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the importance of the coaching constant

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
As i progress as a ski racer i find that i am drawn to certain coaches and turned off by others. i am at a level now where my basic technique is fine, all i work on now to improve is line in the gates and fine tuning outside in freeskiing.

Do you feel like being coached by the same person all the time is a positive or a negative. Does the postive of having a coach who really knows you and how you ski override having the input from many different coaches, especially if you're at a level where there aren't large strides to be made everyday?

Personally, i feel it's important to have consistency. I find that many of my peers who jump around from coach to coach, from team to team, and from summer camp to summer camp, are negatively affected by being exposed to a wide array of coaches, who while they all might be teaching the same thing, go about teaching in a different way.
post #2 of 18
I like variety - but also the consistency....

My method of dealing with instructors in this manner is to have a REGULAR GROUP of instructors.... generally they work together as a group which is helpful for my skiing
post #3 of 18
I find my greatest breakthroughs have come when I am coached by a few coaches who work together and have complimentary styles and directions. Not to say that they approach the subject the same way, but they are moving towards the same goal in more or less the same progression. When I move outside that circle, I usually get helpful tips and tidbits of information that can be refreshing or clarify some finer points, but my sustained progress is usually achieved with a core group.
post #4 of 18

Bode

Mike:
One thing worth considering might be what Bode said.:" When my coaches tell me something, I always do the opposite."
post #5 of 18
Great topic! I used to be more promiscous regarding my choice of instructors. This season, I pretty much worked with one instructor all season, and of course, a different instructor for the Epicski Academy. My progress was much faster.

There are many reasons for this, but one of them comes down to simple semantics. In a growing professional relationship, you start to talk the same language. In fact, I think that's one of the many reasons we choose a specific coach. Progress is excelerated when you don't have to reinterpret what your instructor is saying.
post #6 of 18
I think Lisamarie makes a lot of sense. Also, someone who doesn't ski, but is a champion amateur golfer, told me, when I told him about Bode, that maybe Bode doesn't need a coach. I would have never thought of that.
post #7 of 18
I think that the camps with other coaches are a good thing. A coach there may see something and tell you something that could make a difference; or they may give you a different approach for discovering new speed. If you are at a point of refinement then you experiment and incorporate or experiment and reject. You can always bring back stuff to your home base coach and bounce it off him/her. Racing is, in my experience, almost an autonomic function. Incorporating new technique takes time out of the gates and deliberate maneuvers inside the gates, perhaps slowing things down, until it is assimilated and executed without thinking. So that should give you time to either accept or reject any "bad" advice before it affects your racing results.
post #8 of 18
If you only have a single coach you will never know, will you? I'd take a few camps or get input and recommendations from other racers and try one or two (it's not my money right?), or three!

Old martial arts expression .... "good student will have three teachers" .... know when you get a good on and stay with them.
post #9 of 18
No offense Biowolf, but I think it's interesting when developing racers quote Bode's distain for coaching as an excuse for not listening to their own coaches. Bode is at the stage of athlete innovation, which means he already has the required skillset and is now fully capable of making informed decisions about his skiing at the highest levels. Most, if not all, World and Europa Cup athletes are at that stage. The input from coaches is less important than what they tell themselves- and often coaches are there just to reinforce or interpret that feeling.

Myself, I would rather ski like Benni Raich than Bode Miller. Clean, consistent, and still very fast. That may be because I'm getting older.

I used to chase whatever someone claimed was the current "hot" way to ski (the MSRT is an example), but usually I find that without an understanding and application of a few core fundamentals these "innovative" approaches are an effective way to plateau your skiing. I'm not saying these approaches are wrong by any means (I'm not really qualified to do so), but I think 90% of adult racers are fooling themselves when they think that they can skip the "easy" stuff and cut right to the fast stuff. There really are no short cuts to effective and fast skiing- just some paths are shorter than others. What it takes is a lot of effort and focus to develop the skills necessary to make those kinds of refinements later. That's where formalized coaching is key.

In my own skiing, the technical aspects are starting to click, but the tactical and mental games still need a lot of work. Despite the occasional frustration at my race day peformance ("I know I can ski better than that"), I'm in no hurry to complete my development as a skier. While I've made light years of progress over the last few years, I still see how far I have to go and am happy making steady progress towards that goal over the long term.

Despite his father's claims to the contrary, Bode did not spring from the womb fully formed and ready to take on the world. A lot of coaches worked with him along the way and helped make him what he is today. I will probably never reach the athlete innovation stage, and I'm not sure I want to. I enjoy the interaction with coaches and the learing process too much. There's always something new to learn, and hopefully there will always be someone there to teach me.
post #10 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alaska Mike
I used to chase whatever someone claimed was the current "hot" way to ski (the MSRT is an example), but usually I find that without an understanding and application of a few core fundamentals these "innovative" approaches are an effective way to plateau your skiing. I'm not saying these approaches are wrong by any means (I'm not really qualified to do so), but I think 90% of adult racers are fooling themselves when they think that they can skip the "easy" stuff and cut right to the fast stuff. There really are no short cuts to effective and fast skiing- just some paths are shorter than others. What it takes is a lot of effort and focus to develop the skills necessary to make those kinds of refinements later. That's where formalized coaching is key.
*Sigh*. A lot of what you say, Alaska Mike, resonates with me. It's frustrating, though, because I'd love for it not to be true--that instead there's some quick fix and with one change (not 11 incremental improvements plus looking ahead more in the course and being more aggresive in the steep parts) I'd make a big leap (not, like last weekend, a scattered heap.)

My current, somewhat inconsistent, fantasy candidates for dramatically improved skiing are (1) consistently relaxed forward hand position, and (2) using the inside pole as a "cat's whisker" brushing the snow with the basket before pulling the hand forward and in at gate clear, like Joel Chenal does, for tactile feedback with radical inclination, creating more confidence to promote radical inclination while reducing the incidence of boot-out style crash. Prior/other fantasy candidate for radically improved skiing was more deeply flexed and laterally displaced inside knee. That seemed to work nicely on slalom skis while free skiing, but God only knows where the technique went when I was actually in the gates on Sunday... (Certainly didn't show up on the scoreboard, which last weekend indicated a raceday proximity to my skiing of, say, no closer than Austria.)

But (sadly, for us 23-ski-day-a-year guys) I increasingly think that some of these "silver bullet" improvements for racers are often effects, not causes, of steadily improved skiing. So the fastest guy on race day, whose mid-course still picture shows those perfectly relaxed forward hands at gate clear, is in that position because he's skiing with phenomenal confidence and balance while doing everything else right (great line, wide stance, rolling the ski early in transition, bending the shovel, ideal inclination for the necessary turn, not over-pressuring the ski, quiet upper body, parallel edge angles, no excessive inside tip lead, sufficient flexibility in hips and key joints...) Of course he looks relaxed--what he's doing is easier for him (even at his faster speeds) than what I'm doing is for me. (Where, in fairness, my current slalom technique appears to involve, intermittently, several additional sports as well--boxing, pogo, and tumbling among them. Plus semaphore signalling. And on Saturday, hiking. All I can say in apology of that ugly 53 second run and the goofy crash on Sunday is, you guys try going fast with that kind of multitasking....)

So get as much coaching as you can, from a good source so you can steadily progress on your key issues, and also get if from varied sources, because some of it you can "get" only if put a different way.

(Unfortunately, I don't have time to get instruction before this weekend's and next weekend's races, so for me, I think it's back to the Indenial(tm) Program, magical thinking, and the cat's whisker/relaxed hands/inside knee thing. And some people thought eBay was going to put an end to yard sales....)

Busy packing the ibuprofen,

SfDean.
post #11 of 18
SfDean-
You have some pretty good focal points, and if they work in a meaningful way you are 90% there. However, try focusing on one thing per run instead of a laundry list. You're looking to internalize a movement pattern and then move on to another, with the hopes of one day actually paying attention to the course AND skiing well.

As long as you're having fun, it's all good. I ate it three gates from the end in our last GS diving into a turn (mid-air 180, double ejection, lost pole), and decided to do a Anja bellyflop through the finish for style points. I knew full well I was a DQ, but I have an image to maintain. Unfortunately, that was the first run of the first race of a doubleheader, which meant I still had another race to do. I had scooped up a bunch of snow in my suit, and it was drizzing lightly, so I was a pretty much miserable for the rest of the day. The things I do for fashion...
post #12 of 18
Very impressive, Dean. What is semaphore signalling.? How much boxing and tumbling do you do.? If anything, these two would improve your reflexes and coordination.
post #13 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Biowolf
What is semaphore signalling.? How much boxing and tumbling do you do.? If anything, these two would improve your reflexes and coordination.
Semaphore signalling is an extreme form of "waving arm syndrome" which is so pronounced that Boy Scouts on nearby hills think you're sending them messages in semaphore code (a nautical alphabet replacement code involving holding flags out at angles to represent various letters.)

I was, as usual, exaggerating my faults in the gates for emphasis--boxing and tumbling aren't really part of the dryland training (except the occasional tumble as a woops in balance training), but I do too much boxing (punching poles instead of letting them come to me, with a quieter upper body) in slalom gates, and did too much tumbling last weekend, falling once in my Saturday race and once in my Sunday race.

For the dryland stuff, I do a LOT of balance training, which is supposed to keep me waxed-side-down in the race course, but Saturday I got more inclination than I could stick and had a boot-out type slide out fall (which I don't mind, since it means I was skiing aggressively). Sunday's fall was uglier--got late, went straight at the next pole to "get back on line" (hah!) then was WAY late and low, got into the back seat and the little slalom boards took off on me (as they'll do in that situation.) One of these days I'm going to get this line thing figured out, and then I may start sticking to only one sport while I'm in the gates...

My other new thought is to practice a LOT more turns per 100 yards while free skiing. At the end of 53 seconds of racing, I'm completely out of breath from the dynamic, shorter radius turns and faster transitions. But free skiing, I can run five times the hill top to bottom, making turns, without getting out of breath-- nicely demonstrating that I can't possibly be simulating racing turns. In free skiing, I've been doing the classic, GS turns while on slalom skis, and Super-G turns while on GS skis.

Alaska Mike--I hear you on that suggestion to think about one thing, not four. My general problem, though, is I can think about one thing (or, progressively, several) while free skiing, but literally can't keep even one thought in mind once I get into gates--I get very non-verbal, focused on the next gate rather than rational thought. Spent a whole day Super-G training last year on a course where there was a breakover after the third gate, and every single one of the dozen runs said to myself in the start, "make a big forward move at the third gate". Every run, by just the third gate, that though was gone and I was just focussed on survival/the next gate...

Maybe another nice drill for me, free skiing, would be to set invisible gates, moving my hands and inside shoulder forward at gate clear, and try to make the feeling of free skiing more like the feeling of gate skiing.

SfDean.
post #14 of 18
Sfdean,
Good point about the invisible gates. I often do it myself. I pick points down the hill that I can see (a little shadow in the snow or something) and I try to set up for that point as a turning pole. After I this going I start picking points that are increasingly across the hill or closer, causing me to have to tighten the radius. I try to make the turns as fast and smooth as possible with minimum skid.

I recently got involved with PSIA and went to a First Tracks and L1 exam over a three day period. At the exam, the examiner after we had skied about all day and had just come down a diamond run said, "Sir Turnalot, when you are completing your turns, don't face so much in the direction you are going". He positioned his body in a kind of countered position and said, "Just stay like this and you don't have to move so much, you just reach out and plant" - or something like that. I said, "OK thanks, I'll take a look at that."

So I've been taking a look at that and I am playing with it. (It's not that I don't have any counter, it's just that he suggested more.)

The point of this is that the examiner didn't take into account, I THINK, is how much I move across the fall line compared to what he is used to seeing in free skiers. But that is where the pushing-yourself-while-freeskiing comes into play. I am almost constantly demanding a tighter radius and a lot of across the hill movement from myself. I'm not saying that I always get what I want - apparently I don't because I've been doing this for decades.

By the way, to keep the shoulders facing downhill, or almost pointing downhill, with the amount of traverse I am trying to accomplish introduces some balance issues. Having your shoulders almost parallel to your skis, at fast speed with deep turns, is a little destablizing for balance. However, I am still playing with it and I like what I'm feeling with turn initiation. So I'm taking a degree of what this "coach" told me, and I just might keep some of it.

Turnalot
post #15 of 18
the most important thing is a coach/skier relationship in which each one understands and appreciates the others's style (coach's teaching style, student's learning style) and that each one can recognize "stall points" in the learning process and work through them.

my private PSIA lessons pre ESA-Snowbird sucked rotten eggs.

my coaching from Weems at ESA-Snowbird was outstanding, as was my coaching from Arcmeister at ESA-Big Sky.

my routine coaching from Yoda is the pinnacle of my ski learning. probably because we spend more time talking about non-skiing stuff in order to appreciate each other's mental workings... and because he's Yoda... and because it's usually 1-on-1 rather than small group... and because he always makes it entertaining.
post #16 of 18
I agree with Gonzo. I am only skiing three years and for a while I was too promiscuous with my coaching, taking group lessons from different instructors often. I got very down on myself and couldn't keep up with all the things I had to work on. Not that they were all negative but they sometimes seemed almost contradictory. Twice I worked with a group with the same instructor for an extended time and I occasionally take a private lesson now always from the same instructor at Sugarloaf. I work with him because he's pretty positive and we get along well. I think I am a slow learner and I can't take too many things at once. Working with someone who knows you is much more helpful I think. It is easier for them to see what you need to do next and how far you've come. The coaching at ESA was excellent for me.
post #17 of 18
For serious recreational skiers, the psychological element of learning is important. I would think this is even more crucial to racers. Your regular coach may be more intuned with what your "issues" are. Unless someone is one of those pathetic emotional dribblers, I can't believe it would be fun to talk about your fears each time you work with a different coach.

While fear of injury or failure is not the only roadblock to technical progress, it is a significant one. Having a coach who knows what makes you tick, as well as what makes you tremble, can be beneficial to the coaching relationship.
post #18 of 18
I am a little different in regard to my approach.

The consistency comes from me and my understanding of skiing mechanics and my dicipline for learning.

Since I don't often ski with instructors who are at a higher level they me, the variety comes from listening to ALL instructors no matter how much they know. This approach works great as long as you are the type of person that does not discount or assume you automatically know what others are seeing or suggesting just because you ski and understand better. I am of the mind set that if you really expect to get better, you better take a good look in the mirror first.

Everybody needs a coach and I would like to thank all those who helped me out this year from uncertified to level III pros. I learned much from tuning into each and every one of them.
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