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Can you learn from watching?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Some people are visual learners, some learn better via explanations. Others have to be forced beyond their limits (I learnt swimming because my dad would push me int he deep end of the pool!).

I can compare with a sport I play well - tennis. As I became better, I noticed the way I watch tennis matches on tv was changing, and I was aware of a lot of little things and the finer details. Then I would point these out to my friends who were still learning and it would help them - e.g. just keep your eyes on a players feet (don't follow the ball) and you can instantly see what superior footwork it, and who has it or not.

Does this apply to skiing? I have some videos of FIS events and I want to know what I should look for because these guys all look pretty much the same to me and its hard to make out differences in technique.
post #2 of 13
First, you have to understand that the FIS guys and gals are performing at speeds and with pressures the average recreational skier never experiences. Their movement patterns develop after considerable strength conditioning that, again, far outdistance the average gymrat's.

Visual learning is, of course, one of the primary systems used in ski instruction. It's why certification processes require a certain level of demo ability, as well as the understanding and communicative talents to explain what is being demonstrated.

However, visual learning is carried out best where an informed observer can tell you whether or not you're "getting it".

How are you becoming better at tennis? Are you using a coach?
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
My point was that if you know what to look for and can concentrate on it, it enforces a sort of feedback that's like subconscious muscle memory.

Of course the pros are at a level I will never reach, but I would hope the basic principles still apply and I can still learn from them. At least its been that way in every other sport I know of. The technique used to hit a 140mph serve is no different than 70, it just needs more talent, co-ordination and timing.

Do you have to be at a certain level before you can spot and appreciate these nuances in skiing? (I'm your avg intermediate).

I only had proper coaching in group lessons for a few months. After that I mostly focused a lot on drills, and trying out strokes I had seen better players and pros hit. Then I would try and figure out how to do that stroke so it felt right. This was a lot of trial and error but each big a-ha moment was the reward. All this time I played on a couple of teams so my results were the way to measure progress.

I don't ski enough to do the same thing. So I'm trying to learn what I can at home.
post #4 of 13
I think you can learn a lot by watching and doing if you have a little natural ability.

Watching the WC DH races on TV and listening to the colour commentary is basically how I learned to ski (look at how his edge is throwing up snow - he's loosing time there - he wants to try and be as smooth as possible and have no slipping of that edge at all- he's trying to be as clean as he can be....).

Of course it was a little more difficult for me as the DH courses were not as well prepared for me and there were all kinds of obstacles (ever hit a 6 foot high wind ridge at 80 mph?) and slow skiers in the way, and I didn't know wtf I was doing, just banking all my turns at speeds that required you to tape up the ventilation holes on your ski goggles, and no coach to tell me what I was doing wrong. It got a lot easier about 5 or 10 years into it when someone showed me how a ski's sidecut worked.
post #5 of 13
You can definitely learn a lot from watching. Especially if you combine it with input from others who can help you interpret what's happening. If you've read here enough, of course, you've discovered that there isn't a lot of agreement around some concepts until you get to the upper levels of coach/instructor/communicator, where there is a fair amount of agreement.

Anyway, I learned to ski mostly by watching and reading for many years. Getting high-level coaching (from PSIA-RM Examiners, a couple level III PSIA-RM instructors, and the EpicSki Academy coaches) allowed me to take very dramatic strides, however.

Mix and match. And I think you should buy my book, too. It could help...
post #6 of 13

heck yes

I learned to zipperline bump runs from watching others and I plan to do the same with tricks in the park. I think people who are naturally athletic and have an understanding of their body's movements/well coordinated can do it more easily than others. I am also speaking on a more general level (maybe not the specifics of racing you were thinking of).
post #7 of 13
Slalom racing is closest to rec skiing due to the forces Kneale mentions when skiing faster...and GS racers get up to 40 mph at some points, and they have to handle forces most of us never encounter.

If you could view slalom racing videos at 1/4 speed, you'd see some things that would be a help. In any case, as in tennis, look first at the feet.

Here's a video of Jean Baptiste Grange at Levi. I think it was originally from Finnish tv with video effects and English captions from a Finnish skier.
post #8 of 13
I would watch an instructional video for demonstration of technique appropriate for your skill level. I think it would be very difficult for anyone to learn to ski without seeing someone else doing it but most skiers probably would not benefit from trying to ski like Jean Baptiste Grange.
post #9 of 13
I find I learn the most about how to improve my skiing from watching myself ski on video.
post #10 of 13
I like to watch other skiers from the chair lift. It gives me a demonstration of what works and what doesn't work. However, you have to know what to look for first.
post #11 of 13
I am lucky to have an experienced skier to instruct me and watch. I learn a lot from watching him as I follow him down the hill. I cannot get it all though, you do have to have somebody to ask and give some pointers on what to do. The main thing I think is that you cannot be scared, and have to trust your equipment. (hopefully its well maintained, sharp edges and good waxing.)
I figured when learning with the guy who is teaching me, that even though his ski's are better then the p30's I am skiing on, I can still do anything he can do. I just have to follow him and not be scared. That has helped me learn a lot. I still am a little nervous, but I overcome and try and watch the things he does, the paths he takes. If I want to learn something new, I ask him and he shows me. I don't always get it right away though. Sometimes its harder to get on the first try. I did not quite get carving and wide sweeping turns after trying it 2 times. I am ready to try ASAP (monday actually) Watching some video's on carving really helped as well. You have to really be fearless and just keep your body correct to the hill, just like in any other sport, your posture makes a difference. Tilt your legs and knee's and keep your body right, and just dig them edges in.

You can learn by watching! Just make sure you have a good role model to watch, otherwise bad habits will come!
post #12 of 13
Our brains include mirror neurons which fire when we observe another person perform an action. This fact implies that we do indeed learn from watching.

However, it seems to me that one would do better watching skiers skiing in the conditions one is trying to master rather than watching ski racers.
post #13 of 13
I have taken well over 100 hours of lessons over the past 5 seasons and have advanced to the point where I can pretty much tackle anything and look pretty good while doing it. However, there are still some areas where I need refinement such as the transition between large/medium to small radius turns. You can see it done very well in many WC SL races and I have been trying to imitate their technique and it has helped a little, but still not to the point where I feel I can drastically decrease my radius without quickly scrubbing some speed first. So far, my only visual understanding of my own skiing is watching my shadow on the snow or looking back to see the tracks which was fine as I was learning to make parallel turns etc, but now that I am looking for refinement, I think video of my own skiing will give me that next step.

I know what I should be doing and what works and what does not from watching WC races. Comparing the movements that I am making to those "ideals", I will be able to spot the differences that allow them to do the things that I cannot and work in those areas. So, up to a point watching others will give you the idea of how to ski well, but you need to be able to compare yourself to that idea somehow.
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