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How to teach pressure control?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
How do you teach about pressure control? This is the most vaguely defined skill in ATS in my opinion. It seems that the difference between pressure control and balance is often slight. Here's an example from "Visual Cues to Ineffective Skiing":

- Balance and Stance Cues:
Some of the skier's joints flex too much, and otheres not enough. For example, the ankle may be too straight, causing the hips to stay behind the knees. The ankles may flex too much, causing the skier to be too far forward.

-The skier is stiff or static and gets bounced around by the terrain.

Pressure Control Cues:
-The skis and the skier continually get bounced around on the terrain.

-The skier is predominately on the back or front of the skis throughout the turn rather than balanced in the middle of the skis.

-The legs don't exhibit flexion and extension in response to changes in terrain.

-The pole plant is erratic and moved into the turn either too soon or too late.

-The upper body is flailing and undisciplined.

I don't quite get why these last two are directly related to pressure control.

So what are some things to address this that have nothing to do with moguls? (I'm tired of that example and it's obvious) In the Prof. Skier Terry Barbour talked about pressure but usually from only the stanpoint of how much weight was on outside/inside feet. Seems to me this is skirting the issue.

I realize this topic may be a real snoozer but exams are exams eh? arrrghh....
post #2 of 9
Tog- I can see what you mean, and I have the same questions. A couple of things might address this, but I'm not sure. Since I'm only a level I instructor(new) I might be stating things the wrong way. I'll run these things up the flag pole and see if you salute. [img]smile.gif[/img]

I've mentioned some of this in other threads but may have messed up in my describing them. The too far forward or backward and therefore being bounced around by the terrain is a good one. Two things might help: 1. lifting toes to better feel even pressure between the ball of the foot and the heel. 2. Too tall of a stance or not tall enough.

Now... how to I look for these? I haven't a clue, especially for the toe lift, if this indeed helps! Stance- Maybe looking for a parallel line between the lower legs and the skier's back might be what to look for. If those parrallel lines aren't there, this may be an issue with knee/ankle flexation.

Edge pressure- I'd look for those Z turns where the skier makes a sharp turning move at the end of the end of the turn to scrub off and control speed. I'd look for thrown snow at the end of each turn as an indication of this. To correct it this drill is helpfull: Start a slight downhill traverse with hips slightly to the inside of center and pretend to reach for a boot buckle with the downhill hand. This can be a bit exagerated at first. This gets the shoulders parrallel with the slope of the hill. make sure the skier maintains angulation and discuss fine tuning with inclination with the ankles. When properly done you should see two railroad tracks from the skier's skis with no snow tossed. Repeat this in the other direction. Then repeart this again linking 2 or 3 turns instead of stopping after each traverse, teaching a pole swing rather than a plant, and rolling the skis over to their new edges. The Pole swing is a forward and downhill movement at the start of the turn/edge roll-ever, kind of like reaching out to shake hands.

What this accomplishes is speed control throughout the turn rather than relying on that Z to scrub off speed. Our level II taught us this At Cooper Spur, Mt. Hood and saw immediate improvement in our own skiing and speed control.

I've been fiddling around with this since, and it has been working well.

I don't know if this addresses any of the issues you spoke of very well, but I hope I'm at least in the ballpark somewhere. Well... It's up the flag pole... anyone saluting?
post #3 of 9
Pressure control is awarenes, awareness, awareness....

So how do you teach awareness, you ask.

Guided discovery of an experiential process you facilitate by creating and leading the student thru experiences that provide contrast, in this case in the cause and effect usage of pressure control skills to affect turn shaping, ski performance, rhythm and flow, adaptation to terrain and snow conditions, etc.

For the student to deliberatly create contrasting outcomes by varying pressure (be it fore/aft, lateral, heavy/light, increasing/deacreasing, etc.) they have to learn to differentiate in how they effect control of pressure in their skiing. Activities such as lateral movements with variations in timing, rate, intensity and duration of flexion/extension movement provide a world of input/outcome options for example. It is up to you to tailor the activities/focus to improve performance of the student's desired outcomes.

Awareness skills are first learned by polar opposition, or big variations, in input and outcome, cause and effect. With practice the student aquires the awareness of smaller variations of input and outcome and learns to fine tune cause and effect.

Start with activitys that create big "Wow's" and fine tune them to discover subtle "Ah-ha's".

Tog as you plan ahead, my historical observation of teaching levels at exams is thus:
L-I tend to "copy" (what they have seen or been told in clinics)
L-II learn to "choose" (clinic stuff or from lesson experiences)
L-III "create" (whatever experience the student needs to have)

Learn to teach at Level-III and all exams will be a piece of cake.

[ March 19, 2003, 11:04 AM: Message edited by: Arcmeister ]
post #4 of 9
Okay, maybe I missed the actual question. I've read a lot on visual detection but not much about correction. No worries.

My coach helped me understand how to "give" with the snow by doing a little demo: we stood palm to palm (I blushed) and she pushed on one of my hands. I was told to resist. At a certain point she said this was the resistance pressure I needed to maintain. She pushed harder and I had to give at the elbow in order to maintain a consistent pressure. That's what I needed to feel in the feet as I was carving. The knees provided the fine-tuning.

Background: I used to put the hammer down when the pressure built under the skis, and bent the ski more, resulting in it jetting abruptly across the hill. I was caught unprepared and the knees didn't like it one bit!

I'm much more relaxed now. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

Anyway, it was a good touchy-feely way of demonstrating and understanding pressure build-up and its maintenance through the turn.
post #5 of 9
That is a great exercise, very tactile. It is based on a martial arts (Akido) exercise to train non-conflict (not meeting force with force), and to maintain one's balcance when faced with changing forces.

In skiing it translates to yielding when the mountain pushes, and pushing when the mountain yields, seeking the optimum pressure relationship for however you want to ski.

Groove with gravity over the terrain, don't wrestle against either. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #6 of 9
I agree about awareness. A couple of quick drills for pressure control:

Make four or five sets of 7-8 turns with the following pressure distribution between skis throughout the turn in each set: 100/0, 0/100, 50/50, 70/30, 30/100. A great guided discovery exercise to feel how different pressure distributions can affect your skiing.

In the bumps: Make three sets of turns. First set turn only in the troughs, second set turn only at the tops, third set turn only on the sides. Another great guided discovery to feel how pressure can come from the snow itself as well as your body on the skis.

For each drill split the group up and have them each do one option (i.e. one group skis the tops, the other the troughs) then have them compare notes.

A great way to do guided discovery is to tell them they will have to argue that their way is the best way. Some great discussions will ensue.

These are great to have in your quiver for exam situations. I came out with the second give a 15-minute session and to "explore pressure variation in moderate to extreme bumps."


[ March 19, 2003, 01:28 PM: Message edited by: WVSkier ]
post #7 of 9
I teach PC as loading/unloading the feet, involving a functional range of motion in the lower body joints, making connection with the ground, and managing ground reaction force (PSIA's ski/snow interaction). My students are now conversant in the language of swing and stance foot, opening the biomechanical gate in order to reverse the flow of the joints from (e.g.) left to right, and always budgeting some ROM for unexpected needs.

Yesterday we distinguished between "retraction" (aka bicycling) and "racing style" (swing foot begins morphing into stance foot in the fall-line, roll new stance ski from outside to inside edge with extension-pressure and keep hips and shoulders slightly ahead of ankles--keeps pressing the outside foot into pronation). We verbally processed similarities/differences and then skied off-piste (bumps in variable snow, gullies, cut and refrozen crud) and groomers to review/anchor which tactical choice is appropriate for which situation.

We were rewarded by stellar runs through tough conditions (cut and refrozen snow plus avalanche debris on steep bumps) that prior to the lesson none of the skiers would have ever elected to ski. I asked them if they enjoyed the run. They thought for a few seconds and surprised themselves with the answer. I asked if they'd like to do the same run again. YES, they said.

Concluding the lesson, I told them that experts seek out the bad and the ugly for the pleasure of the challenge. I let them draw their own conclusions about their progress from advanced to expert skiing.
post #8 of 9

I just watched the video Ski the Mahre Way ('80s) in which they refer to fore-aft balance, lateral balance, and vertical balance.

Interesting. Pressure control is a balancing act.

Could we also say that edging and rotary movements are balancing acts?
post #9 of 9
Originally posted by nolo:

Interesting. Pressure control is a balancing act.
Could we also say that edging and rotary movements are balancing acts?[/QB]
FASTMAN: Absolutely right. Pressure control, edging, rotary, flexion/extension, in fact all skiing skills have one common denominator on which realization of competence is dependant. Balance. It's the mysterious secret to mastery all skiers so fiercly seek, so easy to see yet we tend to look right past in search of a more complex solution to the riddle.

Pressure control is actually two different skills.
1)Where, when and how we apply pressure
2)Amount of pressure we apply

And both skills are totally dependant on balance.

The options of where, when and how we choose to apply pressure are so vast we could spend months, even years exploring and perfecting them. And we should.

Skiing mastery requires us to be able to pressure which ever edge of which ever ski we desire. Then we should be able to pressure that desired edge at what ever point along it's fore/aft plane we desire. Finally, we should be able to change our point of applied pressure at an any time we desire, and as many times as we desire, with in the scope of a single turn. And we should be able to do all these skills while carving or steering (that's the how).

On such a range of skills to be developed an instructor could base a career. We should never be at a loss when designing a lesson plan for edge control, the options are just too great.

We have three means of influencing the amount of pressure we apply. We can do it by adjusting pressure distribution between our two skis, we can do it by varying our edge angle or we can do it by how we choose to engage the edge, be it carving or steering.

For any turn the forces created (pressure applied to the snow) will be influenced by speed, edge angle, ski geometry and type of turn (steered or carved). If we desire only to carve then our immediate control of pressure is limited to edge angle. Speed will be dictated by the slope. As we increase edge angle pressure will increase.

By introducing steering we can expand our control to include type of turn and speed. As we move from carve to steer speed and pressure will decrease (though rotational pressure will have a slight increase).

Beyond controlling the total forces created we can also control the distribution of those forces between our skis, all on the inside ski, all on the outside ski, or any combination in between. Again, a multitude of lesson plans could be created to focus on this aspect (the how much) of pressure control. :
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