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How much to drill?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Over the years, I've learned and praticed a lot of drills. Designed to "help" us to learn, each drill help in some aspect of skiing or another. I did each as I learned them...

I thought of most of these drill as "learning aids". Once the "feel" is felt, it served its purpose, and the "correction" need to be incorperated into normal skiing! After all, one doesn't ski down bumps one-legged or trees with poles behind the knees...

But I have a specific problem I'm struggling with for quite a while now: my arms goes all over the place! 

So there's this drill to simply put the poles horizontally on the two palms to keep the arms in front. When I do it, I can feel the positive "quieting" effect on my upper body. And I can ski fine on easy groomers like that endlessly. After all, it's not a technically difficutl drill to do...

Except, as soon as I put the poles down for normal skiing, my arms goes all over the place again! (mostly got left behind after each pole plant)

So, the drill is NOT transfering to normal skiing! Although I know what I'm doing wrong, what I SHOULD be doing, and can even do it as a drill. It's just not curing the ill I'm suffering from!

Should I do it more often? Or for longer time? In hope it'll become muscle memory? If so, how long does it "take" to have it ingrained? 

 

Or, should I try some other drills that might be more effective instead? 

post #2 of 13
I'd go out and go skiing and have fun. Pay attention to what you're feeling and if you feel you need to improve on something, then do a drill that will help. Skiing around all day doing something that looks funny to everyone on the lift isn't fun IMHO. GO SKIING.-----Wigs
post #3 of 13

I'm not real drill-happy any more.  I mostly just ski, or train (run gates) and I kind of adjust, if needed, by feel.  Or by emphasizing an element of the turn.  But if you're having problems with wild arms, that's something you want to fix.  Without seeing video, it's a little hard to know if it's just the arms or if it's something else.  But my guess is that your problem is the pole plant itself, and the "cafeteria tray" drill you've been doing isn't likely to fix it. 

 

So, first, let's back up one and ask why we do pole plants?  Well, the pole plant is the trigger for turn initiation (find the new edge, begin to pressure it).  So a well-timed pole plant helps properly time the turn initiation...but by the same token, a poorly timed pole plant (usually late) more or less dictates a poorly timed turn initiation.  Next question, do I have to make a pole plant on every turn.  Short answer:  No.  In GS, I sometimes make a pole plant, sometimes not.  In Super G or DH, never.  At GS and above speeds, a pole plant can often disturb my momentum and balance.  However, when I'm free skiing at less than warp speed, and especially on the steeps, in powder, in bumps, in broken snow, a pole plant is essential.  In bumps, for example, I want to be very precise with turn initiation, and so a pole plant is a big aid, as it is in a slalom course. 

 

So how do I improve my pole plant and ensure that my arms don't end up grabbing for the sky hook or taking round house punches at the air?  First, think of it as a pole touch rather than a pole plant.  You want the hands to be in vision at all times, and you want the wrist to be very loose.  A pole touch is made with the wrist only, not the whole arm.  To get the feeling, here's a drill we used to use when I was teaching at Copper.  Find some mellow terrain where you can let your skis run pretty easily.  Get your hands in the out in front, level, cafeteria tray attitude per your above drill.  Take your pole straps off and hold each grip with just the thumb and forefinger of each hand, holding the poles up off the snow. Now just go make some turns, but don't move your hands.  Just notice how the pole pretty much automatically swings foreward to where you would make the pole touch, and it pretty much automagically happens at the right time, then as the turn progresses, the pole swings back to the rear...but the hand and wrist don't move, so they are ready and willing to make the next pole touch.  A "soft touch" with your pole work will do wonders to clean up your arms and upper body...

post #4 of 13
I checked with my Exxon buddies. They stop drilling when they stop finding oil. But since that's their business, they mostly just switch drills when one stops working. Repeating actions and expecting different results leads to ... snowboarding.

In skiing, the same drill can be used in different ways for different people. Some times a drill can be used to introduce people to new movements. Sometimes a drill is designed to force people to discover new movements on their own. When a drill is being used in the latter mode, it can get frustrating if you don't/can't discover what the new movements are. In either case, if a drill is hard to do, that's a clue that you have an opportunity to improve your skiing.

By itself, the poles on the hands drill is a discover type drill. The trick after mastering it on easy terrain is to keep increasing terrain difficulty. Sooner or later, you'll find something like steepness, different radius turns, ice, moguls that will cause a breakdown. If you can't fix it yourself, at least you'll have a clue what needs to get worked on. When the drill includes other tasks (e.g. stepping, shuffling, looking down the hill, bending the legs), it can introduce new movements that are designed to replace hand movements. This approach is much better at successfully helping you progress most of the time, but sometimes the discover approach works much faster.

Wild movements of the hands is a sign of balance issues. Hands getting left behind could be caused by how you swing for your pole touches (e.g. a round swing vs flicking your wrist), or by caused by using upper body rotation to help your turns. Choosing a tweak to the poles on hands drill or choosing the right replacement drill is a job for a good instructor. But you can try the brute force approach by simply trying different drills until you find one that is effective (Racers pole swing drill is a good one). Here's a non-definitive list:
Thumb based pole swings (start swing by moving your thumb up and back and finish by moving it forward and down)
1000 steps (constantly make small steps from foot to foot through every turn)
1000 shuffles (constantly make small foot shuffles through every turn)
picture frame drill (hold poles in the middle and keep a downhill object in between the poles at all times)
Heisman drill (uphill hand ahead, downhill hand on hip until pole swing)
hands behind the back
hop to shape (at the end of a turn, hop in the air, change edges in the air, land softly and smooth out the turn finish)
skate to turn (start a turn by skating the downhill foot down the hill)
traverse tip taps (while traversing repeatedly tap the uphill ski tip on the snow, then try tapping the downhill ski tip)

Adding steps, shuffles or tip taps to the poles on hands drill would probably be, ahhhhh (in Evil Rusty parlance), "fun".
post #5 of 13
As mentioned by SR55 above, the pole touch or reach is a very important part of your stance and helps to determine our directional movement into the turn. The position of your arms is important in your fore aft balance. Since over 65% of our body weight is upper body any movement of the body, including the arms, has a great effect on what happens to our balance point at the skis. So it is important that you work on quieting your arms which will help to quiet your body. 
The pole reach and touch should happen with both hands, i.e. as your new inside pole hand is reaching towards the apex of your new turn the outside hand should be getting ready to be the new inside hand. When you mention that your non poling hand drops back this causes a compensatory rotary movement to get it into position for your next pole swing. As mentioned, both hands should always be in your peripheral field of vision. Round your shoulders forward by moving your shoulder blades laterally to help position your arms into an athletic ready position. 
One thing which may help is to ski without your poles, using your hands as the initiation of the turn, by pointing and subtly reaching the new inside hand towards the new turn apex which then pulls your center of mass across the skis. You can also prepare a loop of surveyors tape through which you place your hands to hold the loop secure in front of your thorax. The loop should be large enough that your hands are held somewhat wider than shoulder width, about as wide as your ski pole length. 
It certainly is important to not just do drills but it is equally important to try to eliminate an inefficiency which is negatively affecting your skiing. Mix it up....
post #6 of 13

What they said, meaning therusty and gcarlson.  I conveniently forgot to mention that wild hands is usually a sign of overall balance problems...fix those first, then go back to the hands.  What therusty offers for balance drills is super good, because it isn't your static balance that counts, it's your balancing act while moving.  And what gcarlson says about getting the hands to do what they should without poles is a great way to simplify and flocus on the hands, and I plan to use it soon when coaching my teammates...and, of course, to fix up my own problems (we all have them)...great stuff, guys....

 

post #7 of 13
Quote:
Wild movements of the hands is a sign of balance issues.

therusty has it right.  One thing you have to be concerned with in skiing is cause and effect.  Your wild movements of the hands is the EFFECT of poor balance and is your body's way of compensating.  It is not the CAUSE of your wild skiing.  Your pole drill with the poles balancing in your palms is actually a balance drill, not a pole drill and is doing the right things.  But, obviously, not enough.

My suggestion is to do as many balance drills as you can.  Also, ski slower.  Speed hides a lot of faults so skiing slower will not only help your balance but point out a lot of other things in your skiing.

Bob
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:

... a poorly timed pole plant (usually late) more or less dictates a poorly timed turn initiation.

I definitely identify with that!

That happens a lot in bumps. I would ski a few bumps smoothly, then my pole plants started to lack and I can even feel it's getting later and later... Then the next thing I know is I'm being "dragged" to the backseat by my poles (or that I AM in the back seat, using my "behind the butt" pole as support!). 
post #9 of 13
 The wild hands can also be a sign of turning with the body rather than the legs, and it will show up clearly as terrain gets steeper.  Turn shape and steering skills drills, along with the balance training, may also be an important focus to add to your training regime.  
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick View Post

 The wild hands can also be a sign of turning with the body rather than the legs, and it will show up clearly as terrain gets steeper.  Turn shape and steering skills drills, along with the balance training, may also be an important focus to add to your training regime.  

 

A bit of a cause and consequence thing. I'm sure it's probably a combination of more than just one issue.

But I found if I conciously keep my hands where it SHOULD be, I can STAY in balance much better.


 

post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by at_nyc View Post




A bit of a cause and consequence thing. I'm sure it's probably a combination of more than just one issue.

But I found if I conciously keep my hands where it SHOULD be, I can STAY in balance much better.


 


Yes, just as solutions for one issue can sometimes also positively affect others issues.  The problem with secondary fixes is that an understanding of the secondary issue/fix is not always well understood, and skills in the secondary area are only developed to the limited level of being able to serves the primary focus area.  That creates a road block to higher levels of skiing proficiency.  

Check out this article, and the above paragraph will make sense.  http://www.yourskicoach.com/YourSkiCoach/Spiral_Learning.html
post #12 of 13
Just to add to what others have already said.

Another pole "drill" you might play with is what I call the "phantom pole touch".  It was already pointed out that it should be a pole "touch" and not a "plant".  Take that a step further and go for your pole touch and almost touch the snow but not quite.  Play with that for a while.

Then go to a pole touch where you try to get the tip of the snow to hit the snow but not that basket.  Now I know that sounds totally ridiculous.  No one could be that precise.  But try to touch with virtually no force or weight on your pole.  That might help.
post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by WVSkier View Post

 One thing you have to be concerned with in skiing is cause and effect.  Your wild movements of the hands is the EFFECT of poor balance and is your body's way of compensating.  It is not the CAUSE of your wild skiing.  Your pole drill with the poles balancing in your palms is actually a balance drill, not a pole drill and is doing the right things.  But, obviously, not enough.
 
Balance and Stance are a chicken and egg relationship. Can you have balance with a poor stance and which comes first, a proper stance or good balance. You can do thousands of 1,000 step turns but if your hands are at your sides or one forward and the other back you won't be in balance. The arms are a critical part of a proper athletic stance so that we can't recommend forgetting about the arm position and quietness in our skiing and drills without forgetting about their important role in how we balance. 
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