Improve your ski learning, keep to the essentials

Take them, or they won't work.

To improve your ski learning keep taking the tablets: they don’t work if you don’t take them.

To improve your ski learning– or indeed to improve skill with any technique or group of techniques, somewhat resembles looking after your health.

Your doctor diagnoses some ailment or other.  Next she prescribes a treatment that you need to keep applying.  She gives you the medication, and off you go.

You are keen to make things better, so you apply the medication regime, and sure enough things begin to improve.  They continue to improve right up to the point where you are no longer aware of the symptoms that drove you to her in the first place.  So it is with your skiing skill.

At that point you begin forgetting to apply the medication regime!  You don’t notice the cues which used to remind you of ski learning progress.  You found something that works, and now you  have given it up.  You don’t yet have it as habituated behaviour; perhaps it was never deeply embedded.

Regrettably the cure isn’t permanent because you have not yet bedded-in the behaviours which bring the improvements.  The result is a return of the ailment.  It comes back gradually, and at first you don’t notice.  Things just don’t seem right any more.

What is the cure?

 Eventually the penny drops, “Oh, I know what it is, I have stopped doing …….”. This is quite a precise metaphor for what you need to  when you are working to improve your ski learning process.

It’s happened to me with real medication; with my efforts at bass guitar learning; it happened with my skiing, and still does.  It will be happening with yours.  It happens to all of us.  The snag is, with skiing quite often by the time you notice it,  you have gone back to the old habits.  And worse still we may have forgotten the fundamental essential movements that cure it.

So, what am I saying?  Nothing very high-falutin’, just that those fundamental essentials that work, will always work.  They are not “basics”.  They are not something you “have” to do to reach a higher plane, and can then forget.  You can never afford to forget them, or not do them.  Top skiers do them all the time.  They are like practising musical scales even when you can accompany a few songs.

Muscle memory.

That kind of practice gives your fingers a kind of memory of their own, it gives your mind one less thing to think about.  It is the same with skiing.   When you notice that you have stopped using those fundamental essentials again, be disciplined enough to pick an easy piste, and quietly on your own, re-instil them for a while.  You will reap enormous rewards earlier than you may think.

Don’t do this, and be impatient, and want all the good stuff without the “work” ( not very work-ish really is it, skiing, more like play ? ) will simply trap you where you are – with your ski learning stuck on a plateau. Carly Simon wrote a song with a lyric that said “impatience is making me late; it’s keeping me waiting”.

Fundamentals work every time.

Time and again I have been working with pupils who have been on my courses before, and who tell me that the last time they went skiing and not on a course, it all seemed to have stopped working.  They felt insecure.  (A cue) They felt they were not fully in control.  (A cue)  And they could not work out why.  They got depressed and disappointed by it.

In every case, without fail less than an hour of working again together established that something they had learned before with me, and had got used to employing, had for some reason drifted out of their minds. They were no longer doing it.  Reversion to doing it solved the ski learning problem in no time.

I ought to correct that – in every case barring one, which was caused not by any inability in her, but by the lady’s much loved skis having been dreadfully badly serviced by what she thought was a first rate ski shop.  (Be warned)

Nothing she could have done would have made the skis work, and she met me at lunch time crying in frustration.  Brutal treatment of parts of the ski edges with a lump of stone (much to her initial consternation) solved the problem and her self confidence returned.

So keep taking the pills!  And your ski learning will reach heights you never dreamed possible – no matter your age or your gender.  Stick to the simple fundamentals.   If it seems to be going wrong again, pick on just one of them and stick at it.   Avoid trying to do everything at once. If someone else can do it, so can you.

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