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Generalization of Skills

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I'd like to start out this thread with a quote from the recent steering thread.  I am not at all singling out gcarlson or his post but I think it is representative of the thinking of many and numerous previous posts:

 

Quote:
 

Originally Posted by gcarlson View Post

 

 

By their very nature, gliding wedge turns create edging because of the position of the legs which creates inside edge dominance. And done correctly with movement of the pressure and center of mass from over one leg to the other they also teach edge release. These skills are basic and an important part of arcing or steering. So to base your concerns about your son's learning on one lesson is not fair to the tried and true benefits of the gliding wedge when done with the goals of edging and edge release in mind. 

 


Basically I am trying to stimulate discussion about whether skills taught in one environment necessarily generalize to other environments.  In this particular case, gcarlson talks about the edging skills needed and used in the gliding wedge.  My first questions is this case is whether this generalizes to a typical turn where the body is released down the hill and the CM fall outside of the base of support.

 

There is a large body of literature on this concept (which which I am only familiar enough to know that it exists).  My impression is that motor and perceptual skills taught in one environment may or may not generalize to other situations.  In skiing I think this is a critical issue to better understand.

 

My interpretation is that the proponents of a skills based approach have an assumption that skills will usually generalize and their experience seems to back that up.  However, if you believe in an approach your experience will inevitably back up your beliefs if there is any kind of success.  I hope to avoid that as an issue in this discussion.  Rather, I would hope for more objective evidence about the questions of generalization, either from the literature or from objective on-slope evaluation. 

 

My own bias is that I regularly question whether some of the drills and skills that people talk about are as effective as they think they are.  I guess it goes beyond that in that as a new instructor I see the PSIA certification process partially based on the importance of individual skill development.  I think this leads to an approach to teaching that I have questions about as well.

 

Thanks for any comments.

 

 

post #2 of 10

Perhaps you chose the wrong example; I say this  just because I don't see much edging skills being acquired by having a fixed very slightly on edge ski being used in a gliding wedge turn.  There is a little gain to be sure, as there is feed back on how changing the steering angle of that edge varies its effect and how inevitable changes in weight bias side to side and fore and aft will affect the edge's effect.  However I think this is small potatoes as compared to other means of acquiring some feel for edging.

 

I definitely think skills learned transfer.  Balance can be learned in a wedge and used everywhere.

Tipping skills, whether learned in a snow-plough, side slip, skidded turn, or other training exercise, can be applied anywhere, including altering the radius of a carved turn.  Same for pressure control, fore-aft balance, etcetera.

post #3 of 10

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Si View Post

 

Basically I am trying to stimulate discussion about whether skills taught in one environment necessarily generalize to other environments.  In this particular case, gcarlson talks about the edging skills needed and used in the gliding wedge.  My first questions is this case is whether this generalizes to a typical turn where the body is released down the hill and the CM fall outside of the base of support.

 

My own bias is that I regularly question whether some of the drills and skills that people talk about are as effective as they think they are.  I guess it goes beyond that in that as a new instructor I see the PSIA certification process partially based on the importance of individual skill development.  I think this leads to an approach to teaching that I have questions about as well.

  

Your point is well taken that do we accomplish a blending of skills by focusing on individual skills and do skills which apply to one skiing environment also apply to other situations. I hope that I interpret your question correctly. 

It has been my experience that we can identify problems with inefficient skiing that highlight more of one of the basic skills (pressure management, rotary movements, balancing, edging skills, directional movements) than the remainder of these skills. That doesn't mean that there aren't inefficiencies in the other skills or that there isn't a chain reaction of one skill affecting the others.

 

Certain environmental or tactical demands in skiing might require a greater use of one of the basic skills or put it at a higher priority. Contrast arcing a turn vs. skiing the bumps. In either situation we end up with a blending of the basic skills by utilizing the DIRT model (duration, intensity, rate and timing) to create the formula for the desired ski/snow interaction. The basic skills are all represented but they are blended appropriately to most effectively fit the requirements of the environment and intent. 

 

When we teach within the "basic skills" model we don't teach one skill to the exclusion of the others. This would be impossible since they are so closely intertwined in creating efficient skiing. We also consider the range of intent and degree of application within each of the skills. It would seem appropriate in learning to carve that we begin with the mechanics of how do we edge and turn a ski. Does this come from the foot or the hip muscles, etc. Once a student receives sensory feedback from edging or steering a ski and realizes how they attained this sensation we can then expand and manipulate to fine tune. We try to impart the full range of employment and blending which will apply to whatever skiing situation is presented.

 

It has been my experience that in teaching skiers with inefficiencies, that a better chance for creating change in their skiing comes from focusing on a specific movement or basic skill. By changing sensory feedback in their skiing by a drill which forces the stance or movements to create this new sensation we can affect permanent change and improvement. This change often then creates a domino effect with improvement of other skills and attainment of the desired ski/snow interaction by blending of these skills. This generalized improvement in efficiency applies to all environmental situations.

 

We should also remember that the vertical and lateral learning process allows application of the basic skills as they develop to the various environmental and tactical situations encountered. This blending or "generalization" of skills is possible only by learning and understanding the basic skills themselves.  

post #4 of 10

Si,

 

Quote:

My interpretation is that the proponents of a skills based approach have an assumption that skills will usually generalize and their experience seems to back that up. 

Please further explain this quote of yours.  It doesn't make sense to me.

 

The skills concept is based on movements that effect edge control movements, rotary movements, pressure control movements and dynamic balancing movements pertaining to skiing.  We know some movements are more efficient than others, and some movements are best suited for the terrain, snow, pitch, and speed.  There are some movements that are effective over a wide variety of conditions and terrain.  That doesn't mean that other movements can't be used or are wrong, but is the outcome as desirable for the skier as other movements may be?

 

In my mind, these effective movements aren't generalizations, but quite the opposite, they are specific.

 

RW

post #5 of 10
Thread Starter 

Ron,  I'm not quite sure what the confusion is but I'll try.  My original question was this:
 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Si View Post

 

Basically I am trying to stimulate discussion about whether skills taught in one environment necessarily generalize to other environments.  In this particular case, gcarlson talks about the edging skills needed and used in the gliding wedge.  My first questions is this case is whether this generalizes to a typical turn where the body is released down the hill and the CM fall outside of the base of support.

 


 

What I was trying to further clarify is that I don't doubt that working on a skill in a drill environment where it is somewhat isolated may generalize to a more complex skiing environment where it needs to be integrated with other skills.  Thus, a person's experience may tell them that working on an isolated skill generalizes to many other ski situations.  However, what I was trying to ask is whether it is most effective?  When might it be more effective to work on skills in a way that better simulates a more realistic integrated environment.  Hope this helps.


 

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gcarlson View Post

  

It has been my experience that in teaching skiers with inefficiencies, that a better chance for creating change in their skiing comes from focusing on a specific movement or basic skill. By changing sensory feedback in their skiing by a drill which forces the stance or movements to create this new sensation we can affect permanent change and improvement. This change often then creates a domino effect with improvement of other skills and attainment of the desired ski/snow interaction by blending of these skills. This generalized improvement in efficiency applies to all environmental situations.

 


 

 

Thanks gcarlson.  I think this paragraph raises an important question.  Is it most effective to go back and isolate a skill or component of skiing when a person displays a shortcoming or ineffeciency in their skiing?  Is there a difference in the effectiveness of using drills and situations to isolate skiing skills in the initial building of skiing movements vs. the correction of inefficiencies? 

post #7 of 10

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Si View Post

 

Thanks gcarlson.  I think this paragraph raises an important question.  Is it most effective to go back and isolate a skill or component of skiing when a person displays a shortcoming or ineffeciency in their skiing?  Is there a difference in the effectiveness of using drills and situations to isolate skiing skills in the initial building of skiing movements vs. the correction of inefficiencies? 

I have found that the most effective way to  create permanent change in a skier's technique is to isolate and change a movement or skill which results in a change in the sensory feedback which the skier receives. This new sensation can then replace the old sensations since they are usually more satisfying in obtaining the desired ski/snow interaction. The trick is to get a skier to focus on the sensations such as pressure points on the foot, G-forces, ski/snow sensations, etc. It's amazing how many skiers never feel what's going on in their skiing. Generalized improvement tips often result in a temporary change until a different terrain or challenging condition is encountered and then the old muscle memory and sensory feedback kicks in. 

The goal then in teaching a new student is to try to avoid creating basic inefficient skill patterns which show up at a later level of skiing as an obstacle to further advancement, needing correction at this point. The defensive vs. offensive skiing which Bob Barnes refers to is an example of this, i.e. learning to stop rather than to go. 

post #8 of 10

Si,

 

Quote:

Thanks gcarlson.  I think this paragraph raises an important question.  Is it most effective to go back and isolate a skill or component of skiing when a person displays a shortcoming or ineffeciency in their skiing?  Is there a difference in the effectiveness of using drills and situations to isolate skiing skills in the initial building of skiing movements vs. the correction of inefficiencies? 

I say both are effective.  Drills help isolate a particular movement in the correction of a deficiency that causes inefficiencies.  I don't use drills for the sake of something to teach or coach, but for a particular outcome that isolates a skill movement where there is a deficiency.  I also set up situations or tasks for development of skills or movements.  As instructors, we have to do both.

 

RW

post #9 of 10

I'm going to give this one a shot for you Si.

 

What gcarlson discussed as a way to effectively use a wedge turn is a means I fully agree with.  The way I taught the wedge turn the most was with a passively steered (rotated) leg and using pressure to create the desired direction change (sorry Bob).  I'd like you to consider the following explanation and example as to how a wedge turn may relate to a beginning student's "everyday" parallel skiing in the future.

 

If one were to use steering (foot steering/leg steering/foot and leg steering, meaning rotational movements of the legs ....PSIA jargon/not mine) to create the wedge position but NOT begin the turn,  if pressure is then changed from foot to foot this would be a passively steered wedge turn.  Minimal edging,  no intentional  braking, narrow stance.  Slight pressure changes on a "pre-steered" ski create the turn.  The CM remains within the base of support area created by the skis (as in CM is between your feet).

 

Now,  here is a dry land drill anybody can try to see how this relates to parallel skiing later.

 

Stand adjacent to something solid at hip level (or somebody you trust)(I just used the kitchen counter top) and stand in a wedge position.

Now move the leg on the side you are supported on over next to your other foot (the "other foot" would now be your stance leg if you will).  You should find yourself in a parallel position,  slightly countered and with your hip now OUTSIDE of the base of support of the skis. If you haven't changed anything else in the course of this dry land drill, you should find yourself in a pretty good basic parallel position.

 

Hope that helped.


Edited by Uncle Louie - 3/31/2009 at 11:20 pm
post #10 of 10

Now as far as following up on your comment about whether drills are as effective as some think they are Si,  I can answer with a definite NO.

 

I'll relate a story.  I watched an instructor one time have a student (at a stop) start from a parallel position,  jump into the air and land in a wedge position. Now this student tried it (you had to see this....beginner level 6'-0" or so maybe 270 lbs and out of shape).  I'm sure I have to go no further here.

 

At the end of the day in the locker room I called this guy down on the carpet (see....I don't just do it here) and tore into him in front of a vast majority of the staff (for that part I was wrong).  My questions were simple;

 

#1 What on Earth were you trying to teach the guy?

#2 Have you EVER done that in your own skiing?

 

(Once again I'm sure I need to go no further)

 

I suspect a set of ears (not the guy with the dumb drill mine you) carefully listening to the "conversation" eventually tittled the concept, "NO negative moves"

 

You guys know the rest.

 

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