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What do the Denali Guys Think Are the Best Practice Methodologies?

skisprayskispray Posts: 212 Solid Baller
@AdamCord @adamhcaldwell I created this post because the two of you seem to have applied experimentation and the scientific method to all aspects of skiing with great success and I have many questions about what you've learned along the way. This post is specifically about what you've learned regarding practice methods; Reading your posts this offseason I've seen you mention a few drills often and I'm wondering if there are also other drills you employ and how much of one's water time should be spent on drills versus passes. Essentially, I'm wondering what program you would create if you were coaching a skier and had 100% control over the methods they used when practicing. I also have some specific questions about drills you have mentioned previously...

(1) Pass the windshield drill

Adam Cord introduced this drill and it sounds like it is the drill to do. I'm excited to spend time on this to improve outbound connection to the handle and get that 'aha' moment that may lead to shorter rope. My question is this: Is this the type of drill one should do until they get that 'aha' moment and then move on? Or is it the type of thing that skiers should be doing regularly?

(2) The lean drill

This drill has been around for ever and I'm just referring to the drill where you pull out and continue to lean against the line all the way down the lake. The idea is to drill into your head the proper stacked position on both heelside and toeside. My question is: Given the dynamic nature of a wake crossing do you see this drill as having a place in the slalom skiers tool kit? Or is it just for beginners?

(3) Two-handed slalom passes

A drill that I hear people talk about a lot but never see anyone do. I can see how this could have obvious benefits but, as with the other drills, I'm curious how much one should be doing this relative to running normal passes?

(4) Sets in the course: Volume vs. Intensity

When skiing passes I normally strive to successfully complete about 80% to ensure I'm building muscle memory through repetition of good form. Do you prescribe to any beliefs about the best way to go about our time in the course?

Any other general lessons learned or philosophies on this topic? Given that it's the beginning of the season I'm open to trying new ideas and am interested in what the two of you think about this stuff!



  • adamhcaldwelladamhcaldwell Posts: 685 Open or Level 9 Skier
    @skispray - How far away from Charleston are ya?
  • DWDW Posts: 2,202 Mega Baller
    @skispray : definition of the windshield drill? (sounds kind of obvious but rather not assume because we know what the definition of assume is). Thanks.
  • skisprayskispray Posts: 212 Solid Baller
    @adamhcaldwell I'm not close but maybe I need to start thinking about a trip.

    @DW check out the second comment on this discussion by @AdamCord. He has described it elsewhere as trying to get so high on the boat that he passes the windshield.
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 5,414 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @AdamCord agree with the shorten after an ugly...sometimes that next pass goes like magic which is helpful for one's head in a tourney.
    Run a shakey pass and it's easy to think "I'm off" today unless you know a good bit of the time the next pass is money anyway.
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • skisprayskispray Posts: 212 Solid Baller
    @AdamCord thanks for the reply. Should everyone be doing the Get High on the Boat still at 41 off? Or would the rope length vary based on ability. FYI, I run 28 off pretty consistently but haven’t ran 32 off yet (36 mph) and was thinking maybe doing the drill at 38 off.
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 5,414 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @horton I think there's a balance. Certainly hammering away at purple for you and I finding ourselves in the lake rather than on top of it over and over again is not productive. I think there's merit in going down the line even it you ran a shakey pass at some length...then going back to train at "x" length for the remainder of that set and for your second set to work on technique/habits.
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • AdamCordAdamCord Posts: 844 Open or Level 9 Skier
    @Horton what @6balls said.

    @skispray my guess would be that rope length should vary based on ability, but why the hell not give 41 a try and see if you can learn something from it. If nothing else it’ll be fun B)
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 5,414 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @adamcord on free skiing short I find most don't get to course width thus keeping the line tight as they are more "behind the boat" rather than up next to it. I know I feel I ski somewhat of a different style/cadence open water than I do in the course even if I try to mimic buoy timing.
    I'd like to see a video of a really good skier running short while free skiing to study.
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • WishWish Posts: 8,105 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    edited April 2018
    @AdamCord the only thing I think the lean drill can teach is what is a better stack and where on the ski (little forward little back) that stack takes the best advantage of the ski. If someone does the lean drill, to me it should be to play with that, not to get high on the boat or see how much load you can handle and deal with. If you play with the stack and where it is on the ski, you will notice 2 things. When it's not right, the ski will fall back on the boat. When it is right, the ski will speed up and climb higher. And not really past 45*. It can teach that forward while feeling OTF-ish really does make the ski move more efficiently and stays in front of the skier.
    >>> 11.25..a different kettle of fish. <<<
  • adamhcaldwelladamhcaldwell Posts: 685 Open or Level 9 Skier
    I think the thing to be careful of is to not to condition yourself to skiing with a certain intensity at 35 and then expecting to run 38 with the same effort. OR even trying to turn the volume up to 11 for 38 and expecting it to work out. Need to be pushing the dial at all the passes so you dont have to try to UP your game for your hardest pass.

    Cutting the line to the hardest pass every time you ski will also enlighten you as to what tweaks you might need to make.

    If you get to 38 and all of a sudden the tail sinks to the bottom of the lake at 1 ball, probably need to take some depth or wing angle out to keep it moving. But you may not have felt that at 32 or 35 and might not have any issues at all. Tweak the ski based on what you feel at your hardest pass. Even if you only make one buoy its usually enough to assess whats going on. Just need to be careful the next time out on the water not to judge your opening passes too much, but give them a chance until you get back into the hardest pass again.

    If the fin is dialed into be 'awesome' at 32/35, its very possible that is the reason your swimming at 38. The demands on the ski is different at 38 and up. Ski needs to be able to sustain speed, and accelerate efficiently at overall higher bank angles.

  • ghutchghutch Posts: 139 Baller
    @adamhcaldwell Seems it would be more critical at 34 mph vs 36 due to the drop in speed?
  • HortonHorton Posts: 29,432 Administrator
    edited April 2018
    @adamhcaldwell I have to respectfully disagree... at least somewhat.

    For about more than 50% of my rides I want to go around all 6 balls for 6 or 8 passes on as short a line as possible. I am repeating success over and over. I start spending more time at 38 when I feel that 35 is a technically correct as possible.

    The rest of the time I burn up the rope as far as I can go. These rides are pretty instructive of my defficets but generally if my gate is crap at 35 it is worse at 38. When I find my faults at 38 it is time to go back to 35 and work on correcting the issue.

    To be more transparent, in the spring I will run 32s and 35s almost exclusively. By Mid-late season I might shorten to 38 off 50% or even 75% of the time if I am skiing really well. If I am only getting to 4 ball over and over at 38 it is back to 35. (By the way I love 36.5 off)

    I am also a bit of an freak because of writing ski reviews - I change skis every 20 - 25 rides so my gates are always a S***T show.

    What I do firmly believe is that too many skiers burn up the rope too often. The result is that they spend too much time practicing missing passes.

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  • adamhcaldwelladamhcaldwell Posts: 685 Open or Level 9 Skier
    blame the ski. 100% of the time. You’ll feel way better about your skiing!! Haha.

    I push the setup issue a lot because at those line lengths it does matter and most people refuse to deviate from a standard/stock setting.

    Agree with you all, technique is huge, no doubt.
  • WishWish Posts: 8,105 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    edited April 2018
    I love the percentages put forward in posts. For 90% of skiers bla bla bla... For 50% of skiers...For 95 outa 100. I have to chuckle when I read those. I'm probably guilty of stating my own trumped up stats. I say disagree 100% of the time if you feel the need or like someone's post 100% of the time if it moves you to do so. But backing up one or the other should not be based on how you feel 100% of all skiers, think, act, behave, interpret, understand, care, and so on. It's a weak argument IMHO. If we are gonna move the needle in understanding our sport and maybe, juuuuust maybe embracing new ideas, I think tossing up bogus statistics hinders that greatly at worst and at best negates new thought as it tilts perception. Just food for thought. I'm blaming the driver. He said that would be ok.
    >>> 11.25..a different kettle of fish. <<<
  • Bruce_ButterfieldBruce_Butterfield Posts: 1,739 Member of the BallOfSpray Hall Of Fame
    @wish, just remember that 93.4% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
    I'm Ancient. WTH do I know?
  • WishWish Posts: 8,105 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @Bruce_Butterfield 100% true. :D
    >>> 11.25..a different kettle of fish. <<<
  • adamhcaldwelladamhcaldwell Posts: 685 Open or Level 9 Skier
    30% of the time a fin move works every time.

    Dont blame your driver. Otherwise, there will be no way to blame anyone for anything when he doesn't show up the next time out.

  • WishWish Posts: 8,105 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @Chef23 OMG no!! My wife is an amazing driver and will never hear anything else. However, have an agreement with other driver. Any crappy day skiing its agreed..whoever is behind the wheel, including me, is at fault.
    >>> 11.25..a different kettle of fish. <<<
  • DWDW Posts: 2,202 Mega Baller
    That is what the dog is for, even after being blamed, mans best friend will still come over with tag wagging and gladly lick your face.
  • JackQJackQ Posts: 365 Open or Level 9 Skier
    Back on topic of training methodology. I don't know the answer and most likely it varies skier to skier, but I believe mixing up is a key and moderation in approach(s).

    I at one time just went up the rope every time and beat my self up at my hardest pass, doing as Horton pointed out, practicing missing. I have also tried the back to back endless reps, which doesn't necessarily provide the training for your hardest pass.

    So I try to do a mixture of each with a synthesis. At the beginning of the season and offseason, I run a 28, two 32, 2-4 35s and call it a day. Then I go to 28, 32, 32, 35, 35, 38, 38 typically getting deep in 38 or running one of them. As the season "warms" up, I do a 32, 35, 38, 2 maybe 3 shots at 39 and then back to 38 which then should feel easier after 39. This has worked well for me, as going back to the hardest pass I can make with some regularity after trying the one I can only make rarely, allows be to get repetitions and try my hardest pass.
  • WishWish Posts: 8,105 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    edited April 2018
    I did Andys on line training program. The short explanation/version @JackQ, was that mixing it up is exactly what he scheduled for my practices. There was always a purpose to every set as well. Today you will X and think about X. Next day on the water would be diff but focused. Agree with mixing it up. Regret having gotten away from a more purpose filled and scheduled sets. May have to crack that program open and revisit.
    >>> 11.25..a different kettle of fish. <<<
  • C5QuestC5Quest Posts: 367 Baller
    Is there a link to these drills?
  • WishWish Posts: 8,105 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @C65Quest. No. It was a payed access on line program Andy was running. Not available anymore. But as it relates to the thread topic and a couple posts, his program had practice variety with purpose which consisted of days running up to your line limits.
    >>> 11.25..a different kettle of fish. <<<
  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 6,039 Mega Baller
    I am not the genius that most of the people in this thread (deep -35 when healthy) but I found that I got my best results by mixing focus of sets. Most days I would run at least one set when I tried to ski down the line which for me is 22, 28, 32, 35. Depending on how the 35 went I might take a crack at it or back down to 32 and try to make that much better. Sometimes I would run a 32 then take another look at 35. Obviously if I missed 32 (I very rarely missed 28) I would run 32 again. At my best I was generally 80% at 32 in practice and very close to 100% at 28 off.

    Some days or sets I would think about specific things I was trying to improve on and run 22, 2 28s then 32s working on whatever my focus was.

    I only ran 35 once so banging my head on 38 wasn't an issue. I did reach the point where I was getting to 3 or 4 fairly often at 35 so it was at least getting part way down the course.

    I think it makes sense to take a look at your hard pass regularly but not bang your head against it particularly if you aren't getting past 2 ball.
    Mark Shaffer
  • DragoDrago Posts: 1,593 Mega Baller
    I 90% agree with @adamhcaldwell
    In tournament season, running a bunch of 32s,or whatevers , will make you great at ....running 32s or whatevers .
    Keep trying your hardest lengths.the key being you need to try different things! Change your gate, your fin, binding placement, shorts,handle.
    SR SL Judge & Driver (“a driver who is super late on the wheel and is out of sync”)
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