PRO ARTICLE: Visual Stimuli, Beauty Is In The Eye Of The Beholder

Phil Smith, Director of Snoworks Ski Courses discusses the use of demonstrations when developing skilful performance.

There’s been a lot of debate on the importance of BASI Trainers being able to demonstrate the criteria required to pass the technical modules of BASI along with the Official BASI YouTube demonstrations.

Course candidates may think they are useful, may like to see them, they may give candidates comfort in believing what is required. But are they achieving the desired result?

A National Team member coming on a BASI course having never seen a demonstration from a BASI Trainer or having never watched the official BASI YouTube demonstrations will pass their BASI exams.

So how can a national team member pass the technical course if they’ve never seen a demonstration from a BASI Trainer and never seen the criteria for passing? Pretty simple really. Their skill level as a skier is at or above the level required.

So should we have demonstrations and if so what should they involve in order to get skiers skiing skillfully to the required level?

I think everyone will agree visual stimuli can be pretty useful equally along with the other learning stimuli of auditory, tactile and kinesthetic.

In this article we’re discussing the use of visual stimuli and the use of BASI Trainers demonstrating assessment criteria along with the official BASI YouTube demonstrations.

So are they useful?

I don’t think anyone would dispute that having visual stimuli can be useful but if everyone was to watch and copy a single form what would we produce?


The question is – do BASI want individual creative skillful skiing or do they want everyone skiing to a single form?

I think everyone would agree that individual creative performance is what we are after and if so then is the emphasis on the use of demonstrations by BASI Trainers and the official BASI YouTube demonstrations creating this?

Is there a better way to use visual stimuli to create the desired result of developing individual creative skillful performance?

Why not use a range of skiers who have recently passed their BASI exams at all the different levels. BASI members themselves. Skiers who have reached the required level of skill rather than BASI Trainers who are at higher levels of skill aiming to demonstrate the required level which can often look false and contrived. Actual skiers at the required level performing naturally and to their best ability produces a much more natural visual image.

It’s like ski schools using their instructors to demonstrate levels as opposed to using actual skiers at different levels of their development.

Why not have a range of skiers at the required level of skill with very different styles so the observer can be drawn towards common skills rather than an individual form.

Why not use discipline specific visual stimuli like; racers for carving, bump skiers for bumps skiing, free riders for off-piste skiing and steep slopes etc.

Why not use skill related visual stimuli. Like ‘lets look at great edge control’ from a variety of performers. ‘Lets look at great balancing and recovery skills’ etc.

One could say this is not appropriate when on a BASI course as most of the time the skiers are on the slope and need visual stimuli there and then. But Trainers could still use many different visual stimuli like the other members of the group who have reached the level or other candidates from the next level up and a lot more time can be devoted to looking at a whole variety of visual stimuli in the evening from a whole cross section of skiers observing common threads as opposed to single form.

The official BASI YouTube demonstrations are promoting a single visual stimulus, which is reinforced if the candidates rely heavily on a demonstration from a BASI Trainer during the on-snow time.

Opening up the whole world of visual stimuli will help produce much more open, creative and individual performance.

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