By Steve Hindman

A reader recently wrote in with this question about skating: “We struggled with skating for four years, taking many lessons but remaining frustratingly plateau'd. Then we bought roller skis, a huge advantage because we could now go out and practice, with video analysis, any day of the year. However, we didn't improve a great deal.”

"Among the dozens of tips we implemented, one finally clicked. But I haven't seen it anywhere in print or on tape. By doing slo-mo analysis of film clips, I noticed that good skaters begin to turn their torso toward the opposite side just as their glide ski is touching down. Bingo! Any comments would be appreciated.”

These folks allowed themselves to play with numerous variations on skating until they got it. Their discovery may or may not help you, but their approach to learning — an adult version of play — certainly can.

Kids learn how to do what other kids are doing. They begin the process by watching and then trying it themselves. This works for adults, too, but not everyone has a gang of ski friends to go play with or the time to mess around until they figure it out. Here are some suggestions on how

you can learn to play and play to learn.

Watching

Watching movement actually leaves a pattern in our brains and bodies that trains us to move. This is why you should watch hours of ski videos if you want to learn to ski really well. Regardless of your own ability, choose performance-level videos (such as World Cup races) so you can observe a wide variety of successful ways to ski the same trails and terrain.

It can be helpful to see video footage of yourself to compare your sense of your movement to what you see yourself doing on-screen. But beware; your brain and body are creating and reinforcing the movement patterns you watch, so watch only as much as needed to make this comparison.

Watching is a skill that can be developed. Start by watching the overall image and don’t worry about what to look for – your body and brain know effective and efficient skiing when they see it. Over time you’ll be able to identify the silhouettes of individual skiers from a distance by the way they move.

More on the next page