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Over analysing

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I know a few friends that have been through this and I would like to hear of any comments/thoughts/opinions on it.

I didn't learn to ski until I was 13, and when I finally learnt it was by many lessons which were very much (often as they are still today) overly deconstructed breakdowns of each part of a turn. I have a bit of an overly analytical mind as it is so when I became an instructor I went full tilt into not just analysing my students but myself. In short, I had a problem. An obsession that grew. In the end I could not complete a single run without saying 'my uphill hand in the third turn was behind' blah blah blah blah. We all know the sort of thing. I almost lost my love of skiing through this because I rarely felt I had done a text book perfect run. But I don't live in the US so there was no support group that I could stand in front of and say "my name is Bec, I'm an over-analysing skier" (I'm sure there must be one ).

Anyway, finally this year I got over it. I still love teaching but I needed a break from clinics and constantly analysing every turn I make. I'm not teaching in a ski school this year but I still teach friends and colleagues. I have found that my reduction of deconstruction (like that phrase?) has actually greatly increased my ability to help people progress. OK not ground breaking stuff in the world of teaching but pretty cool for me.

My skiing greatly benefited from this. I gave up trying to be perfect in every turn and whilst now I may not look so 'pretty' I think I ski a helluva lot better. More importantly I enjoy skiing a lot more than I have for years. I still like to teach, I always will, and I think the break from a structured environment has done me well and will make me a better teacher in the future. For now though, at the end of our season, I am just revelling in the fact of returning to "just skiing". Taking a run and just letting it flow.

I wonder if any of you have had the same experience. I would like to hear about it.

The ex-obsessive.
post #2 of 18
Nice post, Bec! And yes, I do like that phrase.

What I think is that you have just made an important breakthrough--not just as a skier, but as an instructor. Skiing is such a technical sport, and there is so much to learn, that most instructors do go through a phase of being destructively overly deconstructive (like that one?). The great ones get past it, eventually, and transcend to a higher level of teaching.

It's not that many instructors know too much, but they misplace and misuse their technical knowledge. Understanding and knowledge are good. But they are not skiing! They have their place--very important--as a BASIS for good teaching. But they are not, in themselves, good teaching. The more you know, the simpler you can make it out on the hill. The more you know, the less likely you are to give undue importance to the little random mistakes that are part of every turn, without being chronic errors that need correcting. The more you know, the more likely you can identify and work with root causes, rather bandaiding their myriad effects. Technical knowledge is the basis, but not the substance, of good teaching.

Enjoy your time off from "officially" teaching. But I hope you will get back into it soon. Skiers need instructors like you! As you've already noted, you haven't "stopped teaching." You've just stopped teaching the way you used to, and become much better at it. It may be so different that you don't even recognize it as teaching, but it is--of a much higher order.

And you've found your support group, too. Out on the hill is the time to employ your knowledge and analytical skills--not the time to discuss them or obsess over them. This forum is a GREAT place to discuss them, develop them, and obsess!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #3 of 18
Dear Bec,
It's nice to hear someone admit/confess to a problem that plagues all instructors at some point, I believe. I also believe that those that can't/won't fess up to this have not and will not last for long. It's an integral and sometimes painful part of our growth toward being the best instructors we can be. I agree with everything Bob said and I'll jump up and down behind him when he says it.
I also learned to ski as a teenager and I'm grateful for it. At that time I was doing it for the pure joy of movement. I've never forgotten that joy and I can always go back to that place, luckily.
I went thru the same things you're talking about and now, 30 years later, I still suffer from occasional bouts of 'analysis paralysis'. That's the bad news. The good news is that I can fully describe the technical & physical problems that paralyze me. I've also learned when to stop the conversation and just ski until we're ready for more. That's probably the best news.
Currently, I'm designing early season training for our school and am trying to address this exact issue. I'll be posting a new topic soon and looking forward to your input.
post #4 of 18
Bec.... you bring a tear to my eye, I'm exactly the same way. After I got my L2 cert, my new goal became simply to try and remember skiing is supposed to be fun. It's been 2 seasons and I'm still trying to find it.

I work at a hill that emphasises training and I'm always getting thrown in groups with the L3 wannabes. I've intentionally tried to cut back on # of clinics, and have even gone off with the lower level clinics just to regain some perspective.

I feel your pain....... I'm glad you're recovering. I hope to as well some day.
post #5 of 18
I posted this on July 22, 2002:

Be very careful how much you try to understand here.

Last season, I "improved" my skiing by closely following all that was discussed in this forum. I could identify with virtually every problem I read about. Every time somebody posted a question about what they were doing wrong, I thought "that sounds familiar. Maybe that's what I'm doing."

At the start of last season I was a decent parallel skier.

At midseason, I was a puddle of confusion. Was I rolling my foot or tipping my leg? Was I pressuring or rolling my foot? Was I angulating at the ankle? knee? hip? My weight was too far forward and too far back, all at the same time. I was standing too tall and too crouched at once. I was steering too much and not enough. Should my shoulders point down hill or parallel to my ski tips? Did I have too much tip lead or not enough? Was I braking too much? If I skied a slower line, would somebody run over me? Should I lighten and tip, or does this move my center of mass uphill? Is it morally wrong to unweight? How was my turn shape? Wherever they were, my hands were in the wrong place. Were my pole plants too far forward, back, in, out? Too early, too late? Were my boots too tight? Too loose? Were my skis too long?

By the end of the season, I could no longer parallel ski. I tried to snowplow, but I had taken the internet lesson from HH, so now I couldn't do that either.

So now when I get to the top of the lift, I just take off my skis and walk down.

Save yourself while you still can. Unplug your computer.
Since then, I tell myself that my analysis paralysis has partially abated. I did manage to work out some of my issues last year and others I just decided weren't problems, which may or may not turn out to be true.

I now take everything with several grains of salt, and last year I figured that I would try stuff that came up, and if it didn't feel right I would discard it. Unfortunately, Bob has now shot this philosophy down with his 'anything that is markedly better is also markedly "different," and will take some getting used to!'

I hope I'm not back to square one on this one!!!!!
post #6 of 18
I agree that the techno-wienie phase is probably a necessary step along the way to mastery, but God help the students we teach during this passage.
post #7 of 18
Hi Bec, good post! I loved your line, "my name is Bec, I'm an over-analysing skier".

Well, my name is Tom, and I too am an over-analysing skier (at least when in front of a computer).

In the real world, it turns out that my well known on-line propensity for hyper-analysis is not a problem at all when I'm teaching kids or adults who obviously don't want or can't use a lot of technical info. Automatically, I just don't do it.

Unfortunately, as soon as some adult asks for "an explanation" and sounds like they would appreciate detail, I'm easily baited, and I have to force myself to keep the verbiage to an appropriate level, and not spend more than a few seconds on an answer to what might be a trivial detail in the grand scheme of things.

Fortunately, when I'm skiing on my own, I can pretty much turn the analysis on and off at will, and almost always ski around with it "off" unless I'm working on some specific thing in my own skiing, focusing on the performance of a new pr of skis, etc.

I strongly suspect that a lot of the more verbose participants on Epic are the same way, and that one's on-line personality isn't anything like their on-hill personality. Epic is a great place for understanding of the sport, not practice of the sport.

Great post.

Tom / PM
post #8 of 18
MXP, your post of July 22, 2002 was hilarious. I'm glad you reposted it as I hadn't seen it the first time around. It is our analog to the med student's classic hypochondriasis. Perhaps a new term needs to be coined, skiochondriasis.

Tom / PM
post #9 of 18
I now take everything with several grains of salt, and last year I figured that I would try stuff that came up, and if it didn't feel right I would discard it. Unfortunately, Bob has now shot this philosophy down with his 'anything that is markedly better is also markedly "different," and will take some getting used to!'
Sorry about that, MXP.

But--great post! I too missed it the first time you posted it back in July. Thanks for bringing it back.

The reality, of course, is that my thought and yours are not only NOT incompatible, but are, in fact, the key to all this! Take it all with a grain of salt. Don't obsess over the little details, or the little "mistakes" in the turn you just made (you'll never make that turn again anyway!). Try everything, but trust your own experience as to its validity. Don't try to think about "everything" all at once. Try only one new thing at a time, trusting your body and your skills to take care of the rest, as you've trained them to.

But don't try it just once! Any truly new movement or idea will take a while before it really works. You'll have to wear it for a while before it fits. This is one of the biggest challenges of learning, and of teaching. B.F. Skinner suggested that all you have to do to create learning is reward a new behavior when it happens. Unfortunately, because they're "different," most new skiing movements come not with instant reward, but some degree of instant punishment! A lot of the instructor's job is to provide the positive feedback needed until the new movement "rewards" for itself.

This is especially true of some of the most important, most profound changes a skier can make. Good skiing movements are offensive in nature--they require you to "let go," take the brakes off, and literally give up the very sensations that most skiers equate with "control." Most skiers ski with entirely defensive movements--their turns are things they do to slow down (that's not why Bode Miller turns, obviously). The difference may not be just "uncomfortable"--it can be downright scary! But there is a fine line between fear and exhileration, and it doesn't usually take long to discover the truth.

Carolyn--I look forward to your new thread!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #10 of 18
Originally posted by Bec:
I gave up trying to be perfect in every turn and whilst now I may not look so 'pretty' I think I ski a helluva lot better. More importantly I enjoy skiing a lot more than I have for years. I still like to teach, I always will, and I think the break from a structured environment has done me well and will make me a better teacher in the future. For now though, at the end of our season, I am just revelling in the fact of returning to "just skiing". Taking a run and just letting it flow.
Welcome to the club Bec.

Only through a industry wide nuturing of long term talent will Becs very important breakthrough filter down to the majority of our SS customers.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #11 of 18

Great topic. I'm surprised Bob hasn't mentioned something I have heard him say in the past and that is "we have only made our best turn once." Salve for the overly analytical?

I too need to check in for treatment on occasion and should be in a 12 step program.

Two years ago I kept getting feedback from a wide variety of my peers to be more athletic.

I also heard Robin May espouse movement. I cliniced with a Swiss trainer named Marcus Beck at our resort who is the most athletic skier that I know. We worked all day on silly drills to create movement and athleticism.

I took the advice of a sixty something Czech instructor named Milos Linhart who counseled me to go chase teenagers in the trees and glades.

Prior to my level III cert exam I heard an examiner, who appears here on occasion, named hapski, say the highest score he ever gave on a level III bump run was to a woman who fell twice. Hapski said the entire run was "on the edge" and he gave her a ten.

All this combined to make me realize I had to let go, to move, have a little joy, be as athletic as a middle aged guy can be, and most importantly have a little fun!
post #12 of 18
Bec, I had another thought:
One of my mentors once told me that I was fun to teach because I was 'stupid'. I was a little insulted until she explained herself, and years later, the power of that comment became more apparent to me.

The 'skill' of technical knowledge is balanced by the 'skill' of 'stupidity', for lack of a better word. I don't have a good name for it, yet, but it feels like mindless and purely joyful movement, just for the sake of movement, with no intended outcome. I never thought it was a challenge to 'be stupid'. I thought it came naturally to all of us at certain times. I have since learned thru observation that there are quite a few people who have zero 'stupidity' skills. They simply cannot do anything without thinking it thru before, during and after.

I'm not saying that's bad, but I am saying that it is a true skill to be able to turn that off, on demand.
Like all skills, it takes practice to master. Life can be much more entertaining and surprisingly, learning can occur in some of the most unlikely situations, especially if you're not forcing it.

Bec, do you like to turn some music on and dance/boogie around the house (I hope so, 'cuz the rest of this is founded upon that)? Do you think about your technique when you do that? Probably not. You're just moving for the joy of it, aren't you? Try to transfer that attitude to skiing. It takes practice and hard work, but it's sooooo nice to be able to get to the bottom and just grin.

Someone once told me, "Skiing is like a dance, and the mountain always leads."

Hope this helps you thru your dilemma. I am in total sympathy/empathy.

post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thankyou all for your comments. It's nice to know that others have been through the same thing.

I do feel I need to clarify though, my teaching never suffered the 'analysis paralysis' that I personally suffered from learning to be an instructor. I was always very aware that different people learn in different styles. One student may be scientifically minded and need to know the complete physics breakdown and another may need to have it explained by comparisons. Some needed different metaphors, and I was always looking for new ways of saying 'keep your skis across the hill'. I always felt it was about understanding where your student was coming from and adjusting your style accordingly.

Many people are there just to have fun, so with those I became more a guide/photographer/nightlife advisor. Most students don't want to be grand masters they just want to have a good time. I feel it is just as important to understand what people are there for as to what skills do they want to develop. How can I contribute to their holiday experience. I know this sounds wanky but lets face it this is the majority of our clientel.

What I was talking about is what learning how to deconstruct skiing does to your personal skiing experience.

This year I finally got over a massive over-analysis of my own skiing (due in large part to my my best friend who is an awesome skiier), and once again remembered true skiing. One thing that really helped me was singing in my head when I skiied to try and take up the extra brain space that would normally be giving me a running critique of every turn.

Thanks again for your comments


[ October 15, 2003, 05:15 PM: Message edited by: Bec ]
post #14 of 18

Being rather new to EpicSki, and even instructing, I found this thread very informative. This will be my third season instructing and the second season to EpicSki. I spent most of last season just reading the different threads. This thread is helpful to me in that Iam not a very technical person and whenever given the chance will just go and just ski, I go, I want to strive to get the balance of both technical of why I am doing what I am doing and just letting the mountain me become one and not thinking but going. Last season, I spent a lot of time trying to rain in the desire to always just go and be in tuned with the mountain in my personal skiing.
The EpicSki threads, hopfully is where I will improve my discussion and knowledge and analytical skills. But when skiing, just let it all come through, 'hopfully',to make my personal skiing that much better. Eileen
post #15 of 18
Hi Bec-
Welcome to the net's first 12 step program for skiers!

"My name is Ric, and I'm an over-analyzing skier, too!" (I LOVE your line!!!) In fact- I'd like to think I'm a recovering "over-analyzing ski instuctor".

I'd like to make an observation if I might.

When dealing with fairly new skiers or ski instructors, their initial desire is to develop a set of ideas about skiing which they believe to be black and white. But trying to place a sport like skiing into such absolutes is virtually impossible. With there being a time and place for essentially anything you could ever do on a pair of skis, how can those absolutes be drawn? But most skiers/ ski instr's will become their own worst critics anyway!

Skiing is not just an edge, nor is it just turning. Skiing exists in the gray world of blended activities. It comes down to a degree of effectiveness, and then learning to quantify that effectiveness. Racers do it with a clock. Jumpers do it with a measuring tape.

So how do "recreational" skiers quantify their successes? After the last ESA in Brighton, LM and Bonni both quantified their successes by the trails they skied and the degree of comfort they had on those trails. Compared to previous experiences, they felt changes had been made and that equalled success. This is a very productive analysis, based on "effectivness".

The "analysis paralysis" mentioned is very real, especially among skiers and instr's who are under the impression that there are black and white absolutes in skiing. What I would suggest to those instr's(and students) is that they re-think their belief system in this regard.

Instead of thinking- "That was bad/good"(based upon some supposedly arbitrary ideal), begin thinking- "How MUCH did that [movement] promote or impede what I was attempting to accomplish?" In this way, it relieves the skier from thinking they have to do everything perfectly to get get down the hill. Rather- they begin thinking in the terms I described earlier, the "effectiveness" of a particular idea/concept. Effectiveness is a quantifiable entity.

It might be as simple as greater speed control in the bumps, or tightening up a carved turn on the groomed. The task itself is only the focus in a larger sense, but how you perceive the outcome against the input applied is the narrower focus. "I skied slower down that bump run than ever before", or "My turns were shorter and snappier than the last run". The changes made were more "effective" and therefore "successful". This does not imply further improvement is not desireable. It merely serves as a measurement of improvement made.

So- rather than subscribing to some picture perfect ideal of what skiing "should" look like, go out and experiment with what actually works for you! If you need assistance in helping interpret what your results are, then rely upon those co-workers or friends who you believe may have some honest answers for you!


[ October 16, 2003, 11:02 AM: Message edited by: vail snopro / ric reiter ]
post #16 of 18
Hey Bec, Back from the World Cycling Championships. It Rocked! Great weather, Thanksgiving with the family, old friends, riding with pro riders. weeeeee! I'll be in touch soon.

Back to your point. I'm not sure if I ever got caught in the over analysis blues. I DO have a tendancy to see in many others my most recent quirk or challenge but that's another thread. An easy place to get caught up in over analyzing and a touchstone to Keep It Simple is when you start talking to someone about what you want to see. They can't see themselves and at that point it's easy to get bogged down with details to explain what you want to see in even more detail.

The key to really having an understanding of something is being able to explain it in simple terms and more important terms the recipient understands. I always try to keep it in the simplest terms of what the student should feel. Even when people believe they are strong aural learners (they rarely are) they generally get so bogged down with the intricate variety of movements that need to happen simutaneously. They attempt to break this understanding into bite sized pieces that only really causes muscle tension and ultimately no chance of feeling what they need. On the other hand when they do feel the movement suddenly they understand exactly what they had struggled with.

This kinisthetic(sp) learning is by far the strongest for MOST people. A lucky few are strong and successfull visual learners and obviously showing a good picture is always helpful to guide a student. But nothing beats describing what they want to feel to achieve the results they need and keeping it simple.

The other thing I often use to keep things simple is assuring students that it's not so much what they need to learn that's important because skiing really is fairly simple. The hard part is unlearning all the other stuff they're doing from previous experience, carry over from other sports, misinterpretation of an image or comment, excessive reliance on muscle control or simple defensive mechanisms caused by fear.

I'd rather over simplify than over analyse any day. Let gravity leave your body.

[ October 16, 2003, 07:41 PM: Message edited by: L7 ]
post #17 of 18
I really hate to criticize, but I believe we humans suffer from a design flaw. You see, it is clear to me that the body innately knows how to move in the most efficient manner possible. However, movements are controlled by the brain. Therein is the problem.

Now, this is not me saying, kill your brain and you will ski effortlessly. This is me saying, learn how to disconnect the nag so you can ski freely.
post #18 of 18
Originally posted by nolo:
I really hate to criticize, but I believe we humans suffer from a design flaw. You see, it is clear to me that the body innately knows how to move in the most efficient manner possible. However, movements are controlled by the brain. Therein is the problem.

Now, this is not me saying, kill your brain and you will ski effortlessly. This is me saying, learn how to disconnect the nag so you can ski freely.

No question you're right on. My best runs have followed a morning of working my butt off, concentrating on making the movements happen the way I think I should ski and skiing awful. After a while I get frustrated, say screw it and just ski. I always then ski much better. You'd think I'd learn...
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