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Balance, power, purpose & touch

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Weems said something in the Balance thread that caught my eye.

Quote:
I believe that balancing is a critical corner of a four part approach that I believe in and ALWAYS use (even though covertly). The other three are power (technique, gear, internal and external forces), purpose (tactics, turn type and shape, line), and touch (snow sensitivity, awareness, duration, intensity, timing, rate of movement).
I have a few questions, Weems.

1) Why don't you have any descriptors for balance?
2) Is this model a Venn diagram like PSIA's Skills Model?
3) You say it is a four part approach. Do you break it down into four parts for the student?
4) What's the inspiration for the model?
post #2 of 28
post #3 of 28
Quote:
Originally posted by nolo:

1) Why don't you have any descriptors for balance?
2) Is this model a Venn diagram like PSIA's Skills Model?
3) You say it is a four part approach. Do you break it down into four parts for the student?
4) What's the inspiration for the model?
1. I had no descriptors because I was lazy. They are centering, anticipation, boot alignment, mind/body/spirit integration, etc.

2. I now look at this model as a diamond with four corners in dynamic relationship with each other. As I leverage up each corner, my diamond becomes stronger and greater. The inspiration of this is Peter Koestenbaum's work in philosophy in business. See pib.net

3. I do not break it down for the students until much later if they ask what's going on. The methodology is not always important to them, and if I present it in an integrated fashion, they don't need the picture. If they ask, I tell them, but I find that people trying to learn something are not always interested in the theory about how the learn it. For example, I don't teach them about the Edge, Pressure, Rotary Venn diagram. A person who buys a table, doesn't need to know all about the nails and hammers and saws and varnish, etc.

4. The inspiration is the really interesting question. It started with the understanding that race coaches talked (years ago at least) about "technique" or "tactics". I was intrigued with this and realized that sometimes if I just taught tactics, good technique would appear. So I made sure and integrated the two in my approach. But I also realized that there were also areas of sensitivity that I taught intuitively--feeling the snow, hearing it, etc. And I realized that the touch was often the difference between a good skier and a great skier. Furthermore, I realized that balance was a huge underlying issue that seemed to be a "throw away" issue: "It's critical, but let's not deal with it." I also realized that balance, being a verb, was something ALWAYS happening, always sustained. At this point I had my model. Power (technique), purpose (tactics), touch (sensitivity), balance (balancing).

This has allowed me to keep from getting stuck in one mode or another, allows me to shift endlessly between and among what I consider to be the critical dimensions of skiing--and perhaps any sport--in service to my own and to my students needs. I use it in windsurfing and biking and swimming and roller blading. It allows me to keep from getting caught in either/or thinking.

Fun stuff. Now ya know.
post #4 of 28
Thread Starter 
You said something that especially struck me:

Quote:
I realized that sometimes if I just taught tactics, good technique would appear.
This sounds close to: If you want people to change their skiing, change the way they think about their skiing.

True?
post #5 of 28
Sort of Tim Galloway and Inner Game'ish?

[ November 01, 2002, 11:16 AM: Message edited by: Arcmeister ]
post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 
I think so. What interested me was the dichotomy of technique and tactics, when it seems that tactics set the context for the technique, so they are like background and foreground, not yin and yang.
post #7 of 28
What I meant was that the race coaches were (are) saying that once you're on the course, you don't think about how you're skiing, you think about your line. Everything is subservient to that.

I carried the idea to a conclusion that if you ski a certain line, only a certain technique will produce that. So I just started teaching the line. Make your ski do this.... There are few, not many, techniques that will allow the ski to do this....
whether "this" be a sideslip, a carve, a skid, or whatever. I see teenagers teach each other in the parks this way. They go directly to "purpose", where we as instructors often go directly to technique. Clear purpose often produces clear technique. (This is why I'm so comfortable with Bob Barnes's outline for the Academy. He has a very well defined sense of the purpose of each turn. And what's more important...this is where he STARTS.)

It's just a fancy way of saying form follows function. But it's more about the function of the skier/system itself. What is it trying to accomplish? Then technique shows up.

But you can start at any of the corners, and the others involve themselves as needed.

It's background and foreground sometimes, and sometimes one is in front while the other is in back. This is the whole strength of the model--all dimensions (corners) need equal attention over time, but at any moment more attention will be given to one or the other because of the needs of the moment. If I've got a really thoughtful student, who understands the technique, has his boots all tweaked, and has a great clarity about line, then why is he skiing so slow? No touch. So that's where we go. (This is the situation where many would say, he just needs to ski a lot and don't think--more mileage, etc.)

[ November 01, 2002, 03:10 PM: Message edited by: weems ]
post #8 of 28
Quote:
Originally posted by nolo:
If you want people to change their skiing, change the way they think about their skiing.

True?
Yes, with a special emphasis on the purpose of the movements. What am I trying to get the skis to do? long turns, short turns, carved turns, braking turns, what line of descent, what sort of personal expression/signature?
post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 
So, we arrive at the same conclusion as Bob Barnes has drilled into us about the INTENT to slow down or to speed up.

If someone wants to change their skiing, they need to change their INTENTS and PURPOSES for using the movements they use in skiing.

This ties to those who say that everything a person does is for a reason--it performs a function that satisfies a purpose. Change the purpose to change the skiing.

This is good to great stuff, i.e., how to get there, clarified. It all comes together so elegantly. I love it!

This strikes me as one of the unique and special features of the EpicSki Academy: it has a clear SHARED PURPOSE. The Coaches' Outline assures that the purpose is shared by each coach and each group no matter what level. That's a pretty powerful set-up for something woo-woo called metacognition--when a lot of people focus on the same thing at the same time, they grow something called collective IQ, where my insight is able to hitchhike on yours, and those of all the other people offering up their insights. Isn't that what happens here on this forum? We're all equals under the subject, though some are pros and some are amateurs. What is unique about the Academy is that the relationship of devotee to subject is carried from the forum to the clinic. Most clinics don't have the virtual channel, the 24/7 coaching availability, and the luxury of there being a before-during-and-after to it. Even if you can't make the live Academy, you can make the virtual Academy 365 days a year.

*Make is chosen purposefully: it is what we make of it.*

[ November 02, 2002, 09:42 AM: Message edited by: nolo ]
post #10 of 28
Hi There,
Seems like it's almost time for ski season again. Nice discussions going on, I especially like this one.

"Make your ski do this.... There are few, not many, techniques that will allow the ski to do this....
whether "this" be a sideslip, a carve, a skid, or whatever. I see teenagers teach each other in the parks this way. They go directly to "purpose", where we as instructors often go directly to technique. Clear purpose often produces clear technique." Weems

I believe in this whole heartedly. As a tennis pro in the summer, I work from the position of what one is trying to create with the racket. The human body and experience with the way the world works then solves lots of problems.

So much teaching that I have seen, be it skiing, tennis or golf starts with putting the body into positions, instead of working from "the point of contact" out. That point in tennis is the racket obviously, while in skiing it is the ski or the feet. As I think weems said, ask for the ski to create a line and often the body solves the problems without creating postures.

I also feel that new instructor training ends up being backwards. Watch new instructors and they seem to pose into these psia poses their trainers taught them. The positons are not a result of the forces and the ski's action in the snow, but a contrived image. I also have to say that this contrived image doesn't sell lessons, but that is another topic.

Anyway, I'm glad to see epic still going strong. I have to throw out my early season disclaimer again, Sorry if this isn't clear, I don't write much and this forum seems filled with wordsmiths (yes weems, nolo and others, that is a compliment)

Thanks for getting my mind into ski mode.

Cheers,
Holiday
post #11 of 28
Cheers, Holiday. I'm glad that you see this in tennis, too. I once got beat by a guy who had terrible strokes, and mine were not so bad at the time. I asked him how he did that. "The name of the game is 'keepaway'," he said. Man was that a great lesson in tactics and technique.

Nolo, you're absolutely right. I really agree. I went to a puppy training class today, and the teacher was very powerful about saying that the dog "will do what works". How simple! The same is true in people's skiing. They don't make mistakes or have bad habits. They do what works. My job is to collaborate in the identification of purpose/intent, and facilitate that. "Works for What?" In the process they almost always find some new purposes that suit them as well as their original ones.
post #12 of 28
Hi Holiday, nice to see you here again. I am very much with you and Weems on the concept of "ask for the ski (or racquet) to create a line or path and often the body solves the problems without creating postures."

There is in fact some good literature on this. In one such study they termed this "implicit" learning as opposed to "explicit" learning where you describe specific body positions or segments of movements. The studies show how much more effective implicit learning generally is.

This past week I was working on changing my daughter's (a ranked junior in the 16's) volley. Instead of trying to tell her not to use her wrist, pull her elbow in, or giving any other such direction we just worked on making contact out in front with the racquet moving through the ball in the same direction as the volley (equivalent to the "line" I might have her ski). Had quite a break through.

I think that teaching in tennis, skiing, golf (of which I know nothing about but the horrendous "tips" on TV golf shows which seem totally along the line of put this part of your body here) has a lot of room for improvement by transforming from an explicit to an implicit teaching model.

In tennis (since I have opportunity while working with my son and daughter) I have been able to develop this kind of approach for myself. In skiing I have learned some things along this line in working with Harb.

Finally, when done at the correct level for a given skier, I certainly have found that having them take a "line" can result in improved more efficient skiing movements. For myself, following expert skiers like I expect you and Weems are, I have to create smoother continuous transitions and improved movements as every hesitation, moment of "parking," or other fauxpas results in loss of fluidity and line. I find this model of learning, especially when combined with the motivation of sticking near a great skier, to be one of the most effective for myself as well as others I ski with.
post #13 of 28
This is why the "follow me, do what I do" approach to ski teaching is unfairly rejected by many. If you know what you're doing with it--and share the objective with the student(!!!!)--it is magical. By skiing appropriately with a willing student on my tail, I can often do as much if not more, than all the other approaches. It sort of teaches them my vision about what a great, epic descent might be for them. It helps them transcend and transform themselves (which is what I think skiing is all about, anyway.)
post #14 of 28
Thread Starter 
Amen, brother. Following a good skier is my preferred way of learning. (Your last sentence was superb.)
post #15 of 28
I like Weems correlation to a racer focusing on line, and trusting their technique, and that the same concept applies to choosing line/tactics and allowing the technique to unfold.

I really like the idea of focusing on what Weems calls "Purpose" (tactics, turn type and shape, line), or WHAT we want our skis do.

If you look at "Purpose" as WHAT we make our skis "do", and recognize that we can already "do" all those same things with our feet, once we understand the "Purpose", then does conveying the HOW of skiing become most simply:

"Do with your feet what you want your skis to do"?

(as in: slice, scrape, brush, pivot, hop, jump, step, twist, etc)

Given that our bodies are already fully able to do any of the WHAT (we want the skis to do) with our feet, couldn't we get the most efficient accomplishment of the WHAT if the focus is simply on creating the outcome (purpose) with our feet?

Following this line of thought, could the teaching of technique evolve to simple guided discovery of what the body already knows how to do, very efficiently using our feet to create the WHAT outcomes with the skis?

Is the application, or transfer, of this innate ability to skiing thru what Weems calls "Touch" (snow sensitivity, awareness, duration, intensity, timing, rate of movement)?

Wouldn't "Touch" then be the process (of an awareness driven feedback loop) by which the body extends the WHAT from the feet to the skis, and by which it constantly makes adjustments to create, or change, the desired outcome or "Purpose"?

And of course Balance serves the Purpose of not falling down.
post #16 of 28
Arcmeister. Thanks and I appreciate your awareness of how one dimension supports and creates the other, as well as your belief, like mine, that the body know what to do.

I generally agree with you, with a couple of tweaks.

1. I think balance (balancing) has a far greater role than just keeping one from falling down.

2. The point of this sports diamond is to not focus on one or the other corner or dimension so much that you do it to a fault. Focus on Purpose at the expense of Power (technique) is the same sort of trap that we experienced when we exaggerated our interest in Power at the expense of Purpose. Furthermore, if we work on the Power<-->Purpose axis, again to a fault, we may not get great Touch and Balance. They may be good, but they won't be great. The point is to schedule attention to the benefits of all four so as not to fall into the negative consequences of over-focus on one or two others. They're all part of the package and the dynamic relationships between and among them create great skiing, snowboarding, windsurfing, horseback riding, etc.
post #17 of 28
To one and all:

Great thread ! A lot said in just a few words, and has me thinking about what my approach to skiing will be this season.

Well done !!
post #18 of 28
Quote:
Originally posted by weems:
...the dog "will do what works". How simple! The same is true in people's skiing. They don't make mistakes or have bad habits. They do what works. My job is to collaborate in the identification of purpose/intent, and facilitate that. "Works for What?" In the process they almost always find some new purposes that suit them as well as their original ones.
Is this the same as saying when beginners make 'mistakes' or have 'bad habits' it is through lack of choice?
They are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. To do something to try and achieve the outcome they want knowing that they haven't yet a succesful technique for doing so or do nothing which they also know is a unsuccesful choice.

Occasionally, when the instructors set up practice slaloms for the beginners (with plastic squish cones) some students steadfastly refuse to use the turn marker points with the stated rationale 'I want to make turns when and where I want and not to be forced when' completely missing the fact that they find it harder to do the course precisely because they CAN'T turn when and where they want and we are trying to help them develop choices of movement patterns.

What are your perceptions of the effectiveness of race-training based ski improvement programs? Just another way to skin a cat?
post #19 of 28
No. I think they have many choices and make them all the time. I think their purposes get in conflict. "Turn" and "control" are not yet synonomous. Therefore, they seem to have conflicting motivations (purpose), and make conflicting choices. Our job is to simplify the purpose, and make that believable to the body/mind/spirit system. (When I use "spirit" here, it's not necessarily about spirituality. It's more about emotion, fun, feeling.)

Somehow, the choices they make, as weird as they are, are successful. They accomplish SOMETHING if they are repeated. Certainly they don't accomplish anything very well, but once I stop looking at them as bad habits, I am able to shape more congruent habits working within their own trial and error system rather than within mine.

I agree with you about the cones. I think the students refusal/justification is nothing more than denial. However, it's very powerful and has to be honored. This is where the idea of collaboration comes in. Work with whatever the perceptions the student has in order to develop a learning team. If the "gates" are just too intrusive, don't use them--or make them further apart. They're not that important. However, somewhere along the way, the student may, nearly by accident, make a turn around one of them. Don't lose the opportunity for reenforcement here. Bust 'em at doin' it right.

I do think racing is a fabulous way to train to ski, for precisely the reasons you say. But it's a little intimidating for many, and therefore has the potential for "no damn fun". I think disciplined turning is great, but watch the fun factor. I also believe that lots of gates are terrific if you have a very committed student. When I went to learn to windsurf, there was no question in my mind that I was going to learn this sport. How long and how hard didn't matter. I was willing to take the beatings and even enjoy the struggle. Most ski students are not like that. (But some are!)

Again, this whole message is about that neglected arena of "purpose". It's where the rubber meets the road.

[ November 04, 2002, 04:37 AM: Message edited by: weems ]
post #20 of 28
Nettie

One thing my instructors did to shed my fear of race courses(well it's a bit better - I like to go there now even if I don't ski like they want)

Instead of making me ski through the course(around the gates) they let me ski ALONGSIDE the course - as long as I turned NEXT TO the gates.

This convinced me that it just MIGHT be possible to ski THROUGH the course turning where required.
post #21 of 28
Nettie, I really like using cones in begginer group lessons. I find it a good way for me to step back, observe and give feedback, yet still allow some good self discovery to go on. I encourage turning between every cone, or just between whatever cone they chose. If they chose not to ski through the cones, I still encourage them to turn down beside them ,however they want. What I find is that most who leave will eventually come back through the course, and those who don't turn at every cone, I encourage to turn at least at different cones. Usually most will want to turn in a difference place once they find they can turn when they want. The focus is simply helping them turn on their own.

I love teaching all levels, but there is something special about leaving a group of begginers after an hour and a half feeling like they are skiers. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

Another great thread. Thanks for the diamond Weems.

[ November 04, 2002, 06:47 AM: Message edited by: Ric B ]
post #22 of 28
My pleasure.
Now that you know about it, I will have to kill you.
post #23 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Bust 'em at doin' it right.
I love the way you put things, Weems.

At a higher level, it can be fun to "create your own slalom" especially after a wind storm has conveniently scattered pine needles and such on the run. The idea is to be specific about where you're asking the skis to turn. "If you don't know where you're going, any way will do."
post #24 of 28
iT WOULDN'T LAST LONG IN oZ nOLO
post #25 of 28
Jean Mayer of Taos used to refer to skiing as eye/foot coordination. In hand/eye, you look at a place you want to put your hand (settle down WTFoxHat!)and you move it there. You don't need instructions for that.

In eye/foot, you see a place you want your skis to be and you move them there. You don't need instructions for that either. (You need instructions, sometimes, to know you have the capacity for that!)

If you're balancing on your feet while you do this, you will actually ski there. If you're an average human (two arms, two legs, cerebral cortex), you'll develop an adequate technique for it. If you are aware and fully present, you will do it with an appropriate touch. If you're imgainative, you'll do it creatively, and so on.

(thank you Nolo.)

[ November 05, 2002, 05:29 AM: Message edited by: weems ]
post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally posted by nolo:
Weems said something in the Balance thread that caught my eye.

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />I believe that balancing is a critical corner of a four part approach that I believe in and ALWAYS use (even though covertly). The other three are power (technique, gear, internal and external forces), purpose (tactics, turn type and shape, line), and touch (snow sensitivity, awareness, duration, intensity, timing, rate of movement).
I have a few questions, Weems.

1) Why don't you have any descriptors for balance?
2) Is this model a Venn diagram like PSIA's Skills Model?
3) You say it is a four part approach. Do you break it down into four parts for the student?
4) What's the inspiration for the model?
</font>[/quote]
post #27 of 28
Quote:
Originally posted by H2:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Originally posted by nolo:
Weems said something in the Balance thread that caught my eye.

</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />I believe that balancing is a critical corner of a four part approach that I believe in and ALWAYS use (even though covertly). The other three are power (technique, gear, internal and external forces), purpose (tactics, turn type and shape, line), and touch (snow sensitivity, awareness, duration, intensity, timing, rate of movement).
I have a few questions, Weems.

1) Why don't you have any descriptors for balance?
2) Is this model a Venn diagram like PSIA's Skills Model?
3) You say it is a four part approach. Do you break it down into four parts for the student?
4) What's the inspiration for the model?</font>[/quote]
</font>[/quote]
post #28 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
So much teaching that I have seen, be it skiing, tennis or golf starts with putting the body into positions, instead of working from "the point of contact" out.
This quote from Holiday's post in this thread is worth pulling out and admiring. It reminds me of what Todo said in the Root Causes (I think) thread: "We're not trying to bend the boot, we're trying to bend the ski."

Thank you, Holiday. As the sensei says, "This should be taken to heart."

[ November 05, 2002, 02:58 PM: Message edited by: nolo ]
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