Sunday, July 28, 2013

Drills and exercises to make a technical difference! How does it work and what makes it work?

First and foremost a ski drill or an exercise should be relevant to a specific movement, to the individual's skiing need. Drills should improve a movement the skier doesn't have and it should be designed for the individual specifically. The exercise has to be explained and demonstrated with the precision it deserves. I rarely see drills being prepared and set up in this expert manner.

 Most teams I see on the mountain, all the kids on the team are doing the same drill and most are doing it incorrectly.

It's no wonder kids hate doing ski drills or exercises.

One of the big reasons kids don't like drills is their "History"with doing drills, They know drills rarely do anything for their skiing. Look guys, kids aren't stupid.  Tying the drill or exercise to how it will improve their speed in the race course and how the drill is relevant to what the best world cup skiers are doing, "in their skiing" is important. You have to know how to use one underlying fundamental in all ski coaching and that is knowing how to develop motivation. Yes, that means a motivation not only to do drills, but believe they are beneficial.

It isn't difficult to motivate any young racer for learning an exercise, if the racer knows why he is doing the exercise, how it builds into their skiing, how it will make them faster in the race course. And as a bonus, showing them where and how the best world cup skiers are already using that movement in their racing technique.

A drill should be tied to movement you want to encourage. I see time and again year after year,  all the kids, doing the same silly drills, with little enthusiasm or reasonable outcomes.

A coach needs to be very careful how he sets up drill free skiing or he will demotivate his skiers. He needs to be precise about the quality in which the drill is performed. The accuracy of the drill relative to the movement he wants to develop for the athlete. The athlete needs to be part of the process and also believe it's valuable time spent.  I know few (almost none), coaches who are skilled in all of these areas.
This isn't some psycho-babble from a sport shrink, it's what we do as coaches on the hill, create correct movements.

Relevance of a drill is everything. Individually designed drills for a specific skier, creates motivation and doesn't de-motivate the whole group. You know if you were once a ski racer, and you could easily accomplish a drill the coach picked, you wondered why you had to do the same thing the weaker skiers had to do. Design the drills and free skiing, so that your better skiers are challenged and the weaker ones have success, it's natural.

I hear this often, "My athletes don't like to free ski". Part of the blame has to go to the coach for not demonstrating how free skiing can be fun and beneficial.

An expert coach knows what the weaknesses of his athletes are and he makes sure the athletes, know how to cure their weaknesses.  An expert coach doesn't just go out, free ski, do a few silly drills and never bring up the reasons for the drills the rest of the season.

The drills, if the coach really has a plan have to be performed perfectly, and rehearsed day after day, until the athlete is completely confident he understands and has the movements wanted, down pat. Closing the loop with free ski exercises is not only motivating to the athlete, it establishes a working relationship and faith in the coaching process.

Not everyone is going to be a Bode Miller or Marcel Hirscher, but everyone you are coaching, deserves the chance.

Sunday, July 7, 2013