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US Race Coaching is Lacking? - Page 4

post #91 of 92
The OP was suggesting that the system is lacking in the training of fundamentals. As you can see, songfta's post is the status quo. To paraphrase, start with FUNdamentals, then learn to train, then compete, then win.

While those are excellent mileposts, the underlying criticism of coaching (I'll speak for canada here so you don't feel picked on.....) is that the kids are not taught to ski using fundamental movements.

They are drilled and they TRY to do the drills as best they can, but often the coaching does not clearly explain the drill, relying only on "follow me" or on "guided discovery". Some coaches never provide a summary of or other conclusion to the exercise, consequently, no self analysis or leraning by the skier is possible.

I attended a coaches session last year, where the guest speaker was from the US. He identified key aspects of winning skiers, and stated strongly that those skiers are sufficiently different that they could not ski the same way. Putting Bode into the mold of Maier would fail. Putting Ligety into the mold of Raich would fail.

So what's the point? His point was that you have to identify the strengths of each athlete and guide them towards developing their own individual strengths as best they can.

Unfortunately, this gets taken much to far, and begins far too early, as teaching any movements, even sound fundamental movements, is understood to be equivalent to teaching "limiting" movements. It is a given that no skier will be able to progress to the pinnacle of their ability if you teach them limiting movements.

So, out of fear of failure, the coach does not teach the movements of skiing, but instead models drills for the kids. If they "get it" all is well.

But what if the skiers under your guidance have found these limiting movements themselves? Do you fix it or do you give up? Sadly, many give up --the feeling is that these are the kids "natural" movements, and if they are wrong, the kid will fail. The kid will fail, because you will have substituted movements that are unnatural to them, and we all know that using unnatural movements won't work. But the kdis natural movements, if they are fast, are worth developing no matter how bizarre.

eg. This US coach suggested that if Ted Ligeties coach took his waterskiing skills out of his skiing, he'd just be an average skier.

Is that true or merely conjecture? Merely another reason NOT to teach? It sure is the easy way out!
post #92 of 92
This is a very interesting discussion, and there have been many interesting points made throughout the thread. As a "former" race coach, I feel the need to make a couple of comments.

1. It's all about the kid. period. A couple people have mentioned it already in the thread, and with regards to the original topic, I don't think you can say it any better. There are a lot of athletes with technical abilities that can take them very far, but never reach their potential in ski racing because they don't __________ to go fast. ie. know how to, want to, have the balls to, etc.

2. You can't compare team sport to ski racing. It's an individual sport. On any given team you have 15+ individuals, all in different stages of development, working towards different goals. It's not even close to the same thing as a team of 30 working towards the same goal. And as a coach, the way you manage a ski team is much different than a football / soccer / baseball team.

3. For 98% of ski racing parents, it is very difficult to really tell what a good coach is. It all comes back to how "their" kid is doing, in which they should refer to my first point.

4. Everyone has their own approach. I've worked with a lot of different coaches, and even with the ones I respect the most, there are a lot of things that they do, that I might do differently. Coaching is by no means one dimensional. The one-on-one on hill interaction between a coach and an athlete is but a small fraction of the responsibilities and actions a coach takes to run a team. And all the different choices you make as a coach throughout the day / week / month / season steers your program in a slightly different direction. It's too easy to stand back and say that you don't like a way someone's coaching, but do you really understand what they are trying to accomplish with what they're doing?

5. Every athlete reacts differently to a coach. If you ask two athletes who they thought their best ever coach was, chances are you will hear two different names. Even if the athletes spent every year of their careers on the same team. Because as with my 4th point, every athlete will have their "ideal" approach as far as coaching goes.

I'll say that I have met some bad coaches. Bad for many different reasons. But in my experience, some bad coaches will have a great reputation, because they've coached athletes that made it far, and were well liked by important people (refer to point 1 and 3).

In addition, I've met a lot of good coaches that moved on in life to other things because as mentioned already in this thread that coaching is a tough life. Living out of a suitcase, working long hours, under a lot of pressure from parents and athletes, and getting paid peanuts.

The most important thing to remember is there are so many different factors that affect an athlete's development, can you really point the finger at such a small factor such as coaching?
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