Drill Left Brain, Right Brain, front to back. When does "skiing" click?

Discussion in 'Ski School' started by CalG, May 6, 2018.

  1. CalG

    CalG Getting off the lift Skier

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    In the development of any proficiency, there is a migration of mental function through the various stages of accomplishment. (vis playing music)
    Is there a correlation between "skill levels" (as outlined by PSIA etc) and the realized skill levels associated?

    I have always held (for myself) that nothing stood before "miles" (read repetition) in the achievement of skill.
    When I think of the time required to perform the required movements associated with "higher level" skiing, I am even more convinced that until "skiing" moves to the back of the brain, Additional advancement over other issues such as apprehension or "ski type" is severely impeded.

    Thoughts?

    PS There is no contest that "Perfect practice on the perfect action leads to perfection" .
    (I am sure we can all agree to disagree on the various forms of perfection ;-)
     
  2. Carolinacub

    Carolinacub Yes thats a Cubs hat I'm wearing Skier

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    I can't say for skiing since I don't really teach it but I can say it with regards to fly-fishing.

    When I'm teaching an absolute beginner how to fly-fish I watch their eyes when we're doing basic back cast and throw drills. When I see their eyes widen and a little smile come on their face I realize we've hit that aha moment.

    It's kind of like hitting a baseball with the sweet spot of the bat for the first time, or using a clutch in a car correctly for the first time, or hitting a driver off the tee just perfectly for the first time.

    It's kind of mystical but when it feels right it's right.
     
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  3. PTskier

    PTskier Been goin' downhill for years.... Pass Pulled

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    To vastly oversimplify, think of the brain having three levels. The lowest level is the autonomous nervous system, responsible for bodily functions not consciously directed like breathing, heartbeat, digestion, etc.

    The upper level is where we think about things. Thinking is work. It is slow and tiring. When we first try something new we have to think our way through it. There is no such thing as multi-tasking. We can only think of one thing at a time. We can give differing slices of time to concentrate on one task or another. When we are doing a movement that is new to us we have to think about each step of the movement.

    The middle level of the brain is where things we've "learned" reside. When we make a movement that we've learned it is quick and effortless for the brain to direct. We can do this while we're thinking about something else in the upper level of the brain. "Learned" actually means that new neural connections have formed for this task or movement or function.

    It takes several hundred repetitions to learn something, i.e., make those new neural connections. Some of us learn quicker and some learn slower, but the process is the same. It takes several thousand repetitions to replace something previously learned. Bad habits are indeed hard to change. (I won't rant here about the detriment to the beginner of teaching them anything they need to un-learn such as the wedge christie turn.)

    There is always the question of how many repetitions of a skiing drill to perform. My rule of thumb...If I'm thinking about how to (properly) perform the drill, I need to drill more. When I'm performing the drill in good fashion and I'm thinking about something else, that's long enough on this drill. Time to move to the next step of the progression.
     
  4. LiquidFeet

    LiquidFeet Out on the slopes Instructor

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    QFT.
    I just thought this was worth repeating.
     
  5. surfsnowgirl

    surfsnowgirl Instructor, Jeep Wrangler driver and winter lover Skier

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    For me it takes years. Added to my slowness is my simply just being afraid and having fear issues so this compounds my slowness to learn and get things. Most people get things way faster than me.

    I'm slow in learning, especially since I'm not naturally athletic. I've been skiing since 2013 and only in the last 2 seasons did things really click, particularly last season. Even more particularly in the last 2 months. I swear I've grown by leaps and bounds and more things have clicked in the last 2 months than the last 5 seasons I've skied. For me it's years of repetition combined with the right person giving me a tip or a trick, and the right tip or trick just resonating with me. I've had some magical moments in the last 2 months and I'm like finally, finally, finally........
     


  6. cantunamunch

    cantunamunch Meh Skier

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    ...whenever I put these on the heel lugs ;)
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2018
  7. Bruno Schull

    Bruno Schull Booting up Skier

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    Hey folks. Interesting discussion. I particularly like the simple ideas, "When somebody's eyes get wide and they smile they've got it," and, "If I have to think about it, I haven't done it enough."

    That said, I think this discussion veers into inaccurate and unsupported claims. I know the following might seem pedantic, but please don't take it as a personal attack. I believe in clear and accurate information, especially when talking about things as complex as the brain and learning processes.

    First, regarding the classic model of the "left brain" being rational and logical, and the "right" brain being creative and intuitive, my understanding is that this view has been largely discredited, and the human brain is considered to be far more complex. Let's start with the very basics of what we do know. The brain is lateralized, that is, split into two halves, divided by the longitudinal fissure, and linked by the corpus callosum. In terms of motor control, the left brain controls the right side of the body, and the right brain controls the left side of the body. Also, parts of the left brain are deeply involved with some aspects of language, which, interestingly, might be part of what set us apart from other primates. Aside from that, there appears to be too much variability and uncertainty to make broad assertions about the lateralization of brain function.

    Second, if we consider the nervous system as a whole, there are many ways to characterize different functions or components. One useful model separates the brain and spinal cord, called the central nervous system or CNS, from all the other nerves in the body, called the peripheral nervous system or PNS. Another model makes a distinction between motor nerves, that innervate muscles, and sensory nerves, that transmit information from sensory organs to the CNS. Yet another model describes the voluntary and involuntary nervous system. And the involuntary nervous system can be further subdivided into the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

    The reason that I think this is important is that, in the posts above, it's hard to know exactly what different authors intend. For example, the author of the original post talks about skiing "moving to the back of the brain." I suppose the author means that movement patterns become ingrained and they don't have to think about them anymore--they just happen. Fair enough. But perhaps the author trying to describe something more concrete, such as engrams, and their possible location somewhere in the brain? This has been the subject of considerable research. Engrams do seem to exist, but they are not simply located at the back of the brain.

    The author of a successive post talks about the brain as having "three" levels, and describes the "autonomous" nervous system. I believe the author intended to say "autonomic" nervous system. That's a simple enough typing mistake. But I think it's not accurate to assert that the brain has some kind of three-level structure. The author does qualify this statement by saying that it's a gross oversimplification, but this sentence is also quoted for emphasis by another reader, despite the fact that it's misleading. Later, the author talks about the "middle brain." I assume the author means the voluntary or somatic nervous system, although this is not clear. Finally, the author talks about "making new neural connection" and states that it takes a particular number of repetitions for these connections to be made. It may well be true that it takes repetition for new synapses for form, or for existing synaptic connections to be strengthened or weakened, however, once again, I believe that the the relationship between movement, or any other activity, and changes in the brain is far too complex to be described in such simple terms.

    So let's try to be more accurate and clear.

    What is the OP actually asking? Is there is a correlation between PSIA skills levels and different stages of learning in the human brain--if such stages of actually exist? How much time does it take to become competent at a particular skill? Is it possible to move on to more advanced skills only when more basic skills have been mastered?

    Once again, I absolutely do not intend this as a personal attack, just an plea for higher discourse. And like I said, I love the simple tips, which summarize such complex processes; the gleam in the eye of somebody learning something new, the self-knowledge that if you are thinking about doing something, you probably haven't practiced it enough. Thanks.
     
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  8. jack97

    jack97 Getting off the lift Skier

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    Athletes and trainers have found ways to get these movements into muscle memory by isolating them into drills. Even for sports as dynamic as boxing and martial arts.



     
    Last edited: May 9, 2018
  9. Uncle-A

    Uncle-A In the words of Paul Simon "You can call me Al" Skier

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    What I think the OP is talking about is when does skiing become second nature to a person or another way of saying it is instinctive. Others talk about repetition and that is without a doubt an important part of most learning. Also mentioned is the AHA Moment or that gleam in their eye and that is more of a discovery, but getting to that discovery point is the method of learning. Because skiing is so physical what seems to be important is muscle memory. Now how to develop that muscle memory to the point of being proactive and less reactive. Educators talk about four types of learners 1. Visual 2. Auditory 3. Reading/Writing 4. Kinesthetic, and teachers are told to match their lessons to the type of students in their class. Ski instructors use Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic, how fast you pickup from a lesson may depend on your style of learning. They teach you to move the correct muscles and tell you to go out and practice(repetition) but it is up to you to make the muscle memory instinctive. When I sold skis and skiers would always question how long of a ski should I buy? One of the things I talked about was once you know the muscles to move that will turn a ski the length that is on you foot should be less of an issue as long as the ski will hold your weight at your ability. After all this talk I think that developing the muscle memory till it is so fine tuned that it the turns just happen...
     
  10. Guy in Shorts

    Guy in Shorts Tree Psycho Skier

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    As the OP states miles are the key. All those miles you logged on the blues working on making good turns is paying off. Once you tucked that fear of the steeps back into your head those learned turns just kicked in. Your confidence quickly rose as you tried to find your new comfort zone. Now the next step is milage on the steeps. March and April had great snow and you took full advantage. Magic of this season is pretty over as Skyelark and Bittersweet are getting to the base ice and a bumped Superstar skiing can be a stretch goal the you may able to achieve next season.
     
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  11. cantunamunch

    cantunamunch Meh Skier

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    I think this thread also needs a downside counterpart - when are things so automatic that they start drifting out of the drilled form/criteria/goals?

    Put another way, when, in the repetition count, does the back brain go sloppy?



    Corollary to the above discussion: If we're using 'don't think about it' as a criterion, how do we know how much slop there is ?
     
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  12. surfsnowgirl

    surfsnowgirl Instructor, Jeep Wrangler driver and winter lover Skier

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    I really feel March and April were magical and I think for the reasons you said. Thank you for acting as sweeper much of the time. I've learned lots and my confidence is higher. Thank you :). If only I lived closer I'd rock that base ice on skylark and bittersweet. As far as superstar, I'm on that next season. In the meantime I feel good knowing I did highline and lower cascade ;)
    .:beercheer:
     
  13. CalG

    CalG Getting off the lift Skier

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    Great counter point Cantunamunch! All of my "epic crashes" seem to appear when my mind is on other things. When I ride motor bikes, I consider the task 100% attention, 100% of the time. My life is at stake! When skiing, I often let that attention slip.

    But to the OP, my thanks go to Bruno for keeping me on track.
    We might best use the left brain- right brain, frontal lobe, and "back brain" to visualize a progression of accomplishment through the intricacies of our humanity. We are, after all, complex enough to be one of the least understood components of our modern world. (let us not get into politics! ;-))

    My initial expression was inspired by certain threads on the "differences" between LII and LIII exercises, including the "Lift the down hill ski" thread.
    When I consider any "drill", My first response is entirely intellectual (read WORD BASED). There are no muscles involved, unless I try to to simulate the activity while seated at my desk.
    When on snow, the "drill" remains word inspired through the first attempts. There is time for doubt,critique, and expletive response as appropriate! Then the feeling kicks in. That's how I work. ;-)

    With practice, any drill becomes "easier", even if mastery remains elusive. Athleticism and physique play heavily on outcome,

    Are level 3 drill performance criteria based on the movement of the skill beyond the intellectual and into the pure "muscle memory" response?

    Consider:

    There is not time enough to swing a bat to hit a fast ball pitch in any intellectual context. Not even a neural one.
    While skiing, (not doing drills) stuff comes at you faster than you think !

    "Those who can not do ... Teach!" Were did that come from?
     
  14. jack97

    jack97 Getting off the lift Skier

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    ^^^ I would point out that some dryland drills will enhance the process of getting some of the movements into muscle memory faster. What type of drill to do is limited by knowledge and creativity.
     
  15. Uncle-A

    Uncle-A In the words of Paul Simon "You can call me Al" Skier

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    This is an interesting thought about getting "Sloppy" sometimes I find I can carve nice turns in the morning and after lunch I turn into a bit of a heel pusher. I try to blame age, too large of a lunch, a beer with lunch, or just out of shape.
     
  16. markojp

    markojp mtn rep for the gear on my feet Industry Insider Instructor

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    Ability to maintain mental focus... some have it, some don't. Depends on your goals. For most it's no big deal. If you're bored, do something else. We all have free 'license to suck' cards. I make good use them from time to time for sure. ogsmile

    But..... focus = getting to the 'flow state' more often and easier. It's truly the transidental happy place and well worth the trouble to go the extra yard to get there as often as possible.
     
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  17. Uncle-A

    Uncle-A In the words of Paul Simon "You can call me Al" Skier

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    We often talk about "Getting into the Zone" and it is talked about by people in other sports. I think that "Zone" days are when everything comes together. We have all had these days and I guess we have had the opposite as well. The quest to get as many of these Zone days is what we all would like. I just do not know if there is a formula to get to that state.
     
  18. geepers

    geepers Putting on skis Skier

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    The CSIA have a concept called Motor Skills Development - it's likely been kicking around the physical education world for some time.

    Basically 5 stages of skill development:
    1. Initiation - 1st time the student has met the task/activity (e.g. some ski drill) and has to be instructed in what to do
    2. Acquisition - student shows rough form in doing the task but lacks precision, rhythm and flow
    3. Consolidation - student can do the task in controlled conditions but loses form as conditions change or become more demanding
    4. Refinement - student able to do the task precisely and consistently in demanding conditions, automatically and subconsciously.
    5. Creative Variation - student does the task perfectly in all conditions and improvises/creates as required.
    My quick summary, not word perfect...

    I had a very good demonstration of the difference between consolidation and refinement recently. Was following immediately behind an L4 instructor in advanced parallel. First run of the day, smooth piste, the snow had plenty of grip, our group was doing advanced speeds and I felt I was doing a reasonable job of matching the instructor. Towards the bottom of the run we crossed a cat track which just happened that day to be on the melt-freeze line. No warning, just instant ice. The L4 adapted to the completely changed snow conditions in a fraction of a turn. My more recently acquired AP form departed for 3 akward, sliding turns before I could adapt.
     
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