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Help with drills and their use in teaching!

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
I have often attended clinics and ski camps. However, i noticed that there is always a difference in the way instructors or trainers approach problems. I wonder if anybody has ever compiled a least of moves and what particular problems they may address:

For instance: Thumper Turns: useful in the following cases: ..........
Javeline Turns: useful in the following cases: ...........
One ski skiing: useful in the following instances:
something simple like:
Hourglass turns: useful to teach skiers to vary the size of their
etc... Once I had a class where an instructor was basically just using one-ski skiing for everything. Now, I see some benefits, but is it really necessary to just use it as a cure all method?

Many times I came home from camps and clinics thinking that this or that move was the one to use in the case it was presented, but this is clearly not the case.
post #2 of 10

The Alpine level 3 study guide gets into this a bit. The Vail handbooks have a lot. But I've never seen an effort to do a "Drill Guide" as you describe. Such a thing would grow into a monster. It would need to be a database of some sort so that you could (cough) drill down by level of skier, skill focused on, alphabetical name, on snow vs off, etc. etc.

IMO, choosing a drill to work on a skill is more art than science. There is a science part where you have drills that are mainly focused on specific skills (e.g. balance, edging, rotary, pressure - but a lower level of detail), but many drills can do multiple duty depending on how they are adapted or presented. The art is adapting the drill to where your students are at, the terrain you have available and the conditions du jour. Sometimes you choose a drill to reinforce a strength so that it can help "pull" a weaker area along. It seems that most pros, once exposed to a drill, simply add it to their bag of tricks, then use it artfully in situations without consciously thinking cookbook style.

At the Snow Pro Jam in Killington this year, Brian Whatley gave us a handout (it's at the bottom of the link) with drills on it for an idea of things we could be asked to do in a Level 3 exam. Although he explained these drills, the focus of the discussion is what they were versus what skill they were testing. After I get back from clinics I write up my notes to include whats and whys of the drills that were done, but these are terrribly verbose and mixed in with other stuff. Do these help a little John?
If we're going to push this idea forward, I'd like to see visual cues for the exercise being done correctly or not and common problems with the exercise being discussed. And then what would be really cool would be a link to a video clip demonstrating the exercise. This would be a wonderful Epic project.
post #3 of 10
Rusty: thanks for the post of Brian Whattley's handout. I skied with him on a level 2 prereq. a few years back and found him to be a quiet unassuming examiner who had a good way about him with regards to getting relevant info out to the instructors. Looking over the list of skills drills you posted gives me great insight into "drills" I could go out and use to look for things in my students skiing. If they can do some of these tasks well then try other tasks to see where the comfort zone ends. Then start finding out what is happening or not happening at the skis . Could be one thing i.e edging, or probably a combination of the four skills, balance, rotary, edging, pressure. Pick one task ,lets say pivoted side slips in corridor, this is a pretty high level task, skills needed are definately balance, rotary, pressure and edging. If not balanced over the skis one will track out of the corridor, not enough foot and leg steering there won't be a quick pivot, too much edge will lock or rail the edges sending one out of the corridor, too little and will just slip down the hill. What this task could be used for in "real" skiing? How about a bump progression, pivot on top of bump and slip down back side? How about working to slow round short turns on a steep trail staying in a tight corner?
The tasks or drills are just to see what one could focus on to help a guest/stundent progress in their skiing. It is up to the ski instructor to find a way to make these tasks useful to the guest so as to help them develop into all around mountain skiers.
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
Thank you Rusty. I will surely read your reply after work.


John. T
post #5 of 10
I remember reading an Alpine Team comment that the majority of the team members used a relatively short list of common drills, but tweaked them for the specific skill or outcome desired. Any thoughts on that versus the other extreme of being very creative and coming up with new drills on-the-spot?
post #6 of 10

I've had the pleasure to ski with Michael Rogan often enough to see him use different drills to solve the same problem. When I saw him use a different drill instead of one my favorite ones, I asked him privately why he did not use the other drill. His comment that some of the group were "not ready" was not very descriptive, but I knew what he meant. For some drills, you have to have a certain level of skill in order to perform the drill correctly or else the drill will have no benefit.

IMHO, there is one level of instructor capability that can be described by the number of drills in their "bag of tricks". Another level beyond that is when the pro is experienced enough with each trick that they know the "who, when, where and why" along with the "what". You also need to know the "not" side of each question. Having a smaller bag of tricks can get you to that level faster. Nonetheless, at my current stage of growth, I personally favor a larger bag of tricks. It will be most interesting to see if my preference changes as I gain more experience.
post #7 of 10
A largish bag of tricks, most of which might have multiple applications, means that when your favorites fail to help the student address a problem, you have additional selections that hopefully end up providing the solution. I don't know of any means for establishing that wider-ranging set of choices other than experience.
post #8 of 10
...and we're always expanding our experience in every way that we can, right? For me, that's a major reason I hang out here; it's a different kind of "experience" for when I can't be on-snow.
post #9 of 10
Drills,,, Be careful not to get "Lost" in them. Just a few,,3-4 , perhaps a 5th and that's it. Learn where to use and how to adapt to the deficiency at hand in the skills bank students currently possess.
Keep in mind that a drill is for a specific moment in time with-in a progression or turn shape. That moment in time is to correct/re-direct movement pattern[s] via a disciplined magnification. The magnification can then be implanted to body/muscle memory. Now move on.
Re-visit the drill briefly as you increase/alter timing, intensity, and terrain.
Drills should be used only as a real troubleshooter.
post #10 of 10
Good point SnoDancer. Does anyone remember what happened when the results of the "Picture Frame" became "the way to ski"? I bet I still have to UN-teach a contrived countered stance at least 10 times a season. When I ask why they ski that way, the response is always something like "My instructor/brother/aunt Millie from (Some Mountain, USA) taught me that (x amount) years ago." Which is to say, they didn't come across it naturally... someone taught it to them, and most times it was US!

Best thing I ever did was take a real interest in the differences between these things. SKILLS, DRILLS, TACTICS, ABILITIES, MOVEMENT PATTERNS, and SKIING.

As far as DRILLS go, I like to use them to make holes in wood. (bah-dum-bum-KEESH!)

Seriously. I keep a fairly small rolodex of drills ready for use. I like the ones that can be adapted for the task at hand. (ie. Garlands can be used to focus edging, rotary, flex/extend, timing, etc.) Most of it is presentation and the instructor's eye for the root of a problem. If those drills aren't appropriate, I'll dig into the proverbial "bag" for something I think will work. I definitely use the same exercises a lot, but I'm not always using them for the same reasons, day to day.

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