i've reached out to 2 ski coaches for their opinions of this product
both are only opinions, but imo they're valid nonetheless to keep the discussion moving along in our search to find both a new product's value and limits....
and also it's potential with any future tweaks.
1st coach: has very detailed instructional dvd series, well regarded and accomplished skier, former competitor, coach and runs a camp.
(btw in his reply he's referring to the other forum thread btw http://www.epicski.com/t/115003/welcome-to-our-new-sponsor-skia
and I've since sent him this more detailed one i am here posting on, should he wish to comment)
"I had a look at the epic forum thread, and your responses.
You're thinking straight: it doesn't simulate real skiing .... and even if it did, it only teaches one state of fore/aft balance.
True balance proficiency in skiing is about being able to use any part of the ski, from tip to tail, whenever you choose, and within the dynamic environment of skiing where the forces acting on the skier are in a constant state of change.
Another thought I had about this product ....is that you lose the pressure feedback from the heel and ball of the foot that is such a crucial balancing skills element one needs to learn to be tuned into and manage when actually skiing. It's the primary tool to let a skier know if they're in the precise state of fore/aft balance they desire to be in, or if they've drifted out of it.
Learning great balance skills on skis is really no more complicated than doing the drills on snow that build them. It's time proven."
2nd coach, also has a ski camp, also an accomplished skier, also well regarded, and is located on 'BC island'
he was referred to me by the Skia rep actually.
I decided, when contacting him, to send him the 1st coach's opinion
to get his assessment (above) which he refers to here
(he's already used the sweetspot product too btw)
"Good to see another debate brewing on Epicski...
I did have a pair of the ‘Sweetspot’ trainers sent to me in the spring and I gave them a go.
In many ways I agree with the coach/author whom you previously contacted (I have a good guess who it might be). He is right that it certainly does not simulate real skiing. Skiing is a dynamic sport and and expert skiers should be able to pressure any part of the ski at will. However I’m not sure it is supposed to simulate skiing. It is simply a balance training device geared towards skiers.
What is unique about it is the fact that you use it in ski boots. Seeing as our ankles have a pretty limited range of movement in ski boots we need to learn to balance by compensating with different parts of the body than what we are normally used to. Many intermediate and even advanced skiers have a perception of where that center point is on their skis, however, perception and reality are often two very different things. I believe the trainers would be helpful for many of these people to feel that spot more accurately. I certainly don’t like to preach a static stance but it is important to know where neutral is.
It could also be useful in balance recovery especially if used in conjunction with other exercises. For example, passing a medicine ball back and forth between partners. When you catch the heavy ball there will be a significant change to the location of your center of mass and a fore/aft adjustment will need to be made... when releasing the ball you will need to return to neutral over the center of the boot. This happens constantly in skiing. The other coach/author you quoted does make an interesting point about losing some pressure feedback from the ball and the heel though because normally when you are making these kind of recovery moves you have an extended base of support (eg. the skis).
Where I think the “sweetspot’ has the most potential is to help people isolate fore/aft movements from vertical movements. This is extremely important in skiing. In fact in the past I have occasionally asked my students to stand on a 2x4 in their ski boots then try to flex through their whole range of motion just to understand this concept. In this case you still get feedback from the ball and the heel as the boot sole is rigid and you are strictly trying to move vertically.
All that being said, I’m not endorsing the product in any way ....but I do think they have some validity as a training device for those with the motivation to use them. Perhaps I’ll try some experiments on some students this winter and to see what sort of results I get."
I guess, in the end, like many of you are suggesting, this product is but one possibly useful tool in the larger picture, depending on needs.
Edited by canali - 11/28/12 at 11:06am