Skiing techniques: Adaptability or versatility? Two parallel tracks.
A brief comparison of Measured performance and Judged performance.
Continue reading "Skiing - Adaptability or Versatility"
Skiing techniques: Adaptability or versatility? Two parallel tracks.
A brief comparison of Measured performance and Judged performance.
Here's one I made earlier - hope it raises a few thought-provoking ideas for you. Do get back to me.
The “kneed to knowtice”
(The difference that makes the difference)
“Knowtice”, a newly derived word (if Dr. Johnson could do it, why not me?) which describes a cerebral process combining knowledge with noticing. Learning to do this process is essential to making rapid changes in results.
I have mentioned elsewhere of my own miserable experiences of trying to become a better skier by spending three nights a week, for years, at a dismal artificial slope in the West Midlands, and only managing to make the slowest of progress.
With the active encouragement of certain of the instructors I came to believe that the fault must perforce, lie with me. I became convinced that I must simply not be sufficiently athletic, or fit, or whatever it took to be a good skier. Rather than for them to accept the responsibility for my extremely slow progress, certain of my instructors allowed me to continue in this view. No blame could then fall on them.
Then one year, I went yet again to the Alps, with not much expectation of improvement, and in just one week made huge transformations in my skiing. So much so that just seven weeks later I went again with the same teacher, and again made terrific leaps forward. Indeed immediately after this I commenced on my journey through the instructor training programme, and on to coach.
So what made the difference?
Well, of course, it was the rare ability of a newly found teacher (An exceptional communicator and independent coach called Gerald Harrison, who had no connection with the slope or instructors I had previously met).
But what was it he did, that was the essence of the difference? The difference that made the difference. Certainly the way he put things was different. Certainly he was more encouraging. Certainly, he put a lot of effort into making the whole thing simple not seemingly complex. But these were elements of the process he used rather than the key essence of what made it work. It didn’t just work for me either, it worked for everyone on his courses.
What made the difference was noticing.
Gerald constantly and repeatedly exhorted us to “be aware” - of, our toes, our shins, our legs, our hands, our eyes . .
For a long time even this, and it’s power, did not become manifest to me. Only gradually did I begin to perceive that in all the practice I had done before meeting him, the key element which none of my instructors had ever brought into the mix, was “to notice what I was getting”. They just told me to do, and to repeat exercises.
When I was unable to emulate their own performance they mostly got frustrated, or amused, or urged me to try harder.
I was told, “do this”, or “do that”, or “copy me, do what I do”, so I did. But the efficacy of this process was minimal, and the reason was that I was never helped to develop an ability to notice what I was getting as result of what I was doing. Indeed I now know that I was not even really aware of what I was doing. Without that ability my development was all but completely stifled, and yours will be too. The lack of the desired outcome was painfully obvious, but there was no connection in my mind between the intention, and the outcome. Something was missing, and it wasn’t my mind.
Does this in any way echo your own experiences?
So, what is "Knowticing"? And how is it done?
“Knowticing” is the ability to become aware of one highly specific physical manifestation, through the medium of one selected sensory channel: for example, to become aware, as you ski, of where there is pressure under your foot. To do this you need to first decide that “pressure under your foot” is the manifestation you will select, and the sense of touch, is how you will appreciate it. It is crucial to its successful application that only one manifestation is noticed, and that only one sensory channel is used to knowtice it with.
The “know” bit gives you your attentional focus, and the “notice” bit comes from having made a conscious decision to employ one sensory channel - feeling, or seeing, or hearing, or one of your other senses.
The “know” part is founded on an understanding of how skis work, and is expressed in the form of simple physical tasks or goals, such as the example just given above.
If you employ this simple powerful tactic at least some of the time when you are skiing, you will begin to make significant changes to the way you ski, and also to your understanding of skiing.
© 2006 Bob Valentine Trueman
The author releases the reader to use this document for any purpose for personal, or for teaching purposes. In the latter case an attribution would be nice.
ALI RAINBACK. BASI Trainer. British Association of Snowsport Instructors.
It is with the very greatest regret that I hear from David Tapley that Ali Rainback has recently died.
If you never met Ali, you missed something. Ali was as yet only a young man, and a very decent one. He was one of the intelligent and thougtful souls in BASI. I don't think he was qualified as a coach, perhaps he was but in any case he acted like one.
Ali cared about his clients and pupils, and put a lot of thought into how he and his closer colleagues might best help them learn.
I did not know Ali well, but I was very impressed with him every time we met and talked.
BASI is much the less for his going, and so is skiing. It is always tragic when a young person dies, especially when they are as kindly as Ali Rainback.
There is an interesting conversation going on in the "comments" section of the "Ski Coaching" category, much of it relating to whether or not skis really can be skied truly parallel. There is a mixture of enlightenment and confusion. If skiing interests you, you could do worse than take a look.
In reply to David's comment (no.9) I'd say that what John Shedden so wisely observed about the skis, after the initiation of the change of direction, having to respond to centripetal (and presumably other) forces, then perhaps the forces on the inner and outer skis are different.
We might expect them to be, whether or not the two arcs were congruently centred, but certainly so if they are because the "moment arms" will be different. I think. Perhaps!.
If this is the case, and if the force on the inner ski were to be automatically more than that on the outer ski because of its tighter radius, then it would bend more. In that instance it would then perhaps be able to describe an arc parallel to the outer one, which at the same time could have its centre point the same as the outer ski.
What do you think? What do our resident physicist suggest? Is there anybody there? Knock three times for yes.
In very minor response to John Shedden's post, [ it's immediately below and you really should take a look ] the only thing I have to say that might be worth listening to is that the skis' parallelism would not I think be related to the shape-outcome of the arc; not at any rate if the timing, the rate, and the amplitude of the skis' tilting and other responses were the same as one another.
Does this make any sense? If I'm not careful I might get so far up my bum that I won't be able to get out and ski!
I see from our local service station forecourt that petrol is now about Â£1.20 per litre and diesel about Â£1.34. I work that out to be roughly Â£5.46 a gallon for petrol and over Â£6 a gallon for diesel.
Ever since I was born, my generation here in the wealthy west has been able to enjoy pretty well everything we wanted, and most certainly everything we need. The result seems to have been that we have lost the ability to distinguish what is important from what isn't.Â
We know the price of everything and the value of not much at all. Take petrol or diesel for example. We have come to think of them only as transport fuels, and have lost sight of all the other things our society has done and continues to do with oil.
We complain about Â£5 or Â£6 petrol or diesel, but we happily pay something like Â£36 for a gallon of so-so wine; some folk happily spend Â£21 a gallon on bottled water which is no better for you than tap water and comes in a container made of an oil derivative; and while it is a rather silly calculation it still makes a point - we spend about Â£5200 per gallon for computer printer ink.
Don't even think about Chanel No 5 or some poncy aftershave lotion.
And yet a gallon of petrol or diesel will do the work which it would otherwise take three man-weeks of work to do.
At Â£5 or Â£6, I'd say we're getting it cheap - but we're wasting it and using what is undoubtedly the west's most precious commodity very unwisely.
Do you do any walking, in the countryside? Sometimes off the footpath or to the side of it? If so, you can be preparing for next season right now, in the height of summer.
Every time you are out walking, deliberately seek out some down-slopes on grassy terrain. They don't have to be long, and they don't have to be massively steep; all we're trying to do is get used to the feelings.
As you walk down the slope, deliberately get your weight onto your toes or the balls of your feet - no further back at all! FEEL yourself being held back from sliding down the slope by the pressure against these front parts of your feet. Concentrate on that feeling. Every time your concentration lapses (and it will), use that lapse as your cue to bring it back to your toes.
When you succeed in this little game, and you can feel yourself being supported by your toes or balls of your feet, you will be able to notice something else: you cannot do it while leaning back. And you cannot do it with your legs straight. It will feel horribly unstable and risky.
So now I'm going to suggest you find another bit of slope, or some more of the same one, and GRADUALLY, VERY GRADUALLY, make an attempt to lean slightly backward as you walk down, and let the pressure under the soles of your feet move rearward towards your heels.
I want you to investigate how this FEELS. Does it feel more, or less safe than its predecessor? Please write to me if it feels safer - if it does, you are phenomenon!
Go back to having the pressure forward under your foot. Do you notice that you INSTINCTIVELY flex your legs?
You will find that you can keep your body fairly upright (you don't have to lean forward, although sometimes it helps). You might imagine a straight vertical line going down through your body and continuing into the ground. I'll bet it passes through the forward pressure point you can feel under your feet.
Each time you go out, play this game, and make sure you include some of the leaning back occasions too so that you can calibrate your feelings.
If anyone would like to comment on this when you've tried it, I'd love to see them, and they might help other folk too - you'll find the link to click to enable you to do this at the end of this article.
Let us know how you get on.
"You know I've been working to improve at - thingy?"
"I had another go yesterday"
"Oh. Did you have any success?"
"Certainly did. Brilliant success."
"Well I kept up with the practicing, and I had very little success, and what success I had went slowly."
"I thought you said you had brilliant success?"
"I did. Why does success have to be quick in order to be good?"
There is some discussion as to whether or notÂ skis CAN be skied truly parallel, whilst making arcs.
IF they can, then the circles, the segments of which are being described in the snow by the skis, MUST be concentric. If those circles are not concentric then the skis can only be parallel at one infinitessimally small point. At two points on the circles they describe, the lines they are drawing will cross. This means the lines are approaching and diverging from one another. Clearly then, they are not parallel. The skis would then cross, as would the skier's legs and the result is not pleasant to contemplate.
If you wish to test this you can, very simply and without complex physics being involved. The skis can only describe circles of either the same or different radii.
Example 1: Same radius. If the two circles being described are the same radius, then either they will be concentric or not. If concentric there will only be one line drawn in the snow and since there are two skis that is not possible. So - if the radii of the two circles are the same, then the circles must be centred on different points.
Their circumferences cannot then be parallel. All you need in order to prove this to yourself is to take a set of compasses, (or in their absence a circular saucer or even a coffee cup), and draw two circles of matching radius, centred on two different, albeit nearby points. You will see that the circles cross one another twice. Therefore their circumferences are not parallel.
Example 2: Now consider two circles of slightly different radii. The only circumstance in which their circumferences can be parallel is if they are concentric.
IF ( and it may be big "IF" ) truly parallel arcs can be described by two skis acting simultaneously, then whatever the physical influences at work are, the inner ski must be reacting differently to the outer ski. Skis can only bend, tilt (with or without torsional distortion), or pivot.
Bending and tilting combined can lead to "carving". Pivoting leads to skidding, as does torsional distortion.
I have no idea whether true, absolutely exact parallel skiing is possible, but it seemsÂ clear to me, that if it is, it can only be done with arcs which are part of concentric circles.
So - either it is possible and the inner and outer skis are being separately influenced by the external forces; or the external forces are equalised between the two skis, and while "parallel" skiing may APPEAR to be happening, that is a mistaken perception resulting from not being able to watch and measure sufficient of the circumference of the circles being described.
The Man and the Bracken revisited. If you have not already read it, youÂ might enjoy going toÂ www.bobski.com/technical papers Â and read "The Man, The Bracken, and the Sport Psychology".
So.Â It had not been cleared. A year later and when, in early May, the man went to the bracken areas, there it was, healthier than ever. True, in some places where it had previously been there was now either none or much less. But in others, it was flourishing in an abundance greater than previous years. There were even some areas where pulling it up was no longer even an option - it would have to be cut, at least for a while.
So how was he to "handle" this? What sort of things about it would he be likely to say to himself, and his self, about it? Should he call himself all sorts of fool for having even attempted the job; or for having believed he might have cleared it in just one or two seasons? Perhaps it wasn't possible: how would he know?
Clearly the possibility arose for depressing himself about it. It wasn't possible for the bracken to depress him; bracken is just bracken and totally indifferent to him or any one else. But if he were to do this, why would he do it? What would be achieved?
Would it be possible NOT to depress himself about it? And if he did, what would be the PROCESS of doing it? What would need to be in place for him to be able to? The man thought about this, and about what might be different to last year. Perhaps the circumstances had changed? If so, how might they have done so?
Slowly some differences became apparent. Firstly, last year in order to get to places where the bracken was he had had to clear brambles, rosebay willow herb, small areas of blackthorn and so on. This had allowed him access to the bracken but in the process had let in more light so this year's bracken growth was enhanced. So, clearly the graph of his bracken clearance would not be a straight line - it would have accelerativeÂ phases and troughs.
Secondly, the weather this year was much better than last year; temperatures are higher, rainfall just right for growth. So he must be careful not compare like with un-like. At this point Sport Psychology came in again. His end goal, his dream, was to clear these two large areas of bracken, and it is important to have a dream and a long term objective. But if that had been ALL he had - if this had been the only kind of goal he knew about - then it could easily have been disappointing and he might have depressed himself.
Fortunately the man knew a little more about goal setting and he knew that he could also choose to create and adopt other kinds of goals. He could if he chose set himself PERFORMANCE goals; say, more yardage of cutting, in fewer minutes of work. But the man had tried these sort of goals in other areas of his life and while they had helped then, the idea didn't seem to fit in well with this job.
He was afraid that he would find that by accepting goals of this sort he would become too intense about it, and miss all the good things going on around him. When he had first set out to do this job, he had made that mistake. He had been so focused, so intense that he found hiself missing the bird song, missing the sound of the river, and missing the opportunity to stop and look at the distant hills.
So, he began considering PROCESS goals as an option. And this is the type he chose. With a process-goal mind-set he could set a goal of "making sure he did at least one area a day". He could even change that if he later wanted to, by making it "at least 12 days out of every 14" or some such. That would still quite likely be a challenge - what about the mornings he didn't feel like getting up, or the days the weather was lousy. Yes, sounded good.
He could break it up and set himself the goal of pulling up half of it, and cutting the other half; then swapping the halves over.Â He could include in his daily goal "stopping at least four times, to rest and look at the view, listen to the birds and hear the river singing along in the valley" why not? What a beautiful sort of goal. Wouldn't be a bad sort of goal to set yourself when you were skiing in the mountains.
He noticed that one effect of thinking things through like this was that he found he was not falling for goals that made him impatient, or inadequate. It didn't even matter that perhaps the dream goal of total clearance might not even be "realistic" - who knew, perhaps expecting total clearance in one lifetime was just pie in the sky.
It didn't matter, what mattered was sticking to the task, AND ENJOYING THE PROCESS.Â Maybe the world was a slightly better place if this bit of it had some bracken, who was he to say? What right did he have to dictate what would happen, perhaps it was better if he just stuck to what HE was intending to do, and leave the rest to the fates.
Maybe, if he didn't ever become quite the skier he had once dreamed of, that was a better solution because it meant he would always have the possibility of improvement, and after all it was in working toward that improvement wherein lay the real pleasure.
Bob Valentine Trueman
My fellow coach Dave Tapley reported to me that one or two skiing blogs have recently been filled with discussion about the true nature of "parallel" skiing and the perplexing questions that arise once you start thinking in depth about it.
The discussion hinges on whether or not "parallel" skiing is actually possible. Dave quoted his own observation that when you are "carving" perfectly you can inspect your skis' tracks and they look to be perfectly parallel. However, they are not drawing the same radius arcs (part-circles).
So, After some thought I wrote to a pupil and friend of mine,Â physicist Tony York. Here is the e-mail like what I wrote.
Let's say we have a skier effecting an arc, a perfectly "carved" arc - an arc during which both skis slide perfectly (no skid) -and let's say that his skis are parallel to one another all the way round that arc.
For this to happen, the inner ski must perforce travel a shorter distance than the outer ski.Â For this to happen without skidding, the inner ski must either, tilt more, or bend more, or a combination of both. Were this not to be the case, they would necessarily be describing segments of arcs of non-concentric circles.
To bend more it would need to be receiving greater centripetal force, which we know would be very unstable for the skier, so optimally no more than 50% of the force should be being resisted by the inner ski. Unless - I wonder - being nearer to the circle's centre it inevitably receives more force ? ?
Even in this scenario, the inner ski must be tilted slightly more than the outer ski, or it would skid. This is because were it to be tilted to the same degree it would be describing a circle of the same diameter as the outer, but in a different location - they would not be concentric; and if you draw this out on a piece of paper it becomes obvious that the two circles must cross (twice) which thereby denies the "parallel" requirement of this experiment.
Now, there is plenty enough bio-mechanical movement in the hips and ankles to permit this variation, but here a little confusion arises in my mind ( which is rather unusualÂ -Â because usually there is a lot of confusion in my mind; I must do this again!).
There will be one aggregate centre of mass for the skier, supported against the centripetal force by two platforms.Â Here then is where my confusion arises.
Where, precisely is the centripetal force's own centre of origin? Or is this a daft question?Â Is there, for example, just one centre of centripetal force, or since there are two platforms, are there also two centres of this force? After considering this I feel there must be two, because each ski (platform) is resisting a force, and I feel that this necessitates having two forces, coming from two slightly different directions. This being the case, then there are two reasons for the inner ski to tilt more - 1) in order to present a platform at 90 degrees to the force, and 2) in order to enable the ski to slide perfectly around a circle of smaller radius.
But if this is so, then if you followed the directional lines of these forces (or this force) from whence do they emanate? Is it for example on the snow's surface? Or precisely at the interface between the platform and supporting surface? Or - does it emanate from somewhere else, underground? And if so, how far away/down?
I think it must be at the interface only, which is where the force and the resistance meet. Am I right? After all ( I conjecture) unless there is resistance, there will be no centripetal force - in effect they are one and the same???? Without the one, you cannot have the other.
PS - It's just occurred to me that the bend in the ski is created at least in part by a force from ahead of it, acting on the shovel through a couple between the shovel and the ski's centre. The shorter the radius of the circle being followed for any given tangential speed, wouldn't the force be inevitably greater? So might we not get more bend anyway even though the skier's mass was being equally distributed between the two skis?
Tony, after considerable cogitation answered as follows, and I'm very grateful to him.
OK, (he said) here are my thoughts so far:
Since the skis are going round curves of different radii, and are therefore travelling at different speeds, it is mathematically easier to say they are both moving with the same angular velocity (ie they would both take the same time to complete a full circle).Â The expression for the force is then mw2r (m is mass, w is angular velocity,Â r is radius).Â Â Because r is greater for the outside ski, there will be more force, which is what the skier needs, in order to be stable.
So far so good - but then how do the skis provide this force?Â If the outer one is producing more of the centripetal force, and they are both at the same angle, it will bend more, making it impossible for both skis to be "carving", as the inner one is following a tighter curve.Â If the inner one is tilted more, perhaps it could be describing a tighter arc, but be bent less, consistent with it producing less force.Â I should stop now while I'm ahead, but I have a horrible feeling that if you look at a still photo of a racer in a turn, the outside ski is tilted more! (Yes, but you'll usually see that the inner ski is all butÂ "floating" and is not actually carving, even though that's what they would like. Bob)
The bending of the ski is a result of the snow pushing against it, but that won't be simple either.Â Even in the simplest imaginable scenario of the same force from the snow against each cm of the ski, the front of the ski will have more bending moment, as it is longer than the tail.Â Whether this leads to more actual bending depends on the stiffness of the ski, which varies along the ski in a very complex manner, I would imagine.
As implicit in last para, as far as the ski is concerned the force comes from the snow immediately in contact with it, but that snow is in turn supported by the snow beneath it, which is in turn supported by the ground beneath it.Â This is of course why the skier sinks deeper into powder before there is enough force generated to support him/her.
I don't think the idea of a "centre of centripetal force" is useful.Â The vector sum of all the forces from both skis must pass through the centre of mass of the skier and be directed towards the centre of the circle in which he/she is travelling.Â One also needs to be careful in talking about reaction forces.Â This vector sum is effectively a single force acting on the skier.Â There is no sense in which the skier is in equilibrium; he/she is being continually accelerated towards the centre of the circle.
God knows how ski designers do the business, & God knows how any of us can actually get the skis to do what we want (sometimes).Â I should probably stick to making furniture or high energy nuclear physics; that would be simpler.Â
I am very grateful to Tony for his observations, and if anyone wants to join in, then please do so; it won't make anybody's skiing any better, but it keeps the old grey matter from atrophying any more quickly than is necessary! And it sure as Hell beats "doing turns!"
Bob Valentine Trueman
The greatest satisfaction I get, and have got from coaching, has been so repeatedly to watch my pupils change their beliefs about their own potential. This happens with both men and with women, but more so I think with the womenfolk.
Far too frequently, women "of a certain age" come to their first Bobski coaching week scarcely able to believe that they will be able to bring about any serious changes in their skiing. They typically arrive in a last-ditch, more-in-hope-than-expectation mode. Frequently I have been the absolute last hope - "If this doesn't work, I'm giving up, the family can go on their own and I'll take up macrame!"
So far, fingers crossed, I haven't had a failure. Big changes in technique have usually not happened quickly - and nor should they, skiing isn't easy! - but changes in self-belief are the norm. "Hang on a minute, this is something I am going to be able to do, if I work at it. I'm not a failure, or a dead loss."
What a marvellous thing to happen. What more could anyone do for another person, than to do something that helps them change their own self belief?
Here are extracts from a report of a recent scientific paper which described a research project into what the differences were between women who were overweight and stayed that way, and women who were able to change. I'd be interested in any feedback.
If you are what you eat, what you eat has a lot to do with how you think about yourself, says a QUT PhD researcher whose study is part of an international research project on the healthy ageing of women.
She surveyed more than 560 South-East Queensland women aged between 51 and 66 on their exercise and diet habits and found that although women in their 50s were keen to make healthier diet and exercise changes, they had few effective strategies to draw upon.
"This is an age when women's weight tends to peak, and almost two-thirds of the survey group were overweight "Ms Anderson said.
"Self efficacy is our belief that we can produce the result we want to produce, so a person with high dietary self-efficacy believes they can eat healthily no matter what - even when bored, upset, tired, on holiday or at a party.
"A person's level of self-efficacy determines how hard they try and how long they stick at things in the face of difficulties. People with high self-efficacy are motivated and optimistic - when the going gets tough, they keep going.
"People with low self-efficacy avoid difficult tasks and when things get tough they are more likely to give up. We can improve our self-efficacy by developing skills, having role models and getting encouragement from others."
"Education is also a factor - women with a tertiary education were more likely to have high self-efficacy for exercise."
Ms Anderson said her findings were timely given the population was ageing and women lived longer than men.
That last paragraph reminded me of Jackie Mason's gag about "Why do men die before their wives? - Because they want to."
The key element in all this extract, for me, is that We can improve our self-efficacy by developing skills. A great deal of what we doÂ on my courses is aimed specifically at this; without it all the physical stuff just runs off like water from a duck's back.
Bob Valentine Trueman
"How long?" Sohrab asked.
"I don't know. A while."
Sohrab shrugged and smiled, wider this time. "I don't mind. I can wait. It's like sour apples."
"One time, when I was really little, I climbed a tree and ate these green, sour apples. My stomach swelled and became hard like a drum, it hurt a lot. Mother said that if I'd just waited for the apples to ripen, I wouldn't have become sick. So now, whenever I really want something, I tryÂ to remember what she said about the apples."
This is an extract from Khaled Hosseini's novel "The Kite Runner."
It sums up perfectly in my view, something that I have repeatedly seen my skiing clients do to themselves, and which not only holds back their development toward mastery of their sport, but also renders them unhappy.
In one of her songs, Carly Simon wrote "Anticipation, it's making me late, it's keeping me waiting." While ours, since World War II, has been the most fortunate generation in the history of mankind in many ways, there is one way in which perhaps we've been a little less lucky.
We have never had to do without anything; just about everything has been possible. I think it's just possible that we have somehow come to expect everything, and everything now. Which was the rock group that sang "I want it all, and I want it now!" Queen? Can't remember, but it sums up quite a lot I think, and it's a recipe for unhappiness.
I know of no shortcuts to anywhere worthwhile. If you wish find mastery of skiing, you will have to pay your dues, do the work, and be both patient and persistent. That, at any rate, has been my own experience, and so far I haven't come across anyone else who just raced away to success in a short time.
If you are impatient, either to get what you want, or perhaps with yourself, you will find yourself employing the kind of self talk that will make you unhappy and lead you further away from your goal, not toward it. You'll find yourself saying (perhaps only internally, and maybe that's worse) things like - "I ought to be better than this by now." [Why should you?]."I feel such a fool because I can't do ....." [What's has foolishness got to do with anything? You are where you are that's all]
There is nothing else; there is only what we do, and what we don't do, and the consequences thereof.
So, why am I saying this - well, I happen to believe, through many years of observing aspirational skiers, that knowing how to learn is the key piece of knowledge we need, and this issue of patient abstraction, while still working hard at our tasks, is essential.
Bob Valentine Trueman.