Move Smart

I had the pleasure of attending the German on snow presentation. The topic was a look into the ‘Move Smart’ program used in the German Teaching system.

The move smart program’s purpose is to show how to target the executive brain with a series of cognitive tasks. This benefits the instructor to help stimulate and or get the attention back of their learners.

This is a very helpful way to start a ski lesson to ensure the learners are engaged and ready to combine cognitive thought with psycho motor development. It is also a useful tool to slip into any point of the lesson when the instructor feels they have lost the attention of the learner/s.

The Move Smart program is currently being used in the mainstream German school system with over 2000 schools known to be using the technique. Out of 200 German ski schools, 60 are currently using the program.

As instructors, we have all experienced the difficulty for our students to blend more than one skill together. This program prepares the brain to be able to handle complex coordination of skills whilst skiing.

Ben Sittel did a great job presenting to a large group of 40+ people. He made it the clinic fun and interactive. A really professional performance. Here is a look into the tasks he took us through to experience the Move Smart program.

NZSIA with German Team Member

TASK 1: We started with a seemingly easy task, in pairs we had to ski side by side synchro turns whilst counting to 3. Both skiers ski down the slope counting to 3 taking alternate turns to yell out the numbers. The spatial awareness needed for synchronicity and the cognitive stimulation counting with your partner took a few goes to get in the flow. The task then became more difficult by having to

substitute a different language for the number two. E.g., one, dos, three. The third phase was substituting a pole tap for number three e.g., one, and dos, tap.

TASK 2: Short term memory and quick decision making. The task was for one of the pair to set off down the slope performing 5 different tricks in 5 different turns. Partner number two must memorize the sequence and copy exactly what their partner did. Next step is to have the partner follow one turn behind the leader and copy the leader’s turn trick immediately after they do it.

TASK 3: Inhibition – staying focused amid distractions. In a group of 3 skiers, lined up vertically. Skier 1 skis short turns, skier 2 makes the craziest variations waving poles, jumping jacks, anything wild and crazy, skier 3 needs to sync skier 1’s turns whilst trying not to be distracted by skier 2. Next phase, same set up for skier 1 and 2 but skier 3 needs to off synch skier 1’s turns.

TASK 4: Coupling. On the chairlift, practice alternating a ‘thumbs up’ emoji with one hand and a ‘karate chop’ emoji with the other hand. Switch back and forth between hands and emoji’s. Then on the slope ski turns alternating the hand movements with every turn. The trick is to have the karate chop emoji on the outside hand. At first, I really struggled with this task. I could not get the switch of emoji’s between the hands. I thought there is absolutely no way I was going to be successful switching whilst I was skiing. But with some practice coupling, the skiing movements helped my brain to organize the pattern and I was able to achieve the task. Another coupling task we did was to rub your belly and pat your head whilst skiing. Alternating the left and right hand motion from turn to turn.

TASK 5: Juggling. Each skier holds their poles in the centre of the shaft. During the transition of their turns, they have to throw both poles up in the air at the same time and catch them again. To make it harder we held the poles out to the side of our bodies, training the peripheral vision. Making it even harder we had to cross our arms and catch the poles with the opposite hands, next transition arms would become uncrossed. This last variation was very difficult and saw most participants in the group drop their poles multiple times. A strong reflection came up from the group surrounding the importance of managing the frustration levels in the learners as the tasks get harder.

An interesting reflection from my experience was that I found I could be accurate with the pole juggling and hand emoji tasks when I was transitioning from my right foot to left foot but was more uncoordinated and less successful when transitioning from left to my right foot. I will use this in my training and be more aware of my lesser ability to coordinate multiple skills in that particular turn phase.

As I was skiing back to lunch with the rest of the NZSIA/ SBINZ crew I noticed a high level of flow and competency to my turns. The Move Smart program certainly worked its’ magic on me.

Report written by Sarah Walls, member of the NZSIA Interski Alpine Team.