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Suggestions needed to Loosen a guy up!

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
This past winter I helped train a new instructor at our area!  He made some really cool Adirondack chairs for me out of some old straight skis and only asked that I help him get his Level One certification in return.  Now, I don't believe that Level I is a gimme and I worked with him all season.  He's a really fun guy, and kids especially love him!  Even as a new instructor, he get requests all of the time.  The teaching part was no problem, but his skiing needed some work.  He learned on straight skis 30 years ago.  I had to get him to stop the up and down movements and get him to start moving things downhill more.  He got his Level 1 pin this past Feb. and now he wants to go for Level 2.  I love this guys enthusiasm, and again, teaching won't be an issue for him.  His biggest problem is that he's as stiff as a board!  He knows how to use his edges, but he looks like a robot coming down the hill!  I know I have video of him somewhere, but I can't find it anywhere, so you'll all have to take my word for it, but I'm looking for some suggestions that this guy could use over the summer months to help him gain more flexibility.  I let him borrow my Indoboard hoping it would get him some side to side flexibility that he desperately needs.  I also suggested buying a couple of Bosu balls after seeing the great pictures of Bumpfreak doing his summer workouts in "The Edge of Always" contest.  Any suggestions with getting this guy to "Loosen Up" would be most appreciated!

p.s.  He HATES yoga.  I just scored a really nice set of 4 yoga dvds.
post #2 of 25
"Suggestions needed to Loosen a guy up! "

Try cheap whisky or beer.

Sorry.  Couldn't let that go.  Since I'm 50 with a not so good back, and very aware of my body's flexibilty, I know that without working at it, I'm loosing flexibility each year.  If he doesn't want to fo yoga, recommend a good chiropractor or physical therapist that can give him exercises to if not loosen him, at least prevent any further loss of flexibility.

For upper and lower separation maybe do the doorway thing that has your shoulder and hip against the door jamb and both feet heading to the other side of the door.

There is also the laying on your back with your feet in the air (90 deg up) and rotate your legs side to side while trying to keep your hips and shoulders on the ground.

While laying on your back, hands over  head, try to make a C with your body but everything has to face the cieling (torso, feet hands).

There is also on hands and knees, move your feet and head to one side by squeezy your obliques.

You could always sign him up for a belly dancing class

Ken
post #3 of 25
Thread Starter 
Great suggestions Ken!  Especially the whiskey and Beer!    I'm not so sure he'll go for the belly dancing since he pooh poohed the Yoga, but I really like the floor exercise and the doorway exercise that you suggested.  I hope to get more like this.  Thanks!
post #4 of 25
 1000 steps,1000 hops though the turn(really effective and fun if the student is good enough to do it), hula hoop turns. skiing with a hula hoop.

Pole less skiing  though everything groomers, bumps, and trees while he spins his arms in circles. With kids I normally have them dance in effective angulation movements. 

pole less skiing is actually my favorite last week I had 2 kids get skiers thumb so for 2 days we didnt ski with poles though everything. Including stuff like Goat, S53 woods and starr. The kids loved it and it made them much better at staying in balance with out being 'robot" like. In all honest I kinda of liked poleless freeskiing for how much more simple it was.
post #5 of 25
 Miser,

It does not sound like he necessarily needs off-season flexibility/fitness exercises. But along those lines....  I do Ken's femur rotation exercise along with my normal back exercises. A golf exercise I use is holding a medicine ball to my stomach, taking a half lateral step and rotating to one side with the upper body in one piece (no over rotating the shoulder). Another exercise I do with light dumb bell weights (10-12 lb) is called push press. Start in a squat (back straight) with the weights to the side of the feet, stand up to bring the weights waist high then arc the weights forward to the tops of the shoulders (drinking beer motion) and then push them straight over head. One exercise I have not done in a while is the slide (some gyms have them). It's a slick surface 6-8 feet wide with wooden ends. You put little booties over your socks and use speed skating steps to slide from one side to the other. Doing it with 2-10 lb hand weights is brutal. Obviously, there are a million fitness ball exercises. One of my favorites is just sitting on them with your feet off the floor. Fun is a proven fitness factor. I've found that inline skating, racquetball and golf (the non cart riding variety) have benefits for skiing. So if your friend is not excited by exercises, picking up a more active summer sport may be enough to get the job done.

On snow, Bush's suggestion for 1000 steps/hops/shuffles is a traditional remedy. I've had great success with tug of war being a great demonstration of "this is where you ski" vs "where I want you to ski" (i.e. with some lower body bending going on). I've found that most people with stiff legs are skidding and not countered. If you fix those first, it's much easier to get them to initiate turns with long leg short leg movements.
post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 
Bush, I like the idea of spinning your arms in a circle.  I can see that working!  Having injured my shoulder badly early in the season, I skied most of the year without poles.  It really helped me to get in touch with what was going on with my feet more than I ever realized.  We'll try the other suggestions as well.  Thanks!

Rusty, your suggestions are great too!  I've seen the slide board, and can see where that would work for this.  I hadn't even thought of rollerblading for him, but that would be great too.  This guy walks a few miles everyday and that would be way more fun anyway!

On snow, I had him ski while holding a bamboo gate and had him touching the gate to the snow on his outside as he was traversing to try to get him to break at the waist a little and get some more angulation.  It also helped get his shoulders in the right position.  Tug of war would be fun too, but this guy is pretty big so I'll have to ask one of the guys to help him out with that.   Thanks a lot you guys!  Please keep em coming!
Edited by Snowmiser - 4/7/10 at 6:55pm
post #7 of 25
Teach him how to ski like a girl. Let's dance, boy.
post #8 of 25
 I think you should make sure his boots fit really well.
post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
I've never seen him dance, but good suggestion GarryZ! 

He's in a pretty stiff boot epic and we talked about that early on in the season.  He loosened up the buckles and made some modifications, but maybe he just needs a softer boot all together.  Good point!
post #10 of 25
"Stiff as a board" could mean a number of things but my suspicion is that this means you do not see his legs flex. If his inside leg does not appear to flex in a turn his fundamental movement pattern is just wrong. Are his feet close together? Does he employ body rotation to turn? Does he need to pick up his inside ski at turn initiation? No matter how affable a person he is or how much people like him, he cannot teach skiing well if he does not understand or employ good skiing technique.

This is making a number of assumptions which may possibly be unwarranted but these are surprisingly common flaws in more than a few ski instructors. I had a conversation about this with my clinic leader/examiner at Spring Rally just recently. He had audited a ski school somewhere this past season and noted the number of teachers who just did not understand or practice or teach fundamental skills and movement patterns correctly.

You might try taking him through the sequence of instruction and skill development from level one on up just as if he had never skiied before if he will allow it. Try to get him to imagine he is one of his students undergoing the experience from their perspective. Watch his movements and correct his skill application just as if he were a student. Explain to him why you are making these corrections. The objective ought to be an understanding and application of upper level skiing from a skills, movement and skill blending point of view. These common threads pass through all levels of skiing. When we teach in this way it is not really necessary to teach how to ski but simply to to guide the development of skills and movements.

I suppose this may sound like a doctrinaire bit of PSIA speak but it really works and provides a ski teacher with the components to rebuild his own technique. If his technique is fundamentally unsound (which may or may not be the case here), all the exercises in the world will only attack the symptoms and not the cause, of the illness, so to speak. The other thing you would be providing him is potentially tremendous insight into teaching skiing.
post #11 of 25
I'll be honest, I didn't read the whole thread - just the first post - and I'm not what you would call a "PSIA authority", but I do know a thing or two about moving on skis. You have a few options. You can take him to Breckenridge and take advantage of local ordinances... OR introduce a BUNCH of drills that make him MOVE on his skis WHILE sliding.

For skiers like this, any movement that will relate to skiing is likely good movement. Likely he is skiing stiff because he is not comfortable sliding on skis (even though he may be a seasoned skier). I would look at all movement areas - especially those that involve flexing the legs, moving the upper body laterally and rotationally, and loosening up the arms/elbow/wrist etc. Have him ski on man-made rollers, man-made spines, bumps, do boot touches (lateral and vertical), ski with boots unbuckled, no poles, tail hops, etc - all WHILE making turns [arc-to-arc will be easier I think] on easy terrain.

I don't think it is rocket science to get this skier to loosen up a bit, but more miles focusing on always moving. If he stops moving - make him go back to drills that force him out of that comfort zone. You'll need to get him on board to make it happen though. You won't "trick" him into this. Be frank with him about where he is and where he needs to be and tell him how to get there - then help him along the way when he needs guidance.
post #12 of 25
 Tug of War is a static drill that you can do. Stand downhill of him with both of you having skis sideways across the fall line. Both of you grab a set of poles with both hands (you get the pointy ends). You try to pull him downhill, he tries to resist. You should be able to hold him up. You'll probably need to switch positions to show him how strong a position he can get into with an angulated and countered stance. I usually demo a narrow stance, straight legs and no counter first (very easy for the student to pull you down), then go to wider stance, angulation, counter and high edge angle.
post #13 of 25


Quote:
Originally Posted by HeluvaSkier View Post

I'll be honest, I didn't read the whole thread - just the first post - and I'm not what you would call a "PSIA authority", but I do know a thing or two about moving on skis. You have a few options. You can take him to Breckenridge and take advantage of local ordinances... OR introduce a BUNCH of drills that make him MOVE on his skis WHILE sliding.

For skiers like this, any movement that will relate to skiing is likely good movement. Likely he is skiing stiff because he is not comfortable sliding on skis (even though he may be a seasoned skier). I would look at all movement areas - especially those that involve flexing the legs, moving the upper body laterally and rotationally, and loosening up the arms/elbow/wrist etc. Have him ski on man-made rollers, man-made spines, bumps, do boot touches (lateral and vertical), ski with boots unbuckled, no poles, tail hops, etc - all WHILE making turns [arc-to-arc will be easier I think] on easy terrain.

I don't think it is rocket science to get this skier to loosen up a bit, but more miles focusing on always moving. If he stops moving - make him go back to drills that force him out of that comfort zone. You'll need to get him on board to make it happen though. You won't "trick" him into this. Be frank with him about where he is and where he needs to be and tell him how to get there - then help him along the way when he needs guidance.
 
post #14 of 25
How old is this guy, Snowmiser? Is he stiff as a board normally, or does this manifest only when skiing?

A few years ago our PSIA division hosted a pre-season dryland clinic with a physical trainer for the Montana State football team that he called Gravity Rules (premise: we are all in a daily battle with gravity to stay upright) that was very educational--for us, gravity is like the water in a fishbowl is to the fish--you don't notice it, but it's always there, pulling on our bodies, and our bodies are always resisting the pull. Day in and day out, this takes its toll. Your protege might consider working 1-1 with a qualified trainer over the next few months. I've seen it do wonders with people who found that their bodies had gotten kinked over the years from sitting, favoring one side over the other, bracing, etc. The improvement in posture and body mechanics carries through to all aspects of their lives. 
post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
Oisin, you make some good suggestions!  Perhaps going through all of the levels with him would be a good idea.  When I was a freshman in college there were a number of students including myself who were really struggleing in a math course.  The professor took us all the way back to simple arithmetic and worked his way all the way through geomotry. It was amazing to see how many of us "got it" after that.  I'll give that a try next season - Thanks!

HeluvaSkier - Skiing without poles did help this guy out a bit so I will have him go back to that.  Boot touches should help too.  Hop turns will be tough for him, but if that doesn't loosen him up a bit, than nothing will!  This guy really wants to improve and doesn't want me to sugarcoat anything.  I sometimes feel guilty, but I usually tell him exactly how I see it.  He's made huge improvements since he started last season.  Your help is appreciated!

Rusty, I like the tug of war drill, both statically and in motion.  It gets a little tricky during the turn, but it's very helpful to get that strong inside half feeling.  This guy is a former bar tender, and I did the teapot drill with him, but we changed it up a bit.  He was a pitcher of beer and had to pour the beer in my frosty mug as I skied on his downhill side in a traverse across the hill with him. 

Nolo, this guy is 54.  He's a salesman and spends a lot of time in his car.  He doesn't appear to be stiff other than when he skis, but I really don't see him much other than when he's in ski boots.  A personal trainer is a really good suggestion and I think he would be pretty receptive to that idea.  He's a pretty social guy, so I really can't see him spending a lot of time working out on his own.  -  Thanks!

All of these suggestions will be really helpful.  Thank you all for your great input!
Edited by Snowmiser - 4/8/10 at 11:10am
post #16 of 25
 I would work lower down, making sure his ankles are flexible so that he can move in his boots, try dolphin turns or some hops if the aforementioned are too difficult.

Another tactic is something I do with clients who are advanced skiiers, and something we have done in training too: Undo his boots and ask him to ski...of course be aware of terrain my advice would be on an empty slope with a very gentle pitch. By having loose boots it will show him how much movement is possible in the ankle joint without boot restriction. Some of my clients actually refer this to having the boots done up, of course this is un advisable on the steeper stuff :) 

Bend and stretch is another exercise that will help, allowing the legs (BOS) to move underneath the mass and then out again to the side promoting good leg length. 

Hope this helps

rolo
post #17 of 25
Flexing and extending legs is so critical to how we ski, we move to respond to the forces we experience, we move to initiate turns, we move to release our edges and we move to control edge angles, we move to adjust our balance. Absent flexing moves, I wonder how he manages to ski and what movements he employs to replace them. Does he use body rotation to turn? Does he brace against his boots instead of adjusting his balance? All kinds of faults arise from the simple inability to flex one leg and extend another and a skier will find other methods to make his dysfunctional technique work such as body turning. Being in the backseat because unable to readjust balance will make leg rotation next to impossible and so he will discover heel pushing. Lack of basic movements will manifest itself in a variety of faults which are merely symptoms of the underlying defects.

Get him to move his feet apart so he can really be two legged and flex and extend his legs. Have him move his hands apart too if that helps to loosen him up. Unbuckle his boots if that helps him to open and close his ankle joint. Have him practice moving his feet backward and forward relative to his body. Have him crouch and extend to jump up and down. Have him practice  turning by consciously flexing and relaxing one leg and extending the other in both directions. Have him focus on keeping both skis on the snow as he does these things. Have him consciously strengthen his leg (like making a muscle in your arm but in the leg) while extending in a turn in order to resist the force he will experience as his flexing and extending generate edge angles. Look for movements and gestures he can make that associate with other movements such as a lateral gesture with the hand to associate with a lateral movement of the body. Have him relax and move his bent inside knee to the inside of the turn in order to encourage greater lateral movement, or, as I suggested earlier, incorporate all these things into a progression from level one to level whatever.

I used to work all these things into games when I was teaching kids in order to break them out of the robotic whole body mode too much snowplowing in ski school had fastened upon them. The body that moves well, skis well or maybe that was part of a Bob Dylan song. I forget.
post #18 of 25
OK, let the older guy who use to ski like a telephone pole jump in here.  (During a clinic a few years ago, the clinician looked at me and said, after giving a bunch of hints to the others, "All you need to do is JUST MOVE!"

Here's what helped me.
  • Feeling the pinch in my side for angulation.  (While turning to the left I strove to feel a pinching feeling between my right ribcage and the top of my right hip.  Vice versa for the right turn.)
  • Slightly crouching while skiing and keeping my hips and eyes the same height off the snow at all times.  (You have to bend and suck your legs up to let them cross under you while doing this.  Extend legs out for the belly of the turn, suck them up at the transition.)
  • Doing drills on a Skiers Edge.  Letting my legs move out while keeping the upper body centered and vertical.  (A mirror helps you watch yourself do this.)
  • Skiing with a focus.  (Practice does not make perfect.  Perfect practice makes perfect.  All skiing is practice.  Therefore in every run I concentrated on making sure that one thing I was working on I was doing and doing it as correctly as I could.  I did this until that became second nature.  I still ski with a focus.  I know, I know, I'm a bit compulsive about things.)
  • Thousand steps done properly.  (Small divergent steps.)
  • Pivot slips.
  • Pivot slips working into a reaching short radius turns.
  • Long radius carved turns where I dipped my hip toward the center of the turn to feel the edges hook up.
  • Long leg, short leg to start a turn.
  • Bumps
  • Falling into the next turn from the transition.  (Going for the tummy jump roller coaster feeling when starting the next turn.)
  • Short radius turns diagonally across the fall line.  Vary the line used.  (I used this as practice for learning how to do Pain in the S turns.)
  • Studying skiing.  The more I learn the more I want to learn and the more I can incorporate into my own skiing.

Hope those ideas help.  You should be able to get the ideas across to him.
post #19 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowmiser View Post







Nolo, this guy is 54.  He's a salesman and spends a lot of time in his car.  He doesn't appear to be stiff other than when he skis, but I really don't see him much other than when he's in ski boots.  A personal trainer is a really good suggestion and I think he would be pretty receptive to that idea.  He's a pretty social guy, so I really can't see him spending a lot of time working out on his own.  -  Thanks!

All of these suggestions will be really helpful.  Thank you all for your great input!
Snowmiser, There is the main part of his problem. He has no ankles, people who spend the majority of their day in an inactive state for many years have lost a lot of the ability to work the joints, they have froze up. Along with his stiff boots you had mentioned earlier he needs to change some things especially from the feet on up. On snow : skating, hop turns, stepping etc. Get off groomed terrain and find all sorts of junk to make him work the legs. Short fast turns to get some quickness in the feet. He needs to be moving on skis not an arc and park skier. Good for you in helping out thats what you should be doing with that gold pin.
post #20 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by oisin View Post

...No matter how affable a person he is or how much people like him, he cannot teach skiing well if he does not understand or employ good skiing technique.

...

You might try taking him through the sequence of instruction and skill development from level one on up just as if he had never skiied before if he will allow it. Try to get him to imagine he is one of his students undergoing the experience from their perspective. Watch his movements and correct his skill application just as if he were a student. Explain to him why you are making these corrections. The objective ought to be an understanding and application of upper level skiing from a skills, movement and skill blending point of view. These common threads pass through all levels of skiing. When we teach in this way it is not really necessary to teach how to ski but simply to to guide the development of skills and movements.

I suppose this may sound like a doctrinaire bit of PSIA speak but it really works and provides a ski teacher with the components to rebuild his own technique. If his technique is fundamentally unsound (which may or may not be the case here), all the exercises in the world will only attack the symptoms and not the cause, of the illness, so to speak. The other thing you would be providing him is potentially tremendous insight into teaching skiing.


Oisin offers great advice here.  Stiffness is usually a symptom of fear born of a lack of skill.  Build the skills and shedding the stiffness becomes an easy task.  

Once some balance and edging skills have been developed, here's a nice drill that will introduce the flexion extension into what remains of a stiff body.  It's called the knee bends drill.  Click on the link and see Flexion/Extension.
http://www.yourskicoach.com/YourSkiCoach/F.html
post #21 of 25
Thread Starter 
I agree with you Rick about Oisin's advice.  Unfortunately our season is over here, but next season we're going straight to the bunny hill.  Thanks for your link, I just bookmarked it with my favorites!
post #22 of 25
Thread Starter 
You're probably right about the stiff ankles Snowbowler.  The stiff boots are only adding to the real problem.  We're out of snow now, but maybe I'll suggest that he start working out with a jump rope or a mini trampoline as well as the other stuff he's already doing.  Then, come next season, I'll have him looking like a Mexican jumping bean coming down the hill!
post #23 of 25
 This is a real bad thread for "Thread titles with witty answers" 
post #24 of 25
Thread Starter 
Sorry Phil!  I can't help myself!  :D
post #25 of 25
Thread Starter 
T-Square, I love that you have first hand knowledge on what will work on this guy!  Thank you very much for your contribution, especially the following one:

Quote:
Skiing with a focus.  (Practice does not make perfect.  Perfect practice makes perfect.  All skiing is practice.  Therefore in every run I concentrated on making sure that one thing I was working on I was doing and doing it as correctly as I could.  I did this until that became second nature.  I still ski with a focus.  I know, I know, I'm a bit compulsive about things.)
That is a great point!
Edited by Snowmiser - 4/10/10 at 4:51am
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