New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Children and balance

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
While making my response to children and the wedge in the speed control thread I got to thinking about how instructors have for years made excuses for why children tend to ski in the back seat. These excuses ranged from bs like it's because they have larger heads in proportion to their bodies so they have a slightly higher center of gravity to equally bogus spiels about it being tied to their developmental levels.

I always worked from the viewpoint that if they can walk with their body balanced over their feet and even learn to skate with their body balanced over thier feet that they can learn to ski with their body balanced over their feet. With this attitude I have developed a way to teach children that has them skiing with a balanced stance no matter what their age.

Any thoughts out there,

yd
post #2 of 26
I hate seeing kids standing on their heels making a huge wedge so they can brave their way down the steep slopes their parents want to ski.

My thoughts regarding kids leaning back go to the initial introduction to making a wedge. If kids are taught to go forward (like wedge to make a window and look through it or bend the ankles and spread the feet), and then are taught to steer their tips into turns, there's no reason for them to stand on their heels.

What are your tricks to keeping them forward?
post #3 of 26
Yeah, despite all that stuff about them having to lean back, I've seen plenty of kids local to the snow who ski like little adults, so I tend to teach them out of the backstance, pretty much the same as any other skiiers. From the start is easier, as the backstance doesn't happen. Fixing old steep-run-induced backstances is harder.
post #4 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by ydnar
I have developed a way to teach children that has them skiing with a balanced stance no matter what their age.

Any thoughts out there,

yd
Yes.

What is it that you have developed to teach children to ski with a balanced stance????
post #5 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson
My thoughts regarding kids leaning back go to the initial introduction to making a wedge. If kids are taught to go forward (like wedge to make a window and look through it or bend the ankles and spread the feet), and then are taught to steer their tips into turns, there's no reason for them to stand on their heels.
I don't think anyone teaches kids to sit back on their skis. They just do. Working them forward into a more athletic stance is a difficult task.

I always thought it had to do with instinctively preferring to fall backwards on your butt rather than forward on your face.

There are tricks you can use but mostly it just seems to take time and mileage on skis.

Good thread. I'm anxious to hear how you guys deal with this. BTW - it doesn't apply to just kids, either.
post #6 of 26
proper fit of equipment makes a huge difference. Ydnar, I have to mildly disagree with you. Depending on the development of the kids, balancing on your feet to walk or skate on level ground is totally different than sliding down a hill. If you notice kids that are not real balanced on their feet the tendancy is to sit. not fall over forward. This is all development. Your butt and head being heavy and your ability to flex your ankles (small muscle groups) often is not very developed in kids. Mainly because you don't need them to walk. (even most adults don't flex their ankles much) We put kids in boots that are too big for them, (parents want several years out of equipment and think they will grow into them) and hard boots that are too stiff for them to bend. and you have a kid in the back seat levered against the boot cuff using the strongest muscles they have to stay upright.

If we gave them sneakers and strapped them to skis with no edges I bet they would be able to bend their ankles and get there body over their feet better. For the most part kids aren't edging but turning their feet more so no sense getting them locked up on edges. with no sharp edges to push against they would not be able powerwedge so much and would have to learn to turn their feet and steer where they were going.

What to I do? with real young kids I play games. we help mom or dad pick up our toys, (while we ski) striike up a marching band and march, wash the car (bucket of soap on the floor, reach up and wash the door) Chase our pet dog or cat so we can pet them, walk like a mummy (arms in front) Ski in the trees (trails) so they have to do frenchfries and still turn. do the wave(arms up and then sit) as we go over bumps.

These movements help but I don't stress too much about them being in the back seat yet. Teach movements that will get them out of the levered position but I don't see it as much of a problem.
post #7 of 26
every kid is different. What do they do as kids? did they crawl until they were 2 because it was easier and faster? I bet these kids have better balance.

did they sit home and play video games? bet these kids don't have the ankle strength to pull their bodies over their feet.

Play soccer? Bet these kids ski more upright. have them chase a soccer ball and "dribble" down the hill.

Little kids that ski like adults are rare but they are out there.
post #8 of 26
The problem with children can be developmental but that ususally is the case for children 5 and under.

The real problem that I see is their boots. Their ski boot are usually to large and in any case they are made of the same plastic and thickness as adult boots. That makes them impossible for children to flex. Add to that the fact that almost all kids boots are rear entry and you have the perfect conspiracy by equipment manufactures to sabotoge kids.

To correct for much of this you can do the same thing that I do to keep my heels down in telemark and allow my ankles to work. I actively dosiflex by lifting the whole foot and moving the hips up and forward. Adults seem to have a hard time understanding this but kids will do it the minute you get through to them what it is that you want them to do. After that they can balance.
post #9 of 26
Dorsiflex
post #10 of 26
Shorturns,

I would love to see you teach a 4-6 yr old to "dorsiflex"

Pierre,

Good point. We should set the parameters for this discussion as well.

I was "assuming" that we were talking about 3-5 year old kids..

If you study the CAP model, the development is very clearly spelled out. Of course there are variations for faster development and slower development but it's a pretty good guide line.

DC
post #11 of 26
Another reason kids tend to stay in the backseat is fear. By sitting back, it relieves some of the pressure on the tips and it allows them to make a bigger wedge, thus making them feel safer. Sometimes, they also aren't strong enough to use the smaller muscle groups or have the refined motor skills to have good balance: children that have both, and a will to become good in the first place, are few and far in between, but usually grow the wedge phase very fast. This year, I had a kid in my group that carved turns on green slopes at age 4.

Making them hold a big ball when they ski is a good way to cure the backseat problem. Also, playing tag with you when you go down an easy slope (they'll put their hands in front to catch you).
post #12 of 26
Dchan and Pierre nails it in their posts. I have also found out that equipment and especially too big rear entry boots are causing big problems in this area. Also too long skis tend to have the same effect on kids. Good posts.
post #13 of 26

Ydnar

You still haven't shared your technique. The suspense is killing me! I taught my last lessons yesterday. Now I'll have to wait until next season.

Please, please, please tell us.
post #14 of 26
In regard to the boot issue which I agree is one of the main culprits. Check to see if the boots are on properly. Look for snugness in the front of the cuff with only the sock in the boot. Alot of times when starting out to teach a young child (well actually alot of adults have this problem too) I'll pull up the ski pant that is over the boot and find the buckle are not even tightened, they are literally floating with 2-3" of space between their shins and the front of the boot. Nothing we teach them about skiing is going to transition down to the skis in that case. Check the fit , yes the boots are definately too stiff and big in most cases but we should at least try to get them as close to propelry fit as we can while out on the slope.
post #15 of 26

ydnar

Waiting for you to chime in on your thread. Where'd you go?

P.S. Yes, boots and skis can be part of the problem. No doubt.
post #16 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson
My thoughts regarding kids leaning back go to the initial introduction to making a wedge.
I think kids ski in the backseat because they can -- that is they don't get in trouble like adults do. It does not matter whether they do pizza or french fries. Kids can be as far back skiing parallel. Think of it this way, every adult who is interested in cruising and not advancing would also have their weight back if they don't find themselves going out of control. Many good but not expert young skiers can ski basically sitting on the back of the skis. When was the last time you saw a full grown person do that? So, what is the difference between big people and little people? Only two things that I can see... Body structure/flexibility and equipment design.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kneale Brownson
If kids are taught to go forward (like wedge to make a window and look through it or bend the ankles and spread the feet), and then are taught to steer their tips into turns, there's no reason for them to stand on their heels.
There indeed is no real reason for it -- except they just don't want/have to do it any other way. To get them out of the backseat, simple teaching will not do, unless you have someone really eager to be perfect. They have to be motivated and be shown that there is a better way in that, for instance, they will look better and get more complements than the other kids.
post #17 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by dchan
proper fit of equipment makes a huge difference..
Proper boot fit helps a lot and that is where it starts. I always tell people to get their own boots if they want to keep skiing. However, kids can still sit no matter how sloppy the boots are.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dchan
If we gave them sneakers and strapped them to skis with no edges I bet they would be able to bend their ankles and get there body over their feet better. .
Soft flex boots are just as bad as loosely fitting ones when it comes to sitting. They can flex just as easily towards the back. And, sitting is certainly easier and more comfortable than crushing the shins. Unlike sneakers, ski boots, no matter how soft, in skis will let the kid rest on the back without it totally collapsing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by dchan
What to I do? with real young kids I play games.
Just want to add, what comes after this is mileage. Many kids can and do stay out of their backseat during the (fun) drills. But, as soon as they go back to free skiing and cruise (or become fearful, but that's another topic), everything they learned is thrown out of the window. Repetition and frequent practice (or maturity eventually) is what trains they brains to do the right thing.


Quote:
Originally Posted by dchan
These movements help but I don't stress too much about them being in the back seat yet. Teach movements that will get them out of the levered position but I don't see it as much of a problem.
I totally agree with you there. Unlike with adults and older kids, skills can come first, proper stance later. Like I mentioned before, a little one can parallel ski just as well (but not as pretty) in the backseat.
post #18 of 26
I think that Pierre has it right--it's the boots. From the POV of Ideokinesis, experts tell us that young kids move better than adults. It is not just youthful energy. They have better posture, which makes movement easier. Young kids are closer to the alignment we have evolved into over millenia. This alignment and posture is something that adults, first as older kids, become "trained" or "habituated" out of in umpteen different ways. To make my point more quickly understood, good posture is something that people in the 3rd World don't lose because they stand, walk and go barefoot most of the time. Put shoes on people, give them cars and let them sit in front of a screen--and they lose their natural posture.

As Pierre explains: Put improperly designed and fitted ski boots on kids and you have a problem. Johann Leitner, the Austrain boot fitter and Nicole Hosp's coach, has worked with Fischer to try and correct what he sees as deficiencies in ski boot design. He explains some of his ideas here: http://www.rexxam.com/e_aone.html.

Another issue is using the wedge in the first place. It tends to naturally put folks in the back seat. I know that Harald Harb and Bud Heishman have worked with a direct to parallel way to ski. Bud explained to me that you need the right hill for this--gentle and wide and long, and for beginner's only. Most resorts have never thought of this necessity.

If you can get kids in the correct boots and not have them wedge, which tends to teach people to sit back, then you can start them off the correct way.

I also think that dchan has a point that kids would be in alignment if we replaced the boots with sneakers. When he makes the observation that some "kids don't have the ankle strength to pull their bodies over their feet" he only underscores Pierre's, or Harb's or Leitner's points about boot design. I believe that you don't need to use any strength to be in proper alignment in a pair of ski boots if they are properly designed and fitted. As I mentioned in some earlier posts, a dancer friend and movement specialist noted that the proper ski positions come from an aligned stance that we have evolved into over thousands of years. Start without that and you've got major problems in your ability to ski.

The industry seems to be changing it's approach to boot design. And some teachers are very progressive and creative in getting to the root of the probelm as ski movement. But, as creatures of habit, both the industry and the sport are slow to change.
post #19 of 26
As best I know, PSIA was pushing the direct-to-parallel method three years ago. I remember that we were not allowed to teach a class until we took at clinic on NOT teaching the wedge. I was baffled as to how to go about teaching children how to ski without using the wedge.

For two years, I never taught the wedge. I found that it did work very well.

To me, the moment of truth came at the biginning of the first run down from the beginners slope (bunny hill). If the student was patient enough and BRAVE enough to let those first couple of turns develop, then everything usually went OK. If they were afraid or froze up or didn't allow for the turn to be completed, then there were problems.

But, I found a lot of the kids went into a wedge even if they had not been taught it.

I found out at the beginning of this season that we were supposed to abandon the direct-to-parallel method LAST year. That the braking wedge was seen to be a safety issue, although we were cautioned to avoid "the huge death wedge".

So, this year I taught it again.

I agree with chanwr that people sit back because they can.
post #20 of 26
The safety issue has got to be a pretty big deal. You've got to go with what they'll allow you to do. I bet if you put your two cents in, and others did two, maybe things would change....eventually. The direct parallel was what my wife started with many years ago and she was doing parallel turns all over everything but black diamond by her 4th time out.
post #21 of 26
Thread Starter 
I should know better than to start a thread just before the ski school goes into a sold out period. Hard to find the time and energy to reply but here goes.

My recipe for producing a balanced child is as follows. First, don't emphasize the braking wedge. Give them just enough wedge practice to deal with the terrain they will be on. Second, never teach the child to push on their skis. Train them to point their toes where they want to go and compliment this with a flattening/roll to the little toe edge of the right ski to go right and the left ski to go left. Keep them on the gentlest terrain avaliable until they are more parallel than wedging and can do a parallel stop without pushing on the skis. For me this produces children with a fairly centered stance. Are they all as forward as we would like to see. Of course not, but at least none of them have that 'fall over backward if it weren't for the back of the boot' look that we see so often in children and many will be centered over the skis. Introduction to steeper terrain should be done very gradually, returning to easier terrain if excessive wedging or a back seat stance becomes evident.

Atomic 918,

Anytime that children (or anyone for that matter) is taught to push their skis into a wedge they are being taught to lean back. The instructor might not realize what they are teaching but the outcome is obvious.

All,

The comments on ill fitting boots are very true but my method even seem to help keep these students better balanced over their feet.

DC,

Indeed skiing is different from walking, running or skating. The main difference is that we have tilted the playground. This is why it is so important to keep the terrain as gentle as possible until the child learns to adjust to this new twist in their enviornment.

chanwmar is right that one of the difficulties involved is that levering off the back of the boot will work for children so we must never let them discover that. Anyone want to venture an opinion as to why it works for children and not for adults?

Finally, I wasn't thinking only about the youngest children when I started this thread but all children under 12 even though the younger and smaller the child is the greater the problem can be.

yd
post #22 of 26
ydnar: Although it is not the preferred way, pushing with a pizza does not automatically throw a skier in the backseat. Many can be trained to drive the knees forward (and bending the ankles) without being back.

BTW, I find it (and believe it is) nearly impossible to teach really young kids (say under 5) to ski direct to parallel.
post #23 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowbowler
Look for snugness in the front of the cuff with only the sock in the boot.
Good luck with that on rentals.
post #24 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff1111
This year, I had a kid in my group that carved turns on green slopes at age 4.
Funny you mentioned that. I saw/met a 5-year old peanut (girl as a matter of fact) at a local race doing a long easy black GS fun run who can carve and run those gates like no others at that age. Simply amazing.
post #25 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeff1111
This year, I had a kid in my group that carved turns on green slopes at age 4.
I'm curious what is the prerequisite skills for a kid to start doing that?

I read the following thread which mention a couple skills like hopping and
thousand steps in discussing young children's balance.

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=8526

My daughter likes hopping so I can encourage her to do that more.
I didn't know what the thousand steps were but found this thread which has quite a bit more details on the subject.

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=19627

I think I can make some fun games out of it for her to play with this
idea. Are there something more I can do? I'm not particularly looking (yet)
for how to teach her carved turn, but would like her to develop skills on
her skis to get there when she is ready.
post #26 of 26
My fix if I had the chance and in a perfect world,

Start in a room with Highly waxed hardwood floors, and nylon socks.

Run and play for quite a while, then same thing on a sloped floor.

Hiking boots or sneakers with "strap on" plastic skis no sharp edges. Onto the snow and somewhere very flat. Again run around a lot! Play chase, catch, tag, etc. As they begin to slide or skate, then introduce some slope to the play.

When they finally get into ski boots and skis with sharp edges leave the boots loose for a a while (do not buckle at all), Same exercises.


This would be over the course of several days or even weeks. (like that would ever happen)

In our imperfect world eveyone wants results now and on "small adult" equipment.


Oh well.

DC
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching