny question, so if any of you out there is headed to the Gathering next year and is also a Nordic coach, speak up. But even without real coaching I feel like it's good to get out there and be forced to employ subtlety in your on-ski movements. The skimeister concept is not dead ... or at least it shouldn't be.
- balance everyday
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