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What's holding you back?

 Poster: A snowHead
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Syed is just rehashing the 10,000 hours theory popularised by Gladwell. Anders Ericsson, the guy who first explored it has admitted it is an over simplification and that while practice will beat talent, talent+practice will always ultimately prevail in relevant activities. Strikes me that table tennis isn't a sport where genetic attributes or brain skills confer a huge advantage that can't be achieved through practice.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26384712
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Old Fartbag wrote:

I also think that if you put most people, who have only used carving skis on piste/fat skis off piste, on a pair of 2M straight skis, they would be in for quite an eye opener.
So true! Above all they would be amazed at how utterly exhausting powder skiing on straight 205s is. I always used to consider skiing to be on a par with my summertime MTB activities. No more, and I don't even really ski very fat. It's just orders of magnitude easier than it used to be.
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Dave of the Marmottes wrote:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26384712


Good article, thanks.

This is what I was alluding to with superior hand eye co-ordination

Quote:
David Epstein hopes that McLaughlin can reach his goal, but he has some doubts. In the sporting world innate ability is mandatory, he believes.

A recent study of baseball players, Epstein points out, found that the average player had 20/13 vision as opposed to normal 20/20 vision. What this means is that they can see at 20 feet what a normal person would need to be at 13 feet to see clearly. That gives a hitter an enormous advantage when it comes to striking a ball being thrown towards them at 95mph from 60 feet (or 153km/h from 18m).

Using an analogy from computing, Epstein says the hardware is someone's visual acuity - or the physiology of their eye that they cannot change - while the software is the set of skills they learn by many, many hours of practice.

"No matter how good their vision is, it's like a laptop with only the hardware - with no programmes on it, it's useless. But once they've downloaded that software, once they have learned those sports-specific skills, the better the hardware is the better the total machine is going to be."
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Yeh! Thanks for waking up from aestivation ... You are still all out there! There's still life on the planet..

Some very interesting perspectives on coaching, I think...
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Quote:
stevomcd wrote:
Half a dozen kids from the same street went on to be world-class players. Did they all have genetically superior hand-eye coordination, was their street a statistical anomaly, a magical hot-spot for talent, or was it just down to all the practise?


Just because it's not pure talent doesn't make it pure practice!

There're many other factors in play that's overlooked. Those could potentially be MORE significant.

Some (3) of my high school badminton team players were Olympians! And I know part of the reason. (I also know a good deal with the rest of the reason too. But I'm not writing a long thesis on that because I'm not a journalist)

Some coaches in the national team was experimenting with a new training method. And our couch was a close friend to one of those national coaches. So he tried it on us too. Only he's trying it on much younger players than his national team coach buddy.

Suffice to say if you're lucky enough to live in the right block, the same hour of practice will get you much further than a group of kids elsewhere (we got kids from all over the city, because our results were pretty notable pretty soon)

The 10000 hr theory is great to use as a motivator. But like many social "science" theories, it had never been rigorously proven. Not sure it's provable anyway. (it irks me a little they call all unproven HYPOTHESIS as "theory". But that's a different subject)

So you're free to subscribe to that hypothesis. And if you BELIEVE in it, practice accordingly. Better yet, push your own kid to practice endlessly! After all, according to this "theory", it doesn't matter whether you provide the genetic material to your kids. They just need 10000 hr of practice!


Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Sat 27-05-17 15:25; edited 1 time in total
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Steilhang wrote:
Old Fartbag wrote:

I also think that if you put most people, who have only used carving skis on piste/fat skis off piste, on a pair of 2M straight skis, they would be in for quite an eye opener.
So true! Above all they would be amazed at how utterly exhausting powder skiing on straight 205s is. I always used to consider skiing to be on a par with my summertime MTB activities. No more, and I don't even really ski very fat. It's just orders of magnitude easier than it used to be.

It took me nearly 20 years, to be able to ski Off Piste without falling over on those bloody planks...and just as I was preparing to master that "knowing look of smug superiority", they changed the damn rules and my long apprenticeship was for nought. rolling eyes
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Quote:

Syed is just rehashing the 10,000 hours theory popularised by Gladwell.


Disagree with that, he's pretty clear that "correct" practise with feedback is the important part, not the number of hours.
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From that BBC article, the Beatles are actually a really good example - both they themselves and many commentators have conceded that, early in their career, they were really getting nowhere. They then moved to Hamburg for a couple of years and spent almost all of their time playing, including a ridiculous schedule of gigs, where they were often required to play for hours at a time, so started doing a huge amount of improvisation. They then came back and blew everyone else away.

That said, I don't think anyone would argue that the Beatles were particularly great technical musicians. You're getting more into the realms of art, which I'm not sure is directly comparable to learning a technical sport.

Their golfer also seems to be a pretty clear argument FOR the 10,000 hours theory. A never-ever golfer in his thirties who gets to a 4 handicap in 18 months? Unheard of otherwise.

EDIT: Just googled him (Dan McLaughlin) and he eventually got to a 2.1 handicap but never quite achieved his goal of making it to the PGA qualifying school. It's still a pretty stunning achievement though - I'm not sure on the golf stats, but I'm guessing a 2.1 handicap would probably put you in the top couple of percent of global golfers.
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... Above all they would be amazed at how utterly exhausting powder skiing on straight 205s is. ... I don't even really ski very fat. It's just orders of magnitude easier than it used to be.

Well it was harder using slalom skis, although sensible people would have been on Miller Softs. Experienced people did serious vertical on that old tech, albeit with some practice. IIRC the vertical records for powder were set in the "Fat Boy" days.

Modern technology just makes it easier for less skilled people to get around in powder. It's been a significant driver in the heli business: you don't have to be an expert any more. That's good for the business, but it does mean you have a broader skill range to deal with.

--
Skills: I think that if you want to play Go or Chess then clearly you need a decent processing unit and if you're not smart then no amount of practice is going to help. Those activities aren't "sports" though, they're different in kind.

I gave up race cycling because it's entirely, IMHO, about how much practice/ how much training you do (plus some drugs here and there). So you will win if you put more in than the other guy, else you're a loser. I figured that's not for me, as I get bored with that much training, and I happen to have a Chess capable processing unit, so I headed for sports where the balance is more in my favour, and less in the favour of people who are stupid enough not to get bored with training wink
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I should have done a season!

Also I should have lessons every trip - but they are expensive. I'm also not fit enough and I have very achey knees.

I know my limitations but I'm "good" enough to enjoy my skiing and I'm comfortable on all pisted runs. I don't mind avoiding the few gnarliest blacks which are beyond my comfort zone, and therefore I don't spend my time lamenting why I'm not miles better.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
HoneyBunny wrote:
I should have done a season!

Also I should have lessons every trip - but they are expensive. I'm also not fit enough and I have very achey knees.

I know my limitations but I'm "good" enough to enjoy my skiing and I'm comfortable on all pisted runs. I don't mind avoiding the few gnarliest blacks which are beyond my comfort zone, and therefore I don't spend my time lamenting why I'm not miles better.

Ah, but you have to remember that us blokes are often obsessional and competitive by nature; whereas the fairer sex are usually more rational and (far more) sensible....and enjoy the experience for what it is. Toofy Grin
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@philwig, I was never on sensible Miller Softs. Völkl P9 RS, P10,P20 followed by ... P30 RC. The race carver opened my eyes. Life suddenly became so much easier on and off piste. No way I would ever want to go back.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
@HoneyBunny, ....actually re achy knees, that's one thing that recent coaching - which I re-started after a 15 year break - sorted entirely. I have a very damaged acl left, and it used to swell like a football, but excellent coaching at Swiss Mountain Sports stopped all that - so I bought Ant a lesson last year with SMS and he was able to ski without knee pain for the first time in years. Both of us had been loading ours knees too much - just not enough forward pressure or ankle flexion - it took some professional observation and specific exercises to sort it - which they did very quickly and effectively. This was one of the reasons behind the original post - wish I'd kept up with coaching rather than letting it drop.
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@Old Fartbag, anyone who thinks women won't be obsessional and competitive about skiing hasn't met Gämsbock and me...
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 Poster: A snowHead
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Maireadoconnor wrote:
@Old Fartbag, anyone who thinks women won't be obsessional and competitive about skiing hasn't met Gämsbock and me...

I slipped the word "usually" in there as a "get out of jail" free card, to get me out of trouble. If nearly 30 years of marriage as taught me anything, it's always to have a back door! Toofy Grin
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Saucy
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Mike Pow wrote:
Saucy

There's always one! rolling eyes Toofy Grin
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In answer to the op, about 6.5mm

according to this evenings measuring of ramp angles Toofy Grin
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Something else not mentioned yet is proprioception & kinesthetic awareness - in my experience (and certainly in my own skiing) I find far more people struggle with it than not, and it holds them back greatly even with continuous instruction & high mileage
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Quote:

proprioception & kinesthetic awareness


By that do you mean the ability to picture what your body is doing in your minds eye?
If so I think that is a big differentiator on how quickly people can learn and perhaps more so on how much they can learn without coaching.
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But on the original question - what hold's me back? I'd say the following things:

1. not enough of the right kind of purposeful practice
One of the things that Sayed writes about is the distinction between volume of practice and purposeful practice. I ski 25-30 days a season (have done for 4 years, before that with the exception of one season it was 7-14). I don't think doubling the volume would help unless the time was really focused on technical improvement - just skiing isn't enough. Now I am pretty good at being purposeful when I'm skiing but the areas of my skiing where I feel I would really like to be better I struggle to get enough practice at, e.g., I'm confident skiing bumps but can I really flow in the zipper line when the bumps get big and icy? No. To get better at that I'd have to spend whole days skiing bumps and my friends and family create other priorities. Also I'm comfortable off piste in pretty much all conditions but I struggle to really flow when the conditions get complex - steep rollers, little gullies, holes, sudden steep banks - I tend to hit terrain too hard, not be soft enough on my skis, tense up when I get air. But finding that terrain to ski repeatedly enough to get real practice done is tough.

2. a lack of skiing when I was really young
I skied a couple of times in my teens and then went every year from when I was 20. I did a season when I was 23 and skied a lot but I don't think all those hours had the same effect that hours spend below the age of ten have in terms of developing feel and utterly unconsciously grooved body movements. My son is 14 and has been skiing since he was 3 - only on holidays, no racing etc. I'm still a better skier in just about every respect but I can see a sort of fluid naturalness in how he moves that I haven't got. Provided he continues to enjoy skiing and wants to improve he will be better than me. Question is how soon.

3. mediocre athleticism
Naturally I've got strong legs, good stamina and have a good ability to see in my minds eye what my body is doing - those help with skiing (mainly the last one). But I don't have many fast twitch fibres and I lack explosive/gymnastic talent (I know this from sprinting, jumping and gymnastics at school and my limitations as a rock climber). That was always going to cap my level.
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jedster wrote:

1. not enough of the right kind of purposeful practice
I think that's right, and it's difficult to do unless you are especially disciplined. It's one of the reasons I prefer group lessons as it allows me more time (at a price I can afford) in front of a good instructor. The instructor provides the discipline, ensures I'm working on the correct movement patterns, perhaps ensures progress through a drill sequence, chooses the right pace & terrain, and crucially provides feedback which validates what I'm doing & feeling with what a practised eye can see I'm achieving. When I'm teaching I do worry that there is a perception that I'm being paid to watch somebody practise, but I try to do much more than that. There is a world of difference between purposeful practice and just skiing.
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One goal of coaching is to get the athlete to the point where they are mostly teaching themselves. The shorter feedback loop once this has been achieved means that the athlete improves at a faster rate. A big part of the coach/athlete interaction is helping the athlete to fine tune their own self-assessment.
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@rob@rar,
Quote:

The instructor provides the discipline, ensures I'm working on the correct movement patterns, perhaps ensures progress through a drill sequence, chooses the right pace & terrain, and crucially provides feedback which validates what I'm doing & feeling with what a practised eye can see I'm achieving.
Indeed. That's why I never practise at Hemel on my own.

Quote:

When I'm teaching I do worry that there is a perception that I'm being paid to watch somebody practise, but I try to do much more than that.
Even if I do pay you to watch me practise, I consider it money well spent. And obviously there is more than that. For a kick-off, I can't film myself skiing. And the banter is incalculably valuable. wink
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Hurtle wrote:
And the banter is incalculably valuable. wink


Ooh must use that phrase when I want a put down that sounds nice.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
@Dave of the Marmottes, put down? What can you mean? wink
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 So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
So if you're just off somewhere snowy come back and post a snow report of your own and we'll all love you very much
jedster wrote:
But on the original question - what hold's me back? I'd say the following things:

1. not enough of the right kind of purposeful practice
One of the things that Sayed writes about is the distinction between volume of practice and purposeful practice. I ski 25-30 days a season (have done for 4 years, before that with the exception of one season it was 7-14). I don't think doubling the volume would help unless the time was really focused on technical improvement - just skiing isn't enough. Now I am pretty good at being purposeful when I'm skiing but the areas of my skiing where I feel I would really like to be better I struggle to get enough practice at, e.g., I'm confident skiing bumps but can I really flow in the zipper line when the bumps get big and icy? No. To get better at that I'd have to spend whole days skiing bumps and my friends and family create other priorities. Also I'm comfortable off piste in pretty much all conditions but I struggle to really flow when the conditions get complex - steep rollers, little gullies, holes, sudden steep banks - I tend to hit terrain too hard, not be soft enough on my skis, tense up when I get air. But finding that terrain to ski repeatedly enough to get real practice done is tough.

Your list is a much higher level one. For most, I have difficulty envisioning middle age blokes doing basic drills OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

Psychologists say children have short attention span and low tolerance to boredom. But when it comes to training in sports, I'm never able to focus on training as an adult even close to what I used to be able to do as a teenager. The sort of practice I used to do to make certain basic movement second nature in my body, hours and hours of it for several years, it would drive me mad even thinking about it at my current age!
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@Maireadoconnor, Very Happy
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Quote:

Psychologists say children have short attention span and low tolerance to boredom. But when it comes to training in sports, I'm never able to focus on training as an adult even close to what I used to be able to do as a teenager. The sort of practice I used to do to make certain basic movement second nature in my body, hours and hours of it for several years, it would drive me mad even thinking about it at my current age!


I tend to agree. The truth is I'm not that good at purposeful practice in general but somehow I have found skiing captivating in a way that makes the purposefulness much less of a chore.

Getting back to the talent/practice thing my sense is to be really good (i.e. pro level in any mainstream sport) you need real talent AND the ability to dedicate yourself to purposeful practice not just volume. But you need both and of course if you have a bit more of one then you can get away with a bit less of the other.

Apologies to non-cricket lovers but compare say David Gower and Geoff Boycott. No one would accuse Gower of being the most disciplined trainer. Few people who grew up playing with Boycott thought he was the most talented player in Yorkshire but they achieved broadly similar results. If you watched Gower's almost unique ability to bring bat to ball at the optimum fraction of a second so that it skimmed through the covers with minimal effort you'd know there was something special going on that much more intense and disciplined trainers were not able to replicate.
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rjs wrote:
One goal of coaching is to get the athlete to the point where they are mostly teaching themselves. The shorter feedback loop once this has been achieved means that the athlete improves at a faster rate. A big part of the coach/athlete interaction is helping the athlete to fine tune their own self-assessment.


+1
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Taking the Gower example imagine what he could have been with modern training and psychology - a Bradman or Richards? Or maybe just it would have made him an annoying poo-poo like Pietersen.

Re the skiing I'm a huge fan of mileage. I don't think it's as binary as needing a regular instructor to keep you on the right lines otherwise your practice is wasted. If you have the luxury of doing a season I believe anyone would improve provided they get out to the maximum amount possible and ski with everyone they can wherever they can. It's skiing in the crappy scraped conditions or hanging on the back of a much better group that really stretch you ( & sometimes force you to do top to bottom ziplines or cornice drop ins you wouldn't normally consider).
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I'm a little bit inclined to disagree with that. While I think it's super important in the very early stages of learning, I think it becomes a lot less beneficial if you're not being taught.

For example, many seasonnaires who aren't getting any tuition will be faster and more confident by the end of the winter but not have greatly improved. On the contrast junior racers doing their first full season on snow, or trainee instructors going through the levels, will improve vastly with a good balance of training and freeskiing
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Quote:

many seasonnaires who aren't getting any tuition will be faster and more confident by the end of the winter but not have greatly improved.

Are you sure about that?
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@abc, i'd agree. Faster and more confident doesn't equal better...
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Well I'm not sure I disagree as "many" sesonnaires won't be out before noon on their days off or whatever. And we've all seen the chalet boy/girl gangs hacking around as badly as any group of similar demographic punters.

Junior racers at the extreme can be very one dimensional - superb technical skills but no experience of reading open or technical terrain. Course they'll adapt quickly when they do get experience. Certainly in the US and Canada you can also come across instructors who teach all winter but are nowhere near as good as the local dishwasher who gets out first lift every day because El Plongeur is getting 10 times their daily vert before lunch.


Last edited by You'll need to Register first of course. on Wed 31-05-17 23:41; edited 1 time in total
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under a new name wrote:
@abc, i'd agree. Faster and more confident doesn't equal better...

It may not equate. But does it preclude?
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The other place where instruction is a negative is in "learning" the mountain. There is no substitute for learning every dip and rock on a slope or having the confidence to accelerate between trees because you know the slope opens up. It's a lot harder to do that when someone is making all the choices for you and why better instructors will follow or split people into pairs.
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That's why I said training and freeskiing (and trainee instructors, not instructors), because they're getting the benefit of both continuous adjustments and improvements while also skiing all of the mountain - so all the mileage plus constant changing, correction and refinement.

Also by seasonnaire I don't mean someone working for a chalet company or tour op, I mean anyone skiing who is out all season but not getting specific training. Just building up confidence but changing nothing else in their skiing

I use those examples because there's always groups of them in the mountains and you can see the development firsthand
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Tend to agree with the seasonnaire bit too. I've done the last 2 (as well as 10 weeks in each of the previous 2). Last season I had one 2 hour private, with someone who knows my skiing inside out and it paid dividends, this winter none. However skiing 80 - 100 days in all conditions certainly gives confidence 😃 I've also skied with some very good skiers and been taken places I'd otherwise have avoided. A well known snowhead i skied with this year compared my skiing to that of a guide rather than an instructor. I'll take that 😒
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