The ability to perceive or think differently is more important than the knowledge gained (David Bohm)
When learning something new we tend to forward project our thinking or understanding from one domain in to the new domain.
In learning to ski, most people forward project their ability to walk in to their inability to ski, and get confused and frustrated in the process. For example:
- What’s the first thing people do when putting on skis for the first time? They try to walk in them!
- When trying to stop, in walking you lean back. In skiing, this is like pressing the accelerator!
- Walking works on friction – your feet sticking to the ground to move forward. Skiing works on sliding, your ability to slide across the snow!
- In walking, to turn left or right, we rotate our body to the left or right. In skiing, rotating your body left or right unweights your skis, effectively sending the message to your skis to turn left and right at the same time, neutralising them and continuing you in a straight line!
And when we look around for a role models, we tend to look at others doing exactly the same thing on the slopes, and do more of that! Wondering why it doesn’t work for them and doesn’t work for you. More frustration!
And the longer we’ve been around walking, the longer it can take to give it up and some new thinking to arrive, and the skiing thing takes a little longer to pick up and improve. It’s a reason why kids pick skiing up quickly: they’re open to new stuff to replace walking. And it’s not a criticism – if you don’t know any different, or you don’t understand otherwise – then you can’t put any blame there.
The good news is there are some things from walking that can be forward projected in to skiing:
- Balance. You have great balance in walking: if you trip, stumble, go over uneven ground or move around obstacles you maintain your balance. You have the same balancing ability on skis.
- Softness. We don’t walk stiff or rigid, so don’t do it on skis! The more you relax, or soften your body, walking becomes easier, as does skiing. You allow your body to flow over the snow, to move in to the place it needs to be and the skis to work how they’re designed to work. (Much less exhausting too!!)
- Looking ahead and picking a route. In walking, we don’t stare at our feet, we look ahead, and as we meet that terrain, our feet and body have worked out what to do already. Same on skis, look ahead, and your feet and body will have worked out what to do by the time the terrain arrives.
And have fun too! It’s so much easier to learn when it’s fun.