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Wedge Busting and hockey stops

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi there!

 

I am teaching two different groups of 7-8 year olds who are strong little wedge skiers ... and trying to get them to go with hockey stops and parallel turns.  In my get-to-know-you lesson, we did a few things to get started on this process ... some follow-the-leader where we were parallel on the traverse between turns, but wedged in the turns (they get more parallel as we keep going) ... introduced them to sideslips to get their weight over both feet rather than between them, and introduce more edging feel ... and a favorite of mine I call airplanes, where they put their arms out stretched with the downhill hand toward the ground (other one up high), and switch arms when we want to turn ...

 

Looking for other games/drills we can do to get them turning without wedges, and enforce feeling their edges.  Anything to promote learning how to hockey stop is really, really appreciated, too. 

post #2 of 11

I agree that hockey stops and successful parallel turns are highly correlated for kids. I'd be remiss if I did not mention the traditional exercise for this: side slips. There are all sorts of traditional drills for variations on side slips.

 

 

One drill I use for students of all ages that has similar benefits of hockey stops is flat spin 360s.

 

For lower level skiers, I start this out with backwards skiing. Go straight downhill in a reverse wedge. Then learn to wiggle turn (little changes of direction) with tip lead and weight change. Then finish a turn with a wedge christy so that the skier tracks to the side of the downhill path.

 

Next we start doing wedge based 180s that just simple turns to an uphill stop. (But if the wedge is too big, there's not enough speed to end the turn going directly uphill!) From the first turn to an uphill stop, the skier begins sliding backwards. The skier usually needs to open into a backwards wedge, but it needs to be a small wedge because they want to get up enough speed to make a backwards turn to another uphill stop. This is where I usually need to remind students to do a weight change to the new downhill foot. From there the skier can now continue forward going downhill (a complete 350 composed of 2 180s).

 

The sneaky part here is that most students won't go very fast in their backward turn and they'll want to cheat at the end to spin their skis to going forward/downhill. That move is done by turning the toes (as opposed to pushing heels) and is almost universally done with both feet without being told. This is a key move for hockey stops.

 

From here, you want to emphasize the role and timing of flex and extend movements. This will allow the skiers to speeding up the 360, shortening the turns until it becomes a true spin. Which is just happens to be a fun version of a parallel turn with pivoting happening underneath the feet!

post #3 of 11

drdevon,

 

I would like to change your thinking here. Rather than thinking in terms of eliminating the wedge turn and replacing it with a parallel turn look at teaching a movement pattern that will have a parallel relationship of the skis as an outcome. For students at this level the two main points I focus on are releasing of the old outside ski to move in the new direction and pointing (guiding) the new inside ski in the direction that they want to go.

 

I usually teach the release move first because it is very easy to demo to the student and easy for then to perform. From the wedge stance show them how they can make one ski or the other flatter to the snow than the other. Now add forward motion to this. As the students move down the hill in a wedge have them flatten one ski. They will move in that direction and when they flatten the other ski they will move in that direction. For many of the students you will see the first matching take place just in this exercise. Some students will accomplish the flattening with a gross movement of the body toward the ski they want to make flatten and the outcome may not be as smooth a direction change and a matching of the skis. For these students work on demoing how they can flatten the ski just using the foot and leg. As they get more skillful at this fine motor movement pattern results will follow. Those who struggle with this will be the ones who were in the widest wedge stance and those who learned to push on the skis to control speed and change direction. Point out that when they flatten one ski they feel themselves standing/riding on the other ski.

 

Now introduce the idea of pointing the right ski right when going right and the left ski left when going left. This is much harder to demo because it is a very subtle move and the outcome it produces, the left ski following the right pointing and the right ski following the left pointing make it almost impossible for an untrained eye to see. Because of this I use what I call a hand demo. Holding my hands in a wedge relationship I show the right hand pointing right and the left hand following it then the left hand pointing left and the right hand following it have your students do this and ask them to imagine their feet doing the same thing as their hands. Now add motion. Moving forward on the skis in the wedge stance have them flatten then point (guide) the left ski to go left and the right ski to go right. For most students this will result in a parallel turn with a wedge entry or a full parallel turn.

 

Considering that you are working with children you may be able to accomplish parallel turns by simply telling them to point their toes where they want to go and refining this to 'right toes point right go right, left toes point left go left'.

 

As to the hockey stop. Once the student can do a side slip teach them to do a quick point up the hill with one foot or the other. This quick point up the hill will bring the skis around into a braking side slip. Try to avoid teaching pushing on the skis to stop. This leads to a heel push and will carry over into their turns. Later, after the students can do parallel stops by pointing uphill, you can teach them that to spray snow they push their heels. Point uphill to stop, push the heels to spray (and stop).

 

Notice that at no point in all this did I tell the students to ski parallel or do a hockey stop. I taught movements that resulted in a parallel relationship of the ski and was then able to praise the students for this new accomplishment. Nor did I have to struggle with changing an old ingrained movement pattern (pushing on the skis to wedge) in bits and pieces, the old make pizza, make french fries approach. I introduced a new movement pattern that had nothing to do with the old one, was easy for the student to understand and perform and gave me the result I desired. Further, this movement pattern leads directly to the moves I will want to teach as the student progresses to higher levels of skiing.

 

Hope this helps,

 

fom

 

 

 

post #4 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by drdevon View Post

... and a favorite of mine I call airplanes, where they put their arms out stretched with the downhill hand toward the ground (other one up high), and switch arms when we want to turn ...

 

 



icon14.gif an absolute favorite of mine as well.

 

 

Considering your age group I would skip every attempt of explaining what to do. They could not care less for any theory. You need to have them skiing and to imitate what you are doing. The airplane drill is essential part of my teaching. Its the foundation to all good skiing. How to balance over yoru outside ski and to have a strong positiong. But you will not find much appreciation for it by new standards. Since our kids enter a ski club and go through the ski school in 3-5y and then move up to jr race coaching the wedge is not really a big problem. We ski it out of their system. Like kids crawling, when they are ready they start walking. Its highly individual. A kid staying in a wedge position for long doesent mean they will be lesser skiers in the end.

 

post #5 of 11

 Doesn't make any sense to me to teach them to move right when they want the skis to go left.

post #6 of 11


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drdevon View Post
and a favorite of mine I call airplanes, where they put their arms out stretched with the downhill hand toward the ground (other one up high), and switch arms when we want to turn .


In my experience you can call them airplane turns with adults, and get decent results because they will try to do what you demonstrate. More often with kids they lean the other way because unlike adults they tend to be more literal and know airplanes bank to the inside not outside of turns. A related exercise that works is doing "teapot" turns. As you ski through the turn hold your uphill hand up in the air (the spout) and downhill hand pressing into your waist (the handle). Also used as a way to start teaching more angulation at the waist.

 

How about building on what they know and want to do? Have them take off their skis and walk in circles, both left and right. Point out to them that whichever way they are turning, that is the direction they tip and twist both feet. Now ski on a a fairly flat stretch of hill and have them use their feet as if they are walking. You can have them first step through turns, then shuffle through turns, then turn their feet through turns, if you need more intermediate steps. The key is flat terrain as most kids want to go fast and once they learn the wedge is slower then parallel on flats most are willing to start turning both feet. From there show them that by twisting and edging the skis with the correct timing and intensity they can spray snow down the hill, most will figure out the hockey stop fairly readily.

 

It's amazing how many things will fall into place if you go for mileage while shuffling about a boot length. Its hard to keep the shuffle happening if you aren't in a decent stance. It's hard to make a shorter radius turn if you don't steer both feet while shuffling. It's hard to keep shuffling if you can't keep both skis at roughly the same edge angle. It's really hard to hold a wedge while shuffling if you can't steer each leg independently. If you combine shuffles with side slip exercises they learn the independent leg steering and edging skills that would enable them to shuffle in a wedge---But while doing so they learn an easier way to balance, turn, and stop that doesn't rely on the wedge.  

   

post #7 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson View Post

 Doesn't make any sense to me to teach them to move right when they want the skis to go left.


x2 you can accomplish the same thing by outside foot skiing, just make sure they know its a game and not how we actually ski.

 

 

wedge breaker drills all done on stupid easy terrain

 

my favorites are backwards skiing 

sideslips(aka I call them grinds to kids and we go around and find sharp edge of snow to grind on)

ground spin 180s and 360s

I also like 1000 thousand steps and skating down the hill or even both. make sure 1000 steps is done with diverging and not converging skis, I have started to use it as a guide and discovery activity and ask them which foot was easiest to stand on when they when turning and then get them just to use that foot.

 

 

 

 

post #8 of 11

My favorite wedge breaker is wedges taught well.

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post

My favorite wedge breaker is wedges taught well.


forgot about that one ;)

 

even though I am on the same page.

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by epic View Post

My favorite wedge breaker is wedges taught well.



Quite true ... I have been handed this class as kids who are already "blues" ... but you make an excellent point.

 

Thanks to all who have replied so far - I am definitely going to mix in some flatter ground and backward drills ... glad to see everyone likes the sideslips and shuffles ... and the teapot suggestion is a winner.  And yes, I have noticed the little fellers will try to bank to the inside of the turns.

post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

A hearty thanks to all who responded to this thread ... it helped me quite a bit through my first year teaching, and I am pleased to say I got certified a couple weeks ago and hope to advance and contribute for a long time.

 

Thanks again-

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