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Teaching Real Little Kids to Turn/Stop

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I've been doing school groups for six or seven years and I'm pretty good with 8+year olds that are skiing. Once in a great while I'll a 6 or 7yo who is just starting out. I also have been working with my now 3.5yo son since he was 1.5yo using some stuff from a PSIA Prof Skier mag article from 3 or 4 years ago.

What I don't always know if I'm doing correctly is trying to get a 3-7yo pre-skiers to start to wedge/stop/turn. Some kids, my own 3.5yo, 6-7yo guests, do nothing but ride their skis and won't attempt to wedge/turn/stop no matter what I tell or show them. I kinda don't sweat this, I figure they are just getting millage being on skis and try to concentrate on other skis like walking, side-step, herring bone, how to get up after a fall, etc. After all these pre-skiing skills are an essential basis for learning to ski. And off course having fun; I let the kid do some sliding even if straight down the learning slope while I act as spotter to keep it safe. Still I really want to get the kids to be independett and safe on a trail and stop/turn is essential to this goal.

So is the answer that the kid isn't physical or mentally ready to learn to wedge/turn/stop and I should just work on the other stuff but keep trying, without beating the kid up with instruction, until he decides to do it? Or perhaps, there are more tricks to encouraging the little guys to turn.

Anyone want to offer tips on what is appropriate for a young pre-skier and how to encourage wedge/stop/turn? And how to detect what level of physical and cognitive ability a kids is at in order to know what level instruction/encouragement to attempt?

PS

At least this kid (my son; two years ago when he was 1.5yo) is carving a real nice arc between his cheeks--
post #2 of 24
OH My God, is he SWEET!!!!It looks like he is having a BLAST!!!
(as a budding pediatrician, I am a sucker for the little ones, and my own are getting too big too fast )

No advice here -- just had to give ya the "ooooo..... ahhhhhh treatment"
post #3 of 24
l2t,

Caveat emptor: I'm still working on teaching kids better

Quote:
So is the answer that the kid isn't physical or mentally ready to learn to wedge/turn/stop
That's my take on it most of the time. I had a 3yo last Sunday that could get her feet into kind of a wedge shape as a boot drill, but clearly had trouble doing it and definitely had no interest in trying. She was interested in going fast. During the lesson we made huge progress in dynamic balance - so everyone was happy (we have a ski with me private where we teach the parents how to teahc the kids). Fortunately the conditions du jour ( 3 inches of frost over a solid grass base) (oops I mean very slushy) kept the speeds down.
For these kids, mileage does wonders. Work towards getting a small wedge if you can via cheating instead of beating. One of my tricks is to ski backwards in front of the child holding on to the tips of the skis in whatever size wedge I want (i.e. start very small) (i.e. the human edgey wedgey). But basically my approach is to see if mileage gets you there, then see if cheating gets you there, then wait till next year.
post #4 of 24
I taught all 3 of my sons to ski. The oldest started at age 7, and it was a breeze. The younger boys started before age 3 with a rope around their waist. Lots of times it required one run, one hot chocolate, another run, in the lodge for a snack, etc., etc.

If I had it to do over again, I would wish for the patience to just wait until they are 6 or 7.

It's been my observation that until they're about 7-8 their brains & bodies just aren't developed enough yet to really begin to "get it". My youngest turned 8 in August and this is his year for everything to "click". He now skis essentially the entire mountain (Mary Jane or Copper) and is learning to get down the steeper bump runs (he's done Outhouse, for example). My now 10 y.o. followed a similar pattern, and will often turn a few heads as he skis quite well.

Funny story - to my amazement, the 8 y.o. recently managed to work his way down Mary Jane's Drunken Frenchman (a black bump run that's long but only moderately steep) without falling. He then proceeded to, on flat ground, ski right into a rack full of skis and snowboards right in front of the MJ ticket office scattering skis, poles, and boards everywhere : Kid's do the darnedest things!

AM.
post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 
Me (thread starter) again. On teaching my own kid. The first two years I used a device called a Try-Ski that's like an edgie-wedgie but ridgid so it keeps the skis a fixed distance apart. It's great for towing the kid around on flat with a pole. That's all I did the 1.5yo and most of the 2.5yo seasons. At the end of the 2.5yo season I did a few magic carpet runs. He evenutally balked at that device as it was too constrictive; he couldn't shuffle his feet at all. I then went with a soft style device. This year he balked even at that. Did reins a bit last year. I imagine he'll balk at that this year but maybe I'll give it a try sometime on an empty slope.

On age, I do think it depends on the kid. I've seen 4yos do fine wedge turns; play red-light green-light with breaking wedge stops, etc. I just don't know anything about how to get them to do it or exactly what is a appropriate when. I know I think to much. I try to stick to stuff that's doesn't torture the kid; doesn't put him at risk; and take him home before he's tired of doing it. I think that may be all there is and they just do what they do when they do it. Still, I'm a thinker and my curse it to analylize everything.
post #6 of 24
I've learned that teaching kids that young, Don't work on "tasks". In their minds it's "boring".

At that age, Play! Think about what kind of activities mimic proper movements and turn these activities into games.

Turning:

Follow the leader works great with groups.. Kids at that age will just go where you lead. if you make a turn, they will turn. Cat and mouse, etc.

Turning using weight transfer
:

Have the child pretend they are holding 2 icecream cones or lolipops. one in each hand and of different flavors. have them select 2 favorite flavors. then have them lick the one in the left hand, then the one in the right hand. Be aware may not know which one is left and right so point to the Strawberry hand then the Vanilla hand.

Extension/Flexion

ski while helping mom or dad Wash a car. Bucket on the floor, reach down and wet the rag, Stand up to reach up to wash.

Reach up to the top shelf and get the cookie jar, bend down to set the cookie jar on the ground.

Get cracker off a shelf to feed a dog or cat.

If you know some childrens songs, Sing and do movements while skiing "Head shoulders knees and toes" try to get them to stop for the "Eyes and ears and mouth and nose" part. "The grand duke of york"

Independent leg movement

Make a parade and march.

Follow the leader but you have to "run"


Get the idea?

Keep the activities short so you don't lose their attention.
post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 
Yeah those are great ideas and I do agree with the play idea. The parade sounds good for the flat. I've done some of the other stuff like pick and apple with kids that are starting to turn. The follow the leader thing is a bit hard if you are on a pitch and when you let the kid go, all he does is go straight, and of course, that's what he wants to do. It's the fine line between preskier and skier that I need games for.

Keep it coming, thanx for the ideas so far.
post #8 of 24

other thoughts

Don't try to get them to "do anything" when they are at the "don't get it stage".

Laugh a lot.

It's ok to be silly. (ok maybe it's better to be silly)

When you are talking with your little student, (keep it very short, Less than 30 seconds) get on their level. Kneel or sit in front of them, crouch down, etc.

They will let you know when they want an explaination of why. Until then, no need.

Fall over, It's ok. Even fun in the powder. Your student will probably get a good laugh too.
post #9 of 24
Follow the leader. You lead, go medium slow and if you can ski backward, do so. maintain eye contact and have them "come to you" Give them a little bit of responsiblity, They need to help you know where you are going. "look out, TREE:" This keeps their mind off going straight and more on following you.
post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by learn2turn
On age, I do think it depends on the kid. I've seen 4yos do fine wedge turns; play red-light green-light with breaking wedge stops, etc.
Absolutely!

Both of my younger boys were unleashed at 3.5 and were able to "ski" in wedge fasion even on blue runs. However, the transition to parallel sking and edging was slow in coming.

At about age 6, I had my middle son on some Atomic 110cm Betacarve "shaped" skis. He and I were struggling in our (my) quest to impart the undertanding of getting the skis to work together in a turn (I believe the correct terminology is "stem christies"). I happened to ride a chair with a ski instructor who suggested I abandon the "shaped" skis and put him back on straights. I did. Despite being too long for him - 140's, and despite struggling mightily the first half day, his progress took off at a tremendous pace. He transitioned to more modern shapes at age 9, and is now tearing it up. Because of that experience, my 8 y.o. is still on old straight skis, but he'll get his brother's hand-me-downs for next season.

One thing I discovered that seemed to be a turning point for my boys (pun intended), was spending time teaching them to do "hockey" stops. Once they get comfortable doing hockey stops, they gain a sense of confidence and control in that they can stop quickly whenever they want. Knowing you can stop quickly is probably the major fear to overcome for a new skier of any age.

AM.
post #11 of 24
Going straight may be more of a development issue. Read about the CAP Model. I'll figure out where to find it later.

At the younger levels, children can't separate upper body lower body, left right, etc. Have you ever tried to get a child to side step? it doesn't work well. they start moving but as soon as they turn their head, their body turns along with their feet and come straight toward you. If they are looking down the hill, (focused on a goal) that's where they will go. By skiing in front of them and getting them to focus on you, they will turn their head and thus turn to follow you. You will have to stay close because once you are any distance away from them they will get distracted by a different goal. Going fast is fun too but not always their only motivation. Make sure you have times to go straight and fast too. like at the bottom of the hill headed to a cat track or trail.
post #12 of 24
Do kids "need" to ski in a wedge?

If they can turn and stop without a wedge, Why even teach it or force it? I've had 2 or 3 year olds that love to go fast, but I've been able to teach them to turn and stop without a wedge. They are probably the exception but they "got" the concept of turning up hill to stop. When the parents asked if they should try to get them to wedge I responded "why?" They are turning, staying in control and can stop. They don't need to "wedge". If they need it they will figure it out. Just because all the other kids are wedging doesn't mean your student has to.
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by dchan
It's ok to be silly. (ok maybe it's better to be silly)
What do you mean it's better to be silly?
With little kids, you have to be silly. You don't have a choice if you want them to keep skiing.
post #14 of 24
Hockey stops are a great way to get them out of the wedge to stop.

Again, make it a game. show them how much snow they can throw up. Then tell them to ski towards you and "spray you" with snow. Make sure they understand not everyone appreciates getting sprayed so they aren't getting everyone.

Thumper turns encourage moving the skis parallel. Skiing in gentle terrain parks can also encourage more parallel turns.

If they are in good control, I sometimes take them into a mini pipe. if they wedge onto

skiing little trails like "bear trails" in the trees with woop de doos force parallel skis. if they wedge, they get stuck. If you take them into trees, make very sure they understand the danger. Make sure they know that they are not to go into the trees or on side trails without an adult or instructor with them.

If you are an instructor, make sure you reinforce the safety part with their parents.
post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by chanwmr
What do you mean it's better to be silly?
With little kids, you have to be silly. You don't have a choice if you want them to keep skiing.
Exactly
post #16 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Attacking Mid
If I had it to do over again, I would wish for the patience to just wait until they are 6 or 7.
I disagree in a general sense. I have seen many kids who can ski in very good intermediate to advanced form (at least a Level 4, even higher) at this age. The key is to make sure they have fun, get good instructions and put in lots of mileage.
post #17 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by dchan
Hockey stops are a great way to get them out of the wedge to stop.
This is a great idea except that hockey stops are difficult to do (even just to comprehend) for anyone younger than 5, say. I have been finding, along with really young kids, smaller-sized older girls also have a disadvantage when learning hockey stops. Along with what you said, the best way to work them into a hockey stop is to skip the snow plow stop altogether and use the hill. When they can match up the skis at the end of the turn and have the strength/weight to push, then it's time.
post #18 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by chanwmr
This is a great idea except that hockey stops are difficult to do (even just to comprehend) for anyone younger than 5, say.
Of course. Everything should be age and ability appropriate. Try it, if it doesn't work, move on.
post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by learn2turn
Anyone want to offer tips on what is appropriate for a young pre-skier and how to encourage wedge/stop/turn?
I have not been doing it for very long, but I do find this somewhat successful, assuming that the kids want to do it of course.

With really little kids (<4yo), there is nothing called communication. Comprehension/learning is done through stimulation and repetition. So, forget about steering, quiet upper body, pressure points, etc.

Show them the wedge (pizza) if that is what you want them to do. Next, have them bring the hands straight out in front of them and bring the weight forward by crushing the front of the boots (smashing jelly donuts, squoosh the spiders, etc). In the whole exercise, make sure that they stay in this position. Try some straight runs. Assuming they have shaped skis, theorectically if they can keep the pressure on the tongues of the boots, they can hold the pizza or french fries and not flop around. To turn, have them push harder on the tongue of the appropriate boot. Now, run down the hill by hopping from one side of him to the other side to have them catch you. Start with slower movements. Repeat the verbal instructors several times before and during the drills. If he/she is applying pressure correctly, you will see some very nice turns. Lastly, to stop, just have him/her use the hill, especially if you're skipping the wedge. Don't bother with the wedge stop.

The good thing about this method is that you're get a really good work out, with both your legs and your lungs, no matter the outcome of the kids.
post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 
Somehow this seems to much unless you have a very willing audience. I know the 6yo I had the other day wouldn't listen to all this.

I remember when my kid (above) was 1.5yo and I was towing him down the sidewalk on his 'keeze with my ski pole. We came to a little pile of snow . I pulled him up it and when we got to the down side, I said "Okay, now lean forward". Then I remember I was talking to an 18 month old. Stopped talked, smiled, and continued to pull him down the road.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chanwmr
I have not been doing it for very long, but I do find this somewhat successful, assuming that the kids want to do it of course.

With really little kids (<4yo), there is nothing called communication. Comprehension/learning is done through stimulation and repetition. So, forget about steering, quiet upper body, pressure points, etc.

Show them the wedge (pizza) if that is what you want them to do. Next, have them bring the hands straight out in front of them and bring the weight forward by crushing the front of the boots (smashing jelly donuts, squoosh the spiders, etc). In the whole exercise, make sure that they stay in this position. Try some straight runs. Assuming they have shaped skis, theorectically if they can keep the pressure on the tongues of the boots, they can hold the pizza or french fries and not flop around. To turn, have them push harder on the tongue of the appropriate boot. Now, run down the hill by hopping from one side of him to the other side to have them catch you. Start with slower movements. Repeat the verbal instructors several times before and during the drills. If he/she is applying pressure correctly, you will see some very nice turns. Lastly, to stop, just have him/her use the hill, especially if you're skipping the wedge. Don't bother with the wedge stop.

The good thing about this method is that you're get a really good work out, with both your legs and your lungs, no matter the outcome of the kids.
post #21 of 24
Let your student be your guide as to how long to keep them out there.

My general rule of thumb has been
2-3 years old. .5 hours total. each "game" usually lasts about 2-3 minutes tops.
4-5 Years Old 1 hr total. Each game might last 3-5 minutes If they are having a good time, maybe 7 or 8 minutes.


If they last longer great. Make sure you stop before it becomes boring. Don't wait for them to tell you. Watch for signs of distraction. As soon as they are started to get distracted, suggest something new. Even if it's "stop for a hot chocolate".

DC
post #22 of 24

Kid Ski, Apple Rise, Kiddie ski bar

Check out the kiddie ski bar from Apple Rise. I've seen a guy with a 9 month old using one of these. The kid was not able to walk, but she was turning her skis! I have witnesses. The dad also had a 2 year old that was skiing unassisted and a 4yo that was ripping. Little ones can get a huge head start with the right coaching and tools.

Thx for the games dchan.
post #23 of 24
Quote:
Follow the leader but you have to "run"
This one do on almost flat ground. You ski while "running" (move both feet). Have your student do the same following you around. It occured to me you might think of getting out of your skis.

weight forward more
Pretend to chase a pigeon. (or in the case of first generation Asian kids) Chase a chicken. (dinner) Hold a big bag in front of you arms stretched out, and try to catch the bird that's running away from you. You, the instructor, can be the chicken they need to catch.
post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by learn2turn
Somehow this seems to much unless you have a very willing audience. I know the 6yo I had the other day wouldn't listen to all this.
Of course, not all kids would. And, for the same argument, some kids just don't want to be there at all, no matter what. But, for an everyday curious playful munchkin, I don't think it's all that much to ask for them to take interest. Afterall, the only thing they have to concentrate on is to keep the hands in front of them. The skis are positioned for them before they get moving. The chasing part of it will, hopefully, help them move out of the back seat. The running, laughing and yelling are on the instructor. Oh, just as others have suggested, keep it short.
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