Originally Posted by LiquidFeet
Paraphrasing what you've said above in red:
--This last season you took 2 private lessons and skied 13 days.
--You watch instructional videos and read instructional stuff about skiing.
--You see doing drills and doing "real practice" as in conflict with skiing for fun, given the limited on-slope time you have.
--You think you should set goals but don't know how to do that.
--You wonder about what kind of progress you will make.
--You wonder if moving onto more difficult terrain and using video will help.
---In any lesson you should know why you are doing whatever exercises the teacher has you do. Those exercises should deliver a stronger skill base in your regular skiing -- eventually -- once the thing they teach becomes second nature to you. Sometimes this good result will happen once or twice during the lesson, but often it needs more time to kick in so that you know it's real.
--Always you'll need to practice afterwards to get the new stuff embedded in your skiing. This will usually involve repeating the exercises you did in the lesson.
--At the end of the lesson you should know how to evaluate the success of your practice. That is, you should know how to figure out on your own if you are doing things right.
--Skiing "for fun" at your current skill level will only make the old habits stronger and harder to supplant.
--Obviously you will need to practice the exercises until that success happens regularly, then work to embed that pay-off into your regular skiing.
--Your goal is for the pay-off to become unconsciously there all the time in your regular skiing. Conscious success precedes unconscious success.
Answers in blue
So I have some questions for you.
1. What did you work on during those two lessons? Do you know what the reason was for working on those things? If you're not sure, get a new instructor.
These were 1 hour lessons...probably should point that out.
Lesson 1 we worked on basic edging and body position... getting into a more balanced proper position, and understanding why tipping my skis mattered and how to do it (tug of war drills, traversing across the slope and edging drills) as well as looking down the hill and getting into a countered position.
Lesson 2 we worked on mainly turn shape, continued to reinforce counter and balanced/strong position, and did some side slips and different turns as far as shapes and edging.
2. Did you practice that stuff at all after the lessons? Did your instructor tell you how to self-evaluate to know if you are doing the exercises right? When you tried to embed the good new stuff into your personal skiing without the aid of the drill, did your skiing get better in any way?
In order, Yes, Not specifically, and Yes... I'd like to say every run I took post-lesson was practice. And in some ways it was... I skied several days alone and spent hours trying to nail what I was taught (staying balanced, having proper body position, edge control, etc.). I spent less time doing actual drills (turns with picking up my inside foot to keep forward, traverses with edging to practice body position, schlopy's, window panes, or shuffles). But I did do some and all of that did, I think, make a difference.
3. Your instructor should help you set goals. The instructor will be evaluating your current skiing, then determining what a reasonable next step can be, while talking to you about your interests and the time you have available. If the instructor does not do this, ask for it.
I plan to talk about this next season.
4. Reading about skiing and watching instructional videos is good. Do you take notes? Do you do things out on the slopes that directly reflects your thinking about what you've read and watched?
No on the notes... But yes, I think I do things on the slopes that are impacted by what I watched/read. Things like pole plant placement and timing to help with position, arm position, and separation have all been part of that. Sometimes with videos though, I can see what I should be doing, and know when I'm on the slope what I'm not doing, but how to get from A to B isn't always clear.
5. If you have difficulty answering question 1, if you do not spend time practicing but ski for fun instead, if your you and your instructor have not communicated about reasonable goals and how to attain them, and if you have not deliberately followed up any instructional reading or video watching you've done with specific practice, then your progress may not be so good. Lots of people take lessons and no progress happens as a result, although they have a nice time during the lesson.
For now, as I mentioned, I think I've made huge progress overall, and don't want it to stop.
6. Pushing yourself onto more difficult terrain will usually backfire. It will make you get more defensive, and nullify any new and as yet unfamiliar movement patterns you're trying to embed in your skiing.
Being defensive is definitely an issue. Backseat, braking hockey stop turns, and not wanting to fall are things I still tend to fall back into - but tougher runs are fun so I still try them sometimes. I used to fall a lot - much more than my friends - and not care... but some (non-skiing) injuries and being tired from falling and getting up all the time made me start to avoid them more and more. I probably should have taken lessons when I was more aggressive in the first place - but 2 days of skiing a year if I was lucky made me avoid that.