The Best Turn Drill
The key to the Best Turn Drill is that it is not a perfect turn, although that is the end-goal. Your best turn today can be improved and reinforced today….and again tomorrow and then the next day. While this drill should be the foundation of the early season, it can be done with a late-starting athlete to bring them up to speed and revisited for all athletes throughout the season. It is designed to teach the athletes to take control of their own practice. Using the concepts of this drill, every day on the hill should start with a warm up. The Best Turn drill is designed to give that warm up run a purpose rather than just to get the blood flowing. This is the cornerstone drill for the whole PRS system. Athletes should start each practice and take the last run of the day using the concepts and skill of this drill.
This drill is incredibly simple and yet very difficult to execute correctly. We will use the chunking of the perfect turn described above to break it down into manageable pieces. The athletes will begin working on a Three Phase Turn which includes the Initiation, Foundation, and the Completion phases. The base transition phases, Release, Neutral, and Extension will be added to the drill later once the athlete has success repeating and refining the Three Phase Turn.
1. Begin by reviewing the videos of an expert performer before you hit the snow. Break down and describe the turn characteristic with the athlete. The athletes need them to see what the objective is. Below are some examples.
2. The on-snow drill is simply linking 4-6 exceptional, slow turns on a well groomed moderate slope. The release of the turns should be across the hill to ensure a complete turn and to control the speed.
3. Stop and review. At the end of the 4-6 turns the athlete should stop and immediately give a hard review and dissect the turns.“What was the best turn you just made? Why? Can you remember what it felt like.”
3a. Have the athletes close their eyes and review. Eighty percent of all sensory information comes from sight. We want the athletes to shut down the visual cortex and force the brain to focus on the best movements that the body just made (Proprioceptive system).
4. Video review if possible. This is the most important video all year. Do it as quickly as possible. The athlete should be able to connect what they remember as the best turn with what it actually looks like. Slow it down and compare. Be very critical because it is important to have the athlete know what the correct action is. Otherwise, we run the risk of myelinating the bad, incorrect habits. The Coach’s Eye application is invaluable for review. Prune, Correct, and Create a goal for the next set. Cues like, “A little more forward at the top of the turn”, “A little less rotation at the bottom of the turn” etc., are simple and effective.
5. Once the athlete has it, tell them “Great, Got it in your head? I want you to wait about 30 seconds at the top of the next set and concentrate on the previous best turn and what you just learned. Now let's do it again. And again”. Generally 3-5 sets of 4-6 turns. The ultimate goal here is for each athlete to remember and cement their Best Turn. If you add too many sets, it becomes easier to get confused and fatigued.
6. Rest, relax go free skiing. Break up the intensity so that you can return to it later.
That's the basic progression. 4-6 turns per set, 3-5 sets and a maximum of 5 runs. This is not difficult—it’s not meant to be—we want to create an immediate feedback loop that the athletes can use to moderate themselves. We have added all of the aspects for deep practice. Imitation, focus, slowing it down, review and correct, reference point, repeat. Once this drill is an established part of the athletes’ skill set, everyday on the hill should be started with 3 sets of 4-6 turns with concentration and review between each set. Ski, review, correct, ski. This can be done on their own, creating their own system of personal review and correction. Remember that brain myelinates the synapses that we focus on...so ‘Start the day right’ takes on a whole new meaning!
Tip: Turn it Into an Interactive Game: Have the athletes be the judge. Who can go the slowest? Who has the most angulation, etc. This is a particularly good drill for younger kids or when things are just getting too serious on the hill.
1. Sandwich Drill: This is great for fixing bad habits. Exaggerate the bad habit. 3 sets of 6 turns. Start with the athlete making 2 good turns. Add 2 bad turns exaggerating the bad skill e.g. Rotating. Finish with 2 good turns. The athletes will often be a little upset performing the bad turns. The object of the drill is to become hyper aware of the bad habit and the problems that are connected with it. They should be bothered by the feeling and should associate the bad feel with the bad habit. Often the last 2 good turns are sloppy because the 2 bad ones have thrown them off their game, again and that’s okay. This is a quick fix for some of the most common problems like Rotation.
Tip: When making corrections use colorful descriptions, e.g. using more ankle flexion provides no imagery vs drive your shins through the front of the boots which paints a very clear picture. Images get better results with kids these days. Tom Brady uses, “throw that ball down a hallway.”