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Need some proffesional advice

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

 I have a son who is a normal kid and pretty goo athlete with everything but seems stuck with skiing. We ski most weekends and this is his 8th year. He has skied 8 days this year. He typically skis 8-12 days per year at Squaw Valley My older son (great skier) and I ski twice that, but he just doesn't want to go because he is stuck in this back seat almost snow plow. I did this video on a very easy hill. It just gets worse on more and all the issues are obvious. His boots are a Salomon ladies boot 85 flex. Surefeet said he isn't flexing them. I thought they would work fine because he is 115 lbs and Salomon boots run a little softer. I do have some 80 flex Atomics that he could wear. They are a size bigger. I just don't have the money to go have him fitted on a pair of boots for 4-6 more days this year. BTW we are headed to Park City in 3 days and it's suppose to snow there the whole time. I really want to help him enjoy this sport. I can get used boots if needed. I don't think I'm willing to lay down $300 for a lesson. First, do you think it's equipment? I'd be sure if he hasn't had this problem in other boots. Second, do you have some advise on drills.

post #2 of 22

You raise several related but distinct topics here:  1) technique, 2) boot fit, 3) motivation.

 

1) Your son skis exactly like most people do with modest snow time and little or no instruction. Nothing whatsoever for you or him to feel bad about. He needs some lessons from professionals (not you) whose job it is to know how to help him improve effectively.

 

2) Part of #1 should be looking into #2. Meanwhile do NOT put him in a bigger boot if the current one fits. (The current boot might itself be too big, given the normal odds on this topic.) If the instructor says the current boots are problematic in some way, a boot fitter may be able to fix them - e.g, make them softer, maybe put a layer of bontex under the liner to take up volume if they are slightly too big, etc., etc.

 

3) The thing that's going to make the kid want to ski more is having more fun. For most kids - how old is he? - that means skiing with other kids, in a group that's out rollicking around just enjoying being out there on skis. Ideally he'd be in a group where he was neither the weakest nor the strongest skier. In  perfect world, he'd be in a half-day group program run by a coach, with a light emphasis on technique and a heavy emphasis on exploration and camaraderie. It may be that skiing all the time with the rest of his family - especially if they are very good skiers, and especially if they are all older, and especially if - be honest with yourself here - they are prone to the occasional critical remark, just feels like failure to him. I have made these mistakes with my own kid and have - mostly - learned to keep my mouth shut, with - mostly - better results.

 

My two cents.

 

EDIT: If you can get him to a real boot fitter in the next couple of days for a fit and flex check, that might go a long ways toward understanding the answers to some of your questions. The idea is not to go "boot shopping." The idea is to validate that the current boots are not catastrophically wrong in some way (like, two sizes too big), and maybe to tweak them slightly if they are roughly okay but out of spec in some detail such as flex or alignment.

post #3 of 22
Perfect response. Twice for emphasis wink.gif
post #4 of 22

Very good response indeed.

 

Here is my 2c. I would like to suggest that his lack of forward lean most likely is not because of the boots. I think that his skis play a major role here. I'm just guessing but I think that the twin tip skis he is skiing with are both too short and badly tuned. Also, they should maybe have a bit more side cut. At the moment he is getting absolutely no performance out from his skis. This is holding him back. Makes him defensive. His boots seem to have adequate forward lean from what I see so IMO try other skis first. And take a lesson. What I did and still do with my kids is I ski in front and they follow. I whent faster every year and nowadays I cannot outski them in speed or endurance. Easily anyway. We made it a fun thing and that's what made it last so long.

post #5 of 22
Thread Starter 

You are right in that he is the weakest link in family skiing and we all give far too much advise. We tell ourselves that we want to help him, but it's borderline on us just wanting to ski something more. He has to have 100-120 days on skis though and his friends that ski half as much ski just as well. I'll take this advise and pay a lot of attention to not pushing. I will also get him in a lesson. He throws a fit about being in a lesson too. I don't think he knows what to expect. The skis are a little short. They come to his mouth. 5 ft tall and they are 138's. They are Volkl Mantras about 6 or 7 years old. What is a more appropriate ski. Brother and his friends skied well on these. Maybe I just don't remember because they have moved on so much. BTW He is 12.

post #6 of 22

Don't know if I'm allowed to reply here, but at 8 days per year, he is starting almost from scratch each year, so the 120 days means little.

 

Have you thought about snowboarding? That way he (and you!) could not compare so easily and he'd have his own thing. Also, snowboarding has a much shorter learning curve, meaning he may be ready for "more" terrain sooner. No need to purchase equipment, there are great deals out there for beginner lessons/rentals/ticket packages.

 

In the video, it seems like he does not have confidence in his skis. That could be his technique or the skis or the boots. Could look like that if the boots are too big or maybe too soft and not transmitting his movements to the skis. When were the skis last tuned? 6-7 year old skis...How many days did older brothers ski on them, and perhaps ski hard on them? They may be not only too short, but worn out, which could account for brothers did OK on them but he didn't.

 

Maybe you could rent all the equipment for him this next trip and see if it helps.

 

If he doesn't feel like he has good control, that will make for defensive skiing and feelings of failure.

 

Heck I wouldn't want to ski if that was the internal and external feedback I got every time.

post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 

Great feedback. Trying to weed all that out myself. The boots are definitely not too soft. They are new so not worn out. I'm a little concerned with too stiff. Surefeet boot fitter said he believed they were. No reason to doubt him there. They do fit him well. The skis have maybe 50 days on them.  I don't think that wears them out. They haven't been skied all those years. They sat 3 years unused.

 

The first day this year, we rented and he did well. That's a good idea. His skiing only 8 days a year is a good point. I'm just wanting to make him find a way to enjoy it more. That way he'll want to join us more. It's such a great way for a family to spend time together. I think I'll just chill and let him do whatever he does.

post #8 of 22

I was a little bit unclear on parts of your post. This video is your younger son? How old is he exactly?

 

IMHO the boots may be OK - his stance really doesn't look that bad fore/aft, and the skis are probably fine too. What's probably really getting him is that he doesn't have the skills and he has to try and keep up with the rest of the family. Try skiing like him and see how hard it is. If I had him in a lesson (and I do all of the time), I'd take him to the easiest terrain I have and work on his wedge turns - the wedge turns would be very different from what he is doing now and would teach him how to do something he does not do now. Change his edges. In the video he is always on opposing edges. He is making his skis turn with his upper body (you can see him throw the shoulder around to make it happen). The wedge turn will make him use his feet to make his skis turn him.

 

Here are a few threads on wedge turns and how they relate to higher performance skiing. He is an easy fix if he'll let somebody fix him.

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/7969/those-turns-illustrated

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/98685/three-wedge-turns-brakey-glidey-glideiest

 

http://www.epicski.com/t/53658/need-review-of-modern-wedge-christie-mechanics-for-my-level-i-exam

post #9 of 22
Each season I get a group of kids to ski with all season long. Your son is very typical of someone starting a seasonal program. They stem turns or are in a perpetual wedge and use upper body rotation. That's if they turn at all. By the end of the season, provided they show up regularly, we have pretty strong skiers. It takes 3 hours on Sat and another 3 on Sun for 13 weekends. It doesn't just happen. It also means a season pass and about the same cost for all the coaching.

If he did a half day with a coach you would be very happy with the results. Nothing he's doing seems far from what everyone else would be doing with a similar circumstance.

The biggest thing I've found in coaching kids that helps the most is being able to get them to understand what it is you want them to do. You can say things like "finish your turn" all day long. What the really need to know is how to finish the turn.

Getting them to do things so they feel the sensation they need is also key.
post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 

It is my son and he is 12. I appreciate the links. I need to find a way to get him in a lesson. Thanks

post #11 of 22
Thread Starter 

That's probably a good plan for his long term enjoyment. His pass is under $200 at Squaw but the programs you are talking about are thousands. Am I missing something?

post #12 of 22

First of all, does he like skiing?

 

When I was little, my mother pushed me to take piano and cello lessons, which I hated. Now, I'm an award winning electric guitar player.  Maybe you should "force" him to ride the snowboard. That might make him an excellent skier. -- kid psychology

post #13 of 22

There has got to be some affordable lesson packages right? All the resorts around here have three time learn to ski deals for 100. 3 tics, 3 lessons and three rentals.

Just get him in a group lesson away from the rest of the fam damily he likely will clean all your clocks before too long.

post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by vontress View Post

That's probably a good plan for his long term enjoyment. His pass is under $200 at Squaw but the programs you are talking about are thousands. Am I missing something?

East coast competitive pricing. Where I work the program is under $500 for the season.

I know it gets expensive and as a parent, I feel for parents trying to get their kids in this sport. One of the reasons I got into teaching was so I could get better deals and be able to justify the cost.

I honestly believe that if you were to get your son in a private lesson for a couple hours with someone known for coaching kids, you would be amazed at the difference. Unfortunately, what you out into it ($) is directly proportional to what you get out of it. I assure you, I've done this for myself and have put big bucks into my training to include an all day private with an examiner. It is not cheap but it was by far the best coaching I ever had and improved my skiing the most.

I don't think you need to do that with your son. Resorts deal with kids like him everyday. Is there an After School Program in your area? They are usually a great deal and his skiing will improve. It just takes several week to get what you could get out of a private in a few hours.

Maybe and instructor from Squaw will see this and send a PM to set something up that would work well for your son and your wallet.

Ken
post #15 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

Each season I get a group of kids to ski with all season long. Your son is very typical of someone starting a seasonal program. They stem turns or are in a perpetual wedge and use upper body rotation. That's if they turn at all. By the end of the season, provided they show up regularly, we have pretty strong skiers. It takes 3 hours on Sat and another 3 on Sun for 13 weekends. It doesn't just happen. It also means a season pass and about the same cost for all the coaching.

If he did a half day with a coach you would be very happy with the results. Nothing he's doing seems far from what everyone else would be doing with a similar circumstance.

The biggest thing I've found in coaching kids that helps the most is being able to get them to understand what it is you want them to do. You can say things like "finish your turn" all day long. What the really need to know is how to finish the turn.

Getting them to do things so they feel the sensation they need is also key.
 

This is it.  I've got two kids, one of whom just "got it" naturally.  She could just copy what a good skier was doing, and do it.  The other daughter was stuck in a rut like vontress' son for a couple of years. I got her in a group lesson that had a strong emphasis on exercises and on breaking down the steps of the turn mechanically, and it's done wonders for her skiing.  And in her case, it took practice, too -- a couple of hours each week going over the exercises and practicing her skiing, in addition to the lessons and free skiing.

post #16 of 22
Thread Starter 

I'm walking a fine line on whats good for him and what he wants to do. I think he needs training to improve his fun and he believes he needs to be left alone. Both probably true. I think a little of both may be in order. I can afford it and would if I thought it would really improve. I've just seen so many programs that do nothing. I think the key is the right instructor and for kids.

post #17 of 22
Thread Starter 
Went to the shop today and skis and boots are in great shape. Need to let nature take its course. How come they grow up so fast except for skiing. Then I'll probably get 2 years and I won't be able to hang with him. Thanks all.
post #18 of 22

Does he have a friend from school that skis/snowboards or would be interested in learning? I know growing up this was a tactic my parents used all the time to get my brother to do things he didn't really want to do.  

As far as my analysis from the video, the biggest thing that sticks out is that he is tight and appears to be over thinking it. Relaxing and just focusing on having fun will transform his skiing. Skiing with some friends (wether it be a friend that you bring up or kids he meets in ski school) will really make a big difference. 

post #19 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by marymack View Post

Does he have a friend from school that skis/snowboards or would be interested in learning? I know growing up this was a tactic my parents used all the time to get my brother to do things he didn't really want to do.  
As far as my analysis from the video, the biggest thing that sticks out is that he is tight and appears to be over thinking it. Relaxing and just focusing on having fun will transform his skiing. Skiing with some friends (wether it be a friend that you bring up or kids he meets in ski school) will really make a big difference. 

This is a very good point. My daughter is a HS racer. Not because she loves racing so much, but because she loves hanging out with her friends. Her favorite part is the bus ride. Go figure.
post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by vontress View Post

Great feedback. Trying to weed all that out myself. The boots are definitely not too soft. They are new so not worn out. I'm a little concerned with too stiff. Surefeet boot fitter said he believed they were. No reason to doubt him there. They do fit him well. The skis have maybe 50 days on them.  I don't think that wears them out. They haven't been skied all those years. They sat 3 years unused.

The first day this year, we rented and he did well. That's a good idea. His skiing only 8 days a year is a good point. I'm just wanting to make him find a way to enjoy it more. That way he'll want to join us more. It's such a great way for a family to spend time together. I think I'll just chill and let him do whatever he does.
When you close the boots, make sure that the strap does not go over the plastic, but just the liner's tongue, you may have to tuck it under the shell. Also, the upper buckles - do not make them tight. That should give a more progressive feel and remove the concern with the boots too stiff.
post #21 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by qcanoe View Post
 

You raise several related but distinct topics here:  1) technique, 2) boot fit, 3) motivation.

 

1) Your son skis exactly like most people do with modest snow time and little or no instruction. Nothing whatsoever for you or him to feel bad about. He needs some lessons from professionals (not you) whose job it is to know how to help him improve effectively.

 

2) Part of #1 should be looking into #2. Meanwhile do NOT put him in a bigger boot if the current one fits. (The current boot might itself be too big, given the normal odds on this topic.) If the instructor says the current boots are problematic in some way, a boot fitter may be able to fix them - e.g, make them softer, maybe put a layer of bontex under the liner to take up volume if they are slightly too big, etc., etc.

 

3) The thing that's going to make the kid want to ski more is having more fun. For most kids - how old is he? - that means skiing with other kids, in a group that's out rollicking around just enjoying being out there on skis. Ideally he'd be in a group where he was neither the weakest nor the strongest skier. In  perfect world, he'd be in a half-day group program run by a coach, with a light emphasis on technique and a heavy emphasis on exploration and camaraderie. It may be that skiing all the time with the rest of his family - especially if they are very good skiers, and especially if they are all older, and especially if - be honest with yourself here - they are prone to the occasional critical remark, just feels like failure to him. I have made these mistakes with my own kid and have - mostly - learned to keep my mouth shut, with - mostly - better results.

 

My two cents.

 

EDIT: If you can get him to a real boot fitter in the next couple of days for a fit and flex check, that might go a long ways toward understanding the answers to some of your questions. The idea is not to go "boot shopping." The idea is to validate that the current boots are not catastrophically wrong in some way (like, two sizes too big), and maybe to tweak them slightly if they are roughly okay but out of spec in some detail such as flex or alignment.

This, but also, honestly does your son want to ski or do you want him to ski? Does he really not want to go skiing because of his technique? or because he feels that he is not meeting yours or other family members expectations and therefore feels like he is doomed to be a ski failure. As a parent of a 10 year old son I sometimes have to remind myself that he is not me and he might not get the same buzz from something that I do, for us it's mountain biking, so have learnt to back off, he'll get there in his own time if he wants to.

 

Also, the mantras are quite a lot of ski, maybe trying something a little less stiff and more forgiving might give him some confidence. And I am about to be a bit flippant, so please don't be offended, I realise that you are trying to do the best for your son, but look at it through the eyes of a 12 year old, my dad and brothers make me go skiing with them even though I suck at skiing, especially compared to them. On top of that I have girls boots and my brothers old skis that are impossible to control.

 

If he wants to ski get him into a regular programme with kids of a similar age and ability (talk to ski school in advance of arriving at the mountain). He's 12 so old enough to take feedback from a coach and apply it, so frustrating as it will be I'd also make a point of not asking the coach what your son needs to work on, but do ask ask your son "how did it go?" "Was it fun?" because right now enjoyment is key - after a session ask your son if there s anything he wants to work on and how you can help (terrain choice, watch and provide positive feedback when he does something good.

 

Maybe at the end of the season if it all goes well, you and your son could shop together for some gear that he has some emotional investment in.

post #22 of 22
if you're looking for drills, skills and what to do - take a look at the USSA skills website - http://ussa.org/alpine-programs/athletes/development/skillsquest/skiing-assessment go by phase/age or by skill. they'll show you what to do.

at that age they develop much faster in a learning environment, with other kids - so if you can put him in an age appropriate program it's better. should not cost more than a few hundred bucks - say a pair of skis.

also, if you want him to get into this, get him all the equipment he should have, i.e. slalom or short radius skis to learn on - twin tips are not condusive to learning proper skiing I don't think. i know they're cool, but explain to him that he can get them back (or a proper sized pair) as soon as he passes some of the skills quests...

good luck.
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