reflection while practicing the movement.
Stand beside your student and practice
the movement so the student can compare and contrast images. Consider
physically moving the student’s body to
make the movement change (always ask
Once the student gains proficiency,
alternate practicing with open and
closed eyes until the learner begins to
understand what the movement feels
like. Practice this in both directions if
possible. Take this on snow and practice
in motion—with eyes open.
COMPARE AND CONTRAST
Sensations of muscle tension and
relaxation are subjective and are affected
by many factors, including speed, turn
shape, body mass, and proportion.
This makes it difficult to describe or
tell someone what to feel during any
given moment in skiing. Consider
leading students through an experience
where they can safely explore a range
of sensation extremes while trying to
become aware of new sensations.
For example, if you and the student
are refining upper-body movements
to enhance balance in medium-sized
carved turns, ask the student to try the
following extremes of hand and arm
tension to find what works for them.
On safe learning terrain, have
students ski through a separate series
of turns—focusing on apex through
completion—for each the following
1. Tightly squeeze both pole grips,
2. Ski with both arms limp and loose,
3. Tightly squeeze only the outside ski
pole grip, and
4. Tightly squeeze only the inside
Physically move the student’s body (after first asking permission) to reinforce desired movement.
Compare and contrast each variation.
Spend enough time in each scenario for
the student to consider the impact on
balance and the skis’ performance in the
snow. Work with the student to find the
mix of movements and sensations that
are personally meaningful, and helpful.
For the student who wishes to utilize
non-skiing activities to develop his or her
kinesthetic or proprioceptive awareness,
cross-training with yoga or Pilates may
be effective. While the practices of yoga
and Pilates differ greatly, both are known
to develop mind and body awareness. As
with any other sports-training situation,
finding the right coach to partner with,
and practicing diligently will help the
student achieve the desired results.
Working with a trusted athletic
trainer or physical therapist can also
be an effective way to cross-train for
skiing. Advise your student to discuss
his or her goals of enhancing body
awareness, spatial awareness, or balance.
Suggest or be open to activities that
involve one-legged balance. Try doing
these activities with the eyes closed,
since limiting one body sense requires
others to become more dominant.
When first doing exercises with the
eyes closed, limit fear and maximize
safety by clearing the practice area
of harmful items.
A SENSATIONAL APPROACH
These suggestions for expanding kinesthetic and proprioceptive awareness are
intended to give you some basic ideas
from which to work. Identifying the
need for enhanced body awareness,
spatial awareness, and balance is essential
to developing skill in these areas.
Recognize that anxiety and fear are both
likely to inhibit the learner’s ability to
explore and consider new sensations.
Creating a safe, non-judgmental, and open
learning environment may encourage
the student to explore non-dominant
As you teach students the subtle, tiny,
and invisible aspects of skiing, challenge
yourself one step further: take a cue from
the Hungarians and teach them not only
how to make a subtle movement, but also
how to feel it.
A member of the PSIA Alpine Team,
Jennifer Simpson teaches skiing in Colorado
at the Vail Snowsports School. She was an
examiner for PSIA-AASI’s Central Division
from 2001 to 2011.