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Do you teach falling leaf technique?

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Question for the instructors in the North East. Do you teach the falling leaf technique to beginner snowboarders or no? An instructor taught a friend the falling leaf technique. The next time out she couldn't do anything but. I had taken 1 lesson from the same person when I started and had basically the same effect. I was worse after the lesson than before I took it. Is there a better way to teach someone how to get down a trail they are not ready for?
post #2 of 20
Good question. I race coach, so I get folks who are the top end of the ability spectrum. No need for falling leaf there. But, I do stop on the beginners trail and give some friendly advice from time to time, especially to first timers who look like they've had the crap knocked out of them. (Btw, I do remember my first time on a board--ended up in a creek next to the trail! And my second time, when I think I knocked myself out catching my heelside edge, but that memory is kinda foggy.) Anyway, I get some pretty good success in my ten minute impromptu and free lesson by teaching the extremecarving.com rotational technique. People can usually go heelside to toeside all the way down the beginner trail with it. I wouldn't recommend taking people on steeper terrain for a while, though. I'd be interested in hearing what others have to say.
post #3 of 20

Falling leaf...

First a question for you...I'm curious as to why you believe this particular practice of instruction hails only in the east?

Anyways, hold on cause here it comes; I believe for a number of reasons the falling leaf works. This particalar drill although some what a primative means of getting down the hill serves a purpose. There are a number of valuble board performance concepts (tilt/tip, pivot, twist, pressure) and movement concepts (flexsion, extension, etc.).

It does establish a bit of a two dimensional learning platform, meaning that as mentioned in a previous post all the rider could do to get down the hill was a falling leaf (either heel or toe side). I generally will have to agree with the level of frustration at seeing that happen. Couple of things to consider;
  • Not all area have the most ideal teaching terrain (a mellow/flat) type pitch that allows the rider head down hill at a comfortable speed is key. Meaning that at a relatively slow path down the hill the rider will be more comfortable learning how to ride. I'm talking pretty much both a combintation of plentiful space (not happening in most resorts and a pitch that is not too flat nor too steep (even if in most case slated to be "green" or beginner terrain. The joke of the east is I like to call it is a double headed monster indeed. I have worked at my fair share of eastie resorts, only to have to then formulate a teaching model that works. In the most ideal cases you can omit the falling leaf and get the rider more comfortable with learning to make a straight glide to direction change (j-turn). This task in it self taps into a number for key movement & board performance concepts to make a ride eventually with enough practice to make safe direction changes down easier terrain.
  • Where it does get tricky...the moment of truth starting to make turns or even at a later point riding switch.
  • Teaching a garland may sometimes speed up the transition into succesfully linking turns.
This particular topic is going to get run through the shredder I can already feel it now. I know that there are many of you out there now reading this that are saying ok Jonah, you're onto it...or just plain off the map.Bottom line you can post this in Epic Ski , AASI site and get fifty different answers. Just as there is a base formula/model of teaching, these are tools. Look at it this way some times you get lucky and hire a really good contractor to remodel your house...sometimes hopefully in very few cases you get a lemon.I have paid big bucks to go and take clinic from "professional Educational Staff / Demo team riders" only to have my ears and eyes bleed. This is buy no means a knock on any of those indivduals..possibly they were not having the best of days..or I was just plain and simply in the wrong class. Look it, my advice as I have always said is not gospel, I'm just speaking from the gut.

In closing a note to you and your friends experience, I most certainly can not make any rash assumptions on the lesson contents especially the falling leaf. (what resort did this take place at again)?

What I would have hopefully ask did happen was; at the lesson end the person taking the lesson should have had the goals and objectives of the lesson reviewed. The instructor hopefully should have ideally recommend specific terrain and future tasks to practice. Last but not least recommend a follow up session.

P.S. - Did the instructor at least tell the person taking the lesson their name (please do not e-mail their name)?

Jonah D.
post #4 of 20
I will teach falling leaf if I have to. Fortunately at my resort I don't have to very often. As noted, the danger is that it becomes a crutch that inhibits future learning. However, in certain cases it can be a survival tool that can be the make or break difference on day 1 between success and a return for days 2+ or failure and no return ever.

To get someone down a trail they are not ready for, I often use what I call "Power Assist". The opening caveat here is that this teaching technique is contoversial too. It not only can create a crutch problem, but it is totally useless once the lesson is over. Power Assist involves various forms of side by side riding where the instructor is doing hands on teaching. In it's simplest form, the instructor holds the students hips from the heel side and "drives" the student down the slope controlling directional changes and moves to toe or heel side. The hands on technique can also either prevent falls or greatly reduce the impact of falls. The main concept of this teaching technique is that for people who can't "get it" until they "feel it" and can't feel it until they get it, this technique can force them to feel it before they get it. After you force the proper movements to happen, you can apply less and less control as the student begins to make the movements on their own.

There are some pros that will only do power assist from the toe side holding hands or arms and some pros that believe that effective teaching techniques will eliminate the need for any power assist. I've only taught a couple of lessons with our new Burton Learn to Ride rental gear, but so far in easy snow, the need for power assist has been virtually eliminated. Of course, the ultimate answer to how to teach people to get down trails they are not ready for is to teach them not to ride to the top before they are ready.
post #5 of 20

Falling leaf / power assist...

Rusty,

The power asssit in getting a student to turn is a total jedi trick. I have yet to meet many instructors that can safely excecute this task. The other conversation, those that can teach this are far and few. The other thought..to me it must be a teaching tactic that went to the way side along with 75/25 weight distribution on the board.

Meaning that it's only such a task that if sucessfully done reaps good rewards for the student. As you have stated...this task works for you. I too bust this one out now and then when I have a situation that warrants.

My only issue with power issue as you refer to it...very tough teaching task to actual get other instructors to safely grasp...I'm all about Safety/Fun/Learning...not bread basket ride to the base area.

Jonah D.
post #6 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScotyRokt View Post
Question for the instructors in the North East. Do you teach the falling leaf technique to beginner snowboarders or no? An instructor taught a friend the falling leaf technique. The next time out she couldn't do anything but. I had taken 1 lesson from the same person when I started and had basically the same effect. I was worse after the lesson than before I took it. Is there a better way to teach someone how to get down a trail they are not ready for?
An instructor shouldn't be taking someone down a trail they are not ready for. It wasn't the falling leaf drill that was at fault, it was that you were on unsuitable terrain.

I used to teach a toe side falling leaf, to a garland both ways, to a garland ending in turn initiation with very good results.
post #7 of 20
Thread Starter 
Jonah, Let me 1st answer a few of your questions:
"I'm curious as to why you believe this particular practice of instruction hails only in the east?" I have limited experience boarding on the west coast so I geared the question toward the slopes I am on here in NE. I also think that since the trails in the NE are so narrow compared to the west coast you tend to run out of trail before making a turn as a beginner (skiing or boarding). My friend would end up falling down out of nervousness half the time because people would be getting to close to her. She would then revert back to the fallen leaf instead of trying to make a turn.
The resorts in question were Gore and Okemo. My friend knows the instructor. The next lesson she took was with me. Although I am not an instructor she was doing much better after spending a morning with me.
I understand the reasoning behind this technique, but it seems to set you back more that it helps.
post #8 of 20
I would hesitate to say that any drill that is taught with effective and efficient mechanics is a bad drill. The falling leaf teaches great independent foot movement and therefore can be a helpful tool. I teach it from time to time depending on the situation.

Falling leaf is simply a linked traverse. Traversing is a fine skill, so why not do it both ways?

There have been times when I have finished a lesson and the student has stopped progressing at a falling leaf. If that is as far as we can go, so be it. If they go out and practice the falling leaf, get good at the above mentioned independent foot movements, learn a solid, balanced stance, and learn how to pressure their edges, when they come back for a second lesson, I can almost guarantee good solid turns. I would rather get them turning in the first lesson, but that is not possible with everyone. Some people need small steps.

The danger of taking a group lesson is that you can get stuck with people who will only ever make it to this level. Without a really good instructor, the better riders will be taught to the lowest level of the group. This is a good reason to take a private lesson.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ScotyRokt View Post
The resorts in question were Gore and Okemo. My friend knows the instructor. The next lesson she took was with me. Although I am not an instructor she was doing much better after spending a morning with me.
I would bet that if she had taken the next lesson with the same (or any) instructor, she would have been doing a lot better as well. You have to give some credit to the instructor for preparing her to learn turns from you.

One big problem is that people who are not naturals think that one lesson should be enough. Sometimes it is (for what they are looking for), but most times it is not. I wish that I could have every student once a week all season, but that is not always the case. Sometimes they only come to me once. If they only got to a falling leaf - for whatever reason - then they may be stuck there until someone else steps in and moves them beyond.
post #9 of 20
Thread Starter 
I would bet that if she had taken the next lesson with the same (or any) instructor, she would have been doing a lot better as well.

It was actually her 3rd lesson. All with dif. instructors. Not that all the techniques taught in the lesson were bad but the falling leaf in particular made it so she basically forgot how to link any turns. I'm not bashing the instructor just asking if there is a better technique than the falling leaf. Again, I had the same issue.
post #10 of 20
Thread Starter 
[quote=MattL;628780]An instructor shouldn't be taking someone down a trail they are not ready for. It wasn't the falling leaf drill that was at fault, it was that you were on unsuitable terrain.

I think it was a bit of both. A good part of the trail was pretty flat.
post #11 of 20
If she was already linking turns and this was her third lesson, I have no idea what the instructor was trying to accomplish. In that light, it does not seem like it would have been a productive decision to use the falling leaf. I hate to second guess another instructor, though. Did the instructor say what the purpose was? I would be interested in knowing.

There are variations of the falling leaf that are good drills for other skills, but it is hard to say what this instructor might have had in mind.
post #12 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jonah D. View Post
The power asssit in getting a student to turn is a total jedi trick.
Make you turn, we will. Like it, you must. Option of failure, there is not.

And here I was thinking that doing Power Assist riding switch off the lift (i.e. with your free foot in front) was the Jedi thing.
post #13 of 20

Fall-ing L E A F...

Rusty you crack me up! I love it! Good stuff..and now back to the show!
post #14 of 20
The comments about pitch and width of trails is very good. I was stuck in falling leaf mode until I went to Belleayre where the pitch is steady but not steep and the runs wide.
post #15 of 20
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by philsthrills View Post
If she was already linking turns and this was her third lesson, I have no idea what the instructor was trying to accomplish. In that light, it does not seem like it would have been a productive decision to use the falling leaf. I hate to second guess another instructor, though. Did the instructor say what the purpose was? I would be interested in knowing.

There are variations of the falling leaf that are good drills for other skills, but it is hard to say what this instructor might have had in mind.

I recall when the same instructor taught the falling leaf to me and one other beginner 3 seasons ago. I don't recall why. We were on a blue trail at Gore. I was already able to link turns and get down the blue trails OK. What's the trail with the mile long flat spot? That one gave me trouble at the top and ended up walking a ways..........

Thanks for the input everyone.
post #16 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScotyRokt View Post
I recall when the same instructor taught the falling leaf to me and one other beginner 3 seasons ago. I don't recall why. We were on a blue trail at Gore. I was already able to link turns and get down the blue trails OK. What's the trail with the mile long flat spot? That one gave me trouble at the top and ended up walking a ways..........

Thanks for the input everyone.
It should be used as method to improve a skill and not as a crutch to get down terrain you can't handle. If someone is telling/showing you to do it as a "survival" tactic it could be set you back. Instead they should try to keep you on terrain that you can eventually link turns on first before moving to steeper slopes.
post #17 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattL View Post
It should be used as method to improve a skill and not as a crutch to get down terrain you can't handle. If someone is telling/showing you to do it as a "survival" tactic it could be set you back. Instead they should try to keep you on terrain that you can eventually link turns on first before moving to steeper slopes.
I agree with MattL. IMHP, too much emphasis on drills avoids the real issue of teaching someone how to do a heelside turn and how to do a toeside turn. Those in themselves are the best drills. After that, then progress to the simply task, as MattL suggests, of linking them. Then people can board on their own on modest terrain and get meaningful practice while enjoying the sport.

Btw, much of the teaching of heelside/toeside would be made easier if instructors took a while to properly set people up in a stance before ever getting them on the hill. Then, find some very gentle but never flat terrain and teach them one turn, then the next. And it doesn't matter which one first.
post #18 of 20
i've taught all my friends and my sister how to board using the falling leaf method. i normally take them on a semi-steep hill, like a blue or something, not a green (too flat) so that way they can really get a sense of leaning into the hill and using their edge. the falling leaf method is good because it teaches them how to transfer weight from one foot to another. the big step with progressing out of falling leaf is learning how to 'whip' around your back foot and feeing comfortable with it. falling leaf has worked well for the people that i have taught, so im going to keep on using it.
post #19 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by boardboy View Post

Btw, much of the teaching of heelside/toeside would be made easier if instructors took a while to properly set people up in a stance before ever getting them on the hill. Then, find some very gentle but never flat terrain and teach them one turn, then the next. And it doesn't matter which one first.
I used to (I say used to because I don't teach anymore) use a "bottom up" method with never evers, as did most instructors at our hill. We would start at the bottom, have them find there balance walking and gliding a bit on the flats, and then walk up the hill a few yards, do some straight runs and learn to turn each way before going to the lift. The falling leaf and/or traverse didn't come until AFTER they have successfully turned each way on gentler terrain.
post #20 of 20
Quote:
Originally Posted by MattL View Post
I used to (I say used to because I don't teach anymore) use a "bottom up" method with never evers, as did most instructors at our hill. We would start at the bottom, have them find there balance walking and gliding a bit on the flats, and then walk up the hill a few yards, do some straight runs and learn to turn each way before going to the lift. The falling leaf and/or traverse didn't come until AFTER they have successfully turned each way on gentler terrain.
This makes a lot of sense. Once people learn to turn each way, they can go anywhere on gentle terrain and start to enjoy themselves, which is what it's all about.
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