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The value of a good instructor

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Just wanted to give a kudo to the instructor (and all those like him) who took my daughter out today.  For any who doubt the value or efficacy of a good instructor....read on.

 

This will be my daughters 3rd season (turned 7 a month ago).  Gets about 15-20 days on hill per year (might be a little more this year).  Signed her up again for the local hill multiweek, but wasn't sure what level she should be (I was debating between 5 or 6 - local levels, doesn't change the point of the story).  She had a half day of school today and I was off, so took her up and got her a private lesson, planned to ask the instructor what level she should be in for the multiweek.  We (my daughter and I) took a couple of runs on the bunny hill while waiting for the instructor.  It was her first time back on skis since last April, but I admit I had to fight to hide disappointment (5? 6? crap I'm not sure we shouldn't head back to the magic carpet).  OK maybe it wasn't really that bad but she seemed to be nowhere in the same time zone as where she left off last year.  Dropped her off with the instructor, told him about what she was doing last year, but that I was a little uncertain about what I had seen that morning.

 

Cut to 2.5 hours later (made plan to ski with them for the last half hour).  She is not only back to where she left off, but a little better.  Holding parallel on blues bordering on black, stable as a rock, comfortable.

 

You guys rock!  No way I could have done that

 

EDIT:  Hmmm...just re-read that and maybe I should clarify a bit before someone sics child protective services on me.  I am pretty certain she didn't notice the disappointment (although kids are REALLY perceptive), and in any case I think I was more puzzled/frustrated than disappointed ("what the heck happened in the last 8 mo?").  If she had NEVER been interested or shown an aptitude for skiing I wouldn't care.  I just really had no idea how to fix what I was seeing

 

 


Edited by Alveolus - 12/1/11 at 7:50pm
post #2 of 16

Thanks for sharing!  smile.gif

post #3 of 16

I'm sure your daughter got something from the instructor but all she really needed was a bit of time to get back in it. A couple runs on the bunny hill is not going to get the rust off from 8-9 months away. Good that you got her out early and let her get her bearings back.

post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Snowbowler View Post

I'm sure your daughter got something from the instructor but all she really needed was a bit of time to get back in it. A couple runs on the bunny hill is not going to get the rust off from 8-9 months away. Good that you got her out early and let her get her bearings back.


I can buy that.  I guess I was thinking of how she picks back up on a bicycle after being off of it for the winter, or gymnastics or tennis after several month layoffs.  But now that I think of it the sheer number of hours that she does those activities (especially the bicycle) lays down a lot more muscle memory than what she gets skiing.  The falloff was so dramatic that I stopped 3 separate times to check her boots/bindings.  Her skis also a fair bit longer this year (eyeball level, by the end of last year they were just about chin level) and that may have played a role.  Oh well, she was fine by the end of the day, grinning and asking when we would come up again, and would "Scott" be able to ski with her next time (he will - booked for the 10th)

 

post #5 of 16
Quote:

Originally Posted by Alveolus View Post

 

  No way I could have done that

 



As both a dad, and more recently, an instructor, I can tell you that sometimes half the battle is just finding someone other than dad to do the teaching. It is similar to trying to teach girlfriends/spouses.

 

There's just so much wrapped up in the dad/daughter relationship that most times, it is difficult for coaching/teaching to get through.

 

That, and instructors (good ones, anyway), know how to teach ski concepts to kids. It's part of what we're trained to do, and what we practice and learn through lots of experimentation - yes, we're experimenting on your kids ;-). Next time you talk with the coach post-lesson, ask about the games and drills they played. Not so much the concepts he was trying to teach, but the games and where they skied. Those are things you can repeat with your daughter that will make it fun.

 

It's great to hear that you both had fun - that's all that really matters. I explain to kids in lessons that there are only two rules - #1 - have fun, #2 - be safe.

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Sinecure View Post
 Next time you talk with the coach post-lesson, ask about the games and drills they played. Not so much the concepts he was trying to teach, but the games and where they skied. Those are things you can repeat with your daughter that will make it fun.

 

Couldn't agree more.  In fact that is why I like to tag along for the last part of a lesson if it is OK with the instructor (30 min of a 3 hour, 15-20 of a 2 hour).  I make a point of keeping my mouth shut other than an occasional "yay"  "good job".  Don't want to mess up the whole lesson, and I know that the simple presence of a parent can alter a students behavior, but if I didn't actually SEE the game/drill I would probably get it wrong when attempting it with her.  Last year picked up a flat 360 thing that is now a routine competition between us (going both left/right, how many in a row, how many before that tree).  Yesterday learned a "long leg/short leg" thing and also tag (amazing how well she does when concentrating on getting me, getting away, changing directions quickly rather than on "skiing")

 

Outside of obviously obnoxious parents, how do instructors feel about us tagging along for part of the lessons?

 

EDIT:  On the last question I seem to remember something somewhere about parents along for kids lessons, can't find the thread.  If someones knows where it is please point that direction.  My search-fu....it is weak.
 

 


Edited by Alveolus - 12/2/11 at 2:26pm
post #7 of 16

Sinecure has it nailed.  I let other instructors on staff teach my daughter  (she is now 14),  then we go out to fun ski together. During that time she loves showing me what she can do and telling me how good Manny or George or whoever is  and how they helped her.  I only give her instruction if she asks.

 

The two of you will have a lot of fun together.

post #8 of 16
I put my wife in the season-lesson pass program at Breck two years ago. When we ski together, I'm currently working on improving my tele technique, but when I'm on fixed-heel, I only respond to questions. Everything else is what someone else has instilled. It's going fine when she's not recovering from knee trauma.
post #9 of 16

As an instructor, I'm frankly not too keen with parents tagging along with lessons. Not that I'm trying to hide anything, far from it. I just find parents to be invariably distracting to their kids, whether its in a positive or negative way. In the end, the best I typically hope for when a parent shows up is that they don't negatively impact the lesson. I can't say that I've had it improve the lesson in any instance I can remember. Of course, every situation is different, so I can't say with any finality that you absolutely shouldn't do it since I don't know you or your daughter. But since you asked for an instructor's opinion, I give it.

 

Also as far as your daughter's regression and subsequent progression, you definitely have a contributing factor with longer skis. But that's only the start of it. As adults, we start each ski season with roughly the same body with which we finished the previous season. Yeah, we might have gained/lost weight, be another year older, be out of ski shape, but it's more or less the same materials we were working with a few months ago. With a child, not only are the skis they are on different, but their bodies are significantly different too. They are taller, heavier, have longer arms, longer legs, their center of balance has moved away from their heads and towards their hips. Imagine starting the season skiing on 5 inch stilts and holding your poles with those Hulk hands. Might make it a little difficult to get started. That being said, I think the instructor you got was obviously a good one to get her to recover her skills and build upon them in the course of an afternoon lesson. But this will be a battle your daughter will fight ever year for a while, especially once the dreaded puberty strikes. Worry not, she'll make it through just fine.

post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alveolus View Post

 

Outside of obviously obnoxious parents, how do instructors feel about us tagging along for part of the lessons?

 

 

 



I don't mind if parents tag along for a part of the lesson - the end is usually a good time. I typically suggest that they hang back and watch from a bit of a distance. If they're out of sight, the kids don't seem to notice. And I know that if they see us having fun, the chances of a tip go up. In fact, I will sometimes drop a hint to parents that ask to tag along. Something along the lines of "sure, I get better tips from parents who get to see how much fun we're having" - followed by my suggestion to hang back a bit. It's surprising how many parents/clients don't think to tip, or assume we get paid really well since they're paying a small fortune for our services. When they find out how much we actually get paid, they're usually stunned (especially if they're paying $500-$600/day for a non-request private).

post #11 of 16
Thread Starter 

Quote:

Originally Posted by freeski919 View Post

As an instructor, I'm frankly not too keen with parents tagging along with lessons.

I can see that.  Had one of her instructors offer a good idea when I asked about joining the last 30 min of a 3 hour private.  We met at the lift 15 min before the end of the lesson, all rode up together and talked about what my daughter was learning, what games drills they had done and how she was doing.  Then I followed them down a little ways behind and got to see games/drills (and also just how she was skiing and how they interacted).  Makes it a lot easier for me to do some of the same games with her later if I have seen them rather than just hearing about them (I never try to make her do a straight drill unless I can see an easy way to make a game out of it...skiing with dad should be fun, not homework)


Quote:

Originally Posted by Sinecure
I don't mind if parents tag along for a part of the lesson - the end is usually a good time. I typically suggest that they hang back and watch from a bit of a distance. If they're out of sight, the kids don't seem to notice. And I know that if they see us having fun, the chances of a tip go up. In fact, I will sometimes drop a hint to parents that ask to tag along. Something along the lines of "sure, I get better tips from parents who get to see how much fun we're having" - followed by my suggestion to hang back a bit. It's surprising how many parents/clients don't think to tip, or assume we get paid really well since they're paying a small fortune for our services. When they find out how much we actually get paid, they're usually stunned (especially if they're paying $500-$600/day for a non-request private).

I always tip 10-20%.  There was a thread on tips here in which I learned that when you specifically request an instructor, they get a larger percent of the total fee.  I now take that into account, but still hit the 10-20%.
 

 

post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sinecure View Post



I don't mind if parents tag along for a part of the lesson - the end is usually a good time. I typically suggest that they hang back and watch from a bit of a distance. If they're out of sight, the kids don't seem to notice. And I know that if they see us having fun, the chances of a tip go up. In fact, I will sometimes drop a hint to parents that ask to tag along. Something along the lines of "sure, I get better tips from parents who get to see how much fun we're having" - followed by my suggestion to hang back a bit. It's surprising how many parents/clients don't think to tip, or assume we get paid really well since they're paying a small fortune for our services. When they find out how much we actually get paid, they're usually stunned (especially if they're paying $500-$600/day for a non-request private).


Love your hint on the better tips. Most people assume we rake it in,and that our salary demands are why the lessons are so expensive,.mad.gif

 

 With the younger kids it is often better if the parent is not close by. I usually suggest they get a cup of coffee and come back in a while. If that doesn't work, remind them that its safer if they remain out of the way. What parent wont go for the safety issue.

 


 

 

post #13 of 16

It costs me a lot of money and bothers me even more b/c I am a very good skier BUT I know it is best for my daughter to be getting regular instruction.  It just works better for her.

 

My best success comes from a half day lesson or mountain explorers for her and then we ski together for a few hours after that.  She, usually, is talking my ears off about what they did and can't wait to show me.  Also, she has been with a consistent instructor at Mad River for the past 3 seasons and I also believe that is important rather than jumping from lesson to lesson.

 

She is a very cautious skier and vary calculated and I believe a lot of that comes from good instruction and knowing her limits.  She skis in control and is gaining the confidence to tackle challenging terrain.  Part of me wishes she had that "crazy" element to her but I would rather her take calculated risks rather than crazy ones.

 

However, she did close out the season riding the single chair at MRG at age 7 which made daddy very proud!

 

 

post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 

After daughters second private lesson with the same instructor, I thought an update and a few more thoughts might be helpful.  This is geared toward other self-taught, not-as-good-as-we-think-we-are,  parents with kids learning to ski.  The majority of posters in here may think “Well..DUH!”, but there are a lot of people that pass through here after a quick google.  Instructors feel free to point out any blatant (or dangerous) errors, I am beyond certain that my terminology will waaay off.  When the experts start gabbing back and forth sometimes I feel like the dog in the Gary Larson cartoon:

 

Experts talking: “The coefficient angle correlated with the speed index as compared to the degree of flexion when compensating for the slope should be much greater than the orbital rotation of your hips vs the declension angle of Mars.”

 

Me hearing: “Blah, blah, blah, your skiing sucks, blah blah blah”

 

1:  If you can at all afford a few private lessons for kiddo- do it.  Much better if you can do it with the same (good) instructor.  The improvement I have seen in her in a total  of 5 hours of one on one has been dramatic compared  to what I had seen prior.  I think the “same instructor” thing is very important (assuming a match between instructor and kid).  They know and are comfortable with each other, and are not starting from zero each session.  Next best thing (and cheaper) would be a mulitweek or camp group thing with the same instructor.

 

2. Those funny looking drills/games they are doing really do  have impact on their improvement.  Don’t get impatient thinking “Yeah great, you have shown Jr how to spin around flat on his/her skis…I want to see him actually SKI!”  I met the instructor and my daughter for hot chocolate near the end of her 3 hour lesson this week, talked about what she had been working on and then went out an followed them around for about 20 min.  Saw some strange (to me) things.  He would ski backward in front of her, drawing a line in the snow with his pole, that she would have to erase by side slipping across it ,  this happened at fairly high speed, for 100 ft at a time, wandering back and forth a bit but mostly following the fall line.  He would then say “Long leg” and she would flip around and continue erasing the line.  There was a lot of reminding to “look at me”, “ look  downhill” etc.  During some other drills I  was amused by the hyperexaggerated  “arms wide”, looked to me like she was getting ready to hug a massive non-existent aunt Minnie.

 

After a bit (by a bit I mean with me watching, they had been working on these for two half days together) of the “weird drills”, he said to my daughter “Get right behind me and follow me as close as you can”, he took off doing rapid short radius turns….and she not only kept up but I was REALLY impressed.   The thing that popped into my mind was a short video by someone here on Epicski (can’t find it now), of their approx 5 y/o boy carving some short radius turns.  “Wow, she wasn’t doing THAT last year!”  I know some of this is simply her getting older/stronger, but doubt she would be where she is, especially given moderately limited hill time without the excellent instruction.

 

I took a few pics, mostly during a (to me) awkward appearing, hyperexaggerated arms wide drill.  Unfortunately did not get any pics/video during the “follow me” phase.  With some of what I have learned reading here I can see in the pics that she is starting to get the upper/lower seperation, and angling her skis to some degree.  Most important however is the wide grin shown in the last pic.

 

IMG_2451_0923_web-1.jpg

 

IMG_2452_0926_crop_web.jpg

 

IMG_2473_0945_crop_web.jpg

 

/I have permission from the instructor to post the pics with him in them

post #15 of 16

That's some good looking angulation for a 7 year-old. Nice work. I like the idea of making them erase a line. I might have to figure out how to use that. Any instructors here have a better idea of how to set that up? What specifically might they be working on? I like the fact that it is yet another game to play - rather than a boring drill.

 

Oh, and I'm pretty sure you don't need his permission to post pictures of him. You took the pics, you own them. I suppose it is nice to ask though.

 

One other thing - IMO, that guy, and all kids' instructors - needs a helmet. We set examples. It shouldn't be "do as I say, not as I do" - but I guess that's an argument for a different thread.

post #16 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sinecure View Post

That's some good looking angulation for a 7 year-old. Nice work. I like the idea of making them erase a line. I might have to figure out how to use that. Any instructors here have a better idea of how to set that up? What specifically might they be working on? I like the fact that it is yet another game to play - rather than a boring drill.

 

Oh, and I'm pretty sure you don't need his permission to post pictures of him. You took the pics, you own them. I suppose it is nice to ask though.

 

One other thing - IMO, that guy, and all kids' instructors - needs a helmet. We set examples. It shouldn't be "do as I say, not as I do" - but I guess that's an argument for a different thread.


You may not need permission, but yes you're right, it's a nice point of courtesy to ask. 

 

And yes, it's a topic for yet another helmet thread. In general, kids like helmets. It's not hard to get them to wear them, but I digress. Aveo, it's great to see your daughter's eating up the opportunity you've given her, and great that you're trusting the instructor even if he seems to be doing things you might not initially understand. Parents can sometimes be their children's biggest obstacle to learning.

 

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