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# Balance???????????

I have no idea whether or how much  this topic has been addressed in a previous thread but I'll get this started.   What does it mean to be balanced while skiing?  Where do our balance axes align in the three planes of motion?   Is there balance in the transverse plane and if so, how do we identify and recognize poor or ideal balancing in this plane?   YM

bal·ance
ˈbaləns/
noun
1. 1.
an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.
"slipping in the mud but keeping their balance"
 synonyms: stability, equilibrium, steadiness, footing "I tripped and lost my balance"

2. 2.
a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.

#2  Seems to be fairly accurate in terms of describing what occurs in ski balance, but really can't explain what happens in skiing. When we generally think of balance we think of it in static terms.  But not only do we have three planes of balance, those three planes are ever-changing micro-moment to micro-moment (if there is such a thing) as we have continous changes of speed, pitch arc, snow conditions and more.

I think, while we can discuss so many elements of "balance" in skiing, I think the best we can do in a discussion is to present the idea that to be balanced is to strive to be or remain in a condition where  all the elements of force are in proportion to each other.  I think it is far more efficient to explore the act of "balancing" on those three planes than to try to explain or discuss them without dissecting them in relation to time and space within a ski turn.

I think of skier balance as having the forces generated by momentum passing through the COM and BOS.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson

I think of skier balance as having the forces generated by momentum passing through the COM and BOS.

Yes but where should that base of support be?  Is it on the LTE of the inside ski,  Is it over the BTE of the outside ski,  Is it between the feet?  Does it change locations during the turn?  How about the COM, does that change location as we ski?   Remember the "area of sustentation"?  How about the balance in the transverse plane?  How do we recognize when balance is off in the transverse plane?   If the skier negotiates a trail and doesn't fall they must have been balanced, right?    Or are we talking about something more subtle and refined than that?  YM

Skiing is not static. Everything changes moment by moment.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson

Skiing is not static. Everything changes moment by moment.

I want to know when, where, why and how.  It's pretty obvious looking at photomontages that everything constantly changes.  It's actually one of the distinctive appearances that separates the true expert from the intermediate skier.  It is also one of the paramount requirements for developing "flow". For example, when watching a skier from the front, how does one recognize a skier who is balanced on the longitudinal axis of a ski (the sweet spot)  vs one who is too far back.  How can we tell by observation that a skier is laterally balanced.  How does one recognize too much or too little hip counter rotation at the apex of a turn?  YM

Cannot be defined other than by learning to perform movement analysis. It is MOVEMENT analysis. There are cues, but you need the ability to assess those cues.
Edited by Kneale Brownson - 2/16/15 at 7:00am
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson

Cannot be defined other than by learning to perform movement analysis. I is MOVEMENT analysis. There are cues, but you need the ability to assess those cues.

So...what are the cues??????YM

Quote:
Originally Posted by yogaman

So...what are the cues??????YM

PSIA has a laminated set of cards with visual cues to effective (and ineffective) skiing.

It's easy to find in pdf form.  Yogaman, do you like these, or find them at all useful?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet

PSIA has a laminated set of cards with visual cues to effective (and ineffective) skiing.

It's easy to find in pdf form.  Yogaman, do you like these, or find them at all useful?

Thanks LF.  What I'm really looking for is a discussion, not some pat answers.  I participated in a clinic a couple weeks ago at my local mountain.  The theme was balance.  The focus was  thinking about balance while skiing.  I found the content useless. I can't believe that anyone got anything from the clinic.   I have years of being coached as a racer and years teaching and coaching.  I think I have a good idea of the visual cues of balancing in the three planes of motion.  What I am really interested in hearing are ideas by ski instructors about where our balance should be  and how to recognize errors in balancing.   I'm getting the impression that balancing is some nebulous theory that can only be understood by practicing some form of  magic voodoo MA.  YM

Yogaman, if you've been involved in race training then you've been exposed to learning to ski in a very wide range of states of balance, both fore/aft and laterally.  And as a coach you've likely use that training methodology with your racers.  Why do we coaches teach that broad package of balance skills?  Are we just wasting time and energy on useless skills, and less efficient forms of skiing?

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proprioception

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinetic_Awareness

And this one for fun:

http://footjax.com/Prop.html

Anything in there help at all? No time for a tome at the moment, but it's always great to re examine our assumptions about very basic definitions. It'd be interesting to know what you saw/heard/did in your clinic that wasn't working. Sometimes clinics are full of personal feedback, attention, and 'caring' that get confused for effective coaching. Sometimes it's this kind of clinic that's invaluable in helping us determine our own path and understanding of a particular issue.
Edited by markojp - 2/16/15 at 4:37am
Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp
....
http://footjax.com/Prop.html
....

Does not balance depend on what force you are balancing against?   I am puzzled on why the fact that skiing requires balancing against multiple forces (Gravitational and Centripetal) is not the basis for this discussion.  Each force requires different stance and focus, not to mention the  mixing and transition issues.  This is because one force (gravity) is always present and the other (Centripetal) needs to be generated.

The understanding that gravitational balance is about keeping your CoM over your feet and centripetal balance is about moving your CoM up and down the length of the ski as well as pinpoint balancing on the edge is the basis for developing technique.

yogaman, balance in skiing is simply about making sure the relationship between your BoS and CoM is such that you get pressure to the ski you want, and the specific part of the ski you want, and continue to do so for the duration of the turn, while making the turn shape you want.

Quote:
Originally Posted by yogaman

So...what are the cues??????YM

A partial list, with everything dependent upon circumstances:

Continuous movement contributing to the flow you already mentioned.

Ski performance including bending from the middle, edging for hold or direction change, minimal slippage, an appropriate dominance. You can watch for snow spray patterns, for example.

Simultaneous and progressive tipping movements from the feet and ankles, with appropriate accompanying upper body movements (angulation and inclination) to maintain balance. You can watch for consistently parallel boot shafts and body angles such as spine aligning generally with the shins.

Offensive movements to produce a consistent pace through line with minimal defensive action for speed control.

B683 and Kneale are both on the right track.

The best definition if good skiing balance is that it is the skill of continuously moving into a position where you can use edging, pressure management and rotary skills to affect your speed and path in a positive way.  If you can't hold an edge in a carved turn, or can't do a hockey stop or can't start a turn when you want to, you are out of balance.

I can't tell if a skier is in balance by looking at his body position.  I don't know where his center of mass is, and I can't be sure where the base of support is, at least not accurately enough to know if he is in balance.  OTOH, as Kneale wrote, if a skier moves freely on his skis, if his skis interact with the snow the way they are designed to do, I assume he is in good balance.

I used to coach a kid who would hang on the back of his boots until the front of his skis were off the snow, all the way back to his heels.  He could turn left and right, control his speed and go back to good GS turns anytime he wanted.  He was in good balance.  He was using his skills to work he skis in exactly the way he wanted to.

No one can tell you what position your body should be in.  Balance is not a position, it is an activity and you need to learn it on your own through experience.

BK

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson

A partial list, with everything dependent upon circumstances:

Continuous movement contributing to the flow you already mentioned.

Ski performance including bending from the middle, edging for hold or direction change, minimal slippage, an appropriate dominance. You can watch for snow spray patterns, for example.

Simultaneous and progressive tipping movements from the feet and ankles, with appropriate accompanying upper body movements (angulation and inclination) to maintain balance. You can watch for consistently parallel boot shafts and body angles such as spine aligning generally with the shins.

Offensive movements to produce a consistent pace through line with minimal defensive action for speed control.

Along with BTS's post, a pretty darn good short list. I guess I'm not understanding what the confusion is about without knowIng more about the failed clinic Yogaman alluded to.
Quote:
Originally Posted by yogaman

I participated in a clinic a couple weeks ago at my local mountain.  The theme was balance.  The focus was  thinking about balance while skiing.  I found the content useless. I can't believe that anyone got anything from the clinic. ... What I am really interested in hearing are ideas by ski instructors about where our balance should be  and how to recognize errors in balancing.   I'm getting the impression that balancing is some nebulous theory that can only be understood by practicing some form of  magic voodoo MA.  YM

I was in a clinic that I think was similar. While most of the content was gobbledigook, it did focus me in an area of my own skiing. That was to find a balance spot on my skis that that serves as a home base. And while I expect to move or be moved off of that spot in relation to the turn and forces this is the spot where I seek to return to. I believe that it has made my skiing significantly more "efficient", for lack of a better description.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JESINSTR

Does not balance depend on what force you are balancing against?   I am puzzled on why the fact that skiing requires balancing against multiple forces (Gravitational and Centripetal) is not the basis for this discussion.  Each force requires different stance and focus, not to mention the  mixing and transition issues.  This is because one force (gravity) is always present and the other (Centripetal) needs to ...

No reason they can't be discussed, so have at it! Not the idea that change in the relationship forces a different 'stance' seems problematic, as 'stance' connotes a more static solution to 4th dimensional issues.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JESINSTR

Does not balance depend on what force you are balancing against?   I am puzzled on why the fact that skiing requires balancing against multiple forces (Gravitational and Centripetal) is not the basis for this discussion.  Each force requires different stance and focus, not to mention the  mixing and transition issues.  This is because one force (gravity) is always present and the other (Centripetal) needs to be generated.

There is constant gravitational force, and a dynamic force caused by acceleration, but they both act on the skier's body mass.  They sum to a single force that varies in strength and direction, and your body experiences that as a single, variable force.  You can't have two different stances at the same time. You don't go down the hill thinking you'll do certain movements to balance against gravity, and different movements to balance against the dynamic forces.  No one ever learned to ski that way.

There is only a single balance skill.  It requires constant movement to wherever our center needs to be. It's a feedback loop where balancing effectively causes our skis to interact with the snow to change the forces we need to balance against. It can only be learned through experience.

BK

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bode Klammer

There is constant gravitational force, and a dynamic force caused by acceleration, but they both act on the skier's body mass.  They sum to a single force that varies in strength and direction, and your body experiences that as a single, variable force.  You can't have two different stances at the same time. You don't go down the hill thinking you'll do certain movements to balance against gravity, and different movements to balance against the dynamic forces.  No one ever learned to ski that way.

There is only a single balance skill.  It requires constant movement to wherever our center needs to be. It's a feedback loop where balancing effectively causes our skis to interact with the snow to change the forces we need to balance against. It can only be learned through experience.

BK

Bode, Don't disagree at all with what you have written.  Your first sentence is correct but do you agree that the dynamic force can be either inertial or circular acceleration? And if so, balance against Inertial force deals with gravity all around (at least on planet earth). Balance against circular force deals with gravity on the inside of the turn and centrifugal force on the outside.

All I am saying is that there are two different situations and while it is second nature for racers and experts low end skiers need to be introduced to this new type of circular balance.

Yes/No?

Quote:
Originally Posted by JESINSTR

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bode Klammer

There is constant gravitational force, and a dynamic force caused by acceleration, but they both act on the skier's body mass.  They sum to a single force that varies in strength and direction, and your body experiences that as a single, variable force.  You can't have two different stances at the same time. You don't go down the hill thinking you'll do certain movements to balance against gravity, and different movements to balance against the dynamic forces.  No one ever learned to ski that way.

There is only a single balance skill.  It requires constant movement to wherever our center needs to be. It's a feedback loop where balancing effectively causes our skis to interact with the snow to change the forces we need to balance against. It can only be learned through experience.

BK

Bode, Don't disagree at all with what you have written.  Your first sentence is correct but do you agree that the dynamic force can be either inertial or circular acceleration? And if so, balance against Inertial force deals with gravity all around (at least on planet earth). Balance against circular force deals with gravity on the inside of the turn and centrifugal force on the outside.

All I am saying is that there are two different situations and while it is second nature for racers and experts low end skiers need to be introduced to this new type of circular balance.

Yes/No?

No.  There is no "inertial" or "circular" acceleration. These are not commonly used terms.  There are forces that cause acceleration, either caused by gravity or be the interaction of the ski with the snow, and those forces can be radial or lateral or vertical or any other direction. The skier feels that as a single variable force acting on the mass of his body.

You are correct that managing the forces is second nature to competent skiers, and that new skiers need to learn that. Learning that balance is essentially the same thing as learning to ski.

BK

Quote:
Originally Posted by JESINSTR

All I am saying is that there are two different situations and while it is second nature for racers and experts low end skiers need to be introduced to this new type of circular balance.

Yes/No?

You are absolutely right JES.

One of the last things I've added to my repertoire of lessons with my intermediate and advanced students  is the relationship between turn shape and pressure... and balance, I never called it or thought of it as "circular balance", but the concept is the same nonetheless. . The feedback I'm getting ranges from "wow" to "how come nobody ever told me that before".

Quote:
Originally Posted by markojp

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proprioception

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinetic_Awareness

And this one for fun:

http://footjax.com/Prop.html

Anything in there help at all? No time for a tome at the moment, but it's always great to re examine our assumptions about very basic definitions. It'd be interesting to know what you saw/heard/did in your clinic that wasn't working. Sometimes clinics are full of personal feedback, attention, and 'caring' that get confused for effective coaching. Sometimes it's this kind of clinic that's invaluable in helping us determine our own path and understanding of a particular issue.

Thanks! Now we are getting started.   My clinic consisted of "pay attention to your balance."  That's it.  No tasks, no feedback and  no ideas on how to access balance, improving balancing or where the balance needs to be.   When I teach most of the drills I use have consequence.  This meaning, if the drill is to traverse on one foot, then you are either successful or not.  The consequences of not being able to do it is that you have to put the other foot down or that the ski slips forward rather than leaving a perfect single RR track.  Therefore, the feedback is immediate and the outcome is apparent and the task or skill to be improved is evident.  I recently saw something from Rick which was several one ski drills which were great.   I'll keep reading todays posts.  YM

Quote:
Originally Posted by vindibona1

Quote:
Originally Posted by yogaman

I participated in a clinic a couple weeks ago at my local mountain.  The theme was balance.  The focus was  thinking about balance while skiing.  I found the content useless. I can't believe that anyone got anything from the clinic. ... What I am really interested in hearing are ideas by ski instructors about where our balance should be  and how to recognize errors in balancing.   I'm getting the impression that balancing is some nebulous theory that can only be understood by practicing some form of  magic voodoo MA.  YM

I was in a clinic that I think was similar. While most of the content was gobbledigook, it did focus me in an area of my own skiing. That was to find a balance spot on my skis that that serves as a home base. And while I expect to move or be moved off of that spot in relation to the turn and forces this is the spot where I seek to return to. I believe that it has made my skiing significantly more "efficient", for lack of a better description.

With my background I can't handle "gobbledygook".  Thanks  YM

I had the opportunity to work in a race academy program for several years in the 90's.  Several of our coaches had coached at the national, international and Olympic levels.  There was much less vagueness  about what needs to happen and what is expected from the skiers, and the tasks than what I found in this clinic I participated in a couple weeks ago.  I was very frustrated that the whole idea of balancing was presented  so vaguely that as far as I was concerned it was useless.  As for the physics of skiing and balancing.   My physics is basic ,primitive  and ancient and so I tend to avoid any sort of discussion  that involves  physics.   Being a practical guy,  I like practical ideas, solutions and outcomes.   Years ago the Mahre brothers produced a skills tape that included all kinds of balancing drills and skills.  The tape is called,  "SKI the Mahre Way".  1986.   Don't know whether it is still available or not.    To Quote, qcanoe, " [I too] have a low tolerance for ambiguity"  YM

The idea of balance in skiing may sound good, but I see it as windmill tilting.

In continuous movement, balance is flowing a skier's COM across the ski's line over and over.  A snapshot of any part of the process shows you proper balance within that moment, but the skier is choosing their line while the feet take a line of their own. Constant movement places the balance within that movement, ergo dyanamic balance is movement effective to skiing.

That said, I like the home base idea, a power position that a skier can feel, and move from or into they can help a skier finding themself off balance to seize the position allowing ski movements to proceed.  But the skier must realize that this position is a moment in the process, not a goal to aspire toward.

Quote:
Originally Posted by yogaman

I have no idea whether or how much  this topic has been addressed in a previous thread but I'll get this started.   What does it mean to be balanced while skiing?  Where do our balance axes align in the three planes of motion?   Is there balance in the transverse plane and if so, how do we identify and recognize poor or ideal balancing in this plane?   YM

One way a skier can achieve balance in whatever context we are in is to ditch the poles for a run or few.

Get rid of the crutches and a skier need to stand on their feet.  Effective skiing movements begin at the feet and stop at the hips, or vice versa, but upper body input via a pole plant is misleading and detrimental to a nascent skier.

I don't know how many skiers(but it is way too many) I see crutching their way down the hill trying to reestablish balance pushing on their poles never able to stand properly so the skis can actually work.

I forgot my poles one day and by the end of that year I quit using them entirely.  Folks of all stripes, old instructors, young instructors, crumedgeons and amateur skiers all want to know why I eschew them, and my pat answer is movements to effective skiing begin at the feet and end at the hips leaving the upper body uninvolved therefore independant to lower body movements.

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