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teaching techniques..

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 

hey guys, 

 

so im a PSIA certified alpine instructor and ive been teaching kids and adults for the past 7 years. however over the last couple of weeks i have noticed that some of my techniques feel outdated or old to me and im not as enthusiastic about them as i used to be. 

 

this kinda sucks because i want to be as excited about my lesson as my class is, so if anyone has some fresh new ideas, games, techniques, whatever to share it would be greatly appreciated!

 

(also if there is another thread about this i apologize, as i am still new to the site)

post #2 of 17
Welcome, 103.

I get new ideas for teaching by participating in a lot of training/clinics. I steal ideas from others in the clinics. If your ski area doesn't offer clinics, get some of your colleagues together and just try your own. Spend some $$$ for PSIA clinics. I've been to at least a hundred over the last 40-odd years and cannot recall more than one or two where I didn't come away with some different/new thought.
post #3 of 17

By all means go to any resort or PSIA training you can get to. Ski with you're coworkers and pick their brains. Most of all, learn something new yourself. Start snowboarding or teleing. My wife and I took ballroom dance classes, from which I was able to steal a couple good ideas. This winter a local fireworks company is offering classes in being shooters (ever wonder what a shell does when you put in the mortar upside down? we get to try it).

Most of all find chances to be a beginner again. For me actively learning something makes it easier to to share the enthusiasm with my students.

post #4 of 17

Here are four things to make sure you are teaching your students. After that it is just creating games to get them to feel/see/do these.

 

1. Center of Mass is over our feet. Most CoM is around the navel. In younger children it moves up to the chest do to their larger heads in proportion to their bodies. This is CoM, not hips. by trying to bring our hips too over our feet we lock out the hip flexor muscles and so lose there range of motion to complement the knees and ankles.

 

2. Legs turn more than our hips. With balance comes the ability to turn the femurs inside the hip sockets. We want our hips on up to face in the direction of the new turn. In a longer radius turn that might be more towards the edge of the trail. In a short radius turn it would be more towards the fall line. When we release the ski into the new turn our legs will naturally realign with our hips assisting entry into the new turn. Then by continuing to turn our legs we can shape the turn to control speed and direction.

 

3. Keep an active inside half. This goes right along with #2 in that we want the inside hip/shoulder/hand leading into the turn.

 

4. Selectively direct energy from outside ski to outside ski. Key words are selective and energy. Selective means I dictate how much energy goes. In a open track parallel on low angle terrain I'll direct some energy to the outside, but still stay fairly evenly weighted on both feet. The more I tip on edge and become dynamic the more energy I need to direct to the outside ski to counter act the forces pulling me down the hill. Energy is different from weight. I don't want to just push weight to the outside ski. That often brings out chattering and/or breaking away. Instead I am taking the forces I built up in the previous turn and actively moving into the new turn.

 

Experiment with what you do to promote those four things in your own skiing and some simple drills may arise. Then create a game that emphasizes that drill. I'd love to hear what you come up with. 

 

Nate

post #5 of 17

Great ideas above^.

 

It helps me to keep my teaching fresh by always working on or refining something in my own skiing.  I then take this concept & try to break it down & see how it fits with my students wants, needs & level of skill development.  Where will it fit in & how can it help to enhance their innate  strengths or simply replace some quirk or ineffective movement that may be hindering their progress.  It may seem a bit selfish ;), in that while you are coaching them through the process you are also anchoring the movement for yourself by practicing at a slower speed or on easier terrain.  It also keeps you honest by making sure that your demos are precise  & accurate.

 

Of course none of this works if you are not constantly seeking current & contemporary input on your own skiing.

 

Good Luck,

 

JF

post #6 of 17

My ski school wrapped up multi-weeks this weekend.  I was off Sunday afternoon.  Normally I would go free-ski but, looking forward to making a little composite video of our school at work strictly for entertainment at the end-of-season party I instead cruised around the mountain to grab some impromptu footage of instructors doing their real thing rather than performing for video.

 

I've been with the school for 15 years and have attended a lot of clinics where the trainers and veterans share their tips and tricks.  The bag of tricks is big but not unlimited, pretty soon they start cycling through stuff you've seen before.  BUT when I got out of clinic and went out to just watch folks with anywhere from zero year's to 35 year's experience, I got to see them allowing their personality to come out - everyone has their own variations on the old chestnuts - everyone has stuff they use but don't share because they are not a clinic leader or they don't think it is worthy or whatever.  Anyway, the point is you can pick up a lot from your peers if you are open to it.  The trainers and veterans aren't the only ones with tips and tricks.  If you observe your peers in their natural habitat, you might see them presenting stuff they wouldn't consider 'presenting' to you in a formal setting.  (You might also come across an authoritative answer-guy who puts on a good show in clinic, putting on a terrible show out in the world.)  It is pretty instructive!

 

 

post #7 of 17

Borrowing an activity from another pro isn't a bad idea as long as you understand why they used it with you in the first place. Using it with everyone simply because it's a new toy doesn't make much sense and is a very bad idea. If you have any doubts about this, talk to the pro who introduced you to the new activity. At some point you will gain the insight and experience to use the same activity to focus on any of the three skill pools but until you reach that point resist the urge to use that move outside the context you first saw it being used. Stick to the tried and true stuff. It might be a bit boring to you but not to your students who are hearing it for the first time. 

post #8 of 17

I personally like inventing stuff. Some of my best tool have been my own inventions based on nate's basic ideas.

post #9 of 17

That's my point Josh. Blooms last piece is what we're talking about here. Before that point the creative urge is there but the knowledge base is often lacking.

post #10 of 17
Originally Posted by nateteachski View Post

Here are four things to make sure you are teaching your students. After that it is just creating games to get them to feel/see/do these.

 

1. Center of Mass is over our feet. Most CoM is around the navel. In younger children it moves up to the chest do to their larger heads in proportion to their bodies. This is CoM, not hips. by trying to bring our hips too over our feet we lock out the hip flexor muscles and so lose their range of motion to complement the knees and ankles.

 

2. Legs turn more than our hips. With balance comes the ability to turn the femurs inside the hip sockets. We want our hips on up to face in the direction of the new turn. In a longer radius turn that might be more towards the edge of the trail. In a short radius turn it would be more towards the fall line. When we release the ski into the new turn our legs will naturally realign with our hips assisting entry into the new turn. Then by continuing to turn our legs we can shape the turn to control speed and direction.

 

3. Keep an active inside half. This goes right along with #2 in that we want the inside hip/shoulder/hand leading into the turn.

 

4. Selectively direct energy from outside ski to outside ski. Key words are selective and energy. Selective means I dictate how much energy goes. In a open track parallel on low angle terrain I'll direct some energy to the outside, but still stay fairly evenly weighted on both feet. The more I tip on edge and become dynamic the more energy I need to direct to the outside ski to counter act the forces pulling me down the hill. Energy is different from weight. I don't want to just push weight to the outside ski. That often brings out chattering and/or breaking away. Instead I am taking the forces I built up in the previous turn and actively moving into the new turn.

 

Experiment with what you do to promote those four things in your own skiing and some simple drills may arise. Then create a game that emphasizes that drill. I'd love to hear what you come up with. 

 

Nate

I've been presented this same foursome recently in a training clinic at my mountain.  It was a detailed and informative presentation, full of all kinds of explanations of what these four things mean.  I didn't get the chance to ask this question then, but I'll ask it now.  How come these four things don't directly address doing anything with the new inside ski as the new turn is initiated?

 

#3 is an excellent opportunity to talk about releasing the inside ski at the very start of the turn, but #3 in your post and in the presentation I got just specifically addressed only the hip/shoulder/hand.  #3 also is the place to talk about leading the turn by making sure you turn that new inside ski actively as a steered turn begins, and to make sure you actively edge that inside ski as a new carved ski begins.  Ways of "getting the new inside ski out of the way" of the new outside ski could be addressed here too, but no.  No mention of the foot, the ski, the turning, the edging, the new inside knee. Nothing below the hip is mentioned.

 

#4 is an excellent opportunity to talk about what you do with the new inside ski/foot/leg as you are "directing energy from outside ski to outside ski early."  [In our presentation, the word "early" was there at the end of the sentence, and our presenter made a big deal of the "early" part.]  This fourth directive comes mighty close to saying "push" on that new outside ski.  So close, in fact, that you have added the disclaimer "I don't want to just push weight to the outside ski."  We all know what the result of this is, and how common it is for recreational skiers to "push" on that outside ski.  If #4 had also included what you do with the new inside ski as you "direct that energy" to the other one, this problem would be gone.  But no, no mention of the new inside ski, leg, knee, foot.  Without that, #4 can easily be mistaken as a suggestion to "push."  Actually, in clinics taught to instructors at my mountain, they just go ahead and say "push." Several trainers have likened this "directing energy" thing to pushing off the ski, as we do in skating.  That's fine, if the new inside ski is out of the way, if the new inside knee is flexed, turned, tipped, etc, if it's done early in order to create a top for the turn.  "Directing energy to the new outside ski early" is equivalent to extending forward/diagonally off that ski. But doing this is not so good if the skier hasn't done what they need to do with the inside leg.

 

Does anyone who has encountered this four-focus list know why the people who put it together were so particular about not mentioning the new inside leg/knee/ski? 
 

 

post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by justanotherskipro View Post

That's my point Josh. Blooms last piece is what we're talking about here. Before that point the creative urge is there but the knowledge base is often lacking.



Bloom's taxonomy?  

post #12 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post

I've been presented this same foursome recently in a training clinic at my mountain.  It was a detailed and informative presentation, full of all kinds of explanations of what these four things mean.  I didn't get the chance to ask this question then, but I'll ask it now.  How come these four things don't directly address doing anything with the new inside ski as the new turn is initiated?

 

#3 is an excellent opportunity to talk about releasing the inside ski at the very start of the turn, but #3 in your post and in the presentation I got just specifically addressed only the hip/shoulder/hand.  #3 also is the place to talk about leading the turn by making sure you turn that new inside ski actively as a steered turn begins, and to make sure you actively edge that inside ski as a new carved ski begins.  Ways of "getting the new inside ski out of the way" of the new outside ski could be addressed here too, but no.  No mention of the foot, the ski, the turning, the edging, the new inside knee. Nothing below the hip is mentioned.

 

#4 is an excellent opportunity to talk about what you do with the new inside ski/foot/leg as you are "directing energy from outside ski to outside ski early."  [In our presentation, the word "early" was there at the end of the sentence, and our presenter made a big deal of the "early" part.]  This fourth directive comes mighty close to saying "push" on that new outside ski.  So close, in fact, that you have added the disclaimer "I don't want to just push weight to the outside ski."  We all know what the result of this is, and how common it is for recreational skiers to "push" on that outside ski.  If #4 had also included what you do with the new inside ski as you "direct that energy" to the other one, this problem would be gone.  But no, no mention of the new inside ski, leg, knee, foot.  Without that, #4 can easily be mistaken as a suggestion to "push."  Actually, in clinics taught to instructors at my mountain, they just go ahead and say "push." Several trainers have likened this "directing energy" thing to pushing off the ski, as we do in skating.  That's fine, if the new inside ski is out of the way, if the new inside knee is flexed, turned, tipped, etc, if it's done early in order to create a top for the turn.  "Directing energy to the new outside ski early" is equivalent to extending forward/diagonally off that ski. But doing this is not so good if the skier hasn't done what they need to do with the inside leg.

 

Does anyone who has encountered this four-focus list know why the people who put it together were so particular about not mentioning the new inside leg/knee/ski? 
 

 


Those are some excellent questions Liquid. My feeling is that we often concentrate so much on the inside foot/ski that we don't do any of the above. 

With the active inside half the idea is that the hip creates and sort of tip lead, not the other way around. I've seen it thrown out around here before to use javelin turn to be aware of an inside leading hip. What to watch for in the javelin turn is is the skier turning the ski tip down the hill to show the javelin or is the result of a hip looking toward the new turn that when we remove the resistance of snow that our tip points in the direction of the new turn. They are two very different things.

In terms of directing energy from outside ski to outside ski try this. to a couple traverses on the uphill ski only to see if you can do them. Then in a few more traverses half way across put your downhill foot down. Do you sense a change in power from one to the other? I don't agree (as stated early) that we push on the ski. I feel there is a big difference between weight and energy. That may be just me and I may need to work on how I present that better.

Just about the only time I think of my inside leg, during dynamic skiing, is a turn transition. I want to make sure that as the ski come back underneath me that I am shortening that new inside leg and also beginning to dorsiflex my inside ankle to drive through the boot, but that all happens above the fall line and by the fall line, if not earlier, I am directing the energy of the last turn to the new outside ski and driving through that boot as the skis come back underneath.

Someone once said to me, "Get in and get out". The meaning of that is that often the turn feels so sweet we hold on to it a second to long. At the time you are getting into the turn you should already be thinking about getting out and as your getting out you need to start moving into the next one.

 

post #13 of 17

Bingo! Getting a student to understand most of the turning effort is in a third of a turn and the other two thirds is transitioning into and out of that strong turning phase. Good Job Nate!

Some additional information that I though might help other understand this follows. If it's a bit redundant within the thread, or a bit simplistic I appologize in advance.

 

 

Aligning the body along the balance axis by abducting and flexing a leg isn't hard. Unfortunately a lot of students assume we are also telling them to move the hip and torso over so it's balanced on the other (unbent) leg. That's the fallacy behind the opinion that we alway need to perform an active weight shifting move. It's certainly an option but on today's skis it's really not a necessity. I'm sure someone here will point out that angulation is all about doing that and they are correct. All I'm saying is during the transition to the strong shaping phase (the 1/3 point in a turn) angulation and active weight shifts are mostly superfluous and in most cases actually mucks up the new turn. The physics tells us it will occur quite naturally but only if we let it occur. When we force it to occur what happens in the rest of the turn is often very negatively affected. I call it too much of a good thing turning into a bad thing.

 

When we get into that strong shaping phase all of this changes a bit and inclination alone doesn't alway provide us with enough lateral tipping (RoM) to work the outside ski effectively. Especially in more dynamic turns where we want the skis to whip back across the hill. It's interesting that as we work the ski in this phase we also need to be setting up to exit this strong shaping phase in a way that allows us to easily transition to the next strong shaping phase. So all of this angulation that helped us shape the current turn is actually leaving us too far inside the turn to begin that transition towards the next turn. The easiest solution is to progressively release the body towards the next turn while the feet continue to turn across the hill. They are simultaneously and progressively releasing into the new turn as they move under the body and it's important to understand that the actual moment of edge release becomes nothing more than a consequence of this series of actions that are occuring over almost the entire last half of the current turn. In other words the brief moment where the ski's edges disengage represents only a small part of the release.

 

Finally I want to thank Ron LeMaster for his efforts to educate all of us and point out that his mentor (Jouber)t was working on most of this stuff back in the sixties. So while we might think a lot of this stuff is new, it's not. When we understand these concepts and how the fundamental skills relate to them, a lot of our efforts to re-invent the wheel usually goes away. What's left is our efforts to creatively share these ideas with our students. That's where great coaches excel and lesser coaches find themself searching for progressions developed by someone else. Not that using those progressions is a bad thing for folks who don't totally understand the underlying concepts behind those progressions. I encourage newer coaches to do exactly that but like I said in post 7, I also encourage them to seek that deeper level of understanding so they don't end up using a drill simply because it's new to them and they think it's a universal cure.

 

post #14 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by nateteachski View Post
....Just about the only time I think of my inside leg, during dynamic skiing, is a turn transition. I want to make sure that as the ski come back underneath me that I am shortening that new inside leg and also beginning to dorsiflex my inside ankle to drive through the boot, but that all happens above the fall line and by the fall line, if not earlier, I am directing the energy of the last turn to the new outside ski and driving through that boot as the skis come back underneath.


EXACTLY!  ... and think how many people don't do this.  So why isn't it mentioned?  Attempting to "direct energy from outside foot to outside foot" is going to be a very bad thing if nothing consciously learned and implemented happens with the inside foot.  That foot will be in the way; the skier will necessarily get stuck in the back seat during transition; the skier will go "UP" when that new outside leg extends to "direct energy" onto the ski attached to it if nothing is done with the new inside ski, there will be a stem entry, followed by a skid that is not controlled in its shape and intensity, "hip dumping" may result, and so on.

 

So why are they leaving out the release and the stuff accompanying it?  This can't be a case of forgetting.  These folks surely know what they are doing.  I just want to know why, if anyone reading this is in the loop.

post #15 of 17


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post



EXACTLY!  ... and think how many people don't do this.  So why isn't it mentioned?  Attempting to "direct energy from outside foot to outside foot" is going to be a very bad thing if nothing consciously learned and implemented happens with the inside foot.  That foot will be in the way; the skier will necessarily get stuck in the back seat during transition; the skier will go "UP" when that new outside leg extends to "direct energy" onto the ski attached to it if nothing is done with the new inside ski, there will be a stem entry, followed by a skid that is not controlled in its shape and intensity, "hip dumping" may result, and so on.

 

So why are they leaving out the release and the stuff accompanying it?  This can't be a case of forgetting.  These folks surely know what they are doing.  I just want to know why, if anyone reading this is in the loop.


In and of itself, selectively directing energy from outside ski to outside ski may result in what you have said although I will bring up the selective piece again. It is not a right here, right now, with this percentage of pressure thing. The skier chooses what is appropriate through experience.

Combining the four together is what brings out the best outcome. Your legs can not continue to turn under your body as you CoM moves over your skis if you do not shorten the inside leg.

Maybe a fifth component should be that our legs shorten and lengthen as dictated by turn shape, speed, and terrain pitch, but I think it is inherent if the other four are used together.

 

post #16 of 17

 


Originally Posted by nateteachski

 

In and of itself, selectively directing energy from outside ski to outside ski may result in what you have said although I will bring up the selective piece again. It is not a right here, right now, with this percentage of pressure thing. The skier chooses what is appropriate through experience.

Combining the four together is what brings out the best outcome. Your legs can not continue to turn under your body as you CoM moves over your skis if you do not shorten the inside leg.

Maybe a fifth component should be that our legs shorten and lengthen as dictated by turn shape, speed, and terrain pitch, but I think it is inherent if the other four are used together.

 

 

Exactly, the skier chooses what to do through experience.

It becomes inherent for instructors (some of them), inherent if you already know to ski well, but it's not inherent if you are teaching intermediates.  Or beginners.  

The inside leg action is counter-intuitive.  I've found that it must be taught.  

post #17 of 17

Do you have the Captain Zembo book? Lots of games in there.

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