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Laws, Principles and Preferences

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Si’s thread, “Most Basic Ski Movement Patterns” has me wondering about alternative methods to look skiing.

As many know I am golf professional in the summer and I thought it would be interesting to look at our PGA teaching model as an alternative method of looking at skiing. We look at the golf swing in three levels of priority: We call them Laws, Principals and Preferences


The first is LAWS. Laws are basically the physical forces influencing the flight of the ball. The skiing equivalent would be snow/ski interaction. Simply put, they are the indisputable laws of physics. I’ll list all five golf Laws, and there are only 5, with a brief description. All center on the two key elements in golf-distance and direction.

1.Speed-in the absence of other factors a ball hit with more clubhead speed will go farther then one hit with less-its primary influence is distance

2.Centerdness-in the absence of other factors a ball hit on the ‘sweet spot: (generally the center of the clubface) will go farther than one hit on the toe or heel, top or bottom-its primary influence is on distance

3.Path-the direction the club travels in its elliptical arc- at impact is the clubhead going down the target line, out away from the target line or across the line-its the primary influence is on direction

4.Face angle-The degree to which the clubface is at right angles or diverges to/from the path-this is why golf balls curve-its primary influence is direction

5.Angle of Approach-the steepness with which the club comes into the ball-the primary influence is distance because the steeper the approach the more backspin that is imparted on the ball.

I haven’t sorted my way through the physics of skiing to determine if there are “laws” of physics that apply and can’t be refuted. What are the “LAWS” of snow/ski interaction? One I can think of is can think of critical edge angle-you have it you hold, you don’t- you go downhill,


Principals are those considerations, which have a direct influence on how the Laws are applied. They are somewhat subjective on the mechanics of the swing. There are 14 of these so I won’t run through all of them but let me give you a couple of examples.

1.Dynamic Balance (sort of a skiing type of example)-good players use a motion common to all efficient throwing and striking actions-they move from the rear foot to the front foot-in the golf swing the action of taking the club back should create a posting of weight over the right hip with the upper body coiling and then the weight transfers to the front foot and is followed by the upper body uncoiling around the left hip (assuming a right handed golfer). If you stay back you will reduce power and alter the speed, path and arc of the swing.

2.Grip-There are some sub categories here so just let me discuss position. If you place your hands together like you are praying (don’t interlock your fingers) then point them down at your knees your palms will basically be “neutral”-facing each other. I can alter that position by rotating my hands (in unison) towards either shoulder. During a golf swing your hands will want to return toward that neutral position. However, if we have rotated them toward the right shoulder that “return” toward neutral will cause the clubface to be aimed left of the path at impact. So we have influence on direction (Law number 4).

In the skiing world an example of a principal might be binding location and it’s effect on ski performance. Or rotation/counter rotation and their impact on the ability to produce angles in specific joints.


Preferences are simply the infinite choices we make on how to achieve a desired outcome. In the golf sense if I have a problem (for whatever reason) getting the clubface square at impact I may rotate my grip toward the right shoulder at address to create a remedy.

Preferences are neither right nor wrong but simply reflect our decision how we choose to achieve our desired outcomes. They may result in many different outcomes. For example, it could be carving vs. skidding; wedge vs. parallel; or rotation vs. independent leg steering. Whatever you choose and that is the key they are your choice.

Our goal in the golf profession is to have a teaching model, which focuses on cause and effect. A variety of methods can operate within this model.
post #2 of 9

I hate to see this languish for lack of a response, because it's a very interesting post, and I think that advancements often come from applying knowledge from one field to another. You have staked a big territory, so let's start at one corner: I think the same Laws of Motion apply to skiing as well as to golf. Do you agree?
post #3 of 9
Question out of curiosity: would you say that critical edge angle is the centripetal force?
post #4 of 9
I would say that the relationship between the base of support and the CoM is what gives the edge angle teeth, so to speak. We were exploring this in tai chi last night. exploring the integrity of our stance to outside forces in two person drills. The integrity of our core, which means how our core's structure is aligned to itself (spine and hips) and it's relationship, position wise relative to our base of support is everythng.

I see this in skiing as well. It's not just the edge angle of our skis but how we stand on that edge angle that gives us our centripetal force. My two cents. Later, RicB.
post #5 of 9
overload!!! can't compute...brain failure...but thanks for the challenge.
post #6 of 9
Is that the beer talking?
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by nolo
Question out of curiosity: would you say that critical edge angle is the centripetal force?
Sounds like something to ponder after a great day at Loveland, a nice long shower is #1 on my list.
post #8 of 9
Will all those who are already skiing just shut up about it. I,m having a hard enough time ignoring the fact that there is a resort open and I could probably be there in six or seven hours.

post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

If "a force is an influence (as a push or pull) that causes motion or a change of motion"- The Merriam-Webster Dictionary- I might be inclined to agree critical edge angle is the centripetal force. I might be a little concerned about the word "the" because it sounds so absolute. Need to think about this a bit more-which is hard for a decidely non technical, former marketing guy like me-sold the sizzle not the steak.
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