Vision plays a big part in our riding experience. That's why it is so amazing to see people like Bobby McMullen, who was blinded by Type 1 Diabetes in 1993, riding his bike with a guide calling out obstacles. Bobby rides by feel and with verbal cues coming from his lead.
I can't claim to know what it's like to drop down a rock face with my eyes closed, but on occasion I do like to ride through a wide open field with my eyes closed as long as my panic mode can stay in check. I encourage people I work with to do this because it's a very intense experience but teaches you a lot about the effects of relaxing and absorbing the terrain versus getting tense when you most want too!
In skills sessions there are two main ways that the visual worlds come into play. One of course is Line Choice, which I often refer to as "Court Vision". The other turns the eye of the rider back on themselves. Like a mirror in the dance studio. Using Video Analysis is one of my favorite tools when working with people.
Even though line choice is important the use of video analysis starts earlier in skills sessions. I can describe a skill and the techniques to implement in a multitude of ways, but there is nothing as to-the-point as playing back a video of the rider of themselves to see what they are doing. That visual connection makes an instant point. Here is an example of two rides back to back with a quick adjustment in between. The second video shows a rider who's head doesn't get jerked around and has more control on the bike because they are staying in a more balanced attack position with arms and legs engaged as suspension. Her riding skills have improved even more since this, but this illustrates an immediate change in form.
Video analysis is an invaluable tool for me and the people I work with. Don't be afraid to turn a critical eye to yourself!
A great video popped up today from Morocco Media today. They are a video sports analysis company and they are doing some really neat stuff. I highly recommend checking it out.