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post #31 of 66
I understand what you say here. It's just that Balance carries so much load, that to say it is the key is a little like saying that skiing is going down a mountain on skis. True, but not so informative. Like nailing the jello to the wall.

It's the same when I say skiing is expression and/or transcendance. Or brilliance.

It depends a bit on what your orientation is. And that depends on what you need at the time.

I tend to mark the fundamental principles of each of my diamond corners this way:
Power=reslient alignment (including balance and balancing)
Purpose=creation and management of the platform
Touch=Awareness and transcendance
Will=Willingness to MOVE (including the movements to stay upright and keep going when not efficiently balanced.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by RicB View Post
Where did the idea come from that alignment and anticipatory goals are not an integral part of the harmony of balance? I think that is whole concept of the paper I quoted. The idea that our traditional concepts of balance, which are rooted in the "static balance" school are not up to the task when we bring the behavior goals of specific sports into the equation.

I don't think of balance as being the essence of skiing either. Though I do feel that a "proportional harmony of balance" exists in all examples of "good skiing". Which is why I have no problem with the "Big Bubble of Balance" in the psia skills concept. Not only does our balance need to have harmony in the interplay between stability and mobility but our skill/movements need to be in harmony with our balancing goals as well. So even though we may give up balance in one part of our body, we can transfer our balancing (stability) to other parts of our body, until we are ready for our anticipatory movements to bear fruit through our newly established base of support.
post #32 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by RicB View Post
Well, when we count on what we expect to happen happening, we set ourselves up for disapointment. If we can let go and just listen, feel, and be in the moment then our responses are timely, appropriate, and grounded in what is real.

My most memorable runs are the ones I don't remember the details of. Where time slows down, yet the energy flows continuosly down the hill. Where the respones happen faster than I can think about them, yet the movements are slow motion. Where the energy is freeflowing, yet the effort is minimal. A place beyond expectations. I think Fred and Ginger spent way more time there than I.

Oh how I can carry on.
I love how you describe this.
Even though my question seemed a bit "tongue in cheek" it was sort of serious.

For many years, I tended to look far too close in front of my skis instead of "out there" and was being held back by the closest obstacle.

It was Jeb Boyde who first told me to look at least three turns ahead and "go there", but it was another Bear who said, "follow me". When I followed him and forgot about the terrain, I danced quite well. This was a lesson in looking ahead.
These days, when I fall back into old habits like looking too close, I create an imaginary partner in front of me and follow his lead.
post #33 of 66
Quote:
It's just that Balance carries so much load, that to say it is the key is a little like saying that skiing is going down a mountain on skis. True, but not so informative. Like nailing the jello to the wall.
I single this out, but I could have quoted the whole post because it's really good stuff, Weems. I would offer that there's times when a person wants to parse a thing into its smallest components and times when a person wants to drill down to the one thing. The unitarians here are just saying that if there was one thing, it'd be balance or one of its many synonyms.

We've had a number of threads on this forum about how improving stance and enhancing balancing skills is almost always the underlying focal point in ski teaching. It's the most fundamental of the fundamentals, and also the focus with the greatest leverage for improving the other skills.
post #34 of 66
Quote:
And yet, as others have suggested, great skiing is also characterized by near-constant imbalance, too--the cyclical falling and being caught that we experience so obviously as we dive into carved turns.
Don't think i disagree with anything other than choice of words. Which is why context becomes so important when we speak of balance. to take another example from the article, both an archer and a trail runner are in balance as they perform their respective sports, yet it does not look the same. One is heavily weighted towards the stability side while the other is obviously living at the mobility end of the spectrum. Yet both will feel in balance when everything goes as anticipated. When things don't go as planned and we find ourselves off-balance then we need that elastic alignment Weems spoke of so that we have the ability to move and respond quickly and accurately.

For me when I recognize that dynamic balance is movement and change, then your "Imbalance" becomes a required state to achieve our goals and as such no longer considered off balance unless it is a deviation from what was expected, or hinders our accomplishing our goal.

I think we all know what "smooth control over our balance" means and feels like in the context of skiing. Just as we know what being off-balance means and feels like, when things don't go as anticipated. And we all have found ourselves on the snow after an "out of balance" encounter.

To say that we are always in state of imbalance when skiing leaves me with no way to qualify between that smooth control over our balance and the not so smooth control which sets me up for a struggle. By that loose definition both states qualify, yet we know that's not correct with respect to the context and our movement goals. At some point don't we need more accurate descriptions and terms?
post #35 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by weems View Post
I understand what you say here. It's just that Balance carries so much load, that to say it is the key is a little like saying that skiing is going down a mountain on skis. True, but not so informative. Like nailing the jello to the wall.

It's the same when I say skiing is expression and/or transcendance. Or brilliance.

It depends a bit on what your orientation is. And that depends on what you need at the time.

I tend to mark the fundamental principles of each of my diamond corners this way:
Power=reslient alignment (including balance and balancing)
Purpose=creation and management of the platform
Touch=Awareness and transcendance
Will=Willingness to MOVE (including the movements to stay upright and keep going when not efficiently balanced.)
Balance, it's kinda like food, if you have it, you can eat it without thinking much about it. If you don't have enough, it's hard to keep your mind on anything else.
post #36 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trekchick View Post
I love how you describe this.
Even though my question seemed a bit "tongue in cheek" it was sort of serious.

For many years, I tended to look far too close in front of my skis instead of "out there" and was being held back by the closest obstacle.

It was Jeb Boyde who first told me to look at least three turns ahead and "go there", but it was another Bear who said, "follow me". When I followed him and forgot about the terrain, I danced quite well. This was a lesson in looking ahead.
These days, when I fall back into old habits like looking too close, I create an imaginary partner in front of me and follow his lead.
Well I saw an open door,,,A couple of glasses of wine didn't hurt either.
post #37 of 66
It's also kinda like porn--you know it when you see it! (But how do you define it?)
post #38 of 66
Quote:
Balance, it's kinda like food, if you have it, you can eat it without thinking much about it. If you don't have enough, it's hard to keep your mind on anything else.
On further reflection, I find this analogy interesting, Ric. Maslow described motivations in his famous Hierarchy as either "deficiency needs" (meaning that if you don't have it, it's a critical need, but once satisfied, the need vanishes--like safety and food--a negative feedback loop) and "abundance needs" (which form a positive feedback loop--the more you get, the more you want--like learning, love, self-actualization--and snowfall!).

I'm not sure which one of these categories "balance" fits into. Both, perhaps--depending on how we define it?

Best regards,
Bob
post #39 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by RicB View Post
...At some point don't we need more accurate descriptions and terms?
I don't know, Ric. I think it may just be trying "to nail jello to the wall" as Weems describes! You say you only disagree with the choice of wording! So who picks the descriptions and terms? I've learned by seeking to understand what you all are presenting in this thread. Good stuff! Seems to me there is a lot of common ground to explore, even if one or the other might have a bit different emphasis or bias. I also really liked that article you referenced, thanks!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post
Fight for balance. But ski anyway! Accept imbalance, and learn to deal with it, and to ski through it.

I recall Stu Campbell, arguably the most balanced skier who ever lived, once saying about the same thing!
Those present at the first ETU in Stowe may recall this (or a similar one to that which Bob is referring to) discussion! Bob, Stu and Dave Merriam all expressed perspectives on this in the full gamut of conditions ranging from Powder & Crud to the "consolidated" base we had the first event day.

It was a memorable discussion! Part of the take away was that sometimes the harder you fight to establish the platform the less likely you will succeed. Of course, that's an experience and perspective thing, and I think comes down to finesse, touch and purpose. It's interesting looking back as the "harder you fight" perspective and the advice to move away from it is really a Diamond paradigm perspective ...but Weems hadn't written it at that point

Another take away from their discussion of the acceptance of the chaos underfoot is the allowance of stability/balance to come (if only momentarily or periodically) from the core, rather than exclusively from the connection of the feet/skis to the surface, or BoS. I think this is a tough one for many to bend their minds around, but has a large role in my perception of Weems "resilient alignment".

Anyway, thanks for sharing! It helps me better understand the flavor of the jello I'm trying to get to stick...
post #40 of 66
balance through space not on skis , flying not riding .
post #41 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post
We've had a number of threads on this forum about how improving stance and enhancing balancing skills is almost always the underlying focal point in ski teaching. It's the most fundamental of the fundamentals, and also the focus with the greatest leverage for improving the other skills.
Exactly, Nolo.

To get a solid handle on this concept, balance has to be viewed from a broad perspective. it's not a skill, it's a basket of skills. It can provide stability, but it can also provide functional instability. It can be a static state, but it's never a static moment in time. It's aways dynamic. It's not just standing on a platform, it's standing precisely where you want on that platform, moving about the platform however,wherever and whenever you desire. It's understanding how to make balance adjustments, why you make them, and what performance enhancement (or just plain pleasure) specific balance adjustments pay. It's reaching a point where balance management can be done intentionally, or leap forth with spontaneous ease.

Saying that balance is the key to great skiing, without deeper explanation, can indeed sound like a "duh" statement. It's only when one comes to understand the detail behind the statement, begins to experience the leap in confidence and performance that occurs as balance skills are expanded, and discovers the greater ease with which new skills in all areas of the sport are learned that the revelation occurs, and the importance, depth and accuracy of that simple statement suddenly dawns.
post #42 of 66
Quote:
I don't know, Ric. I think it may just be trying "to nail jello to the wall" as Weems describes! You say you only disagree with the choice of wording! So who picks the descriptions and terms? I've learned by seeking to understand what you all are presenting in this thread. Good stuff! Seems to me there is a lot of common ground to explore, even if one or the other might have a bit different emphasis or bias. I also really liked that article you referenced, thanks!
That's why looking to scientific papers that draw from the people who study balance in sports and human movement can help us out. At some point ,whether it is for tai chi or skiing we have to communicate about our balance needs and the distinctions we see and feel. Maybe jello, maybe not.

Chris, I think you are right on in differentiating between internal and external stability. Reading the begining chapters of Grey Cook's book, "The Human Body in Balance", and then read the article referenced here and then one can start to grasp how both internal and external stability enhance our mobility and create a synergy that transends (can't help myself Weems) either one of them individually.
post #43 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post
On further reflection, I find this analogy interesting, Ric. Maslow described motivations in his famous Hierarchy as either "deficiency needs" (meaning that if you don't have it, it's a critical need, but once satisfied, the need vanishes--like safety and food--a negative feedback loop) and "abundance needs" (which form a positive feedback loop--the more you get, the more you want--like learning, love, self-actualization--and snowfall!).

I'm not sure which one of these categories "balance" fits into. Both, perhaps--depending on how we define it?

Best regards,
Bob
Nice Bob,,,bringing Maslow's Hierarchy into a conversation on dynamic balance. So how do you see it with respect to the balancing exhibited by skiers of varying skill levels. Is it always either/or or can it exist on multiple levels.
post #44 of 66
No, I think we must agree that it is always "both/and."

Clearly, "balance" means many things, all at once. We can analyze it into its various boxes, and define each box rigorously if we choose--in which case, I guess it would be "either/or." But defining "balance" exclusively according to the physicist's concept of "equilibrium" completely misses the mysticist's concept of harmony. Is either wrong? Or do both have a point?

In any case, to the extent that it is desired, "balance" is a motivation, and Maslow speaks to it.

I still think it just means "not falling over."



Best regards,
Bob
post #45 of 66
To me balance, as Rick says, balance is a whole basket of things. Others here have pretty much said the same things. As far as skiing goes I think balance fits into movments and intentions that maintain a harmoneous stance throughout skiing. It's not feet up, it's not about the platform, it's not about fore/aft, it's about the whole package.

For me, harmony and awareness is getting stronger. The more harmony and awareness I can muster the more powerful my skiing feels. Lately, one of the things that gives me the greatest thrills is to ski a gentle slope with big angles, clean turns, g force and powerful harmony all while not screaming along a mach schnell. I never thought the day would come that I could get such jollies from a bunny hill.

As I get better, I feel far less of the float or falling in feeling in my skiing and much more of a total connect/pressure/awareness and harmony right through the transition.

This type of skiing does not go unoticed and I work with others to bring this type of harmony and balance to their skiing. What frustrates me is that I know mechanically what movement patterns I am doing to achieve it but I don't seem to be really effective at quickly teaching it for effect.

What I am searching for now is the bomb proof simple methods of getting results on what we are discussing here. To me it's been obvious that there is much more to convey about balance and harmony than just movement patterns. Intent, tatics and equipement for starters. Don't get me wrong. I am effective at getting people to change but not quick enough and many appear reluctant to make the changes. I want quicker results and less reluctance. I guess I am just never satisfied with my teaching.
post #46 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post
It's also kinda like porn--you know it when you see it! (But how do you define it?)
Doesn't matter. As long as I get to see it.
post #47 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post
I still think it just means "not falling over."



Best regards,
Bob
This is "effective" balance. But it is not "efficient" balance. I'm lookin' for both.
post #48 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pierre View Post
What I am searching for now is the bomb proof simple methods of getting results on what we are discussing here. To me it's been obvious that there is much more to convey about balance and harmony than just movement patterns. Intent, tactics and equipment for starters. Don't get me wrong. I am effective at getting people to change but not quick enough and many appear reluctant to make the changes. I want quicker results and less reluctance. I guess I am just never satisfied with my teaching.

Pierre, you have to remember that you're only half of the equation. You can guide a student down a route that develops balance skills, but time and practice is required for the body to learn, and the skills to be refined and embedded. You can only rush the process to a point. The learning body/mind needs the coach's and the student's patience.

When I was coaching racers full time it was easy for me to get students to buy into the virtues of this stuff. Younger racers coming into the program were witnessing the successes of the veteran racers who had benefited from the training they were about to embark on. There was no reluctance. There was only open ears and eager enthusiasm to achieve the same level of success.

Unfortunately, as an instructor you don't have access to such visual real life examples to use for instant inspiration. But that doesn't change the fact that there are limited shortcuts to this stuff, so the best you can do is be honest about that with your students. Tell it like it is, don't pull your punches, but try to inspire to aspire. Explain about incremental reward, about how it motivates, about how it makes the learning process fun. Show them that training is something that can be done all the time, and can add a new element of challenge, interest and enjoyment to a day on the slopes.

This is your challenge. Not to sell snake oil, but to share reality, paint a picture of possibilities, and draw a map for those you inspire to travel it. You won't launch all on a journey down that road to great skiing. For many it's just not that important, or not in their make-up. But some you will. I now find great reward in reaching those few, watching them navigate the process, and witnessing the immediate as well as lifetime of satisfaction they experience through doing so. It's why I'm doing what I'm doing. After meeting and skiing with you, Pierre, I suspect you're driven by a similar passion.
post #49 of 66
Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post
I still think it just means "not falling over."



Best regards,
Bob
This is "effective" balance. But it is not "efficient" balance. I'm lookin' for both.
^^^^^Sooooooo,
When I learned to ski from the Farm Boyz, and they said, "Keep up, we're not waiting at the lift", and I skied fast and hard to keep up. I rarely fell, but after some sophisticated instruction, I found out how much muscle I was using, which was throwing my balance from side to side to stay up-right..........was I "balanced"?
I think not

Weebles wobble, are they balanced?

Not accusin'
Just sayin'
post #50 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post
Pierre, you have to remember that you're only half of the equation. You can guide a student down a route that develops balance skills, but time and practice is required for the body to learn, and the skills to be refined and embedded. You can only rush the process to a point. The learning body/mind needs the coach's and the student's patience.

When I was coaching racers full time it was easy for me to get students to buy into the virtues of this stuff. Younger racers coming into the program were witnessing the successes of the veteran racers who had benefited from the training they were about to embark on. There was no reluctance. There was only open ears and eager enthusiasm to achieve the same level of success.
Thanks Rick, I forget that most of my students are advanced intermediates over the age of 50 or plateaued PSIA level 2's and 3's. That doesn't stop me from seeking the magic bullet or feeling frustrated at times.
post #51 of 66
Dancing happens in between moving from one position of balance to another.

The balance gives punctuation to the movement and allows for change.
post #52 of 66
Quote:
Dancing happens in between moving from one position of balance to another.
Brilliant, LBT!

(And as a competitive dancer, LBT knows of what he speaks.)

Best regards,
Bob
post #53 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by lbt View Post
Dancing happens in between moving from one position of balance to another.

The balance gives punctuation to the movement and allows for change.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post
Brilliant, LBT!

(And as a competitive dancer, LBT knows of what he speaks.)

Best regards,
Bob
These got me thinking.

Since beginners have/need/want a wide platform for stability/comfort they spend more time in balancing movements and less in skiing movements. Racers, like great dancers, have learned to reduce the balance platform to a razor's edge so they spend more time doing skiing movements and less time doing balancing movements.

As instructors this leads to some obvious conclusions about where and what we need to spend time with our students. Students need to learn and refine balance skills.

So, how much time should we spend on this?
Will it help our students progress?
What would you do to help them improve balance skills?
post #54 of 66
Quote:
Racers, like great dancers, have learned to reduce the balance platform to a razor's edge so they spend more time doing skiing movements and less time doing balancing movements.
Care to name a few of these great racers? It could totally change my perspective on skiing to learn about them.

When I listen to WC commentary or have had the good fortune to hear an MA produced by a high-level coach, almost every comment is about the racer's search for deft balance on a speeding board on unforgiving ice, balance sufficient to carve the fastest line possible. What are "skiing movements" for racers if not "balance movements?" Winning racers don't have time to try for "pretty"; they're busy enough balancing their way along the fast line. I've heard it said many times that WC races are won by the skier who had the best balance that day on that course. (No mention of "non-balance skiing movements.")
post #55 of 66
Hmm, SE...I'd have to agree with T2 on this, at least as I understand what he's describing. Although it may not be quite accurate to equate balance with stability, I like TT's notion that beginners spend much of their effort just trying to feel stable and remain upright. They're more likely to sacrifice a "good skiing movement" for a more stable sensation. It may be more important to them to feel stable than to make a good turn.

Expert skiers, including expert racers, on the other hand, are able to focus more on the purposeful movements they need to make, with balance an unconscious discipline that resides in the background.

Furthermore, we all know that purposeful skiing movements often feel--and often actually are--very unstable. The commitment of the body into a turn during the float phase relies on the confidence that the skis will come back, that "balance" will happen later in the turn. It depends on the thousands of repetitions that help us learn to commit "just the right amount" for any given turn. Beginners struggle with it--because it feels neither balanced nor stable.

On the other hand, since balance (at least in the physical sense) is ultimately a function of movements, it is somewhat futile to differentiate between "balancing movements" and "skiing movements." To TT's point, though, I'd say that if there is such a distinction, beginners' movements are more focused on remaining upright, while experts' movements are more focused on turn- or line-control purposes.

None of this necessarily negates your thought that the winning racer might have been the one who was best balanced throughout the run. However, if you've witnessed many winning runs, I think you'd have to agree that the racers very often were not the best balanced. Perfect, consistent balance is more likely a sign of going slowly. I often tell racers--as well as mogul skiers and skiers in other challenging situations--that if they feel consistently well-balanced, they should consider going faster! Instructors tend to be the worst offenders here, often skiing like golf carts because they refuse to allow themselves to risk getting out of balance.

I suppose it depends on how you want to define "balance" again. But many of the finest, most memorable winning runs on skis involved barely clinging to the ragged edge--hardly what I'd call "perfect balance." Think of Franz Klammer, Bode Miller, and many, many more.

The best racers (and non-racers) may have the best balance, but they also have the best ability to perform at a high level through imbalance, and from a myriad of "less-than-standard" positions. They'll make their skis do what they want them to do...regardless!

I think that's TT's point.

Best regards,
Bob
post #56 of 66
I'm glad you liked the thought Bob

Another thing that happens in dancing is that you *DRIVE* from one balance position to the next; the drive isn't an impulse, it's a controlled, drawn out and smooth push that delivers enough power to get *just* to the next tipping point.

You aim for (and ideally achieve) balance with every step/push; only to then immediately discard it and move on to the next position.

The better you are, the less time you spend 'in balance' but the more perfect your balance actually is.
Quote:
Originally Posted by T-Square View Post
so they spend more time doing skiing movements and less time doing balancing movements.
Exactly

As a beginner (in either discipline) I think there is a tendency to hold on to the feeling of being balanced; but that's not the good stuff

Quote:
Originally Posted by T-Square View Post
What would you do to help them improve balance skills?
Just like you don't get 'in shape' in a few days, you can't learn balance that quickly either.

However, my favourite 'trick' for people who are learning to dance is to tell them simply to spend a lot more time standing on one leg.

It's a simple approach and it energises all the tiny muscles in your feet and ankles.

Nothing silly or embarassing - just aim to spend every standing moment on one foot or the other. When you're washing up, making coffee, waiting for a train, in a queue... The leg that isn't taking any weight should just be brushing the ground; for good measure, tap it as if to a musical rhythm. Eventually add in a little toe rise on the standing foot. After a while you find you can stand on one leg on a bus or train - or a ski.

The only hard thing about it is remembering to do it until it becomes habitual.

From observation most people don't balance *at all* in their day-to-day lives; they tend (of course) to make safe platforms with a wide stance. (Hmm, I wonder if women who wear high heels have an advantage here... maybe we should encourage that too?)
post #57 of 66
Ah ha! The difference between the Auras and the Hart SL's!!!!
post #58 of 66
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Barnes View Post
But many of the finest, most memorable winning runs on skis involved barely clinging to the ragged edge--hardly what I'd call "perfect balance."
Hmm, I suggest that it is actually "perfect balance" ... but definitely not "perfectly balanced"
post #59 of 66
Thread Starter 
Bob,
Please explain how you can cling to the ragged edge without astute balance?
Thanks!
post #60 of 66
Bob,

My point exactly. Beginners tend to think of balance in the more stable static position like a wide tripod setting on the ground. Thus the wedge and spontaneous wedge for turns.

Racers tend to have dynamic balance. Every now and then they flicker into imbalance and then fight to restore it while moving back into an imbalance in the fastest direction down the course.

Here's dynamic balance.



Now if we could only get our students to jump on pogo sticks.

lbt, I use the one footed drill a bunch. I can even lift my foot and tie that shoe while standing on the other foot. It's a great balance drill.
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