SNOWPRO #1 – THE BODY IS ONE
The body is one unit!
Each and every part of your body has an effect on the other parts, and to prove this theory simply you can first ski a black run and then try to ski the same run again after you have amputated one of your arms (the less committed of you may wish to tie an arm behind your back instead). I can guarantee that the result will be that you would be less in control, ski slower and feel out of balance. You might rightly say that you do not use your arms directly to ski but if you were dedicated enough to try this experiment you would discover that these limbs still have an effect on the rest of your body and highlight clearly that your body acts as one unit
When skiing we have to be aware that small innocuous movements in the upper body may have exponential negative effects on our control of the skis.
The importance of maintaining a quiet (still) upper body has long been known and taught, it’s nothing new! My issue lies with how we address this problem.
If you ran in a straight line whilst sitting back and running on the heals of your shoes or equally ran whilst leaning heavily to one side even the untrained eye would decipher that you are out of balance and to improve your running you need to address this issue.
It begs the question as to why Ski Instructors waste hours of valuable learning time with drills aimed at keeping a students body facing downhill when the only reason they are rotating their body in the first place is because they are out of balance and as a result can not access the movements needed to maintain a quiet upper body.
From an early age we learn the skill of balance and take this as a given. When our balance is challenged by removing friction in such sports as skiing we need to be aware that this fundamental skill is actually the most simple and pure answer to becoming competent in the sport. A good coach will focus your attention to this matter and allow you to develop confidence and understanding in this area. You would not teach a child to run before he can walk, crawl or even stand up so why are many ski instructors missing this vital lesson in the students development?
Understanding the basic mechanics of the human frame is essential for everyone that is involved in teaching both skiing and boarding. It is very obvious and easy to see the effects of poor balance but a little more difficult to isolate the route cause.
With so many online ski apps and videos circulating the web, selling a dream of improving technique combined with ski and board equipment that is encouraging skiers to skip the basics, we have actually witnessed a down turn in ability rather than an improvement in general ski technique.
Beginners by the definition of the word, should start at the beginning. Yet we see that most students or clients are accelerated through this phase coming out the other end with little memory or knowledge about how they stood on the ski for the first time. An emphasis on how we balance on this moving platform should be key to any successful lesson at any level, but is absolutely essential at a beginner level. There can be no control without balance, there can be no easy steering ability without balance and there can be no dynamic movement without balance. You can not completely access the body’s joints and abilities if you are out of balance!
It is said that we need 10,000hrs to become unconsciously competent at a given skill, truly mastering it – in skiing terms this is around 280 weeks… a lot for the average recreational skier or boarder.
If we look at the top athletes in any sport they will be able to describe a history of at least this time frame before they felt they had really mastered their given sport. The same could be said for a musician or even as a driver of a car.
So why is it that as skiers we believe if you have as little as 20 weeks in the sport we are technically advanced? An intermediate is someone with as little as 2 weeks experience because they have fumbled down a couple of red or black runs?
Surely, by this rule you would have to describe a ‘beginner’ as a person with up to 50 weeks on snow and has been receiving coaching and training for at least 50% of this time. After all this is but a fraction of the 10,000hr rule, right?
If I told you that I could do your job just as good as you in as little as 5 weeks you might feel a little put out, especially if you have trained, studied and worked hard for many years to reach your position.
I believe that if we treat our skiing with the same philosophy we will be able to develop an understanding and skill base that will accelerate our learning and enjoyment of the sport.
It is very similar to what I see in the gym when I am training, there is always a new fad, Bigger Bulging Biceps in 2 weeks or the 6 week Adonis Ab Challenge.
In fairness I have been sucked in to the marketing hype of these trends but you learn from your mistakes and you conclude as always that actually there is no shortcut to success, and here is the secret; it is the basics that actually work – squats, military press, deadlifts, quick lifts etc. functional, fundamental movement patterns.
In skiing we should not be looking for the short cut to the mogul field or race carving but concentrating on having a sound platform combined with reactive balance.
A good training academy will be able to refocus your attention, re-address the issues missed at the beginning and develop a sound understanding to make your journey both enjoyable and rewarding.