This study offered a first examination of skill development within freeskiing and snowboarding, using semistructured interviews to examine trick progression. Participants were purposefully recruited as performing at world top 8 level in 2014, the most recent Winter Olympic Games. A semi structured interview protocol, using a personalized progress chart, enabled the examination of trick progression across disciplines, with at least one participant from each of the events represented at the Games. Trick progression was achieved intermittently, moving through different stages during the year subject to experiencing the right conditions, training facilities, balancing time for progression with time for consolidation, competition periods and rehabilitating from injuries. There was high variance in the duration of trick progression between individuals and also high variance in the number of repetitions required to land a trick in competition. Imagery was a mental skill widely used and universally supported by our sample. Athletes and coaches should take directionality into consideration when planning their progression, ensuring all four directions are included and that prerequisite manoeuvres are included in an athlete’s training repertoire at the right stage to facilitate the learning of more complex manoeuvres at a later stage of development. Our data found a 60–40 balance between time-spent training on and off-snow, further research is required to determine the best combination of traditional strength and conditioning versus movement conditioning approaches, both from an injury prevention and a performance enhancement perspective.
Tom Willmott and Dave Collins
David J. Collins, Loel Collins and Tom Willmott
In a recent paper in ISCJ, Ojala and Thorpe offered a culturally based observation that questions the role and application of coaching in action sports. Their critique is focused on the action sport of snowboarding which, despite its’ comparatively recent inclusion in the Olympics, retains a different, almost collaborative rather than competitive culture more akin to other action sports such as skateboarding and surfing. Ojala and Thorpe then present Problem Based Learning (PBL) as the solution to many of these perceived ills, describing the positive characteristics of the approach and promoting its cultural fit with action sport environments and performers. In this paper we offer a different perspective, which questions the veracity of the data presented and the unquestioningly positive view of PBL as the answer. Our alternative, data-driven perspective suggests that action sport athletes are increasingly positive, or even desirous of good coaching, of which PBL is a possible approach; suitable for some athletes some of the time.