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Teaching from the core out

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Babies develop thier skills in the largest muscle groups, closest to the Cntral Nervous System (CNS) first, and then develop smaller muscle groups, further from the core later. Does anyone attempt to emphasize this when teaching skiers, that is, focus on getting core movements first, then Upper leg movements, then lower leg movements, then foot movements, and finally toe movements? Does such an approach work, and if so, better or worse than other approaches?
post #2 of 18
An interesting side bar to this is the recent info regarding baby walkers and jolly jumprers. Apparently, the core muscles are developed in the transitional stages between crawling and walking. Babies who are put on baby walkers skip this stage, and sometimes fail to develop succicient core stretngth.

Didn't mean to hijack, but I thought that was interesting.
post #3 of 18

from the core out

Hi Lisa Marie,

It is certainly an approach used when dealing with teaching kids to ski. When training instructors on how to teach kids, this is a major topic, but I think it does get lost later on. "Motor skills develop from the center out and from the head down", I've said about 100 times in kids clinics. I think we take for granted that adults don't have the same developmental challenges (hopefully) since they are full grown, but that doesn't mean these skills have been honed as well as we might think.

As the season approaches and training programs get underway for new and returning instructors, this will be an interesting topic to explore. Thanks for bringing it up.

By the way, do fake b o o b s make the same sloshing noise at 4200 feet, or do you need to get above 8000?
post #4 of 18
Lisamarie? What does succicient mean?
post #5 of 18
It means she does not have sufficient finger strength to get to the second row of letters above and to the right of the "C" key. Pretty embarassing for a fitness expert if you ask me!
post #6 of 18
The idea of teaching from the core out has been receiving a lot more attention here in Aspen. Last year especially. One feature is that simultaneous leg usage is easier because when the core moves, both legs are immediately effected. Getting everything into motion at once sounds chaotic at first but the challenge is keeping it deliberately disciplined and directionally relevent. For the "start in the foot and let the movement move up the body" camp, this approach challenges their long held belief that everything needs to start in the feet. However, if you study WC, competetive bumpers and freeriders you will notice a wider acceptance of core first maneuvers. IMO the use of either is no more than a tactical choice and knowing both expands your options.
post #7 of 18
Focusing on the movement and location of the core does not supplant the need to begin and control core movement with the feet and legs,,, it just ensures foot/leg initiation does not leave the core out of the mix.

I highly endorse it. I have for years.
post #8 of 18
I agree that for the core to move the supporting limbs need to move and that leaving the core behind is the main reason for the shift in focus. Although it allows us to think in terms of relaxing (or tensioning) a muscle group to initiate changes rather than moving the joints. For the students who get caught up in the kinetic chain theory it works wonders to improve their contemporaneous connectivity.
post #9 of 18
Originally Posted by justanotherskipro View Post
contemporaneous connectivity.
WOW,,, you guys from Aspen use big words! :

Hits the nail on the head, though.
post #10 of 18
Ok, I need an explanation for "Contemporaneous connectivity".

I guess the kinetic chain theory is that the feet and and hands are able to make very precise movements, while larger muscle groups in the core and inner limbs are much stronger, but perhaps not as quick and certainly not as precise. There is a lot of sense in that theory IF we can trust that the so called "kinetic chain" is really tightly coupled enough that our core and inner limbs will respond completely to the movements induced at the extremities.

I tend to think that some assistance is needed by directing some movements with the core and inner limbs, but as secondary support to the more precise movments being made with feet. I'll draw a quick analogy to power steering in a car. The driver is the one controlling precisely how far and fast to turn the steering wheel. But the powersteering kicks in to assist. I would think of our core like the power steering. Initiate actions with the feet, but as this kinetic chain begins to transmit inwards towards the core movements, the core and inner limbs should respond actively and smoothly. This is skiing from the feet up, but the core is not a dead lump of matter to just tumble down the hill using only movements in the feet. It also has a job to do. Its a synergistic relationship.
post #11 of 18
Borntoski, your car analogy is pretty good. It gets to the "core" of this movement philosophy.

It's really about a shift of focus. We look into the future, and from experience we know where our CM will need to be to support the type/shape turn we're about to make. We therefor make taking our CM to that location our primary movement focus. The lower end kinetic chain movements are merely supporting cast low end kinetic chain movements that enable us to accomplish our core movement focus. Bottom end kinetic movements are not something we strongly focus on, they just kind of get auto recruited in the core focused movement process.

Of course, in reality, those base kinetic movements do need to have attention directed on them at some point in the learning process. They need to be refined to best support the overall process of making a quality turn, and to ensure we're allowing the core to move as we desire it to. But this focus on the movement of our core can be a useful tool for keeping core movement harmonious with the tipping of the skis into a turn.

This is what I believe JASP means by "Contemporaneous connectivity". Everything moving together. The core moves in harmony with the tipping of the skis, keeping it always in an ideal position to resist the turn forces as they emerge. The core never has to play catch up, never gets left behind, as can happen when focus is placed on lower end kinetic chain activity. Low end kinetic chain focus can result in a sequential movement pattern (first tip ankles, then tip boots, let this pull CM into turn). This is the catch up pattern I spoke of.

And the bigger problem with a feet up focus is that it can stall somewhere before core movement occurs. You see this all the time on the slopes. The skis are on edge, but the core is still over the feet. This is a bad position, a weak position, a dangerous position, and it can block higher edge angle development. Focus on the core tends to eliminate sequential movements. It gets everything flowing in harmony and keeps the core from getting left behind.

It's something worth experimenting with. In the least new focus strategies help refine the ability to focus in general, and intensifies our awareness of what is happening in our default movement patterns.
post #12 of 18
yep, totally agree.

That catch up thing is so true for many and I see plenty of skiers, including some instructors I know, trying to roll their ankles alone, but just as you say..they aren't falling inside with the core. Part of that is, however, I believe due to the fact that they are not transferring weight to the outside ski. But you're right..they are thinking too much about the feet and not enough about the core, presuming that the kinetic chain will do the work for them.

This may be a bit of a chicken or the egg thing, because I know when I feel I am skiing my best, I am not having to use very much muscle activated movements in my core to move the CM across. G forces do all the work for me. Its just a matter of timing the relaxing and contracting all the right muscles from outside ski to outside ski, releasing and engaging...which seems to just topple my CM across with hardly any effort at all. I feel that for the most part I just contract my core muscles to keep up with what my skis are doing, and perhaps sometimes I nudge the hips forward just a tiny bit during a cross-over transition. To me it really feels like feet-up skiing.

But that being said... your observations about what other skiers are doing with this feet-up obsession is well-noted and makes me think that first you must learn to ski like a chicken before you can lay an egg.
post #13 of 18
Originally Posted by borntoski683 View Post
when I feel I am skiing my best, I am not having to use very much muscle activated movements in my core to move the CM across. G forces do all the work for me.

Exactly, borntoski! You're using efficient recruitment of your low level kinetic chain to facilitate the movement of your core in the manner you desire, and with minimal muscular involvement. That's high level skiing. As long as that's the outcome, whatever focus you're using to get there is fine. Focus modification is just a method to help people who aren't quite there yet to get to the point you describe, and overcome the shortcomings I brought up.
post #14 of 18
Or maybe i meant you must be laid like an egg before you can ski like a chicken. :-)
post #15 of 18
Originally Posted by borntoski683 View Post
Or maybe i meant you must be laid like an egg before you can ski like a chicken. :-)

Actually, if you watched the Torino Olympics, you'll know that too many eggs before a race can cause one to ski like a lame duck.
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
I don't think what I was suggesting was to begin a turn with the core, but to begin the training for turning with the core. If the body is set up to myelinate the nerve bundle to core muscles first, and then to myelinate pathways to extremities, if we attempt to condition the muscles of the extremities first we may not be successful becuase key muscle groups closr to the core have not been conditioned to act in coordination. Obviously this is not the case when we get a hockey player who can make lateral changes in his movement pattern and become a skier very quickly. this is more applicable to students like the one I got a few years back who responded to the question "What sports do you play?" with the response "Research." That was a long lesson. When we get students whose neaural pathways have not yet been myelinated for any sports which provided close lateral learning, we need to be patient and build up the reactions as teh body is best set up to learn them.
post #17 of 18
This is interesting stuff. I'm wondering though, how do you do this with beginners... how do you get them started, learning to manouvre the skis, using this approach? Or is it more for 3/4s and up?
post #18 of 18
Ant, Like toddlers, newbies tend to use gross motor movements. So guess what we teach them! As they progress to higher levels we tell them to focus on fine motor skills. So guess what they do. At some point in a lesson we need to help them blend and applied these newly aquired skills. While we often ask them to abandon some old habits, we need to remember that doesn't mean abandoning everything they have learned to that point. Sometimes just refining an existing skill makes more sense than replacing it.
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