or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Natural Ability

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
A few of my team mates and I have been tossing this idea around a lot lately. By natural ability, i mean having a natural almost 6th sense regarding edge control, balance, and body position in order to make a shaped ski perform. The skier that appears to have this kind of ability or feel for a carved turn will appear much more two footed, stable, and smoth than a skier without (providing such a thing exists). A skier without it, can still perform at a similar level, but the movements look mechanical, and dont all seem to fit together into one motion. Specifically, the skier that has this ability aquired these kinds of skills without formal training at all... the most instruction they ever had was watching other skiers from the lift. The mechanical skier however, had the advantage of year of instruction and race training.

Now, as instructors im sure a lot of you see people of all different ability levels. My question is: does such a thing as raw natural talent exist... and can you recognize it and build on it? By setting two skiers side by side, can you tell which skier has a better feel for what is going on with their skis? If you had a student that had a lot of raw natural ability, do you instruct them any differently from the expert skier who is very mechanical in their skiing? Why/what is different/or the same?

Sorry - a lot of questions - i searched for them, but i found nothing.

Later

GREG
post #2 of 36
I think you are on to a great insight.
I just finished posting this over on the rotary thread, but it reall chimes in here so I poached it over here.

I think we are all born with full potential of body genius that from that point on is subjected to influences that mostly only serve to compromise that potential.

This is why we often need to (re-)learn how to move so we can (re-)learn how to move efficiently (again). This is the process of causing to learn that precedes learning to allow. I also agree that it is preferable to start with a simple movement of the feet that produces a complex coordinated effect vs. multiple separate movements and then trying to create an artificial trigger movement to coordinate them. It is an arrogant folly to think we can complexly manipulate the body to perform better than the Bod-genius can when simply engaged to be efficiently mobilized.

I have been re-studying the Alexander Technique that is a sophisticated form of whole body neuromuscular/skeletal movement re-education. (Paraphrasing from an article by Physiotherapist and AT Teacher Elke Rudolph):

Alexander Technique addresses issues due to our frequently and unconsciously holding excessive tension in our musculature, especially in our large peripheral muscles. This tension interferes with efficient muscular recruitment patterns, and can lead to the establishment of a series of inefficient movement patterns: the habitual recruitment of excessive muscular tension to carry out any activity such as walking, running, or skiing.

Alexander Technique uses an educational process to retrain these inappropriate neuromuscular patterns. On one hand clients are assisted in developing their sensory awareness, which allows them to really feel how they are moving, both within their bodies and in relation to the environment. On the other hand it focuses on the way they THINK about and perform their activities. The Alexander Technique guides clients into seeing and feeling how little muscular effort is really required to dynamically balance their skeletons. Often these new movement patterns initially feel unfamiliar to the client, because the new patterns allow the client to move with more ease and grace. It can come as a complete surprise that we are able to move and use our bodies more effectively, without resorting to our habitual muscular tension patterns. With learning, the body moves easily - with balance and coordination being it walking, running, or skiing.

This AT approach appeals to my innate sense of increased being the cornerstone of learning of motor skills. I use a lot of activities in my teaching that are designed to lead first to greater awareness of how we move. Then when new movements are experienced a contrast between old and new can be more clearly felt and then a clear choice of how to move can be made. This leads to development of an ongoing learning process based on awareness of cause and effect. Only then can perfect practice make for desired performance.
post #3 of 36
Natural ability sure does exist Greg. Genetics play a big role in the natural athleticism a person brings to the table, the level of coordination, reaction time, balance, edge feel, etc. You should have seen Schlopy when he was learning to race with us at KB; at 10 years old the kid was just ripping through courses. He had such a natural feel for the edge and a sense of speed and how to generate it. Also, he came from a family that was packed full of high level racers; genes definately played a role.

Kids like him come to us with special natural abilities that just can't be taught. Conversely, there are those who come to us very athletically challenged. These are the kids that stuggle with every technical introduction, and even when it does start to click the execution looks aukward, like someone must not have read the directions when they assembled him. Some of my most satisfying coaching moments have been helping kids of this type achieve personal breakthroughs. I've found these kids to be some of the most driven and dedicated students.

FASTMAN
post #4 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arcmeister
I think we are all born with full potential of body genius that from that point on is subjected to influences that mostly only serve to compromise that potential.
Arc, when you say "we are all born with a full potential of body genius" you mean relative to the level provided through and limited by genetics don't you? You don't mean to suggest we all are gifted the same potential at birth do you?

I do agree with the philosophy that potential at birth needs to be proberly nurtured to be extracted. Much of that nurturing needs to occur in the early years; much is locked in right then.

FASTMAN
post #5 of 36
Thread Starter 
So, it does exist. Based on that, that particular individual should learn at a faster pace than others. Is it true that they are going to learn differently than your average skier? How do you teach someone that shows a very high level of understanding of things like edge control? Can an instructor/coach recognize and understand their ability and teach them how to use it to their advantage?
Later
GREG
post #6 of 36
To clarify, I suggest that we are each born with our own personal full potential avaliable. That would be whatever genetics provides and whatever we have the potential to learn.

That learning can surely be maximized by the help of a teacher, guide, coach, mentor or even role model that inspires one to achieve. The ability to recognise and provide the unique guidance an individual student needs rather than teaching generically to the masses shows that the teacher is exploring their potential in that endevor as well.

Who knows how many go on to fulfill that potential completely? But, I like to think that in some sweet spot in time we might all get to experience it in one way or another.
post #7 of 36

Where is Robert Redford? (i.e. The Natural)

Greg,

Natural ability is real. Natural skill is not.

Natural ability is like porn to the Supreme Court: you know it when you see it. You and your friends have probably seen it. On a good day, an instructor will see it too. For beginner classes, the natural athletes stand out like sore thumbs. Their posture is correct/balance is very good, their facial expressions show confidence and they move with a flow. But for short exposures at higher levels (and without other knowledge), you should not be able to tell the difference between a skilled skier and a "natural one". The difference is that a natural skier will adapt quickly and learn at an accelerated rate. When you ask a natural how they do something, their response is often "I don't know - I just do it".

In a clinic I was in last year, we experimented with taking our skis off and walking on flat and pitched surfaces, then compared our postures and movements to what we did on skis. Everyone in the group could easily walk on snow in their ski boots. We all walked across a pitched slope with out downhill shoulder low, without being told how or what. With skis on, the naturals and the well practiced had their shoulders matching the pitch of the slope. The normals had their downhill shoulder high. For easy tasks that have been practiced extensively, there is no difference between a natural and a normal.
So, as instructors, we need to treat that "smoothness" as a skill and not a natural ability. Smoothness can either come from a lot of hard work or just doing it.

When you give a "natural" skier a task to perform, all parts of their body will work in harmony because they do not consciously think of detailed control movements. As a teacher we usually need to give naturals more demonstrations versus explanations, but we can also use a teaching technique called guided discovery. Instead of a demonstration, we can give them a problem to solve. Through solving the problem and then relating what they experienced, we can help them broaden their experiential skills and better understand things they don't think about. Working with naturals we need to simultaneously "let them just go" and "set the bar" both higher and wider.

Working with expert skiers who are mechanical, we need to develop that muscle memory that comes so quickly to naturals. Often in these cases, we need to break out our psychology degrees and get into their heads. We need tricks like getting them to sing or whistle while they ski. We need to teach them to breath properly. We need to misdirect their attention. We need to get them to relax! For mechnical skiers, we also need to allow more time for practice to lock habits into place. But sometimes we just get lazy and work on mechanical issues for these people because it's far easier to get effective results for these people in a single lesson time frame.

In my 11 years of teaching I've had 2 for sure naturals. Both were in private lessons (hmm - there's a clue there). The first was a 63 year old neurosurgeon who weighed about 320. He had skied 2-3 times 10 years previously and wanted the raw beginner treatment. For the first 1/2 hour it was a disaster. The guy could barely stand up on skis, he could not hold a wedge, he could not get up when he fell and he fell a lot (can you say Richter?). At the 30 minute mark he started getting some mileage and whammo he started making demo quality christies. My other guy was a snowboard never-ever 8 year old rock star. He had the $30 hair cut, the cool shades and a very quiet (bored?) confidence. The only thing holding him back was his friend who was sharing the lesson (and that kid had ridden before). We finished our first run in 1/3 the time for a normal first timer and moved to the next more difficult slope, which he then proceeded to rip down while I assisted his buddy to keep up. Whatever I asked him to do, he just did it. Both of these guys could have easily and quickly learned on their own, but they still learned a lot faster and safer with me helping them.
Naturals still have to learn skiing skills. They can't just hop on a pair of skis and ride like an expert. They just learn so quickly that it seems that way.
post #8 of 36
Thanks Arc. Just as I assumed you meant.

Greg,

The gifted racer/skier can present their own unique coaching challenges. Because they are so gifted they will be able to perform beyond the capabilities of their peers even while using inefficient techniques.

See the problem?

Motivation to change and improve can be diminished if they're winning races the way they're currently skiing. This can limit long range potential if these technical deficiencies are not addressed quickly, but instead allowed to become ingrained movement patterns. Some coaches (poor ones) will be reluctant to dismantle a technical model that's winning now in favor of longer range success.

Best thing you can do for these kids is the same thing you do for all the others, teach him efficient and proper technique. Physics and biomechanical law holds true for everyone.

Just one more thing; while your doing that, keep your eyes and mind open. This just might be the next Bodie your working with, a natural talent who searches for better ways and makes a few discoveries along the way.

FASTMAN
post #9 of 36
Greg - if you want an easy way to see it have a look at aerialists....

There is a reason that the AIS went looking at trampoline/gymnasts for our aerial skiers... good air sense is an inbuilt sense - these are the people with naturally high levels of proprioception - they are way up the top end of teh scale.... you can train someone all you want - but having that innate sense of body is a HUGE head start....
post #10 of 36
ant & I were discussing this with one of my instructors this last season....

ant has a certain degree of natural athleticism.... she learns stuff FAST.... I will struggle for week(s) to learn the same thing she does in < 30mins (grrrrr)

on the other hand what I struggle to learn I really don't ever lose much once it is really learnt - ie at the automatic type level rather than the conscious.... so my lesser learning ability tends to make my learning somehow more concrete & solid than her more ready ability

(Note this is all physical learning - i am almost the opposite re mental type learning - very fast learner... so I understand what I am being told FAST but am completely unable to act upon the info - it becomes very tedious if the instructor assumes I don't understand & keeps repeating in ever increasing detail the thing I got last week)
post #11 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick
The gifted racer/skier can present their own unique coaching challenges. Because they are so gifted they will be able to perform beyond the capabilities of their peers even while using inefficient techniques.
yes indeed.

I've read through this thread, and believe that Rick is closest to the truth here. Arcmeister's statement about ability is too optimistic. Natural ability comes in gradations. As someone noted, you can see this with athletes that just look blocky, uncoordinated and confused no matter how many times you present the move and no matter how many times you explain it in different terms and images.

I've coached kids in lacrosse, soccer and MTB. The natural ability reveals itself quickest in activities that are counterintuitive or at least very foreign. Using a lacrosse stick to handle the ball is a very counterintuitive AND foreign movement. Nothing else we do as humans imitates it. The speed with which a kid adapts to the unique combination of movements necessary to get repeatable accuracy with throws and shots reveals itself to almost anyone but the blind. Some kids obviously won't even pick it up over the course of a full season, and others seemingly have been at it all their lives from the outset. And of course, there's a full spectrum of talents between these two extremes.

Much athletic movement can be learned. But the template with which each athlete works and upon which each one builds is quite independent, and variable too.
post #12 of 36
i have a feeling that, especially where skiing is concerned, one's innate mentality plays a significant role. i've seen plenty of otherwise athletic types get on skis only to show immediately that they are little more averse to risk than someone of like physical coordination, etc.

along with an innate athleticism, that particular body/spatial awarness, i think skiing well can be hurried along by the athletic confidence - something between the ears (yes, still within genetics) - that has one particular skier more comfortable with speed, challenging terrain, the great likelihood of falling, etc., than the other.

some people arrive at the base of a mountain, look up, and are maybe a little (or a lot) squeamish; other "types" see it as more of a challenge (and eventual reward).

i have watched skiers who'd make huge breakthroughs if they'd "just" learn how better to deal with their discomfort level - reframe it! - as well as their immense concern about falling (sometimes attended by as much concern about embarrassment as injury).

i remember (well, i still do this) skiing early on and finding myself in challenging terrain - stuff that gets in your head - and how it always got (gets) better when i shift from tentative to more aggressive, going AT the line rather than having it come up at me like an adversary.

a lot of "athleticism" is in the head.
post #13 of 36
I agree, ryan. I'd add that the best athletes don't pay too much attention to what the head interjects between what the eyes see and the body implements... rather, they use the head's information IF AT ALL in contemplation and visualization efforts.

for sure, the mental game gets more and more significant the older you get and the more experiences, (+) and (-), that one amasses and stores for future reflection. I know that most of my own personal barriers to improvement are, at this point in my athletic life, primarily mental.
post #14 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by therusty
When you give a "natural" skier a task to perform, all parts of their body will work in harmony because they do not consciously think of detailed control movements. ...

Working with expert skiers who are mechanical, we need to develop that muscle memory that comes so quickly to naturals.
Just a thought. I wonder how much of the "natural" is really natural, when it comes to adults you encounter in your lessons. In my experiences, folks who have had extensive background in certain athletics such as hockey players, gymnasts, or dancers are way quicker to pick up the subtleties of skiing than equivalently athletic folks whose background was running or basketball. So I surmise that much of the "naturalness" in these folks possibly come from emphasis on knowing balance and body positioning (e.g. dancers, gymnasts) or from body positioning patterns highly similiar to that to skiing (e.g. skaters).
post #15 of 36
IMO, a natural has the physical and mental capabilty to perform the requisite moves. That is all.

From "Energy Leaks" thread:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisamarie

At the base of the pyramid is Functional Movement. We look at the athlete's ability to maintain mobility and stability throughout basic movement patterns. This is the foundation for all athletic movement.

The second level is Functional Performance. Here, we look at the athlete's ability to move efficiently and generate power throughout more complex movement patterns.

At the top of the pyramid, you have functional skill. This is the only point in the evaluation process where you look at skills that are completely specific to the particular sport.
IMO, the "Natural" is just an individual that has high degrees of both functional movement and functional performance. It's no surprise that such folks would be considered totally in tune with their skis, since the correct movement patterns would have to appear in order for them to use functional movement and performance.

They are branded naturally gifted skiers, but in reality would be naturally gifted at many other sports, especially balance related activities. Skating, gymnastics etc...


From the thread on Ron Lemaster's talk:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh
When you discover a real issues in someone's skiing, seek the root cause in this order:

Equipment
Morphology
Psychology
Tactics
Technique
They also have the psychological aptitude. eg. no fear of heights, speed, falling, they are confident. All of which comes before technique on this list.

Cheers!
post #16 of 36
My son watched video tapes starring John Smart, Nelson Charmichael, the DesLauriers brothers, the Egan brothers - that's it. Only exception - once we met John Egan at a resort, and he skied with us. My son just imitated what he saw, and that's his only training. He is a graceful skier, technically perfect, and appears to ski without any disernable effort. In bumps, his head is level and quiet, while his legs operate effortlessly. Instructors almost invariably spot him and tell their students, "See that kid?! Do what he's doing!" From the age of eight to his current eighteen, he's still the most graceful skier I've seen. I, on the other hand, have not only been exposed to the same videos, but I've spent untold hours and dollars on instruction and training just trying not ot embarrass myself, and my skiing still sucks.

Please, don't waste my time with disclaimers of natural ability.
post #17 of 36
It's called kinesthetic intelligence by some people.
post #18 of 36
Anyone who has ever played any sport to a reasonably serious level has seen natural ability stare us square in the face. On the BB court, in tue pool, at the rink, in the batting cage. When my son was 4 skied down the slight incline in my backyard. After he did that about 10 times, I placed a ski pole to one side, just for the hell of it, and told him to ski around it. l purposely gave him no clues. And... he just did it. He just......did it. How the hell did he know how to do it? I agree with some earlier posts, especially gonzostrike and BigE, that he was just able to naturally allow his very high kinesthetic sense and to direct appropriate muscle recruitment, unencumbered by ideas, concepts, language, or instruction. He's adopted, so I don't claim the genes. Gonzostrike, interestingly, he went on to do a little damage in lacrosse, taking up the sport when the coach saw him ripping across the soccer field, and began using the stick as though he was born with it.
post #19 of 36
So then who makes the better instructor and for whom? The natural skier or the "challenged" skier? Some people find the sport so easy that they can't possibly understand the difficulties that their student may be experiencing. On the other hand some people have both natural skiing ability and natural teaching ability.
post #20 of 36

Breaking down "natural ability"

I have worked with a lot of highly skilled people in very different fields (musicians, songwriters, trial lawyers, dealmakers, youth atheletes.) In racing camps, I've trained along side top FIS racers, and in Master's drop in training, I've trained both with people who improve rapidly with a few sessions and other people that simply practice the same mistakes over and over again. I played football with teamates who went on to play Division I college ball and (one guy) in the NFL. I've coached youth soccer. I think that a number of things are true:

1. Some people are more aggressive than others about taking risks and trying things. I think natural aggressiveness (which, by the way, can also be (only) partially taught and encouraged, through sports--I've coached girls soccer from 8-12, where there's a big jump in aggressiveness) is a HUGE advantage in skiing, much more so than most other sports. The worst natural habits from the reptile brain (lean back) are counteracted by this aggressiveness. And aggressiveness helps you learn other things (inclination, big edge angles, trusting the outside ski) faster.

2. A huge part of "natural ability" is openness, confidence, self-image and desire to learn and excel. If you think you're going to pick it up fast, you're more likely to.

3. A lot of athletic ability transfers across sports. I don't know how much of that is "natural ability" and how much of it is transferable application of learned behavior. Balance, natural athletic stance, body awareness, anticipation, and quick feet are all things you can learn in one sport (Bode Miller was a top youth soccer and tennis player) and transfer to another.

4. Physical conditioning is a big limiting factor for most people, and physical conditioning is created progressively, through exercise. The closer you are to elite level, the more elite level physical conditioning you've done.

5. Focus and intensity are huge predictors of skill and the speed at which you pick up and hone skills. A lot of that may be innate, but some of the rest of it is clearly motivation: How much do you care about getting better.

6. A lot of "natural" athleticism, even at the age of 11, is a function of how much time that kid has spent in doing sports up to that age. The "natural" athletes have exaggerated their pre-existing skill advantages because they've been spending more time on sports than the other kids, and have gotten lots of positive reinforcement for their athletic achievements. My introductory remark about working with musicians was because, if you write songs with a guy who is just amazing in his ability to give you something you want, even if you have trouble explaining it, your first thought is "wow--what a talent" but then you realize that he's also spent 20,000 hours doing music. A lot of that inspiration is just compound interest on all that perspiration.

So, I would conclude that a large part of being a "natural" athlete is at least partly learned and reinforced. That having been said, some people are clearly gifted, genetically and by predisposition, and certain genetic packages are better for specific sports. (For example, you are born with a preexisting ratio of fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle fibers, which can only be modified so much through exercise. You're born a sprinter or a distance runner, and no amount of road work will convert you into an elite (or competitive) athlete at one of those things if you were designed for the other.)

I'm not sure exactly what the best genetic gifts are for skiing. (There's some evidence, for example, that because of the eccentric nature of the load in skiing, the fast-twitch body of a sprinter may not be a big advantage.) I'd be interested to hear what others think are the key predispositions and the key things we can work on.

SfDean.
post #21 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisamarie
So then who makes the better instructor and for whom? The natural skier or the "challenged" skier? Some people find the sport so easy that they can't possibly understand the difficulties that their student may be experiencing. On the other hand some people have both natural skiing ability and natural teaching ability.
A challenged skier needed to learn from the ground up, while a natural skier don't really have to be aware of exactly how he does it. So in that sense, a challenged skier would be better able to verbalize the movement patterns and the physical techniques it takes to execute a move. A natural skier, until he has been "taught" to be aware of how he is doing it, will not be able to verbilize it.

As an example, I speak two languages fluently and to the point that when I speak, I think in that language. I was bilingual from the time I learned to speak. Though I can speak both languages, you can say I am a natural at them. However, I totally suck at translating between the two languages. The analogy applies to a natural at skiing, who might have a hard time translating what he is doing to another individual, unless he has been trained to do so.
post #22 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeB
Anyone who has ever played any sport to a reasonably serious level has seen natural ability stare us square in the face. On the BB court, in tue pool, at the rink, in the batting cage. When my son was 4 skied down the slight incline in my backyard. After he did that about 10 times, I placed a ski pole to one side, just for the hell of it, and told him to ski around it. l purposely gave him no clues. And... he just did it. He just......did it. How the hell did he know how to do it? I agree with some earlier posts, especially gonzostrike and BigE, that he was just able to naturally allow his very high kinesthetic sense and to direct appropriate muscle recruitment, unencumbered by ideas, concepts, language, or instruction. He's adopted, so I don't claim the genes. Gonzostrike, interestingly, he went on to do a little damage in lacrosse, taking up the sport when the coach saw him ripping across the soccer field, and began using the stick as though he was born with it.
Sounds sort of like my daughter in soccer. After her very first game, when she was 4, I went home and sat on the couch and got drunk.

I couldn't believe what I had seen. I expected her to be pretty good, since she was a good athlete and fast and she was playing against 4-year-old girls, most of whom didn't know which way was up. But her field sense was unbelievable. I played soccer at a high level, so I knew that she was doing some sophisticated things just out of the blue.

She's almost 7 now, and I keep expecting the other girls to catch up, but she keeps getting even better. Everyone thinks (since I played) that I coach her and practice with her, but I don't. I don't want to get in the way. I am in awe of what she just does naturally, her awareness of her body in relation to the field, the ball, and the other players. From the beginning, she used stutter steps and speed changes to just turn people inside out (including grownups).

Anyway, sometimes I wonder how much is genetic, except I wasn't like that. I didn't play until I was 9, so I don't know if I would have been a great 4 year old. But I think I learned most of what I knew, whereas she just knows it.

She's pretty good in other sports, too, but nothing like this. I don't know what to do with her. I'm waiting until they start having goalies, and the fields get bigger -- that will help neutralize her a little bit.
post #23 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by sfdean
...
3. A lot of athletic ability transfers across sports. I don't know how much of that is "natural ability" and how much of it is transferable application of learned behavior. Balance, natural athletic stance, body awareness, anticipation, and quick feet are all things you can learn in one sport (Bode Miller was a top youth soccer and tennis player) and transfer to another.
Jeremy Bloom with football and skiing ... And didn't both those guys just murder the competition in Superstars?

On the other hand, you can look at people like Monica Seles or Lindsey Davenport in tennis, neither of whom were "great" athletes, but who have such a preponderance of other gifts that it makes up for the slow foot speed. Davenport has unequaled eye-hand coordination, and Seles at her peak was a mental giant, completely ferocious. But even her old coach said Seles wasn't someone who could go play a pickup game of basketball. She was tennis, period.

Quote:
5. Focus and intensity are huge predictors of skill and the speed at which you pick up and hone skills. A lot of that may be innate, but some of the rest of it is clearly motivation: How much do you care about getting better.
Interesting article in SI about Roscoe Tanner, the former tennis great, who has gone through some ugly times lately. It was speculated that some of what had made him a great tennis player -- the mental part, the focus and the ability to compartmentalize and forget his mistakes -- may have played a part in the mess he made of his personal life, in which he lied and cheated and swindled people. Excuse? or valid reason?

Quote:
6. A lot of "natural" athleticism, even at the age of 11, is a function of how much time that kid has spent in doing sports up to that age. The "natural" athletes have exaggerated their pre-existing skill advantages because they've been spending more time on sports than the other kids, and have gotten lots of positive reinforcement for their athletic achievements. My introductory remark about working with musicians was because, if you write songs with a guy who is just amazing in his ability to give you something you want, even if you have trouble explaining it, your first thought is "wow--what a talent" but then you realize that he's also spent 20,000 hours doing music. A lot of that inspiration is just compound interest on all that perspiration.
Yes, but .... There's always a Mozart or Schubert, who barely even lived 20,000 hours. (okay, I'm exaggerating, but you know what I mean.)
post #24 of 36
Compare two people, in any sport, with the same natural ability, balance, athletic ability etc.,
If one of the two has the ability to mimic, & pays as much attention to the instructors technique, as they do to the information that is being taught, that person has not only an edge on the other, but will continue to progress at a faster rate.
Some have the ability to mimic details that others never even notice.
If you are a golfer, do you simply watch the game, or do pay attention to technique of your favorite pros?
post #25 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by segbrown
segbrown says:

Yes, but .... There's always a Mozart or Schubert, who barely even lived 20,000 hours. (okay, I'm exaggerating, but you know what I mean.)
They were prodigies, which means that they attained mastery at an astonishingly young age and learned faster than the rest of us. But at 17, Mozart had been spending more than 60 hours a week doing music since he was about 3, so he still had 7,000 more hours at it than most of us.
post #26 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by sfdean
They were prodigies, which means that they attained mastery at an astonishingly young age and learned faster than the rest of us. But at 17, Mozart had been spending more than 60 hours a week doing music since he was about 3, so he still had 7,000 more hours at it than most of us.
And I'm sure that he was better at the age of 4 than I would have been after 20,000 hours anyway, so .... We're talking the extreme end of the scale here, of course, but it's the same with athletics.

I always wonder about the prodigies or world-class talents who never had access to the sport or music or whatever area it was.
post #27 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by sfdean
2. A huge part of "natural ability" is openness, confidence, self-image and desire to learn and excel. If you think you're going to pick it up fast, you're more likely to.


5. Focus and intensity are huge predictors of skill and the speed at which you pick up and hone skills. A lot of that may be innate, but some of the rest of it is clearly motivation: How much do you care about getting better.
2. Sorry - I have the worst problem with self-image & confidence you can imagine..... it never stopped me having natural talent in Physical Chemistry..... you had better think that one through again I think....

5. I am known for my ability to focus so intently on 1 thing..... my instructors in the past have laughed at how "focused" I can get.... apparently the visual is interesting because you can actually see me narrowing the focus & turning all concentration to the task.... & I have ZIP ZERO NIL NADA natural skiing ability.... dammit I still struggle to ski on 1 ski any distance at all - zero balance skills.... focus & intensity does NOT natural skills make..... although it has meant I have learnt to ski pretty well when I should not really

NATURAL talent is that - NATURAL talent... whether someone goes on to use the natural talent or not is another matter entirely....
Some of us will waste our natural gifts for various reasons (lack of opportunity, application, whatever)....Some will use them a bit, some will maximise them.....
post #28 of 36
Thread Starter 
I'm glad to see this back at the top again. A few of you hit on some important things i think. Above was mentioned, the ability to mimic, thus creating an eye for detail that most skiers will never possess. This allows the skier to not only mimic those that they see doing things properly... but to also improve upon them, and if they receive any sort of advice or instruction they are easily able to use it to their advantage = less interpretation time for the student. A "challenged" skier, as LM put it, may take more time to identify a problem before they are able to actually fix it. They also will not immediately understand whatthe correct motion/skill is that they are doing wrong. Natural ability in any sport can usually only be identified if the athlete is put into an environment that they accel in. Someone like Bode, or even Hermann Maier would have never realized their full talents had they not been put into a skiing environment from a very young age. If everything just falls into place at a young age it is very easy to build on a natural ability.
Later
GREG
post #29 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by josseph
A challenged skier needed to learn from the ground up, while a natural skier don't really have to be aware of exactly how he does it. So in that sense, a challenged skier would be better able to verbalize the movement patterns and the physical techniques it takes to execute a move. A natural skier, until he has been "taught" to be aware of how he is doing it, will not be able to verbilize it.

.... The analogy applies to a natural at skiing, who might have a hard time translating what he is doing to another individual, unless he has been trained to do so.
However a natural who has learnt how to break that stuff down to the lower level probably has a better basis to work from in some ways as they will simply have a better "feel" for the end result.....

Sort of like why it would be better to employ specialist maths theachers to teach maths rather than use people who have no innate feel for the subject teach it as blocky clunky stuff.... Why do we let 5-12 year olds be so shaped?

ie - I can probably learn to ski quite well - well enough to teach beginners to ski maybe.... but I will never have that incredible connection to the sport that I can only dream of imagining people with a natural gift for the sport have......



I had a pretty "hang on what are you saying" moment skiing with Oz & his kids... he made some comment about how kids can't copy the movements to parallel by watching you because they can't see the movements your feet make - so you just ski them around & in appropriate places & it comes to them.....
I was like "HUH YOU WATCH PEOPLES FEET?? EVER??? at that level?" I can't imagine being able to do this..... It was like watching my brother learn to read (I taught myself at about 3-4 years of age) HUH? WHY DO YOU SOUND OUT LETTERS? Just READ the words dammit!!!
I think we greatly underestimate how incredibly differently we all learn & function.... I can remember sitting in chemistry classes & seeing a beautiful awesome type of balance & symmetry.... everyone else saw very confusing stuff that had to be learnt or conquered to get into the course you wanted.... I guess natural skiers have similar feeling with skiing.... no matter how much I can be taught NO-ONE can teach me that oneness with the subject... it is mine - or not....
I found organic chemistry boring & tedious - while my chemistry teacher found it fascinating.... However at 16 - in a few minutes -I solved the problem she spent 2 years at uni trying to master in Physical chemistry.... we both used to shake our heads at how 2 people with a love of chemistry could feel so differently about parts of it.....Horses for courses...

My ex had a son who was assessed as being a quite talented artist as a preschooler (by a high level artist who taught kids for fun after retirement).... His drawing style changed completely though when he went to school - after he was told "THAT is not how we draw a house" & he was shown how to configure the standard stick house outline.....


As Fastman said - allow the naturals some room while teaching them the technical stuff that they need...
post #30 of 36
disski says:

Quote:
Originally Posted by disski
2. Sorry - I have the worst problem with self-image & confidence you can imagine..... it never stopped me having natural talent in Physical Chemistry..... you had better think that one through again I think....

5. have ZIP ZERO NIL NADA natural skiing ability.... dammit I still struggle to ski on 1 ski any distance at all - zero balance skills.... focus & intensity does NOT natural skills make..... although it has meant I have learnt to ski pretty well when I should not really

NATURAL talent is that - NATURAL talent... whether someone goes on to use the natural talent or not is another matter entirely....
Some of us will waste our natural gifts for various reasons (lack of opportunity, application, whatever)....Some will use them a bit, some will maximise them.....
Sorry, disski, but I have to challenge your world view:

1. You may have a lack of self confidence generally and a poor self image, but you have made an exception for the area of physical chemistry, where you recognize that you excel. That is one place that you don't let your self image limit your excellence. (You'd say you have natural talent for it. I'd say you showed early aptitude, have excellent horsepower, and that you have spent a lot of time getting better at it, and you got lots of rewards (positive feedback) as you were able to progress rapidly in a field that caught your focused interest. As a result, you don't have a poor self image in physical chemistry. You assume you'll pick it up quickly.)

2. You say you have poor balance. I say balance is the absolute most learnable skill in the world, and the one, in my experience, that improves the most dramatically with regular work. I'm a club racer, and I do balance training an average of two days every week, working with aids like a foam roller, bosu, bongo board, swiss ball and with weights. Often, when I'm in line for coffee or soup for lunch, I balance on one foot. Whenever I'm standing on the BART train commute, I don't hold on, so I can practice balance skills. That is, admittedly and characteristically, a little over the top--but my balance is astonishingly better than it was a year ago, two years ago, or three years ago. Until last year, I couldn't really do squats with weights on a bongo board. Now they're easy. This year I'm working on moving from kneeling on a swiss ball to standing on it. What I've learned is that trying harder balance challenges makes the other ones much easier. Five years ago, I had very poor balance skills. (Said a six year old, watching me fail time after time in a group surfing lesson, where everyone got up but me, "Don't worry about it. You'll get it eventually...") But now, I have excellent balance skills. (Even two years ago, I could juggle on a bongo board. Now I can toss a heavy medicine ball from hand to hand, while balancing on a bongo board, and it barely reaches the threshold of training. This is not because of any natural ability--I knocked myself unconscious a few years ago crossing a room to turn off an alarm clock.) Not long ago, I also had trouble skiing on one ski. That's no longer the case, but only because of practice, not a retroactive genetic upgrade.

3. Natural talent exists, and it helps. And the converse--natural deficiencies in certain areas--also exists. But IMHO lack of "natural talent" is the most over-rated excuse for almost all of us to not live up to our individual potential. People with natural talent learn faster. And their upper range of what they can do is less limited than most of the rest of us. But if you can ski up to _your_ potential you will be an awesome skier.

Two stories:

When I was 19, I was fortunate enough to go for a couple of weeks to the U.S. Olympic training center (then in Squaw Valley, but no more) for fencing. (Not, for the record, because I was any good--the best three young fencers in each division got to go, and I was the second best--that is technically, the absolute worst--of the only two 19-and-under fencers from Nevada. I got beat 5-0 by the 14 year old girls from Central Division of California.) At that time, there were three brothers (last name Marx) who were U.S. foil champions. Their mother was a coach, and she just laughed at the idea they were "natural" athletes, having seen them grow up as what she saw as exceptionally clumsy kids.

My brothers and I (not the Marx brothers--we've moved on to the second story and have changed families here) are a lab experiments for the human potential movement, having been raised by a somewhat troubled mother who insisted, ferociously and constantly, that we could do anything we wanted to. (Although, it turns out, not become sprinters. There are some immutable genetic limitations.) She was largely right, but only because we believed her until we were old enough to know better, and by then our experience conformed to the expectation.

This year I will probably beat all the guys in my current racing class, and move up to the next harder class, not because I have more talent (they do), and not because I ski more days (they do), but because in May I started getting in shape for ski season, because I'm more fanatical about it, and because I'm convinced I can.

I know this is a world view issue, and you have yours, based on your interpretation of your experience--but be careful: If you about argue for your limitations, they're yours.

SfDean.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching