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Body awareness and lack thereof

post #1 of 23
Thread Starter 
During my encounters of instruction and more specifically ESA, I have had some amazing breakthroughs in my skiing. Each of those breakthroughs reveals one more thing that my body was doing wrong which was holding me back from making progress.
Due to odd circumstances, I've only been video'd once during ESA(my first year) but I found that one time to be an eye opening experience, which has lead me to being extremely open minded when it comes to coaching.

This year at ESA, Robin gave us a drill to work on posture(she had a better term but I can't remember) The second she gave us the drill and showed me how I was positioned while in a turn, compared to how I should be positioned in a turn, I had an Ah Ha! Moment.

Why didn't I see/feel this before, the COM makes perfect sense!


When you, as an instructor, have a student who thinks they're carving when they're not, or a student who seems open to instruction, yet has no awareness of his/her own body, how do you work with him/her?
Is a breakthrough possible without self awareness?
post #2 of 23
Breakthrough possible? Sure - we do it with kids all the time. It's called "Do this".

When I have a student who only thinks they're carving, we have a little carve off traverse. When I end up way higher on the other side of the hill than they do that gets their attention. Then we go look at the ski tracks and see why. Most of the time it's because they are steering with their feet. I have many tricks for inducing more tipping and less steering (e.g. side slips, tug o war with poles instead of rope), but which instructional technique I use is typically a result of gut feel about that specific guest.

Thinker, Feeler, Doer, Watcher - we have to teach to all 4 types until we know which student we're dealing with. Many students use more than one learning style.
post #3 of 23
One of the three tenets of the PSIA-NW Tech Team Feedback Model is the Tool/Snow interaction. (The others are Desired Outcome and Movements.) You can look at the skier's tracks and show what the ski is doing to the snow. (I feel that way too much of our instruction involves instruction to make movements and way too little involves what the ski is actually doing to the snow. I like the Tech Team Feedback Model IF all three points are hit.)

Other things to do involve isolating movements so they can at last feel the body part you need them to become aware of. One interesting isolation drill is for feeling the front of the boot for backseat skiers. Have them sidestep diagonally backwards uphill and they'll feel the front of the boot with their mind on little else. They can aim for that feeling when skiing after they've felt it once. You can invent other isolation exercises where everything else is so simple that they can think of and feel the thing you need them to be aware of.
post #4 of 23
I think that self awareness is very important. Too many people take tons of lessons and never really improve. I think it is partly lack of talent (not everyone can be an expert after all) and partly lack of self-awareness. You need to fell what you are doing when skiing. It takes years before it is on automatic.
post #5 of 23
trekchick,

Quote:
When you, as an instructor, have a student who thinks they're carving when they're not, or a student who seems open to instruction, yet has no awareness of his/her own body, how do you work with him/her?
Is a breakthrough possible without self awareness?
Very good question!

I get quite a few students like that, and they think that they are skiing great (so why take the lesson?). After some MA, I pick a simple task that they can't do. That usually gets their attention and opens the door to self awareness of where their skill level really lies. From there, they can start making changes in their skiing to get to their goal (s).

I feel that a person uses predominately one learning style, and it gets them to some sort of plateau. To get beyond that plateau, they need to utilize all four learning styles. An instructors job is to determine the predominate style and use that to transgress the other styles to make that breakthrough. It sounds like it worked for you, trekchick.

RW
post #6 of 23
You point out that "low center of gravity"

"Fat bottom girls you make the rockin world go round"
post #7 of 23
Thought it was a mid-fat bottom she was looking for!...
Well! Trek! You get my 2,000 post!

Quote:
Due to odd circumstances, I've only been video'd once during ESA(my first year) but I found that one time to be an eye opening experience - Trekchick
I had the camera!! Shoulda tolda mea! I don't think we need to know about the "odd circumstances" ...

Learning without body awareness?
Well I think Rusty pretty much hit it on the head with kids. Especially little kids - how much body awareness do they have? Yet they can learn quite rapidly when they do tasks that just become skiing!

With adults it is a bit of a different story. I have given up being surprised that some people who've skied for years cannot roll their ski on edge while we're just standing there. I will show them what I mean with my ski and yet I often have to physically take their boot and tip it to the big toe side so they get it.

Doing edge lock turns - or 'one footed railroad tracks', (Yes there's only one track - no magic here), is another example. You can show people what to do, discuss it, show it, and then when asked to simply edge one ski, ride that till it turns and then flatten it, they will invariably twist the ski instead of letting the sidecut turn it. Is that body awareness or a preconceived notion of 'turning'. They hear turn so they must twist the ski? They don't think they'll turn with out input?

It's interesting though because many people will think they're doing it and they're not. It's best to pair people up and ask one to look and judge once they know what they're looking for. Getting them to actually do it could cause a breakthrough in some sort of awareness.
Twintip was a bit of an example of the above. Even on the slalom skis she was twisting usually. There were a couple of times she nailed it though. We really needed more time and different space to do the drill. It was a free skiing run actually but I just showed her that on the flat part of the trail.
(Ok - here's a disadvantage to a 20 something meter sidecut and a fat ski - takes lot of time to turn by sidecut alone. Still, the drill was done with straight skis so it shouldn't matter so much)

I'd be interested to hear about the breakthrough drill you had with Robin.
post #8 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tog View Post

I'd be interested to hear about the breakthrough drill you had with Robin.
Posted in the ESA learning forum, along with video.
post #9 of 23
I've long used, picking a task that shows the student were they may need to improve skills, pointing out what the track they leave shows about the way they turn, or finding a slope that lets you watch your shadow as you ski, as well as all sorts of questions designed to get people to think about what they are really doing/feeling. They're still primary skills but time marches on.

Technology is cheap. A couple years ago I picked up a digital camera about the size of a bar of wax with a 2.5" screen that takes mpegs. At the time $150, now I could get one with a bigger screen cheaper. It lives in my pocket with all my other ski instructor paraphernalia. If it seems appropriate I'll shoot a quick video on the way down and we'll review on the ride back up. You have to know what you're looking at, and be able to describe thier movements clearly or it's just an expensive toy, but once a week or so it becomes an invaluable tool.
post #10 of 23
If I have someone that thinks they are doing something that they are not, I will ask them to do a task that is impossible to do without whatever "it" is. Then once they have proven it to themselves, I will coach them to do "it".
post #11 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tog View Post
Doing edge lock turns - or 'one footed railroad tracks', (Yes there's only one track - no magic here), is another example. You can show people what to do, discuss it, show it, and then when asked to simply edge one ski, ride that till it turns and then flatten it, they will invariably twist the ski instead of letting the sidecut turn it. Is that body awareness or a preconceived notion of 'turning'. They hear turn so they must twist the ski? They don't think they'll turn with out input?
IMO, it's a hardwired physical reaction: To "go there" I have to point my feet at the target. The feet twist to carry out my intent.

Fix: Patience or banana turns.
post #12 of 23
Epic,

we think alike.

Quote:
I get quite a few students like that, and they think that they are skiing great (so why take the lesson?). After some MA, I pick a simple task that they can't do. That usually gets their attention and opens the door to self awareness of where their skill level really lies. From there, they can start making changes in their skiing to get to their goal (s).

If I
Quote:
have someone that thinks they are doing something that they are not, I will ask them to do a task that is impossible to do without whatever "it" is. Then once they have proven it to themselves, I will coach them to do "it".
RW
post #13 of 23
Thread Starter 
Thanks all for the response........
To me, it seems that I am more aware of body movement each time I learn something new.
I believe that a big part of that is my own self awareness and part is the phenomenal coaching. When those two things come together, amazing progress can happen, eh? Some day I may even become a great skier

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
You point out that "low center of gravity"

"Fat bottom girls you make the rockin world go round"
Lars, you talking about this?
post #14 of 23
The hardest student to teach is a terminal level 2 PSIA instructor who has passed the teaching portion of the level 3 exam and is not paying for the instruction.


All skiers can rise to a certain level based on their prefered learning style and coordination. If you truely want to get very good, I think you have to develop more of a thinker/touchy feel approach at some point. You also have to be a doer or you will not put in the required time to develop the movement patterns and mental awareness. You have to be a watcher as well or you will not as easily understand what it is you are after in the first place.

I have learned to be careful with trying to have students achieve a certain feel. Many things including boots and alignment can have a profound effect on what an individual feels. What I feel may or may not be what you feel.

Instead my approach is more or less coaching to an outcome and having the student tune into what the outcome feels like to them.
post #15 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pierre View Post
Instead my approach is more or less coaching to an outcome and having the student tune into what the outcome feels like to them.
What happens when you coach toward "the outcome" and you see that the student is not getting it, but he/she thinks she's got it?
post #16 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
What happens when you coach toward "the outcome" and you see that the student is not getting it, but he/she thinks she's got it?
Demonstrate the difference from what they are doing and what I am asking for. I then pick an exercise that will give plenty of feedback for right and wrong movements. Different outcomes for different movments that the student can grasp. I will very often use static exercises prior to the moving exercise to show the difference as well.

If that does not work I will try one of two different approachs to looking at the same thing. I may break down what I am asking for in simpler terms and steps or I may look for something similar in the students past that they understand that I can transfer. Patience and keeping your student from beating themselves up is also very important.
post #17 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
Thanks all for the response........
To me, it seems that I am more aware of body movement each time I learn something new.
I believe that a big part of that is my own self awareness and part is the phenomenal coaching. When those two things come together, amazing progress can happen, eh? Some day I may even become a great skier


Lars, you talking about this?
Ahh yes my dear. Stick that five spot in there just to make rockin world seem a little more go round?
post #18 of 23
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lars View Post
Ahh yes my dear. Stick that five spot in there just to make rockin world seem a little more go round?
That's a ten
post #19 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
That's a ten
Ah yes it is.

A perfect ten too.
post #20 of 23
This is wot we call body awareness.


Originally Posted by Lars
You point out that "low center of gravity"

"Fat bottom girls you make the rockin world go round"

Lars, you talking about this?

__________________
All I can say about life is, 'Oh God, enjoy it!'
~Bob Newhardt~


Lars, you talking about this?

__________________

All I can say about life is, 'Oh God, enjoy it!'

RW
post #21 of 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
During my encounters of instruction and more specifically ESA, I have had some amazing breakthroughs in my skiing. Each of those breakthroughs reveals one more thing that my body was doing wrong which was holding me back from making progress.
This year at ESA, Robin gave us a drill to work on posture(she had a better term but I can't remember) The second she gave us the drill and showed me how I was positioned while in a turn, compared to how I should be positioned in a turn, I had an Ah Ha! Moment.

Is a breakthrough possible without self awareness?
In teaching students who already have skiing experience, some for many years, I find that it is quite common for them to have never experienced desired movements or "postures". As previously stated by others, many have never felt a carving ski, especially on the little toe edge. Much of this is related to Stance, perhaps the most important word in our skiing.
It is important to isolate the stance issues and create drills which force changes to create a more athletic stance. One drill which has been effective is using "tuck turns", skiing carved fan turns to a stop in downhill or GS tucks. This stance over corrects their usual back seat position and creates desired ski/snow interactions.
In forcing awareness of how skis can carve, 130 cm. development skis are an eye opener in their "quick to edge" and instability when flat to the snow. Many students find the sensation of carving because of the short skis characteristics which force them to adapt. They can then take these new movements and stance adaptations back to their normal skis.
In skiers who have well established muscle memory and stance issues it is often necessary to over emphasize and correct before they realize the desired final changes needed and are able to make these changes.
post #22 of 23
Did she call it kinesthetic awareness?
post #23 of 23
I find that exemplifying the undesirable movement pattern in extremes can help. For example, if the movement is leading the turn with the upper body, do it more, do it bigger (ie. really twist the shoulders to start a turn). It seems often easier to overdo something that is "normal" than to abstain from it, or jump directly to doing something "abnormal". We may look at tracks, discuss the sounds or muscular tension in the guts/stomach area, etc. My goal: to have the student tell me what the "bigger" extreme is composed of. This establishes understandable, measurable, tangible outcomes to the movement. It established self defined awareness of the original "normal" movement pattern. Then I can go to the other extreme... go smaller, measuring opposites or changes in the outcomes. I will often ask the student to use a "meter" to establish the high & low extremes. I may be heard asking questions like "how tight are the guts clinched now? or where on the decibel meter was that turn.?, etc."
This seemingly backwards approach seems to work well for me. My impetus for trying this with students followed a task I made up for myself. I was riding the "undesirable movement patterns" in the back of the AASI Movement Analysis handbook. I found that after performing the tasks I scrutinized familiar outcomes in my own riding.
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