Technical understanding of skier analysis:
Throughout my own personal training and professional instructing, I have always used myself and peers, to model and assess skier analysis. Without confident and accurate assessment of your own movement patterns, you are not in a position to build your own understanding of skills, or cause and effect relationships, nor to teach others competently. Primarily, understanding and demonstrating the fundamental skills of movement is the key to applying them effectively as an instructor.
As you train your own skiing you can build a range of skills through the four fundamental movements:
- Fore/Aft Movement
- Rotational movement
- Lateral movement
- Vertical movement
How they relate within each other and to each other is the technical understanding of skier analysis.
The understanding of movement is key. Using the principles of skiing (Duration, Range, Intensity, Timing) we can explore movement in its entirety. It is in the designing and exploration of drills and exercises that we use to develop not only better skiing and technical understanding but also the ability to better analyse skiers.
An example would be the use of range.
In training, exercises and drills need to be introduced to isolate the fundamental movement; ensuring they go to the extreme of the movement so that they can understand the full range and in doing so work more comfortably within it. By doing it on the hill, through trial and error, practising over and again, they develop a better idea of what to do – even if they never quite achieve it to the full extent. They can feel through their own body, watch and assess their peers and discuss with each other how the movement felt, how the body reacted and how it related to ski performance. They can begin to make links to each isolated movement and develop their understanding of cause and effect. I believe if they cannot recognise it in themselves, they cannot recognise and assess it in others, because not only is the technical understanding limited, so is the experience of the movement.
Range and Flexing and extending on the ski: the ability to flex as low as you possibly can whilst maintaining balance on the ski and then conversely, extending as far as possible whilst remaining balanced. By working on the extreme of ranges the students can understand how the joints work and move together both effectively and ineffectively – dependent on how the joints are used. They can also see how it applies on various terrains. Through experiencing the maximum parameters of the range of movement, they can see and feel the effects on balance, and that helps understanding of the movement in two ways: their own ability to do it and the technical understanding of how that movement works.
The students need to be discussing and analysing from day one, in the context of their own ability. It is important when sharing their understandings that they can expand or clarify with examples from their own experience and what they have observed in their peers. Too often students talk about the techniques of skiing but without the practical application. They need to be trained to refer their analysis back to the fundamental movements and how they relate, and use appropriate explanatory language.
For example: “the end of the turn is compromised because the skier is sitting back; due to over flexing the knee and not compensating with other joints. The skier needs to use exercises that work on flexing and extending. They need to understand that if they bend the knee too much, in isolation to other joints, then they can’t mange pressure correctly, which also affects the other three fundamental movements: fore/aft, rotation and lateral. They can manage pressure more efficiently by having less bend and more accurate use of other joints”.
Explanations such as this, shows a practical understanding of the movement and how it relates to the skier and the ski performance.
The more familiar a skier is with their own body movements and the more understanding they have of the relationship between the body movements and ski performance, the better position they are in to assess and analyse another skier. I would encourage a skier to fully explore their own movements and change them using the principles of skiing so that they can build that better understanding to improve their skier analysis skills.