I’ve seen some thoughts on this idea pop up here and there, especially in @twhisper
's training threads (love if you can chime in here Terry!), but figured it’d be nice to centralize the discussion and see what everyone has to say:
What is the best way manage your progress as a skier in terms of when you increase difficultly (shorter rope or faster speed) and when you decrease difficulty (longer rope or slower speed)?
I am no expert skier (first year in course, 15off 30mph), but I am what most would call an expert drummer, and also teach drum lessons and have studied a bit of practice/performance theory, and I’m trying to apply what I’ve learned there to my skiing.
What I often find is that drums students (and myself) want to progress too quickly. Obviously there’s a desire to be able to do more and more, but if a student doesn’t have a particular pattern thoroughly learned and they try to play it faster and faster, it isn’t really beneficial to their progress. Even if they can sort of "pull it off," its sloppy, it’s not convincing, and it can’t be relied upon for a performance because it might work, might not. It’s better to truly master a pattern before trying to improve on it. I was encouraged by a teacher that when you’re learning something new, play it as slow as you need
to play it right, even if it’s painfully/awkwardly slow, because “every time you play something wrong, you’re creating muscle memory of doing it wrong, you’re building a habit of playing it wrong, you’re teaching yourself to play it wrong.” Once you can play it right, you can speed it up, but then again wait at that speed until it’s mastered there before going faster again. There can be some value in occasionally playing it a bit faster than you can, just to get the feel of what it will be like to kick it up, but then right away you go back to where you can play it right.
And in broad terms, my teacher would identify times when he felt like my playing in general hit “a plateau” and I wasn’t making much progress. At those times we’d drop all the complicated stuff and go back to the very basics - breaking things down to the foundation, improving the quality/solidity of that foundation, and then re-building the complex concepts.
Does the same thing apply to skiing? Should we be patient with increasing our difficulty? Do we build bad habits by upping our difficulty too soon? Should we sometimes break it down and “start over” at easier speeds/lengths and slowly build back up again?
Or are music and skiing not really a great comparison? One difference I can see is that in drumming, I can “isolate” one very specific part of a difficult pattern and just practice that. That seems harder to do with skiing (ie, isolating just your offside turn and spending 10 minutes only working on that), given how interconnected every part of a ski pass is, and particularly if you’re on a small ski lake without much distance to “mess around” working on one specific thing, or if you’re paying per set at a ski club.
I’d like to hear your thoughts from your own experiences as skiers and ski teachers. Thanks!