Skilful skiing requires experiment

Every experiment is a good experiment. Except one. That is the one the outcome of which you do not ascertain. That experiment is useless.

An experiment cannot go “wrong”. You do an experiment and something will happen or become manifest. It doesn’t matter what happens. It could be in this direction, or that direction. It could be positive or negative. Black or white. Hotter or colder. Faster or slower. Every result is a worthwhile result.

Every experiment is a GOOD experiment.  Except one!

Every experiment is a GOOD experiment. Except one!

It’s exactly the same with us and our skiing. Learning controlled skiing requires experimentation. What it illustrates is “The Kneed to Knowtice”. New words, invented by me – I figure if Dr. Johnson could do it, so can I ! Good, effective experimenting is a skill, and can lead to skilful skiing.

It’s said of Eddison (inventor of the light bulb) that his first hundreds of experiments all “failed”. Someone asked him how he could stand it – all those failures one after the other. Apparently he looked a trifle startled at this and said “I never thought of the results as ‘failures’ I just regarded them as outcomes I hadn’t expected. Each one taught me something”.

Most folk – or those whose skiing skill development has been less than they had hoped – are tempted to believe that “practice makes perfect”. So they abandon formal learning, having discovered that ski school attendance hasn’t given them skilful skiing, and they spend their time skiing like they always have.  Nothing changes.

No more skill development occurs. They just get good at what they are doing, rather than changing what they are doing. Change is uncomfortable sometimes, but it’s the only thing that will take your skiing somewhere new.

The key to it all is to formulate simple, small, physical experiments, and then to knowtice what happens. Uncritically. Just observe. “Knowticeing” is my way of addressing the twin issues of
a) being aware that something happens, and
b) understanding what that was.

The process is incredibly simple and requires you only to choose a physical behaviour which is either an entirely new one, or an older one to be done in a new way. This is NOT SKIING. You know you can ski, in the way you have become accustomed. You also know you would like to change it for the better. So there is no point at all in doing all over again the things you can already do. They are giving you the results you want to change in some way.

If you always do what you have always done, you’ll always get what you always got. To get a different outcome, do something else. Anything else; it doesn’t matter what. Any change will be an experiment. It will therefore be a tremendous success, but you must become aware of the outcome. You must knowtice.  Ski instruction fails if it doesn’t help you develop this technique.

A first-rate outcome that you can notice, when you conduct such an experiment, is “I don’t have a clue what happened. I’m not sure if I did the thing I intended to do.” It may seem odd that I commend such an observation, but I do. What it shows is that as yet you are still learning how to conduct experiments, but that you noticed. One of the outcomes of the experiment you did, was that you discovered you need to learn how to become aware of what happens. That in itself, is a requisite learning process.

So what should you do? Ask yourself “what was it that led to my being unable to know what happened?” Chances are you tried to do two or more things at once, on a piece of slope that was too difficult, and distracted you. So find a gentler, shallower, wider, easier slope, and focus on attempting only one changed behaviour. Then keep doing it until you are able to notice what changes, and what the nature of the change is.

You kneed to knowtice. It’s a process, and it’s one we concentrate on very much on our skiing courses. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. It needs learning, but it leads to astounding results, far beyond what most folk believe possible – until they try it.

It is however, like everything else related to performance improvement, a technique.  It is not instinctive, and therefore requires skilful practice, and proper ski coaching.  As much as anything, controlling the process mostly needs someone there to stop you over-complicating things, and getting ahead of yourself.

Good quality Goal Setting is very important to success with experimentation, allied of course to the Kneed to Knowtice.  Most of my time on my skiing courses is spent on these aspects.

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