"Balance is the ability to maintain the bodies centre of mass over its base of support."
Provided by: Greg Burpee (kinesiologist and ski coach Grouse Mountain Tyee Ski Club)
"Balance is the ability to maintain the bodies centre of mass over its base of support."
Provided by: Stan Rey, professional Freeskier and former National Team SkiCross racer
Agility is the ability to move your body quickly and easily by maintaining balance and body control while adapting to a situation. This is a very important part of ski racing as we are constantly having to adapt to terrain change, turn shape and snow conditions while staying in a balanced yet aggressive position. Being agile is a key part of not only being a good ski racer but a good athlete in general.
There are three main components that are tested during agility training: balance, coordination and speed.
Balance is the ability to maintain the bodies centre of mass over its base of support. While doing agility, proper balance is needed to allow us to see clearly while moving, identify orientation with respect to gravity, determine direction and speed of movement, and make automatic postural adjustments to maintain our stability in various situations and conditions.
The adjustment of our bodies reaction towards any stimulus. Having good coordination is key to enable all organs to function as a unit to detect stimuli and respond towards them, thus enabling us to adapt with ease to a changing environment . See fitness tip #5 by Jordan for full explanation.
Rapidity of movement or action. Speed is the toughest part or agility because the faster you try to go the more stress you are putting on your balance and coordination. Start off slow focusing on the proper movements. As you progress try to go faster and faster, while still maintaining accuracy in movement.
Here are a few of my favourite exercises for agility training.
T Drill: Set out four cones as illustrated in the diagram below (5 yards and 10 yards) . The subject starts at cone A. On the command of the timer, the subject sprints to cone B and touches the base of the cone with their right hand. They then move left and shuffle sideways to cone C, also touching its base, this time with their left hand. Then shuffling sideways to the right to cone D and touching the base with the right hand. They then shuffle back to cone B touching with the left hand, and run backwards to cone A. The stopwatch is stopped as they pass cone A
Slalom Obstacle Courses: Set up a 6 to 8 cone slalom course with a few obstacles (i.e.: hurdles, boxes, cones) in between turns and sprint through it as fast as possible while timed.
Ladder drills: Pick 4 to 6 drills and run them through as a set, do 3 to 4 sets. Here is a little video to give you some ideas. Again, focus on proper movement before increasing speed.
With hard work, over time your agility training will result in a build up of fast-twitch muscle fibers, which will help you out on the slopes. Being more agile will enable you to reduce mistakes and will help you recover from mistakes quicker and efficiently so you can get down the course with faster times!
Stan Rey grew up racing out of Whistler ski club. He was on the BC ski team for 2 years, on the ski cross national team for 3 years and is currently a professional freeskier.
Provided by: Nebojsa (Frankie) Miljkovic MSc, CSCS
"Strength endurance is the specific form of strength displayed in activities which require a relatively long duration of muscle tension with minimal decrease in efficiency" (Stiff 2000). Strength-endurance is similar to muscular endurance, but with strength endurance there is a greater emphasis on the amount of the force which can be resisted. The base of strength-endurance is strength, which makes it markedly different from strict muscular endurance. In essence, the goal of strength-endurance is to be as strong as possible for as long as possible.(If strength is the ability to exert force and endurance is the ability to resist fatigue, then strength-endurance is really the ultimate combination that everyone should seek to achieve.) Sports that involve strength
endurance are numerous in nature from the rower to the swimmer to the wrestler on the mat, and especially alpine skiing. Even these examples are differentiated by the abilities expressed, dynamic or static, general or local strength endurance.
Predominantly the fast twitch muscle fibers create maximum power output in the explosive sports such as sprinting and weightlifting. Slow twitch fibers are the prime fibre cells used in long distance aerobic events. Combining, and training, these two types of fibers at all speeds and angles produces strength endurance. They are a combination of the two not fully fast twitch or fully slow twitch. But, strengthening these muscle fibers will enable a greater expression of strength endurance to occur.
Dynamic and static strength endurance
"Dynamic strength-endurance is typically associated with cyclic exercises in which considerable tension is repeated without interruption during each cycle of movement" (Stiff 2000). Static strength-endurance implies isometric tension of varying magnitude and duration or in holding a certain posture. "Static strength endurance is associated with relatively long or short term sustained muscular tension, its duration in each case being determined by its magnitude.
General and local strength endurance
General strength endurance is built around the utilization of large muscle groups to power the activity. In local strength endurance, a particular muscle group is targeted for improvement based upon its use during the sport.
The purpose of a strength and conditioning program for alpine skiers is to maximize lower-body strength, explosive power, a focus on low-velocity (primarily eccentric) force production, and developing the anaerobic metabolism, specifically developing the lactate threshold and lactate tolerance. The macrocycle for alpine ski racing can be broken down into 5 mesocycles: 1) active recovery, 2) off-season hypertrophy, 3) preseason strength, 4) preseason strength endurance, and 5) in-season maintenance and peaking.
To increase strength-endurance, a program needs to accomplish three things: uses
heavy (near limit) weight, requires shortening rest periods, and utilizes volume.
1. Heavy Weight - Strength itself is the core of strength- endurance, and the point is to lift as much weight for as long as possible. To do this, lifting as much weight as possible is the starting point.
2. Shortened Rest Periods - The body needs to be able to exert maximum strength when not fully recovered aerobically. The body needs to be trained to recover faster. One needs to either sustain effort longer or sustain it multiple times in quick succession.
3. Volume - Doing a large volume of work (coupled with shortened rest periods) results in endurance, the second component of strength-endurance. When that is coupled with heavy weights, you have strength-endurance.
Start with three sets of three repetitions at 80% to 90% of a one Repetition Maximum (1RM) with rest of two to three minutes. Then drop the weight to 40% to 50% 1RM and perform four sets of fifteen repetitions each in a medium to slow pace.At a weight of 40% to 50%, perform the maximum number of lifts you can in twenty seconds, rest twenty to thirty seconds, and then repeat for one to two extra sets. Maintain pulse at 120 to 140 beats per minute. (Maintain your pulse at around the 80% target heart rate levels.)
Perform eight to ten different circuit exercises in a medium to slow pace with thirty to sixty seconds of rest between exercises. Keep pulse below 140 repetitions. (Maintain your pulse at around the 65% to 70% target heart rate levels.) Choose exercises common to your sport.
As an example of the skiers circuit, these exercises are performed according to the schedule above in a twenty-minute time span.
- hang snatch
- front unilateral squat - Push Press
- Unilateral Death lift
- Close chain Pull ups
- resisted core twist
- Split squat jumps
This circuit illustrates a method of improving all strength endurance fibers.
Nebojsa - or Nesh or Frankie as he is usually called - Miljkovic is Professor of Physical Education and Sport science. Nesh holds Certified Strength and Conditioning (CSCS) designation from National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). He is a ski instructor certified by International Ski Instructor Association (ISIA) and a ski coach Development level certified by the Canadian Ski Coach Federation (CSCF).
Provided by: Andrew Lambert: He owns and operates ‘FITSolutions’ in Vernon BC and trains both recreational and competitive athletes across a variety of sports. He is currently the Director of Sports Science for the BC Alpine Ski Association, holds a Master’s Degree in Kinesiology (Mkin), is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is certified in Functional Movement Screening (FMS).)