SnowPro #2 – The Online Guru

With the evolution of social media we are able, at will, to view, comment and compare skiing and boarding videos from around the world. Tutorials, together with people simply wishing to air their skills and of course their opinions are common place, combined with the easy manipulation of video and photo we can easily be mislead or maybe inspired! After all, I for one am often very impressed by what I see.

But are these awe inspiring clips leading us down a path of disappointment and a feeling of under achievement? We may compare this with fashion and health magazines where we can see the perceived ‘perfect body’ which only leads many of us to feelings of unhappiness and dissatisfaction about our own shape.

In my previous post, SnowPro #1, I wrote about the importance of the basic fundamental balance and functional movement patterns and wish to point out an observation regarding the average trainee in our chosen sport of skiing and boarding.
“They are simply not designed or ready to put on a board or a pair of skis let alone perform as some of these videos explain.”

Skiing/boarding is based, as with many sports, on the ability to have good flexion and extension and the use of rotary skills. Understanding how to access the necessary motor patterns to ski requires the student to have some fundamental knowledge of the human body and equally important a sense of awareness of their own body. As the majority of beginners right through to reasonably decent skiers/boarders have almost no knowledge in this area it has become harder over the years to develop skill patterns.

The trend of the “look at me, I am awesome” video together with the “here are a few tips to make you as fantastic as me” words of wisdom, are adding to the confusion and difficulties, with the student who is well researched online, often genuinely thinks he knows more than the teacher. “You can not teach somebody what they already know”.

What I have concluded is that people can not identify where they are at in the progression of skiing/boarding. Without a doubt they know exactly where the end goal is and these videos I have spoke of have certainly sold that to them. But if you do not know where you are, how can you choose the right path to reach your goal? For starters, that is what a good coach can do for you that no video can.
Interestingly, the opposite takes place with proficient skiers. They know exactly where they are but are not sure what is the next path, but that is another topic for another time.

To emphasise my point, instructors are aware that given two beginners, one of which is an accountant (not meant to be derogatory to Mr. Accountant) and the other a trained gymnast, it will be for the most part, the gymnast who will learn and progress faster than the accountant, when it comes to skiing as opposed to math. My point is that now, we have the large majority of students who arrive in the accountant bracket and only a fraction in the gymnast bracket. The gymnast could arguably benefit from online tutorials, whereas Mr. Accountant needs something more direct.
Social media has in a sense back fired leaving us sitting on the sofa viewing rather than trying and participating. Talking the talk rather than walking the walk. Computers, movies and a busy social life leave little time for sport other than the odd game of football for many. Childhood is spent under the protective custody of health and safety, leading more youngsters to remain indoors, immobile wasting the important years of learning and experimenting in the motor skill of breaking bits and pieces of their body…. you get the picture. We are simply not as prepared as we once were.
Few venture into a gym on a regular basis and those that do, have no education or direction in how to use the facility appropriately. Relying once again on videos etc. posted on YouTube or other outlets or better still, the Mr.Know-it-all who trains at the gym 5 times a week. #bigchest #bulgingbiceps
These posted videos and tutorials often mis-lead people into the misconception they do not require the skill of a trained coach or advisor. They leave people believing that they are capable of achieving results rapidly and because someone has read, heard or saw something, they in turn believe they are already knowledgable enough to have an opinion and the biggest crime of all – share that opinion with others, thus watering down further the possibility of finding good solid and appropriate information.

I myself have much to say about many topics, but if I was in a group of people at a social gathering and they started to discuss good food or wine I would quickly shut my mouth and sink into the background, even though I know many of the world’s more popular wines.

In the past, one had to rely on finding a good coach and mentor. Someone that had experience, a person that had maturity and wisdom. We were not so easily sucked in by anything less than the best. We had a radar for the bullshitter’s and avoided those that talked the talk.
We recognised the invaluable experience of a good coach learnt through sweat, blood, error and success over time in the trade. He’d preach common sense, logic and was able to use his wealth of problem solving, motivation and charisma to deal with any challenge he faced.
Great coaches were not 20 or even 30 years old but were in their 40’s 50’s or 60’s and understood more than just showing off their talent!

Many of these video ski/board heroes are lucky to be born into this life, and as a wrestler able to demonstrate a high standard of skill in the art as they have spent many years practising as children and young adults but although pleasing to the eye and very enjoyable to watch (please don’t stop posting) they often lack the understanding and the feel on how to develop what has become a diverse and challenging pool of students. They are without question great skiers and boarders but that does not always equate to a great coach. We have seen many examples in sport of successful coaches who were not so prominent a figure in that sport they now exceed in as a coach.

In conclusion one should put into perspective what we see, read and hear and if we really want to develop our understanding of skiing and boarding it may be time to face who we really are. The starting point that eludes many of us is right before our eyes. Look in the mirror!