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Movement Patterns

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Pierre’s mention of movement patterns brought to mind this thing I wrote back in ‘98 so i thought I would post it here to see if it generates any comments. It was originally written as one of a series of letters to my primary supervisor to help me better understand just what it was I was doing that seemed to be so successful in teaching others to ski.

I want to talk about movement patterns. When I teach an effective lesson, one that makes a lasting change in my students skiing, what i have done is to make a permanent change in their movement patterns. This is true in any effective learning experience, like the ones that you engineer with the stubbies on Wide West. (see comments below) All you have to do is set the course and give a specific task, such as skating through them and everyone who participates has their movement patterns altered, The more they perform the task the more permanent the change in their movement patterns becomes until it carries over into the rest of their skiing.

But why then do most students end up reverting to their old movement patterns? Its a matter of habit and survival, The new movement pattern has a couple thousand repetitions at best, performed on comfortable terrain, while the old pattern has a couple hundred thousands of reps behind it on a broad range of terrain and unless the student is willing to put in the time to truly replace the old movement pattern with an incredible number of reps on gradually steepening terrain then the old pattern will return to a greater or lesser degree. This is why it is so difficult to make those lasting changes in our students. more simply put, once the lesson is over the student tends to go out and ski like they always have.

The same thing happens when we put someone on Snowblades and give them a specific task to perform on them, such as learning to leave grooves in the snow, and then put them back on their skis. They have so changed their movement patterns that when we put them back on skis they are initially unable to make and effective turn on their skis and have to modify the new movement pattern by reintegrating part of their old pattern. unfortunately, the old movement pattern will soon come to dominate the new. This is especially true if the student puts themselves in a survival situation.

So why doesn’t the PSIA model of breaking down the turn into its component parts and focusing on these bits and pieces produce lasting changes? Because, addressing one little piece of a movement pattern leaves the rest of the movement pattern intact and soon the intact old overwhelms the new. The four skills blend to produce the students movement pattern, to change the movement pattern we must look at the blend more than the individual skills. Effective lessons address the whole movement pattern not just the bits and pieces. We need to become adept at finding and teaching those things that do affect the whole movement pattern.

It follows from the above that the best time to change a movement pattern is the first of the season or the first day of a trip because then the movement pattern is in a relatively weak, unreinforced state and more easily changed.

Movement analysis should also be performed with movement patterns in mind. Too often bits and pieces of the students skiing are identified as being problems and a program is planned to address those pieces without taking into account the effect (or lack thereof) of this program on the overall movement pattern.

This profound influence of movement patterns is why it is so good to have students from day one because then you control and guide the development of the movement pattern rather than having to modify and correct an already existing one.

The stubby exercise referred to is as follows. Set a fairly flush set of turns and have the student skate through them several times. Then move them to a slightly more offset position and have the student skate through them several more times. Offset and repeat until you reach the students limit in being able to skate through the turns. Note that the vertical separation of the stubbies never changes. Wide West is our beginner hill.

If this generates any interest I’ll have further comments to make but for now I’ll just leave it as is,

post #2 of 5
Why do your students retain their new movement patterns? I'm not clear on that from what you wrote. Do you mean that whole skill practice like the stubby exercise is what anchors new movements? Were the movements introduced as prerequisite skills to the stubby game or did you ask them to just do what I do?

I agree that incorporating new movements through whole skill practice is critical to a successful learning experience. Heck, I think practice is sadly neglected in our zeal to give student's their money's worth.

What do you think of Harald Harb's/Curly's ONE THING approach? All of us have one thing that, if improved upon, would improve the entire package, and the trick for the instructor is to find the one thing to improve upon.

I like it because it scales all of us down to where we can create successful learning experiences for people.

As to whether we teach movements, movement patterns, skills, etc., I think it's not an eithor-or situation, but both-and. You need analysis to get to synthesis and all that. The point is to proceed from breaking things apart to putting things back together.

I try only to break what I am sure I can fix in the allotted time. I don't want my students to leave the lesson feeling that they're maybe going to ski badly for a while and then it's going to click for them down the road. (I've noticed this summer that a valid excuse for playing poorly on the links is to say you've recently had a lesson. I can't imagine any ski instructor successfully selling that notion to students.) I want them to leave more confident about their skiing than when they arrived.
post #3 of 5
As I have stated previously my instructor was SO determined that I should NOT practice bad movement/positions he BANNED me from any such in situations such as lift lines... I was to only practice what I was to learn...

Ditto the guys like the fact that I will practice the moves we have worked on after my lesson & before the next one - gives them more chance to get the movements dialled in...
We do seem to get pretty consistent within a short space in the lesson - but I lose it fast if not repeated after the lesson... With a couple of days repetition it becomes more solid - a week has it dialled in usually ...

THE TROUBLE - is how to teach me the damn movement to start with... (easier now that i have more reference points in skiing that they can use)
post #4 of 5
Ooooops [img]redface.gif[/img]

Forgot to write the rest of this.... I'll beg the excuse that I was coming down with some horrid thing that had me lying in bed with pads on my eyes for a day just after that...

It takes YEARS though for those new movement patterns to become unconscious - well at least it has for stuff like stance & balance etc... I will ask my instructor - but I'm guessing many weeks at least to really learn a movement pattern well enough for it to stick well enough to not 'drop out' again
post #5 of 5
I assume you are actually talking about "movement pools". Students will always revert to their previous "habits" because it is comfortable and "safe". That is basicallly why it is important for lessons to move rather than stand. It really does take a lot of coaching for a student to learn to move through a turn rather than defend the turn.
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