or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › What would be the ideal skills progression?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

What would be the ideal skills progression?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

One of the challenges I am faced with as a new instructor is deciding what comes next.  In other words, now that they can do what I've been teaching, what should I teach them next.  I realize that every student may require a different approach, but it seems reasonable to approach ski instruction in general with a systematic approach as long as we can tailor our lessons to the specific needs of a student.  So I think we all have a pretty good idea of what Lesson #1 looks like, working up to a gliding wedge, turn left, turn right, stopping using a wedge, and hopefully some linked turns.  

 

Assuming the student is picking up everything being taught during each lesson, how would you determine what to teach next?  I feel like certain skills are dependent on others, and should be prioritized.  For example, I might not be in too much of a hurry to push for rotational separation if a student is initiating turns with their upper body rather than through tipping and steering.  

 

Is there an accepted sequence out there?

post #2 of 15
Why are they initiating the turn with their shoulders? What is missing, or being overdone that creates the need to introduce additional rotary from their shoulders?

I realize the hypothetical skier is just that but think for a second about them being a wedger and throwing the shoulders.
Edited by justanotherskipro - 2/7/16 at 4:58pm
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by justanotherskipro View Post

Why are they initiating the turn with their shoulders? What is missing, or being overdone that creates the need to introduce additional rotary from their shoulders?

I wasn't necessarily talking about a specific student.  That is just something I see a lot of learning skiers doing.  

 

So in the case of a student turning with their shoulders, I would be inclined to work on tipping and steering from the feet before I would even think about separation drills like picture frames.  Telling them to keep their shoulders facing downhill isn't going to help them if it eliminates their ability to turn (at least the way they have learned so far).  

 

I have seen instructors have students do all sorts of things to work on the upper body while students weren't using their feet and legs to turn.  It seems that people love to go after the upper body because it stands out, but often it is a symptom of whats wrong at the feet and legs.  

 

The intent of my original question was more to put an order on common "checkpoints" along the way.  For example, which should be taught first; parallel turns or a pole plant.  Would it be better to teach carved turns (railroad tracks) before steered parallel turn, or the reverse? I'd love to see a checklist of sorts that puts each skill in order.  Something like:

 

1. Gliding Wedge

2. Wedge Stop

3. Wedge Turns

4. Linked Wedge Turns

5. Wedge Christie

6. Carved Turns

7. Etc, etc, etc.

post #4 of 15

To me it's more about developing basic movements that will apply to all of your list.

 

Balancing over the outside ski.

Separation between the way the skis are going and the way the body is going.

Braking vs. gliding.

Gripping with the edges vs releasing the edges..

Accepting the acceleration that comes from turning into the fall line, knowing that as you continue to turn you will slow down.

Speed control through turn shape, or in the way I teach speed control through playing with gravity.

 

All of these fit into all of items in your list.

 

If I can get a beginner moving downhill (balancing over the downhill ski, turning their hips and core downhill, turning into the fall line) and playing with gravity's pull, and lack of pull (when they turn out of the fall line) releasing the edges grip to start a turn.  If I can get them doing those things, the rest will be easy.

post #5 of 15

For beginners, there are only 3 skills you need to develop.  Balance, Balance and Balance. 

 

Particularly "Tall" balance which by the way, is the most precarious.   If a skier can become comfortable balancing "tall" then the implementation of the other skills become easier. 

I spend a lot of time on "Low" balance to "tall" balance exercises and the ability to SMOOTHLY transition in an out. 

 

It is curious however that when I start some beginners out in a low position (hands in front) and they begin to panic, their reaction to to shoot straight up while their feet slide out from under.  I suspect that an erect stance is their position of reference but they fail to realize they are moving on a slippery surface. 

post #6 of 15
I would refer to the stepping stone concept rather than look for sequences that prioritize things in a linear way. Plug and play progressions are a starting point but over time they fade away. Replacing them is a targeted skill development focus that is customized to each individual. If you want a more regimented approach try working with the Austrians.
post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by TreeFiter View Post
 

One of the challenges I am faced with as a new instructor is deciding what comes next.  In other words, now that they can do what I've been teaching, what should I teach them next.  I realize that every student may require a different approach, but it seems reasonable to approach ski instruction in general with a systematic approach as long as we can tailor our lessons to the specific needs of a student.  So I think we all have a pretty good idea of what Lesson #1 looks like, working up to a gliding wedge, turn left, turn right, stopping using a wedge, and hopefully some linked turns.  

 

Assuming the student is picking up everything being taught during each lesson, how would you determine what to teach next?  I feel like certain skills are dependent on others, and should be prioritized.  For example, I might not be in too much of a hurry to push for rotational separation if a student is initiating turns with their upper body rather than through tipping and steering.  

 

Is there an accepted sequence out there?

 

Yes, it seems reasonable to have an ideal progression of skills in mind.  

Buy this from PSIA and read it thoroughly during the summer.  It defines

level-by-level, from 1-9, what a skier needs to be able to do on piste and

off.  You can lock that trajectory in your mind, then you'll have PSIA's

suggested model in your head.

But the best made plans fall apart in the field.  The reality is that skiers

who can turn left and right come to you with all kinds of mixed up skiing 

strengths and weaknesses.  The individuals you'll be teaching won't fit

into those nicely described levels offered in this manual.  Nor will they

be able or interested in progressing along the trajectory embodied in that

level 1-9 progression.  


Flexibility will be a big strength for you as a teacher.  Also you'll need a

big bag of tricks to use to teach all the parts that make up expert skiing.

Learning what that little booklet offers, and collecting drills and conceptual

approaches for teaching all the things an expert skier does, are well-worth

doing.

 

That said, I believe:

--Upper body-lower body separation is very important to learn early because it requires the skier to make turns with the feet and legs, but it takes some folks a long time to learn it because it's so unfamiliar, and because they can't feel what's going on at the femur-in-hip-socket area of their bodies.

--Feeling what being centered over the skis feels like and what benefits result (compared to being aft) are extremely important, but this takes a long time to get dialed in too, since caution moves people aft.    

--Flattening and releasing the old outside ski's grip on the snow before the new outside ski is edged is extremely important, but this takes a long time to learn because it feels so insecure at first.

--Learning to get the body to move across the skis and downhill with the release is essential for expert skiing, but takes forever to learn because it feels so insecure to the skier.  

--All of these are learned over and over again, season after season, in the advancing skier.  Each time the skier learns one of these again, it comes with a feeling of Breakthrough! and adds insight.

 

As a ski instructor, you get to figure out what the skier in front of you is

ready for.  Enjoy the adventure!

post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post
 

 

 

 

That said, I believe:

--Upper body-lower body separation is very important to learn early because it requires the skier to make turns with the feet and legs, but it takes some folks a long time to learn it because it's so unfamiliar, and because they can't feel what's going on at the femur-in-hip-socket area of their bodies.

--Feeling what being centered over the skis feels like and what benefits result (compared to being aft) are extremely important, but this takes a long time to get dialed in too, since caution moves people aft.    

--Flattening and releasing the old outside ski's grip on the snow before the new outside ski is edged is extremely important, but this takes a long time to learn because it feels so insecure at first.

--Learning to get the body to move across the skis and downhill with the release is essential for expert skiing, but takes forever to learn because it feels so insecure to the skier.  

--All of these are learned over and over again, season after season, in the advancing skier.  Each time the skier learns one of these again, it comes with a feeling of Breakthrough! and adds insight.

 

As a ski instructor, you get to figure out what the skier in front of you is

ready for.  Enjoy the adventure!

 

With regard to upper body-lower body separation, would you say that teaching separation will get students to turn their feet and legs, or would you say that teaching students to turn their feet and legs will get them separation?  

 

I think this is the type of question that I'm wrestling with.  Its almost a chicken vs. egg situation.  I am inclined to work from the snow up, so I like to think about getting the feet and legs to turn rather than focusing on preventing the upper body from turning.  In the end, I guess its the same thing, but I think some instructors don't fully understand it and will focus on things like facing the upper body down the hill without realizing that the reason the upper body is all over the place is because the student hasn't learned to turn with their feet and legs.  You can try to point their shoulders down the hill all day long, but they won't be able to unless they can turn using their feet and legs.  

post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by TreeFiter 

 

With regard to upper body-lower body separation, would you say that teaching separation will get students to turn their feet and legs, or would you say that teaching students to turn their feet and legs will get them separation?  

 

I think this is the type of question that I'm wrestling with.  Its almost a chicken vs. egg situation.  I am inclined to work from the snow up, so I like to think about getting the feet and legs to turn rather than focusing on preventing the upper body from turning.  In the end, I guess its the same thing, but I think some instructors don't fully understand it and will focus on things like facing the upper body down the hill without realizing that the reason the upper body is all over the place is because the student hasn't learned to turn with their feet and legs.  You can try to point their shoulders down the hill all day long, but they won't be able to unless they can turn using their feet and legs.  

 

Walk students through a turn or two with skis off, poles in hands, on flattish terrain, legs turning and hips/upper body not turning so much, eyes locked on a target downhill.

Walk backwards in front of them to watch and correct as they go.  Are they turning their legs, or not turning their upper bodies?  (Both, in my opinion.) 

 

Put skis back on and have them make one turn uphill to a stop, with skis turning and hips/upper body turning less, eyes on a target downhill.  Keep at it until they get it.

Have them do two turns linked.  Then three.  Then all the way down the hill, eyes locked on target.  See if the separation sticks (often it won't).

 

When it doesn't stick, add horizontal poles or whatever you can think of to help them notice when they succeed or not.  Students often will have no idea whether they kept the hips and upper body turning less than the skis/feet/legs.  This is why instructors focus on which way the upper body is facing.  It's a proprioception thing; they can't tell when they are doing it or not.  

 

Teaching/learning separation is a work in progress.  It's a goal to shoot for.  If they are aft (and they certainly may be) their attempts at skiing with separation will feel awful to them and look kooky to you.  This is common.  But getting inexperienced skiers to ski centered is difficult.  Their self-preservation instinct is to lean back and uphill.  Skiing with fore-aft balance is also a work in progress, a goal to shoot for.

 

Some instructors may have good advice on how to reliably teach this in an hour lesson.  I teach short lessons, and some folks learn it immediately in that short a time but most don't.  I'm usually working on one small part of this over and over again with a student for the entire time we have together, encouraging them to feel the difference in how the skis behave and how much more control they have over their grip on snow, their turn shape, their speed control when they ski with separation than when they don't.  

 

If they are sold on embedding this into muscle memory because it gives them something worthwhile, they may continue to work on it later.  It will feel awkward and look awkward until they get the timing dialed in and get out of the back seat.

post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by TreeFiter View Post

I wasn't necessarily talking about a specific student.  That is just something I see a lot of learning skiers doing.  

So in the case of a student turning with their shoulders, I would be inclined to work on tipping and steering from the feet before I would even think about separation drills like picture frames.  Telling them to keep their shoulders facing downhill isn't going to help them if it eliminates their ability to turn (at least the way they have learned so far).  

I have seen instructors have students do all sorts of things to work on the upper body while students weren't using their feet and legs to turn.  It seems that people love to go after the upper body because it stands out, but often it is a symptom of whats wrong at the feet and legs.  

The intent of my original question was more to put an order on common "checkpoints" along the way.  For example, which should be taught first; parallel turns or a pole plant.  Would it be better to teach carved turns (railroad tracks) before steered parallel turn, or the reverse? I'd love to see a checklist of sorts that puts each skill in order.  Something like:

1. Gliding Wedge
2. Wedge Stop
3. Wedge Turns
4. Linked Wedge Turns
5. Wedge Christie
6. Carved Turns
7. Etc, etc, etc.
I'm not an instructor, but teaching movements that the students must unlearn may bring initial comfort and a modicum of control while installing muscle memory that inhibits good parallel turning.
This fits the pattern I see when I compare psia methods to Scientology.
You pay an arm and a leg to learn a wee bit of the secret only to repeat the process.

Granted skiing is an overwhelming arena, the senses are constantly bombarded with input, subtle movements are counter-intuitive and muscle memory is a huge part of the successful skier.

Teaching a feet up method that has the ski's interactions with the snow turning the feet and legs must be the start, student progress then follows the path of whatever the instructor's analysis of their movements determine as appropriate.

Carrying a beachball isn't necessarily the best product.
post #11 of 15

Beachball?

post #12 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidFeet View Post
 

Beachball?

PSIA instructors and good students have a cookie cutter look to their form, the primary indicator is the appearance of carrying a beach ball in front of themselves as they turn down.

 

At least that is how it is at my local hill.

post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buttinski View Post
 

PSIA instructors and good students have a cookie cutter look to their form, the primary indicator is the appearance of carrying a beach ball in front of themselves as they turn down.

 

At least that is how it is at my local hill.

I've noticed that many PSIA trained skiers do ski very similar.  To me it always seemed almost mechanical.  I never really thought of it as carrying a beach ball, but I'll be sure to look for it next time I'm out.  

 

The beach ball idea might even be a good metaphor for teaching things like hand and upper body position.  Kind of like holding a tray, or even picture frames.

post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by TreeFiter View Post
 

I've noticed that many PSIA trained skiers do ski very similar.  To me it always seemed almost mechanical.  I never really thought of it as carrying a beach ball, but I'll be sure to look for it next time I'm out.  

 

The beach ball idea might even be a good metaphor for teaching things like hand and upper body position.  Kind of like holding a tray, or even picture frames.

It is a good metaphor, different ski schools use differing objects that produce a weeble looking turn.

post #15 of 15

Keep in mind that the first five items on your list have been there since the days of straight wood skis and leather boots.  Yes, the wedge stop is important for lift lines and the linked wedge turns are OK for the first two hours of their skiing career.  Never, ever teach a wedge christie turn.  There is no reason, unless they are in boots so oversized or equipment so crappy that they can do nothing else.  If you have a student that is in rental gear, and they try hard to do what you tell them but nothing works, send them down for boots a full shell size smaller.  You'll be a genius in their eyes after that.  Start the first day lesson with a brief description of the ski, the binding, how to get in, get out, scrape the snow off their boot sole.  How to size the boots (smallest they can wear without discomfort) and how to buckle them (no pants or long johns inside the boot, one medium sock, buckled at tightly as possible without discomfort).  You'll tell them how to get on the chair lift and how to get off (point both skis straight ahead, then stand all the way up and press forward against the boot tongues at the "unload here" sign).  Throw in humor when you can.  It is safe to make fun of only one person--yourself.  Or, in an all female class and you're male, you can make fun of the male gender, or vice versa.

 

All good skiers, from day #1, ski with their feet.  That said, their body needs to be correctly positioned so their skis get the message from their feet.  Stand loosely straight up.  Don't crouch.  Joints loose but not squatted down.  Always stand on the balls of the feet.  Ask them what other activities they do.  Dance.  Tennis. Running.  Bicycling.  All on the balls of their feet.  They'll understand.  Press on the boot tongues by hinging forward from the ankles, not by squatting at the knees.  Hands out in front & to the sides in the natural balancing position.  No artificial forced positions.  When parallel, legs walking width apart the way our bodies have been balancing since we were a year old.  Keep in mind that whatever they think they're doing, they're not doing nearly as much as they think they are.  If you tell them to go too far, they may go about right.  If you tell them just what to do, they won't go far enough.  Always give them some instruction where they can see their result.  Not what they should feel, but what they can see and mentally measure.

 

Get them to learn what needs to be done that is counter-intuitive.  Lean forward when stopping* or turning or facing a steeper section.  Turn the upper body toward the outside of the turn--turn the upper body left when the feet turn right.  Some people need to know the "why" of things.  Others blank out when you tell them.  Tell them anyway.  They need to engage the fronts of their skis in the snow to make the skis perform for them.  You can watch this.  If their ski tips are fluttering, they're back.  Some young women are so flexible that they can pressure the tongues and still get their weight back--just "pressure the tongues" is not an adequate instruction to them.  I tell them to get their zipper pull out in front of their toes by hinging forward at their ankles.  I tell them to position the zipper pull over the brand label on their left ski when they want to turn right, and vice versa.  In a first time all day class, I'll have half making easy parallel turns on the beginner slope by the end of the day.  Don't use words like carving.  Just tell them to turn their body left, lean forward, and turn their skis right all at the same time.  They're making a parallel turn to the right.

 

If conditions suit, teach them how to side slip.  This can be very important when they get someplace where the conditions are too difficult for them.  Teach them to ski backwards on the easiest slope--"Everybody turnaround and ski backwards.  Now ski frontwards.  Now backwards."  This gets them to forget about the skis, just balance on them, while they're hunting for words to fling at you.  When first doing wedge stops, do the kid's green light (go) and red light (stop).  Have one of the students lead the group down to any landmark along the run while you ski along each student with a few words of encouragement and correction.  Have another student lead them to the next landmark.  Ski up on a knoll or something you have, stop, tell them a bit about reading terrain, and let them choose the route down of their preference.  Teach them how to traverse across a steep slope, maintaining balance, not leaning back toward the hill for that false sense of security.  Use terms like "false sense of security" where it fits to make the point.

 

*I taught a woman who was an expert horseback rider.  What's a rider's position when stopping the horse?--Body back pulling back on the reins, feet forward for support.  What's the skier's position when stopping?--the opposite.  So, we worked on opposites.  If they tell you what they do a lot, and you're not familiar with it, ask about the movements.  Then either relate ski movements to the movements of the activity they know, when it fits, or relate to opposite movements like the horseback rider needed.

New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › What would be the ideal skills progression?