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It's all about the eyes.

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

I think we have analyzed just about every aspect of good skiing in threads covering topics like this one.

http://www.epicski.com/t/131144/3-part-separation-upper-body-middle-body-lower-body/60#post_1809310

 

From my experience, there is one body part that trumps all.

In every carving sport I can think of the head is kept as level as possible and the eyes are tracking ahead of the direction of travel looking towards the next apex.

For example......

 

The obligatory Ligety pic.

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 75

 

Valentino Rossi does it too.

 

Likewise in windsurfing.

 

And surfing.


 

So how about it technique mavens?

I think turn initiation happens when you shift your eyes to the next apex and as you do that your head needs to be kept level throughout the turn or you lose orientation.

Eyes turn, head adjusts and shoulder accommodates to initiate while you are still finishing the last turn.

post #2 of 25
I dunno. Though where you look is important I think it varies depending on what youre doing. It will also vary with skill level and condition. In gates and bumps Im going to have a much harder visual focus than when cruising. I think I tend to focus hard momentarily spotting up my turn shape, then soft thru the execution until that one critical moment when i have to spot up my next turn.
post #3 of 25

You are right about the importance of the eyes and need to be looking where you are going...What a concept!.

 

Eyes are a key input to the central nervous system. We all train our central nervous system to respond to inputs. In sports, the more you train your CNS to respond (as prescribed by coaching activities ie technique) to inputs, the more successful the outcome. At least that's the plan.

 

Now take a converse situation from the recreational ski world in which I work.  We have a self taught skier.  From the get go, fear has governed the training of his/her central nervous system.  Instead of the eyes looking where the skier needs to go, they are looking down at their skis or the lodge where they believe they will be ending their life shortly if they don't quickly rotate the skis by any means possible or keep projecting that butt to the outside ski only to reinforce the training of back seat skiing. Worse yet, they have picked up a great tip that told them to "Face down the hill"! And they wonder why they can never complete a turn. And so it goes with the  improper education of the CNS for skiing.  

 

Just a rhetorical response your premise. :) 

post #4 of 25

A few years back during a training clinic the SSD talked about how in auto racing, they did a study on this and the best racers eyes never stop moving.  He said not to look at something until it was time to look at something else but instead, be looking at everything along the path.  Don't fixate on anything.

post #5 of 25

Consider there are no muscles controlling the eyes that can account for diagonal movement, it always a coupled effort between the ability to look up/down and side/side and the complexity of something we take largely for granted is incredible. Besides vision, it is the actual muscle effort and contraction that also provides a great deal of information for our CNS to make movement choices.  Just like any other body relationship there are  habitual patterns that effect the muscle function of the neck and trunk. The pattern of trunk and neck muscle function will also effect the function of the eyes.  Maybe the persistent gaze at the feet is related to the amount of fear induced trunk flexion.  There are some fun ways to play with feeling the influence of the eyes if any one is interested.

post #6 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by chad View Post
 

Consider there are no muscles controlling the eyes that can account for diagonal movement, it always a coupled effort between the ability to look up/down and side/side and the complexity of something we take largely for granted is incredible. Besides vision, it is the actual muscle effort and contraction that also provides a great deal of information for our CNS to make movement choices.  Just like any other body relationship there are  habitual patterns that effect the muscle function of the neck and trunk. The pattern of trunk and neck muscle function will also effect the function of the eyes.  Maybe the persistent gaze at the feet is related to the amount of fear induced trunk flexion.  There are some fun ways to play with feeling the influence of the eyes if any one is interested.

Interesting....Chicken or the egg?  Or maybe a chain reaction? ie if fear was caused by vision and other inputs, the reaction is trunk flexion which causes vision to be switched to the skis?

post #7 of 25

I think it could be broadened, not just fear or anticipatory mechanisms related to visual perception.  The CNS is monitoring so much, effort to maintain balance, multiple co contracted joints, etc will also have sig effects on trunk control. I was thinking more along the lines of fear reflexes, even though over powered they still may be firing, contributing to muscle tone and whatever associated pattern the person has developed up to that moment.  Those influence eye control, change of the eye moves and it changes perception, many illusions to prove it.

post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 

The eyes are the window to the soul...ain't that true.

From the beginner with total concentration on his tips to the expert who carves nice arcs while looking for a particular jacket on a particular girl on the chairlift.

The best in any sport use a combination of soft focus, hard focus and continuous scanning to get the brain the info it needs.

I also think the brain gets some inertial guidance from the muscle effort necessary to keep the head as erect and level as possible.

Running gates is a clear test of visual skills.

When I'm making a good run my soft vision is aware of the next two or three gates while my hard focus notices the details of my path with great clarity.

I'd think a good instructor can properly identify the skill level of a student by watching eyes only.

 

On a racetrack with every lap the same, vision can be really narrowly focused towards the apex and exit while looking for oil on the pavement.

Windsurfing in waves is like skiing bumps that move and is never the same twice.

This takes much more soft focus to provide situational awareness(you do want to know when you are about to get mugged by a 10 footer).

Skiing is somewhere in between, my skiing suffers on crowded days when I have to watch for others as compared to being in a course where you usually are alone.

post #9 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by chad View Post
 

Consider there are no muscles controlling the eyes that can account for diagonal movement, it always a coupled effort between the ability to look up/down and side/side and the complexity of something we take largely for granted is incredible. Besides vision, it is the actual muscle effort and contraction that also provides a great deal of information for our CNS to make movement choices.  Just like any other body relationship there are  habitual patterns that effect the muscle function of the neck and trunk. The pattern of trunk and neck muscle function will also effect the function of the eyes.  Maybe the persistent gaze at the feet is related to the amount of fear induced trunk flexion.  There are some fun ways to play with feeling the influence of the eyes if any one is interested.

 

I'm interested.  Share some?

post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post
 

 

I'm interested.  Share some?


Try carving a couple of turns with your eyes closed.

post #11 of 25

Maybe not wise at my crowded mountain with narrow trails.  People do all kinds of stupid tricks on skis.  Are you serious?

post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 

Yah, I'm serious.

On a easy, groomed run with nobody around.

You will never observe your body mechanics better than when turning blind.

post #13 of 25
More support for the unbelievable dynamics of the CNS, so many options and it will switch without hesitation from top/down to bottom/up.
 
post #14 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by dakine View Post
 

Yah, I'm serious.

On a easy, groomed run with nobody around.

You will never observe your body mechanics better than when turning blind.

 

We do it at Snowbird all the time off the top of the tram on low vis days. Days when even the skis are fuzzy but the glove in front of our face aren't. 

It's amazing what your skis can tell you. 

post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 

Great point Grump.

Now that I think about it, low visibility skiing requires a total adjustment to technique due to the lack of input from the eyes.

Anybody who has ever experienced vertigo in a whiteout then regained form in the trees when visual feedback returns knows this well.

post #16 of 25
Level 2 Adaptive drill. Ski with handler/guide using a pole. If your a balanced skier adjustments are minimal.
post #17 of 25

Some more related info and some things to play with to feel how the eyes and body work with one another.

 

http://www.zhealth.net/articles/reflexive-lifting

 

http://www.zhealth.net/articles/the-eyes-have-it

 

The other aspect not mentioned much is that eye movement is one of the few motor functions that enhances the connectivity between the 2 brain hemispheres, REM sleep, dreaming, memory filing, visualization, etc.  Would seem logical that it would also deepen motor pattern connectivity too associated with the eye movements.  The better they move maybe the better we retain and use new movement options in learning.

post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by dakine View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post
 

 

I'm interested.  Share some?


Try carving a couple of turns with your eyes closed.


Sort of like skiing yestereday with my glasses covered by freezing rain, or with fogged up goggles (a problem that has now been solved by Turbo goggles),  The little bumps that develope during the day are a lot more interesting and fun when you can't see them.  Caveat: the big bumps are a lot more dangerous when you can't see them, especially at speed.

post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by chad View Post
 

Some more related info and some things to play with to feel how the eyes and body work with one another.

 

http://www.zhealth.net/articles/reflexive-lifting

 

http://www.zhealth.net/articles/the-eyes-have-it

 

The other aspect not mentioned much is that eye movement is one of the few motor functions that enhances the connectivity between the 2 brain hemispheres, REM sleep, dreaming, memory filing, visualization, etc.  Would seem logical that it would also deepen motor pattern connectivity too associated with the eye movements.  The better they move maybe the better we retain and use new movement options in learning.

 

Great stuff chad.  

 

In addition to the common "look where you're going to be going" technique to help skiers to turn, there is of course the aspect of not looking down while you ski.  Beginners looking at their skis is a huge problem, and advanced skiers just looking a little bit too much down is a problem as well.

 

What's great about the perspective and info you're providing is that it shows there's not only mental, but physiological science behind this.

 

Thanks for opening my eyes to this. :drool 

post #20 of 25

Glad you find it worth your time to read.  When you consider how movement influences perception, and the importance of perception in skiing it would seem an area worth mentioning.  Ultimately it is always about sensation, knowing the body influences the eyes as much as the eyes influence the body,  feeling and having this in your repertoire may be just what a client needs to have that ah ha moment.

post #21 of 25

I have been working on my carves and I had an eye thing revelation the other day while skiing.  Currently, my cheater gs ski is not my friend and I have had trouble making sharper turns with it.  Then I accidentally stumbled onto something.  If I am not focused on a particular spot on the hill, I tend to make a big lazy arc.  If I pick a particular spot on the snow and look at it, I start to tip my skis much better and quicker.  Now I just need to get in the habit of doing it all the time.   

post #22 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by peterk123 View Post
 

I have been working on my carves and I had an eye thing revelation the other day while skiing.  Currently, my cheater gs ski is not my friend and I have had trouble making sharper turns with it.  Then I accidentally stumbled onto something.  If I am not focused on a particular spot on the hill, I tend to make a big lazy arc.  If I pick a particular spot on the snow and look at it, I start to tip my skis much better and quicker.  Now I just need to get in the habit of doing it all the time.   


That's one reason whey running gates will improve your skiing.

post #23 of 25

Dakine, No question the eyes are ultra important, but I am surprised no one hit on the most important aspect. It is not just looking in the intended direction of travel it is bout looking far enough ahead. 

 

Bumps at least a couple of bumps ahead same with gates. 

 

 

This allows you to ski THROUGH the impediments in your path not ski TO them and allows you to be offensive with them not merely reactionary and defensive.

post #24 of 25
Thread Starter 

"In every carving sport I can think of the head is kept as level as possible and the eyes are tracking ahead of the direction of travel looking towards the next apex"

That's what I said to get this thread going but what goes on visually with top performers in carving sports is very complex.

The eyes have simultaneous soft and hard focus areas.

When the soft focus and peripheral vision is aware of the general scene while the hard focus is continually scanning for important details, that's the zone.

How in hell the Moto GP guys can be aware of every minute ripple in the track while also bring aware of the next apex and their exact position on the track with another guy on a 400 pound motorcycle three feet away is beyond me.

Studies show the continuous scanning of salient details is what the pros do best.

Just like a cat.

post #25 of 25

The pros can rely on on the information they are getting from the rest of the body, it matches their feedforward body configuration.  When you consider the reps a pro or experienced mover has put into an activity they have a huge set of neurons to tap into. Being reactionary/defensive is relying heavily on feedback only.  It is the balance between the feedforward and feedback that equates to equilibrium and body control.  Well, at least by one theory. Amazing it happens in such a short time with so many options, beautiful. 

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