Too Stiff vs. Counterproductive Movement

Paul Shifflet

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I saw a very good coach work with a very experienced student trying not to be too stiff . I understand how skiers end up too stiff with lots of training. After years of instructor feedback to avoid one movement or another that's counterproductive or extraneous, the skier ends up so focused on not making unnecessary movement that their whole body ends up robotic and stiff. It's difficult for many to stop erroneous movement while maintaining fluidity. "Too stiff" is somewhat subjective, perhaps only important for high performance skiing. There's also a stereotype of some instructors being robotic, so it seems it's an easy trap to fall into with lots of training. Is this something instructors typically consider? How do you work towards the right movements without ending up too stiff?
 

4ster

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After years of instructor feedback to avoid one movement or another that's counterproductive or extraneous, the skier ends up so focused on not making unnecessary movement that their whole body ends up robotic and stiff.
After decades as an instructor trainer my tag for this affliction is “Lll syndrome”. It is really just part of the process.
There are many ways to move beyond this but I will begin with just one suggestion; MOGULS...
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PC: C. Morgan
 
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Paul Shifflet

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Replying to 4ster (my account barely works, I can't get it to quote. I'll email the admin)

I agree, but with moguls it's easy to swing too far the other direction. After working to have a stable upper body and quiet hands you can look at people coming through the bumps, and most people have one sort of tick or another. Most of those movements are unnecessary at best and limiting and counterproductive at worst. If they start training to get rid of that tick, they could easily face the same issues in the bumps.
 

LiquidFeet

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I saw a very good coach work with a very experienced student trying not to be too stiff ....
I'd like to hear your thoughts on the effects of that skier's stiffness.

--Could you see the stiffness in this very experienced skier's skiing?
--If yes, what did it look like?
--Did you see the negative outcome of that stiffness? If yes, what was it?
--Did you hear the coach talking about the desirable results of getting rid of this stiffness?
--Or was it obvious to you how this skier's skiing would benefit?
 

mister moose

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After decades as an instructor trainer my tag for this affliction is “Lll syndrome”. It is really just part of the process.
There are many ways to move beyond this but I will begin with just one suggestion; MOGULS...
I've seen it in all levels. Age is sometimes a factor, but I think too much attention is given to form, not enough to function. Form is often thought of in static terms, or if thought of in motion, it sometimes is visualized as a progression of poses. If you attempt a pose, and don't focus to be effective, you get stiff.

I've seen resolute stiff in moguls, so there is the ever present exception, but yes, good mogul practice leads to good flow and motion. Smoothness comes from well executed elasticity, not from rigidity.
 
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Paul Shifflet

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LiquidFeet, (my account quoting still isn't working)

This was in the bumps. I couldn't see the stiffness. I felt like the skier could have done better A&E, but that was about it. Sometimes the skier would blow up, but had very stable upper body and hands, great posture, nice form. I didn't hear anything else, besides that was better, or that was a little stiff again.
 

Seldomski

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I took a bumps lesson (Momentum Mogul clinic) where the instructor asked us to flex to 90, then even lower at the highest portion of the bump. This was demoed first while standing still, then in some slow traversing across the bump field. It was a real eye opener to see how much range of motion we could produce and what was possible and useful in the bumps. He showed us three positions:
1) standing (full extension)
2) squat to thighs parallel to ground
3) squat below parallel, butt to boot heel (full absorption)

We were asked to hit all three positions first standing still on the flats. Then, do this on one bump in a slow traverse. Then learn to roll the knees from 3) to turn on one bump.

I personally have pretty good range of motion and can get low in a squat. But actually using that range of motion while skiing/moving was new to me. I found it very helpful to break it down like this. Also, the bumps really reward this amount of motion, making them easier to ski. I have trouble using that much ROM on the flats, since it feels like it takes more energy. I will usually revert to 'lazy' skiing on the flats vs 'performance' skiing.
 

LiquidFeet

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LiquidFeet, (my account quoting still isn't working)
This was in the bumps. I couldn't see the stiffness. I felt like the skier could have done better A&E, but that was about it. Sometimes the skier would blow up, but had very stable upper body and hands, great posture, nice form. I didn't hear anything else, besides that was better, or that was a little stiff again.
There are some threads going on right now that focus on doing MA. It is in that spirit that I am shaping my questions this way. Plus I am simply curious.

"Too rigid" should mean there's a functional disadvantage going on, just as there would be a disadvantage is the skier were a floppy rag doll.
Had this skier done "better A&E" (meaning deeper flexing?), what goodness would that have brought to his bump run?
In other words, was the point of loosening up obvious?
I'm assuming not blowing up would be point no.1 (guess I'm answering that question myself). Would there have been more advantages?

But was it obvious to you that not falling would result from less rigidity/loosening up?
Being told to loosen up can work if the skier knows what the prize is. Being told to loosen up without that focus might not produce the desired results.
Being told to increase A&E is more a more specific directive. Would that have helped this skier not blow up?

I'd enjoy hearing what people think. I have not had much success telling clients to "loosen up." So I try to be more specific, or to use indirect means to get them to shed their rigidity. But then my clients are intermediates, novices, and beginners, not advanced skiers.
 
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David Chaus

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I suggest to my students, “Less C3PO, a little more Jar Jar Binks.”
 

4ster

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Replying to 4ster (my account barely works, I can't get it to quote. I'll email the admin)

I agree, but with moguls it's easy to swing too far the other direction. After working to have a stable upper body and quiet hands you can look at people coming through the bumps, and most people have one sort of tick or another. Most of those movements are unnecessary at best and limiting and counterproductive at worst. If they start training to get rid of that tick, they could easily face the same issues in the bumps.
This is where a good coach comes into play as @Seldomski mentions above. Whether it’s bumps or some other kind of terrain use, the idea is to get the static/stiff skier bending & unbending. Using small rollers or other terrain park features can also aid in getting the D.I.R.T. dialed & help eliminate any extraneous movements.
B7BDCF63-F3B4-4F1C-9656-06F7ACAAEB7F.gif


I'd prefer relaxed positive movements.
I think "relaxed tension" ;) . Mostly for my golf swing but it works in most activities.
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Paul Shifflet

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There are some threads going on right now that focus on doing MA. It is in that spirit that I am shaping my questions this way. Plus I am simply curious.

"Too rigid" should mean there's a functional disadvantage going on, just as there would be a disadvantage is the skier were a floppy rag doll.
Had this skier done "better A&E" (meaning deeper flexing?), what goodness would that have brought to his bump run?
In other words, was the point of loosening up obvious?
I'm assuming not blowing up would be point no.1 (guess I'm answering that question myself). Would there have been more advantages?

But was it obvious to you that not falling would result from less rigidity/loosening up?
Being told to loosen up can work if the skier knows what the prize is. Being told to loosen up without that focus might not produce the desired results.
Being told to increase A&E is more a more specific directive. Would that have helped this skier not blow up?

I'd enjoy hearing what people think. I have not had much success telling clients to "loosen up." So I try to be more specific, or to use indirect means to get them to shed their rigidity. But then my clients are intermediates, novices, and beginners, not advanced skiers.
Good questions. If I knew all the answers I wouldn't have started the thread, but here's my 2 cents. Stiffness hinders dynamically reacting to rapid changes in terrain. Maybe someone just wants to go slow and look pretty on the groomed, but still, some consider stiffness not a good look. There are definitely cases where it's obvious to many onlookers, but defining it is difficult.

I would say there are different cases. One is someone that is just generally stiff in their movements. You could tell them to be more natural, but it doesn't help, because that's just how they are naturally. Getting them to make more dynamic movements should help as 4ster describes. Another case comes from trying to eliminate bad habits. If you tell those people just to be more natural, they will naturally go right back to the bad habits they're trying to get rid of. Focusing on not doing the bad habits are why they are stiff. Or, being stiff is how they got rid of the bad habits, though it's just trading one problem for another, which leads me to my original question.
 

David Chaus

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Whatever THOSE are
From Star Wars. One is a very uptight, stiff android, the other is a loose-moving, accident prone alien. Both utilized for comic effect.

And damnit, Kneale, you made me have to explain my own joke. Well, the kids I teach, and most of the adults, get it.
 

4ster

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f you tell those people just to be more natural, they will naturally go right back to the bad habits they're trying to get rid of. Focusing on not doing the bad habits are why they are stiff. Or, being stiff is how they got rid of the bad habits, though it's just trading one problem for another, which leads me to my original question
Like I said, it's part of the process. I've seen many skiers who are technically proficient on perfectly groomed, packed powder slopes but take them to the gnar & I find myself scratching my head & saying "Where's the beef?"
To be honest, I would rather have someone who is technically proficient with the basics who we then develop into a dynamic skier than the other way around.
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Kneale Brownson

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From Star Wars. One is a very uptight, stiff android, the other is a loose-moving, accident prone alien. Both utilized for comic effect.

And damnit, Kneale, you made me have to explain my own joke. Well, the kids I teach, and most of the adults, get it.
Never seen a Star Wars movie. I quit going to theaters when they started allowing cheering, shouting, talking, etc. bad behavior. Maybe 25 years ago.
 
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