Time to un-suck it!
DO IT YOURSELF INSTRUCTION Can I? Should I?… and How
Perhaps the real question is “Can you do it yourself?”. The answer is, absolutely you can!
I am living proof. Like many senior skiers, I had taken a long hiatus from the sport. While I was gone, some clever person invented the parabolic ski. The technology created new opportunities on the snow but, how to learn about these wonderful possibilities? I went online. I got lucky. I found some websites and videos and people willing to help from faraway places. My skiing improved.
SHOULD YOU? A lot of people say no, take senior ski lessons. In a ski lesson, the instructor watches you ski and picks out something that needs work. They show you an exercise and help you get the exercise right, they pat you on the head and send you on your way (gratuities are welcomed)
In the time you are not with an instructor, YOU are your teacher. You are deciding if you are still doing it right. The truth is, sharpening your self-teaching skills is imperative and makes the perfect companion to the occasional live lesson.
Practice makes Perfect? I am here to tell you, tain’t so pilgrim.
Practice makes permanent. If your practice isn’t perfect all you will do is become really proficient at doing things wrong. When I launched into teaching this old dog the new tricks, it became immediately apparent that what I needed was a lesson plan and some support. Decide what you want to accomplish before you do anything else. If you can, get a friend to join you in the process.
WARNING WILL ROBINSON WARNING!!!
Don’t tell yourself, “I want to be a better mogul skier.” or trees or whatever. It’s a trap. Whatever is wrong with your mogul skiing is wrong with your groomer skiing. Bumps or crud or what-have-you just make it obvious.
At the beginning I looked at video “tips” on Youtube. The problem is the videos show you how to do a drill but don’t tell you the ways you can do the drill incorrectly. Too, “tips” are not organized into a lesson plan.
If the videos you are using are not organized into a serialized, logical process for improvement, find something else.
If the videos don’t take the time to educate you on terminology and the physical mechanics of the exercises, find something else.
If you are going to teach yourself, you need to learn that mechanical lingo! It will help you to analyze your own performance and better communicate with an instructor if you do buy a lesson. The PSIA book “Alpine Technical Manual” is a good resource for learning the language and is available on their website.
You can’t make it real if you ain’t got the feel, When you hit a golf ball or a tennis ball or baseball cleanly, you really don’t feel the ball. You did everything just right….BAM…
Same deal with skiing. When you do it right it feels right. Only you can observe the sensations you have while skiing. Pay attention to them, ESPECIALLY the bottoms of your feet. Your feet are loaded with cells to provide the brain with all kinds of interesting and useful information.
Too many of us ignore feet and ankles because we lock them up in boots and they can’t really move, right? Wrong.
All expert skiing begins at the soles of your feet. Your feet carry you around your daily life. You walk and run and even skip from rock to rock without giving a single thought to inclination or angulation or centrifugal force or metatarsals. You just do it because your feet KNOW what to do. They’re smart. Listen to them.
At some point you stop doing drills and just ski but, please, still pause once in a while and decide if the sensations you had while free skiing indicate if the drill is still working and fully incorporated into your personal style.
You are your own coach so you need to be able to look at your skiing and determine what you need to do next in your journey. Because you have been studying videos, you have already begun to develop an eye for what looks right and what doesn’t. The next step is to have some video taken of your skiing and begin to apply your self to movement analysis.
Thanks to smart phone technology it is really easy to get started. I use a phone app called Coach’s Eye. It will accept video from your phone or GoPro and a host of other sources. You can do slow motion, stop motion, progressive still shot series, reverse playback and draw lines and circles and record voice-over analysis. It’s everything a hired coach should be doing and it is very easy to learn and its fun to do with friends…Give it a go.
ALWAYS review! Say you spent a morning working on a new skill. Always start your training sessions with a drill you feel you have already mastered, always end on the new skill so when you start free skiing, the new sensations will be fresh in your mind and, your feet.
The last bit of advice is to use videos from people who provide remote assistance. If you are having issues and can either describe them textually or, better yet, send them some video to be analyzed, you will have a better chance of getting things right.
Look here ya’ll, skiing isn’t really a big mystery. There are a finite number of bones, and muscles and there are only so many ways to arrange the pieces. If you truly master the basic skills you will be able to ski any terrain in any conditions proficiently no matter what kind of skis you are on.
If you have a plan, books, DVDs and streamed video, you can do this. Whether you are conscious of it or not, every time you ski you are teaching yourself to move body parts around. So, teach yourself the RIGHT things.
You are coaching yourself all the time so, bring it to the front of your mind, get a plan, grab a partner and go for it.