or Connect
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

The Other Stuff

post #1 of 136
Thread Starter 
To read some of the recent threads on this forum, one might think that being able to perform valid movement analysis and converse intelligently about the physics of a turn is enough to make someone a good skier. True? If not, what is missing?

How about if we substituted "teacher" for "skier"? If not, what is missing?
post #2 of 136

I'll bite

My answer to the first question is no. The missing ingredient would be skiing.

My answer to the second question is also no for the analogous reason.

I would offer two gentlemen at my home mountain as examples. They are quite well versed in MA and can speak at length about the physics and biomechanics of skiing. However, physical limitations and supervisory/management responsibilities have pulled them off the hill and out of the class.

I am sure they were accomplished skiers/teachers one time. I don't think they get enough time to ski/teach nowdays for them to be good skiers/teachers.

It is just my humble opinion that to actually do something well, you must actually do it.

fire away...
post #3 of 136
Athletic performance is not knowledge of mechanics.

Patterns of motion and sensory response are required.

Proficiency is gained in the time spent. Quality time is good.

As in much of life, when skiing, the good stuff happens when the thinking stops!
post #4 of 136
April 26, 2007

Dear Nolo:

In response to your question, my opinion would be as follows:

Skier: the ability to ski and execute the physics behind skiing. The ability to apply movement analysis as best as one can to improve one's own skiing as well as helping one's friends and acquaintances.

Coach: the ability to impart the physics behind skiing to one's students as well as the ability to apply movement analysis to help one's student ski more proficiently.

If one could ONLY converse fluently about the physics of skiing or movement analysis, one would ONLY be an "armchair" skier or coach.

CharlieP
post #5 of 136
Teaching is an entirely different art, although it is useful to know of what you speak.
post #6 of 136
I think "teaching" is also the wrong word. It's not teaching, it's "coaching". Teaching implies just imparting information. But in coaching you have to get an athlete to perform to a desired result. There can be a lot of subtle stuff going on. You might not even tell the athlete to do what you want, you might give them a different task and when the skier tries to do that, they are really move toward the intended without even knowing it. It's an art, not a science.

Trivial example-- Coach tells ski to ski with skis 5" further apart than normal. Skier does what he thinks is 5" further apart but it's really only 1.5" further apart. Skier practices this for a while and then goes back to normal. The desired result of skis 3/4" further apart now occurs.
post #7 of 136
Thread Starter 
I love what you guys are saying. What's missing is the actual performance, either one's own or the person who is paying to have his or her performance ramped up. You can know-it-all, and your student can remain completely unaffected by your knowledge if you do not have teaching ability. How many of your college professors were like that--smart as heck in their subject, but completely clueless about how to teach?

The fact is, we can arguably transmit a wealth of knowledge from one person to another (e.g., by means of books), but does anyone know of as efficient and reliable a method of transmitting high performance from one person to another? The thing about high performance is it takes practice, whereas a person can acquire knowledge in one sitting.

learn2turn, there really is no such thing as "teaching" without "learning" (sort of like the yin-yang of centrifugal and centripetal force); if no learning occurs then no teaching happened either. In performance learning, the student's attitude about practice is probably going to decide whether or not a desired change comes about. How often do we hear about students who make the desired change during class but can be seen later that same day doing exactly what he or she did before the lesson? Didn't really learn, eh?

If your objective was to increase the likelihood of your students doing the necessary work to make a lasting improvement in their performance, would it change how you teach? Please explain.
post #8 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post
To read some of the recent threads on this forum, one might think that being able to perform valid movement analysis and converse intelligently about the physics of a turn is enough to make someone a good skier. True? If not, what is missing?

How about if we substituted "teacher" for "skier"? If not, what is missing?
You have to be able to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. There's many a bird than knows nothing about physics, can't talk at all, but sure can fly.

A good teacher has to be able to reach where the student is and bring the student along the best route.
post #9 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post
If your objective was to increase the likelihood of your students doing the necessary work to make a lasting improvement in their performance, would it change how you teach? Please explain.
A good teacher needs to relate the new information to a problem the student knows they have. I've had any number of ski lessons where I learned nothing, because, although the instructor may have spotted some problem with my skiing, the instructions they gave me didn't relate to anything I thought was wrong. I didn't practice anything after the lesson, because as far as I was concerned I hadn't learned anything, just been asked to make some uncomfortable movements.

There was a whole outbreak in one recent thread of people try to convince a skier that he was too flexed, without explaining any benefit of being less flexed, let alone relation this to the skier's objectives.
post #10 of 136
Thread Starter 
I have come to feel that part of the teaching task is getting the student to own his results, rather than for me to take on more of the responsibility for his learning. This is a big change from the days when I said that it is never the student's fault for not learning, rather the teacher's fault for not finding the right way to teach him.

Take the student who despite years of lessons remains stubbornly parked in the backseat. He knows the problem. He's seen it on video. He cheerfully accepts the prescription for change (move forward and continue moving forward), but never takes the medicine (committing the time to purposely and willfully move forward long enough for it to be assimilated into his "turn routine"). No amount of teaching is going to get him to move forward out of the backseat, if he doesn't want it bad enough to do the work to groove a new neural pathway.

I'm not saying a guy like this can't change. I'm suggesting it will only happen when he takes responsibility for changing himself.

That calls on a whole different set of teaching skills than MA and knowledge of physics and biomechanics. How do you get someone to admit what they pretend not to know?
post #11 of 136
To read some of the recent threads on this forum, one might think that being able to perform valid movement analysis and converse intelligently about the physics of a turn is enough to make someone a good blogger.

If what they are saying can be useful to the MA candidate, then they are to some extent offering the beginning of a teaching loop, but precariously at best. They are another useful resource nevertheless.

Unless they actually get off their swivel chair, the other possibility (the good skier) remains unproven, and eventually conjectural.

Nolo's last point about the reluctant backseater throws up a further possibility that despite all her best endeavours, and surely a consensus here as to the best direction, that person may actually be quite happy with the way things are.

Improvement is not yet mandatory.
post #12 of 136
Teaching is a skill that few possess, whether it be in skiing or elsewhere. converying to someone else, in terms that they will understand, how to perform a specific task is something that not everyone can easily dictate or illustrate. Those who have the talent are truly gifted - that is a given.

So, not all skiers who can ski well are able to teach - okay.

...but...

What would be said for the teacher who cannot ski well? Note: I am not saying that the teacher has to ski better than the student, but if they themselves do not have a strong enough grasp on the skills they are teaching to be able to implement those movements into their own skiing, how should one expect them to be able to implement those movements into someone else's skiing? In short how valuable is a teacher who can talk the talk (to an extent), but cannot walk the walk to back up their talk?

This is not a question posed to any one group, but toward instruction in general, across the board. Notice that stories of great instructors are almost always tied, not only to the advice they were able to give, but to the way it was presented on the hill, and how these skiers could almost always mimic anyone else's skiing (for showing students their movements versus correct movements), and perform nearly any kind of demo on command? Teaching skill is often tied to skiing ability.

Later

GREG
post #13 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeluvaSkier View Post
This is not a question posed to any one group, but toward instruction in general, across the board. Notice that stories of great instructors are almost always tied, not only to the advice they were able to give, but to the way it was presented on the hill, and how these skiers could almost always mimic anyone else's skiing (for showing students their movements versus correct movements), and perform nearly any kind of demo on command? Teaching skill is often tied to skiing ability.
I think that's true in any field, even in academic ones, and it relates to truly deep understanding. Understanding that isn't just in the mind, but extends to your senses and mucles and every aspect of your being.
post #14 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post
Take the student who despite years of lessons remains stubbornly parked in the backseat. He knows the problem. He's seen it on video. He cheerfully accepts the prescription for change (move forward and continue moving forward), but never takes the medicine (committing the time to purposely and willfully move forward long enough for it to be assimilated into his "turn routine"). No amount of teaching is going to get him to move forward out of the backseat, if he doesn't want it bad enough to do the work to groove a new neural pathway.
Does the skier understand what being in the backseat does to his skiing, though? Does he want to do things that require him to get forward? Do his legs hurt?

If he's not suffering an ill-effects that he recognises, there may be no real motivation to change. Some people just don't care about technique as such.
post #15 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post
I'm not saying a guy like this can't change. I'm suggesting it will only happen when he takes responsibility for changing himself.
I am not a ski instructor (and the world heaves a collective sigh of relief), but I pay my bills from working as a professional trainer/facilitator and coach (nothing athletic). In my humble opinion based on years of experience, people will change their behavior only when they see obvious benefits to doing so. What motivates the change will vary from learner to learner, but unless someone sees the “WIIFM,” it’s likely old habits will remain.

And as for that skier in the backseat--well, we could be talking about me. I have weirdly inflexible ankles, but I am highly motivated to change, remind myself regularly to move forward, and am working on strengthening supporting muscles that will make staying forward easier.

Change ain't easy, baby, but if you want it and are willing to work on it, it can be achieved even if it's in small increments.
post #16 of 136
Nobody else has said it yet, so I will-!

Anybody remember the old adage-

"Those who can, do. Those who can't, coach."

For example, Butch Harmon, one of Tiger Wood's swing coaches. I have no doubt he can play the game at a high level, but look at what he can do for somebody with a gift! His understanding is such that he can analyze and correct someone of the highest level. Much higher than he himself can play at.

How about National Team coaches from various nations. If they could ski as well as their athletes, they would be racing themsleves- not standing on the sidelines! They too have a knack for getting their athletes to perform at a level higher than their own performance.

I think skiing is somewhat unique in this regard. To teach/coach well, it takes the ability to understand the information, to be able to break it down in a useable form, and to be able to demonstrate what the outcome should appear as (among other things). What I found in my years teaching/ coaching, was that the better I understood the mechanics, the better I was personally able to ski! Oft times, the visual model was the athlete I was coaching! The better I skied, the more I could do for my athletes. It became an ascending spiral of improvement.

Coaching at an elite level is a very special relationship between the skier and coach, involving trust, respect, psychology, and knowledge. Teaching recreational skiers demands some of the same qualities, but is not usually developed to the same degree as the long term relationship of an athlete/coach.

It also requires that the student be receptive to feedback offered by the coach, and an honest attempt to make the change (oness of compliability). Some people do not have a high capability to change. They have a natural resistance to change, even if they identify it as a positive thing. This partly, but not completely, relates back to the trust issue with the coach/teacher.

In extreme cases where a 'rebuild' of a skier is needed (where fundamentals are grossly deficient), then it is taken to a level where the skier's entire belief system needs to be rebuilt before any change can possibly take place. For this 'rebuild' to be successful, the afore mentioned qualities need to be exercised at near a coach /athlete level .
post #17 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by vail snopro View Post
Nobody else has said it yet, so I will-!

Anybody remember the old adage-

"Those who can, do. Those who can't, coach."

For example, Butch Harmon, one of Tiger Wood's swing coaches. I have no doubt he can play the game at a high level, but look at what he can do for somebody with a gift! His understanding is such that he can analyze and correct someone of the highest level. Much higher than he himself can play at.

How about National Team coaches from various nations. If they could ski as well as their athletes, they would be racing themsleves- not standing on the sidelines! They too have a knack for getting their athletes to perform at a level higher than their own performance.

I think skiing is somewhat unique in this regard. To teach/coach well, it takes the ability to understand the information, to be able to break it down in a useable form, and to be able to demonstrate what the outcome should appear as (among other things). What I found in my years teaching/ coaching, was that the better I understood the mechanics, the better I was personally able to ski! Oft times, the visual model was the athlete I was coaching! The better I skied, the more I could do for my athletes. It became an ascending spiral of improvement.

Coaching at an elite level is a very special relationship between the skier and coach, involving trust, respect, psychology, and knowledge. Teaching recreational skiers demands some of the same qualities, but is not usually developed to the same degree as the long term relationship of an athlete/coach.

It also requires that the student be receptive to feedback offered by the coach, and an honest attempt to make the change (oness of compliability). Some people do not have a high capability to change. They have a natural resistance to change, even if they identify it as a positive thing. This partly, but not completely, relates back to the trust issue with the coach/teacher.

In extreme cases where a 'rebuild' of a skier is needed (where fundamentals are grossly deficient), then it is taken to a level where the skier's entire belief system needs to be rebuilt before any change can possibly take place. For this 'rebuild' to be successful, the afore mentioned qualities need to be exercised at near a coach /athlete level .
Well said VSP. There are also many teachers and coaches that have a wealth of knowledge, experience, degrees, certifications etc and they have no idea how to connect with people.
post #18 of 136
Thread Starter 
I wonder if we fail to connect sometimes because we only use one communication channel to talk to students, the Technique Channel, where some students may be dialed into the Fun Channel or the Style Channel or the Wanna Go There Channel...Anyway, I'd like to promote the radical notion that ski lessons can be about more than technique (aka Weems's POWER corner of the Diamond).
post #19 of 136
Nolo,

There is a lot in the saying "you must ski it to teach it". A great teacher creates a learning enviorment for the student. If the teacher picks the right task, the task becomes the teacher for the student. The student learns by learning what areas they are deficient in and from there, the corrections can be coached by the teacher.

A very good understanding of movement is necessary for the teacher to be effective in their job. Connecting with the student is also a very important part of being an effective teacher .

RW
post #20 of 136
Nolo, I agree.

I like this old saying, when the student is ready the teacher will appear. When someone comes to you as a coach it is critically important to discover what the student wants to learn before deciding what you think they need to learn. Often you can combine the two, but if your coaching does not address the students want you will likely be wasting both your time.
post #21 of 136
I think for both skier and teacher there must be a love for the sport, desire for change, an open mind, patience, lack of ego and a committment to the process.
post #22 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post
I wonder if we fail to connect sometimes because we only use one communication channel to talk to students, the Technique Channel, where some students may be dialed into the Fun Channel or the Style Channel or the Wanna Go There Channel...Anyway, I'd like to promote the radical notion that ski lessons can be about more than technique (aka Weems's POWER corner of the Diamond).
This is from a very old PSIA Document, "The 10 instructional paradoxes" by Dr. Richard Farson...

1. People learn most when they are talking, not when they are listening
2. More of certain types of learning can take place when one tries not to teach.
3. Some things are learn-able, but not teachable.
4. Everything we try works.
5. What is true for children is probably true for adults too.
6. We think we learn from our failures and other peoples successes, but it is the other way around.
7. We grow from calamities, not from virtues.
8. Don't try to improve people, improve the situation.
9. Students can learn more from each other than from the teacher.
10. We learn to ski in the summer and swim in the winter.

People Generally Remember

10% of what they READ
20% of what they HEAR
30% of what they SEE
50% of what they SEE and HEAR
70% of what they SAY or WRITE
90% of what they DO!
post #23 of 136
Thread Starter 
Nice find, Lonnie. There are a lot of great paradoxes on that list. I like the one, "Students can learn more from each other than from the teacher." I love teaching group lessons for that reason -- and I am always amazed at how much students enjoy the reciprocal and small group "student-teaching" styles.
post #24 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lonnie View Post
This is from a very old PSIA Document, "The 10 instructional paradoxes" by Dr. Richard Farson...

1. People learn most when they are talking, not when they are listening
2. More of certain types of learning can take place when one tries not to teach.
3. Some things are learn-able, but not teachable.
4. Everything we try works.
5. What is true for children is probably true for adults too.
6. We think we learn from our failures and other peoples successes, but it is the other way around.
7. We grow from calamities, not from virtues.
8. Don't try to improve people, improve the situation.
9. Students can learn more from each other than from the teacher.
10. We learn to ski in the summer and swim in the winter.

People Generally Remember

10% of what they READ
20% of what they HEAR
30% of what they SEE
50% of what they SEE and HEAR
70% of what they SAY or WRITE
90% of what they DO!
The more places you can place a memory in your mind the more pathways you have to access them.Each sense places a seperate memory in it's own location . Then when you retrieve them there are more points of access. This is very important . Words, physical movements, good demos and good reading materials can be effective but it seems not one is a do all solution.
We know that people learn differantly so when we give them all a differant way to look at the same task we can help them learn more efficiently. This is one reason why our demos and explanaitions have to be well done. Even the most simple moves and teaching approaches need to be practiced by the teachers to be usefull for the the students.


Great thread Nolo. I am not sure I added anything but I sure wished to post in this awesome thread.
post #25 of 136
Nolo,

About the original question:

1. skiers also have to be athletic and in shape, and youth and / or a lack of fear helps.

2. performing valid movement analysis is not the same as performing valid movement analysis ON YOURSELF!!!

3. lots (most?) of good skiers can't converse intelligently about the physics of a turn.

As for Dr. Farson's point #9:

The instructors I've had don't generally seem to appreciate input on other students. I've learned to keep my mouth shut while the instructor is around.

If I'm dying to tell another student something, I'll hang back and offer a quiet suggestion. If they're receptive and it helps them, they'll stop by me and ask for more input.
post #26 of 136
Thread Starter 
I like to pair students up and have them give each other feedback regarding a specific task. For instance, the task might be to keep the skis approximately the same distance apart for a given number of turns. The doer does the task and the observer watches to see if the skis are kept equidistant, and if not, do they tend to converge or diverge, and at what phase of the turn does convergence/divergence occur? Then they switch roles. I find it fascinating to ski in and out of the study groups to listen to what's going on. I can tell you, a lot of learning happens when the teacher can let go of the reins a bit, and give some of the responsibility to the students like this, so long as the teacher sets a specific, relevant, and measurable task.

This is called "little t" teaching. As distinguished from Big-T teaching, which is the norm.
post #27 of 136
Quote:
Originally Posted by nolo View Post
I like to pair students up and have them give each other feedback regarding a specific task. For instance, the task might be to keep the skis approximately the same distance apart for a given number of turns. The doer does the task and the observer watches to see if the skis are kept equidistant, and if not, do they tend to converge or diverge, and at what phase of the turn does convergence/divergence occur? Then they switch roles. I find it fascinating to ski in and out of the study groups to listen to what's going on. I can tell you, a lot of learning happens when the teacher can let go of the reins a bit, and give some of the responsibility to the students like this, so long as the teacher sets a specific, relevant, and measurable task.

This is called "little t" teaching. As distinguished from Big-T teaching, which is the norm.
Same drill but letting the first dictate the turn shape and having the latter follow off to the side and back or in sync behind. Then trade positions and discuss what they saw and what was needed to mimic or follow in a slightly wider turn shape. The feedback is great and it is a fun drill.
post #28 of 136
Thread Starter 
Back in the day, the famous school of instruction in Austria, the Bundessportheim, conducted an experiment to compare the learning outcomes of a group that was taught by one of the best instructors in the land with those of a group that spent an equivalent time in a prepared learning environment, sans instruction of any kind. Guess which group learned more?

This is a true story, related to me by one of the students at the Bundessportheim at the time.
post #29 of 136
Thread Starter 
In September 1998 PSIA hosted the first and only National Teaching Seminar at Smuggler's Notch. Horst Abraham was the head coach, with Mermer Blakeslee, Dave Merriam, and Jerry Warren as coaches and Johanna Hall and myself as admin/organizers. The topic was Experiential Learning. We all became students for three days. Day One we worked in a ropes course (team learning). Day Two we learned to canoe (partner learning) in the a.m. and learned rollerblading (individual learning in a large group) in the p.m. Day Three was mountain biking (the entire group led by Jerry). Our coaches used an inquiry style of leadership (as opposed to an advocacy style, i.e. "do this"), allowing the experience to do the actual teaching, and they merely helped us articulate and draw our own conclusions regarding the experience (we decided what we had learned). Horst taught us AAR-After Action Review-a terrific technique the US Army originated for warfare. We used a "hot wash" debriefing to record our initial impressions during and immediately after the learning sessions (battlefield impressions) and then later in the evenings we got together for the "cold wash" with Horst in the lead with markers, flipchart and assistants taping insights onto the walls so by the end of the evening we had papered another wall of the room (command headquarters). By the last day, the large conference room we used was almost completely covered with what we learned during our short time together. These papers were compiled into a Word file and sent out to all participants when they got home. I wrote an article for that season's The Professional Skier to share the buzz.

It was an amazing learning experience that I am certain left some 35 PSIA instructors better teachers. It has never been repeated. Why do you suppose that is?
post #30 of 136
nolo,

Quote:
It has never been repeated. Why do you suppose that is?
The experiential learning model is something that is very simple in concept, but many instructors really don't understand it or can use it effectivally. In a way, it is simular in concept to Weem's Sport Diamond. Some instructors instinctally use it (ELM) while teaching, where others try to mimick what they understand about it, but arn't very effective teachers, so it's use is also inneffective.

I think in the future, ELM will be re-introduced to PSIA members in a more easily understandable format. It will work if the course conductors are the ones that use it in their everyday teaching. This will allow the clinic participants to see it in action, rather than be lectured on how it is an effective teaching tool.

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