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How well does skiing transfer?

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
We are familiar with the concept, Teaching for Transfer, which is creating a strong association between something known and something unknown. It's drawing an experiential/athletic analogy, you might say. For instance, a tennis player learning skiing could tie the athletic stance of tennis to the athletic stance of skiing, as well as aim, followthrough, and meeting the ball.

My curiosity is about how well skiing movements/concepts transfer to other sports? I'm also interested in what you think about the truism that skiing is a metaphor for life--if it is, how can what we take away from skiing be transferred to other areas in our lives?

The reason I ask is twofold. My first motivation is my frustration with my golf game. It took a giant leap forward last week and then promptly receded to worse than it was before the GLF. I plan to spend as much time today as necessary to practice by myself. Maybe I'll discover a few things, and when I return, maybe I will read some good advice for the next time. (One definite transferable from skiing is persistence and perfectionism...)

My second motivation is to explore a proposition a friend stated a while back, which was, Good ski instructors develop qualities and skills that transfer to any form of coaching which they can use to move into lucrative careers as business consultants and executive coaches. What do good to great ski instructors know that business leaders could use? What do avid skiers know that expresses itself in all areas of their lives?

Okay, I'm off to the golf course now. Fore!
post #2 of 33
I think skiing transfers pretty well to other sports, at least conceptually. Specifically with golf, you need to maintain your balance and be comfortable (similar to the shoulders/knees/toes line on snow) and ready to move. The upper and lower body separation is similar, although reversed. Keeping eyes on the ball is similar to not looking at your tips, and keeping your head up (so that your swing can move under your chin). Dynamic balance is also key, I can't even tell you how many times I've seen people fall over after a swing of the club.

Now in terms of good instructors tranfering into the business field, I think there are a couple key aspects that come into play. As an instructor, you are part of a team of people, however, you must motivate yourself to work as an individual. Often times people in the business world, cannot do both, its either one or the other. Also, communication, on snow, we have to be able to break down conplex ideas, movements, situations and explain them in a way that our students will understand, gearing the level of complexity in the termonology to the understanding of the student, and what we say has to be clear. Fear/Risk taking is a hot topic lately in many companies too. On snow, we are always assessing risks/danger and pursuing an adrenaline rush in what we deem to be an appropriate level of risk/reward and we look to push ourselves harder as we get better, and constantly search for new staches, new lines, new methods of skiing. In the business world, many people will only do what they are told and never try to find a better way, more productive way, and many people will not even try to find new ways to do things (coming up with ideas and business plans).

I never really thought about how my experience on the snow might have impacted my carreer off the snow, but I guess it realyl has. Much of the things I mentioned above have been similar to comments I have gotten in reviews. Interesting.
post #3 of 33
I am not aware of any sport in which the simultaneous rotation of both femurs in the hip sockets happens except for skiing. That very key movement cannot transfer.
post #4 of 33
THis is a very samll thing, but a hiking guide in Alberta gave me a tip for hiking down steep paths made treacherous and slippery with scree or little rocks. She said "lean your body downhill" - move your CM downhill, even tho it's counterintuitive and it will give you much more purchase and control and you will be less likely to have your feet slip out from under you. It works and whenever I've given that tip to skiers they get it right away. others are harder to convince....
post #5 of 33

Well - skiing helped me learn to ride a snowboard fairly quickly. Skiers should also be able to pick up rollerblading, ice skating and water skiing quicker. With respect to balance being an essential element of skiing, that skill will transfer to most sports. But at the lower levels of performance, one only needs enough balance to facilitate learning. At higher levels of performance, transfer of balancing skills can have a greater impact on performance.

With regards to the metaphor for life question, I believe that membership in the skiing community helps to develop good citizenship. Developing a respect for the environment, making new friends, stopping to help others in need, waiting for your turn - there are lots of things in skiing that transfer to other areas in life. The funny thing is how these things sneak up on you. You're not forced to do them (most of the time). They just happen. Golf prides itself in the same manner.

I too have picked up golf (kinda) recently (this is my fifth season). One of the reasons I picked it up was to experience the instruction aspect of it to help pick up ideas for my on snow teaching. I too learn mostly through the "brute force" method. Cheer up - there is hope! My skill level when I started was "worse than ... pathetic". Telling me what to do is easier than getting me to do it. Golf, like skiing has so many little pieces (including the mental piece) and variations that "building a good game" is a lot like "building a good turn". It helps a lot to have the right equipment and (cough) a good instructor. I'm a magazine, golf channel and practice junkie, but hands on instruction has had the greatest impact.

Coaching skills are an advantage for any senior level person in any industry. However, the biggest plus of instructing that I've found is the development of people skills. I wish I could have saved a copy of a cartoon that was in my first ITC manual. It had a picture of plain faced guy pulling a mask out of a suitcase labelled "ski instructor kit". The mask was a "Hollywood actor": perfect hair and a huge ear to ear grin. I coach a lot of our young kid new pros to "throw the switch" when they start a class". The quiet voice and "just me" demeanor won't cut it. You've got to "put the mask on". After a couple of years, the mask never comes off. Teaching skiing can help develop a more confident and charismatic personality. These personality traits can help you become more successful in any career. I've often claimed that you can pick level 3 pros out of a crowd based on their personalities. Some of the most successful people that I've met in my day job have had the same "style".

Another aspect of this is that one theory of leadership ascribes success to a focus on others. Some of the greatest figures in history were known for making other people feel like they were most important person in the world. When you learn to teach the "guest centered" approach and really start to develop your listening and observational skills, you are on your way to greater success in any professional endavor AND your personal life as well.
post #6 of 33
I think it is a little ambitious to think that skiing transfers well to other sports. And when I talk about skiing, I am talking about the skill, not the athleticism that is required to be a decent skier (in fact, at mortal levels of skiing, skiing is about learnig a skill, much more than being very athletic. As we see every winter, you don't have to be very athletic or in fantastic shape to ski well)

Looking at it that way, the skill(s) that allow one to ski well transfer very poorly to other sports. The exceptions are sports where sliding, skiding, carving, while maintaining balance, are required skills - such as snowboarding, surfing or even in-line skating.

I cannot imagine how the skill of skiing can really help golfing or ping-pong or tennis or track and field. Again, we cannot look at physical fitness or athleticism, because those attributes will help in just about any activity.

I don't consider skiing (or any other activity) a metaphor for life. But I do believe that ski instructors have super-well developed people skills, which are probably the most important characteristics in business, management and other areas where interraction with people can be the key to success.
post #7 of 33
Thread Starter 
Wow, you guys added a lot of good stuff during my absence! I realize that we are stretching a bit to find the common threads between skiing and other sports, and perhaps those similarities are purely athletic, but I continue to believe that things are more the same than different. It makes me feel that everything I do can serve my mission in life (which will be revealed to me soon, I hope!).

So, I am back from practice. I hit 4 small buckets of balls, starting with my 8 iron then the 9, 7 and down through the irons, and allowing myself only a few ego shots with the woods. Then I practiced chipping and putting for an hour. Then I played 9 holes. It wasn't spectacular but it was a better round than yesterday's.

What I learned from skiing today was a RicB fave "getting rooted to the ground" and a Weems teaching about centering. The other thing is setting the post leg and being balanced such that you pronate onto the inside of the foot as you swing through (never fall to the outside of that foot!).

The other thing I learned from skiing was not to make such a big deal out of a wayward shot. Rather than berating myself as I usually do, I tried to analyze what caused the ball to go there instead of where I'd intended. I usually found the problem to be that I lost my balance during the shot or I positioned my stance to the ball rather than aiming the club face and squaring up to the blade. I think that lesson can be generalized to many life situations.
post #8 of 33
Nolo, One thing I have found that transfers from skiing to my other sports passion tennis, is ankle, knee and hip flex, in skiing I feel the first joint to start using up range of movement is the ankle ( then progressively up the body knee, hip etc.)to help with balance especially on variable terrain. I have seen video of my self in tennis and when I do not use the ankles much I am standing straight up ( looking and playing as I call it old fart tennis yuck!)and just swinging the raquet with my arms, not getting much power, but if I get the ankles, then knees, then hips in a nice BALANCED stance I can let it rip. Well lets take this to skiing if one is not using much ankle flex where is their CM , its in the back seat, they are not balanced they probably are over using their other joints i.e. knees , hips, and spine trying to stay in balance as they are getting rocked all over the place on say a mogul or crud run.

A tennis coach I overheard talking to some of the local high school boys team was saying "going for the big shots in tennis is fine when your balanced and prepared but if you are not in balance play for the safe shot" . Think about that on a high speed groomer run when ripping up arcs or on a mogul run getting bounced around, maybe when knocked out of balance we should play it safe with a turn or two then get back into our aggressive line. So I think skiing skills i.e. balancing skills with the use of all our lower joints plays into quite a few other sports. In your golf if you want a fluid stroke you will use a nice progressive range of movements with your joints right? Good luck on developing your game.
post #9 of 33
Originally Posted by Nolo
It makes me feel that everything I do can serve my mission in life (which will be revealed to me soon, I hope!).
Maybe part of your mission in life is to share your love of skiing.

The learning part would transfer to almost any athletic activity particularly the "feeling" it part. That one shot where you can feel the club head connect with the ball and you know it's going to be good, you don’t even have to look up. Know what I'm talking about?
post #10 of 33
There is one attribute from skiing that will transfer to everything that youe ver do in life, and that is balance. Skiers have some of the best balance of any athletes that I know of. They are very aware of their surroundings, and how to use those surroundings to keep their center of mass where it needs to be to maintain balance. As a skier you fine tune your brain and muscles to work together to always know if youre balanced or not. This is huge, whether youre running, riding a bike, hiking, standing in a crowded room, playing tennis, soccer, or drunken catwalking a guardrail at 2:00AM on a bridge (I have no recollection of any events in any questions that may be asked... afterall I'm in college).

Another way that skiing can (sort of) translate to everyday life is confidence. There is something about descending a 50 degree pitch or jumping off cliffs, or running a slalom course that are quite gratifying. Even more satisfying is getting to the bottom and realizing that you surmounted what most would consider an impossible task; in many cases with ease. This type of confidence can and should carry over to the rest of your life - not in a literal sense of course - but when given a difficult task, compare it to that steep pitch, or bump run, or icy groomer, or race course break it down into what you have to do to make it though and do it. When youre finished you might look back and say - "well that wasnt so bad." Apply it to work, business, other sports, personal relationships - whatever fits.

Coaching in this topic is huge. I'll leave it to the professionals. I would say that coaching/teaching translates to nearly everything in life, since we are always teaching and should never stop learning. If we all learn in different languages - teachers and coaches are the interpreters - a true gift.


post #11 of 33
I think skiing is athletic. Not in a overpowering way, but in an active, managing power way. We develope comfort and awareness of outside powers, comfort and awareness within ourselves and our body, wholistic dexterity, and we expand our comfort zones in balance skills and expressive agility.

Many was the time when I was in a precarious position high on some framing, or on some dry mountain, when I conciously visualized how my skiing skills would transfer to the situation. Even if was only the fully alive, relaxed mental state that happens when we ski.

What goes up must come down. what can transfer one way, can transfer back the other direction. Least that's how I see it. Later, RicB.

P.S. BigE, I simultaneously rotate both femurs all time while playing tia chi.
post #12 of 33

Nice topic-not a great deal of time tonight so more later. Just a wonderful, long day playing ranger, rules official and forecaddy for the first round of our club championship. Later rounds went almost 6 %$#$^& hours. Throw the word 'championship" on an event and you better get out the barf bibs because they will all be throwing up on themselves. Makes me want to debate one of Jack Nicklaus' favorite sayings-people don't choke they over try.

1. Golf is not world hunger. It is an incredibly simple yet endlessly complicated. Don't let slow progress frustrate you. When you hit a bad shot give yourself about 5 seconds to get mad then focus on the NEXT shot. Keep practicing the putting and chipping-the scoring game is 100 yards and in-that 3 foot putt counts as much as a 300 yard drive.

2. In the wonderful environment of Summit County I often use analogies from one sport as I teach the other. For example many skiers understand the quiet upper body and active lower body-as Manus mentioned you can reverse that for golf. Or perhaps can you ski a black diamond bump run being as stiff as an "I" beam-so why do you think you can it a golf ball when you're wound tighter than a cheap watch.

3. I often use a baseball swing to teach release in the golf swing. I think good instructors delve into the experience base of their students (No matter what it contains) then use something stored there to create relavance.

4. I like the "centered" and "posted" analogies.

Be the ball.

post #13 of 33
Originally Posted by BigE
I am not aware of any sport in which the simultaneous rotation of both femurs in the hip sockets happens except for skiing.
Doing the Twist!!!!
post #14 of 33
Thread Starter 
Thanks, Mike. I was hoping you'd drop some pearls of wisdom my way!

I shot 5 over par last week and won some money in a tournament the next day. I was feeling like I'd made a big move in my game, but I now know the gods of golf take great pleasure in punishing the prideful golfer.
post #15 of 33
Thread Starter 
Maybe part of your mission in life is to share your love of skiing.
Thanks, Bill, you're probably right about that, I believe my general mission is to eradicate Puritanism.
post #16 of 33

Just like Ullr

Originally Posted by nolo
I now know the gods of golf take great pleasure in punishing the prideful golfer.
Great play! Just like Ullr the golf Gods give and take with impunity.
post #17 of 33
The motor skills I’ve learned in skiing transfer best to road biking, particularly when descending a curvy mountain road, where I keep pressure on the outside pedal to maintain control and balance; and also to inline skating. It also seems, based on some pictures that I think you posted, Nolo, that barrel racing requires similar dynamic balancing motor skills.

There’s so much more to skiing, though. I can’t think of another area of my life where persistent, conscious efforts to improve are so consistently rewarded. And although that’s not a statement I can make about other areas of my life, it sort of begs the question, “Why not?” What is it about skiing that makes it such an rewarding endeavor?

I was thinking that I don’t want to get too deep here, but hell, when’s the last time you heard someone sane say, on a powder day, “I don’t want get too deep here; I don’t want all that snow billowing up over my shoulders; I don’t want to really experience what it feels like to be set free by the very forces that would keep me earthbound and yearning for something authentically joyful…” So, to paraphrase Dolores LaChappelle, skiing is not a metaphor for life, it is life.

I remember my first day on skis, in 1964. I was out of control the whole day, but what a feeling of freedom for that second or two before each inevitable crash! The apprehension has gradually been replaced by the exhilaration over 41 years. For me the lesson here is if you dig it, and you keep doing it, you’ll get good at it. I think that in itself is an authentic and universal life lesson.

As Mom mentioned, the movements are counterintuitive, especially when you are first learning and trying to keep from crashing and burning on every turn. But it seems that every time I’ve reached a breakthrough on skis, it’s only after I tried every “intuitive” solution, and after failing to get things to work my way, finally letting go and just accepting that I don’t have full control of this process. Once I let go, things would start falling into place.

I overheard one great little nugget of instruction many moons ago while riding up chair 2 at Taos. An instructor was talking his class down Reforma, the run under the lift, which is a steep, funky, heads-up kind of run. His advice was, “Enjoy your moment in the fall line.” It was, and still remains, great advice, both in skiing and in life. Celebrate: enjoy your moment in the fall line.
post #18 of 33
Thread Starter 
Beautiful, Gnarlito! What a great wake up call.
post #19 of 33
Actually, I would say there is some transfer in rock climbing (maybe more appropriately, there is some transfer in rock climbing to skiing)

In climbing, it is important not to lean into the rock, in skiing, it is important to keep your orientation downhill, rather than leaning into the hill. Same principle, different sport.
post #20 of 33
biggest transfer I've ever felt:

inline skating -- feels the most like alpine skiing, comes closest to mimicry of moves

2d biggest transfer I've ever felt:

MTB DH in technical terrain that demands good line selection and terrain absorption -- everything except the exact sequence and format of arm and leg movements is identical to skiing alpine terrain. torso aligment, angulation, "steady head" -- all of these are as critical to good DH skills on a MTB as they are to proper skiing in difficult terrain.
post #21 of 33
Thread Starter 
The upper and lower body separation is similar, although reversed.
Manus, thank you for saying this. It's a brilliant insight that hadn't occurred to me. I used it the last time out on the links and it helped me keep my left foot down and level my shoulders through the swing. Much more effective windup and release. Thanks!!!
post #22 of 33

Adding a little

Originally Posted by nolo
Manus, thank you for saying this. It's a brilliant insight that hadn't occurred to me. I used it the last time out on the links and it helped me keep my left foot down and level my shoulders through the swing. Much more effective windup and release. Thanks!!!
Great-now practice that on some uphill/downhill/sidehill lies and combinations there of. One of VJ's training tools when he's off (wish I could be "off" like him) is hitting off uphill and downhill lies-really forces great balance as you combine the momentum of swinging the club with the effects of gravity. Read the section in your PGA manual on those lies to get a feel for stance and other adjustments.

The comment on keeping the left heel down is major-it is one of the more common problems I see-it often leads to/is a result of lifting and not turning or lateral sliding which can lead to a lot of chunking or lack of power among other things. The heel can come up a little but it is a RESULT of the dynamics of the backswing.

If the shoulders tilt (from the level comment) you may get a reverse pivot (i.e., weight on the front side during your backswing) especially when the left heel comes up excessively. If you ever feel like you are falling backward or the weight is on your rear foot as you finish your swing look at your weight transfer.

Off to do a kiddie clinic. Oh boy!!!

Be the ball!!!

post #23 of 33
Thread Starter 
Mike, what's your take on a comment I read the other day, that amateurs line up with the ball and pros line up with the club (my reduction: pros aim the club, amateurs aim the ball)?

Thanks for the advice and comments--I think an associated similarity between skiing and golf is the reliance on the core muscles to stabilize movements. I feel this as being compact in the midsection.
post #24 of 33
Originally Posted by nolo
Mike, what's your take on a comment I read the other day, that amateurs line up with the ball and pros line up with the club (my reduction: pros aim the club, amateurs aim the ball)?

Thanks for the advice and comments--I think an associated similarity between skiing and golf is the reliance on the core muscles to stabilize movements. I feel this as being compact in the midsection.
Hi Nolo,

I'd definitely buy the aiming. Watch a Tour or other top pro and you'll see they almost always sight through the ball to their target (which is much, much smaller than the amateurs) drawing an imaginary line-(a top pro will target a specific piece of fairway or a very small part of the green-the amateur will see the fairway or the green in their entirety) then square the clubface to that line-or more specifically a part of that line near the clubface. Then they align their bodies to the squared club and target line. 80% of the inaccuracies in ball flight are predestined before the club ever begins the backswing-either through a poor grip, alignment or posture.

Think of it this way-is it easier to aim at something near your club or try to line up on an object yards and yards away?

You are on the right track with the stabilization. It allows a strong rotation of the upper body around the stable lower body without any excess lateral movement. It allows power which comes not from the arms and wrists but from the opposition of two large body segements.

Hey Rusty-feel free to jump in with any comments.

I'm looking forward to possibly going down to the International Saturday and see the boys tee it up. Those guys are beyond good.
post #25 of 33
Thread Starter 
Thanks again, Mike. I am using this advice and working on it.
post #26 of 33

since I'm skiing (a lot) my awareness and anticipation got better.

I never liked walking through crowds, now I'm more relaxed and find my way without thinking much.

My car driving got much smoother. Due to my work I'm driving aproximately 50,000 km a year since 2 decades. So I have a proper database. I need less gas, have longer inspection periods for my cars and .. I'm faster !:

I never had an accident, but now I have more time to care for the others on the road or to be on guard against the speed traps .

To say it with MTV, my riding got pimped .

It's also about confidence Greg already mentioned.

post #27 of 33
Thread Starter 
CarvingFan, You're right about the skiing/driving connection. My driving instructor told me that skiers make better drivers for exactly the reasons you cited.
post #28 of 33
it's not AMATEURS that aim the ball, but underdeveloped golfers.

rookies and hackers think only of the club/ball strike moment. they fail to appreciate the graceful (current or future, take your pick) arc of the swing and how the club's travel through that arc has MUCH more to do with where the ball goes than how one "aims" the ball.

nolo, do you ever do practice shots with a club laid on the ground parallel to your toes, to help show you your body's alignment relative to the ball? at best it shows only your feet, which can be offset with hip rotation and torso twist, but it is an "anchor" reminder of sorts taking out one element of concentration/focus and letting you think more about the swing and less about your body alignment.

maybe you should invite me to come over to play some golf with you and you can show me what's what? I need to play some pasture pool again, haven't played for 5 years and it's starting to bug me. I miss the beautiful trajectory of a well-hit long iron sailing into a small green.
post #29 of 33
Thread Starter 
Consider yourself invited, Gonz. Good point about amateurs--the magazines seem to make the pro/amateur distinction a lot.

The "aim the clubhead" tactic is working much better than the "line up the ball" tactic for me. The tip about sighting on a near object on the line to the flag is a big help in that respect.

I have used the club on the ground cue, but probably not enough to internalize it yet.

There's so much to do properly! Sometimes I get overwhelmed with it all, and just empty my head and play out of my mind.
post #30 of 33
Originally Posted by nolo
There's so much to do properly! Sometimes I get overwhelmed with it all, and just empty my head and play out of my mind.
Historically, some of my best ball striking, not necessarily best scoring, comes in the first few rounds of the year---when I have not yet remembered to think about all the thangs that happen in a golf swing!!!
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