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How can we coach/instruct to best achieve automaticity

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
I just returned from a PMTS instuctor's camp where I had lots of time and a good environment to think about learning (ski and other sport movement skills). (BB, sorry I missed you - Rich told me you said hello). This experience (and SCSA's recent post on Skiing Movements) motivated me to try to post on this subject. (Note - this is not a post about PMTS)

As most of you know PMTS is founded on the assumption that there are relatively specific (but not inflexible) primary movements which are key to proficient skiing. In the PMTS model an attempt is made to provide cues that allow skiers to more easily initiate primary movements as well as to provide objective feedback on the performance of such movements. Enough background - on to the point.

During the camp I found that the vast majority of the participants (mostly instructors) were strongly focused on achieving an understanding of the primary movements being presented and continually attempted to try and use the suggested cues to achieve and measure success in performance of the movements. They didn't seem to ever let go of the relationship between the cue and performance of the ski movement.

I felt that I (and a few others) reacted a bit differently in that we were trying to use the cues as a quick (as possible) stepping stone to reaching automaticity. By this I mean the ability to perform a movement without thinking about it (In the case of some high level athletes who achieve automaticity in a skill, they may not even be able to describe how they perform a given skill!). Thus, as soon as I had some "feel" for a movemement I went through an iterative cycle which included: forgetting about any cues, just trying to "LET IT HAPPEN"; getting feedback from the group coach or other camp participants; and then either going back to cues or continuing to try and "let it happen."

Given this model of learning it became clear to me that a 4 day camp with continuous coaching was not the most affective way for me to work towards automaticity. (Keep in mind that this was my 3rd PMTS camp so that I came in with a good understanding of the primary movements and cues being used - bolstered greatly from discussions here on Epic and elsewhere). Similarly not even a full or half day lesson seemed to optimally fit the bill as I thought about it. Also, it made me realize that in general, coaching in any sport is rarely specifically designed with the goal of automaticity in mind. It is the desried outcome but we only generally try to achieve it through repetition. My contention is that we can better design the learning process to improve the rate at which one can achieve automaticity.

With this experience I'm starting to develop a idea of what I would think could be a more optimal (and economically affordable) learning environemnt where small chunks of time are spend with a coach and larger chunks are spent with a peer group (perhaps just 1 other person) providing feedback to each other as people work both together with others and on their own towards automaticity.

I don't think there is much doubt that automaticity is the goal (that's setting up myself for some trouble! - in that vein let me qualify that even once achieved automatic performance of a skill can and ususally does deteriorate, requiring regular "tuning"). If that is the case I would be very interested to hear what others think about how individual instructors can assist their clients to more quickly and effectively achieve automaticity and how learning environments (group lessons, private lessons, camps, etc.) can be better structured to do the same.

As I ask this question I certainly expect that there will be a wide range of answers that will to some extent depend on the skill level, motivation, style, and abilities of the clients (perhaps grouping of clients with similar motivation and learning styles is improtant here?).

I hope this makes sense but I've no time to edit given my absence for the ski camp.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ November 19, 2001 02:28 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Si ]</font>
post #2 of 26

I have to agree with you on the issue automaticity. I have been trying to achieve this in my own skiing. Perhaps your concept of skiing with a peer would be th solution. However, I think that in the beginning of skiing with peers, it should start with using a coach. The reason for the coach is to have someone teach the criteria to the group. The group need to understand what they are looking for, as observers.

After the coach has everyone well versed in the criteria, then coach can leave the group to do their work.

Si, this is new to me. I wrote an article for the PMTS.org newsletter, but it was rejected as it did not tie to SDSI. I thought it did, but not everyone agreed.

I am sorry that I had to bail on the camp. I had, and still do, have a fairly severe case of sciatica. It is getting better with a lot of stretching. I go for a MRI on the 28th. That should give my doctor some guidelines as to what is really going on.
post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 

I totally agree. Never before had I any hope of achieving automaticity in my skiing as I had never been able to concretely establish how to make the movements I was looking for in a consistent fashion. PMTS and the coaches I have worked with in Harald's camps (with special accolades for Harald) have provided an opportunity for me to experience these to a great enough of an extent so that now I can think about making them automatic. I think the peer thing will only work once you have established a very clear understanding of what you are trying to achieve. That takes focused time and effort with a qualified person using a viable approach. I feel that I have gotten those in the PMTS camps I've attended.
post #4 of 26
I don't think you can teach or coach automatic performance of any physical activity. You can teach or coach TOWARD that goal, but it's up to the individual to practice to reach that goal. And even then, as you noted, Si, the individual still needs input to avoid letting automatic performance deteriorate to habitual nonperformance. It's like saying, "you HAVE to relax."
post #5 of 26
Si, musical instuction is (generally) totally based on automaticity. How is this achieved? Through endless repetition! Break up a passage into small parts, play each part many times at a slow tempo, then increase the tempo, more repetition, etc....
This is what SCSA does when he skis. If you are dedicated enough to spend even 1/3 of your ski day practicing those little exercises and drills, automaticity will be yours, too.
Again with the musical analagy, practice is practice, performance is performance. Meaning that the performance is usually done at a lower technical level than the practice.
Practice the piece at 160 beats per minute so that it can be performed automatically at 120 bpm's, allowing you to concentrate on giving it life. Performance is art, practice is craft.
For skiing, practice those perfect turns so that when you just go skiing (perform), you can give it life. If you don't concentrate on making your turns "perfect" while free skiing, you can concentrate on making them more fun.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ November 19, 2001 07:51 PM: Message edited 1 time, by milesb ]</font>
post #6 of 26

I'm not sure if this directly relates to your post, but here's my comments.

I just think the whole concept of primary movements is great. I think if skiers understood what the primary movements of skiing are, they'd advance much more quickly.

You've seen my threads and how I lament that skiing/making turns should be "productized". I need to modify that statement. I don't think skiing can be productized. But I do think that skiing can be broken down to primary movements -- movements used most/if not all of the time.

Barnes and I touched on this in my "Skiing movements" thread. He agreed that perhaps ski instruction has taken a step backwards by implementing the, "It's all good" approach (for lack of a better description) to learning. My opinion is that skiers aren't realizing their potential with that approach.

I know that skiers don't understand what the primary movements of skiing are. What I don't know is do they care. Like Ott says, if they're having fun and they've bought a ticket, that's all that matters. It's like my buddy Z. He comes up to have a good time -- make a few jokes and hang out with me. He could care less about what a great turn is. How many others are like him? Most? Some? Which kind of gets back to one of my notes. "Is ski instruction a product in search of a market"?
post #7 of 26
I don't know about the peer thing. For a reason that I can't quite understand, I never have any interest in skiing with my peers after a class.

I do not believe automaticity in skiing can happen exclusively as the result of good instruction. The problem lies much deeper. From what I have been studying recently about functional sports conditioning, technology has basically alienated us from what should be the primary, natural movements of our daily lifes. So much, nowadays, is controlled for us, that we are not quite sure how our own inner controls work.

So you take a body that moves in a contrived manner on a day to day basis, then put them on a ski slope and expect them integrate primary, natural movements to the point of automaticity? I don't think so!

Some year round "homework" is in order.
post #8 of 26

Performance is art, practice is craft.



technology has basically alienated us from what should be the primary, natural movements of our daily lifes

So true.

I see a direct correlation between these statements and automaticity. Technology and alienation from self-expression by society imposed image proxy keeps us in the craft mode and does not allow the performance mode to be expressed. Effortless\automatic skiing relies heavily on the artistic genes. A true artist knows his\her craft intimately.

(If that makes sense and does not make me sound like a pompous ****!)

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ November 19, 2001 10:20 PM: Message edited 3 times, by man from oz ]</font>
post #9 of 26
Brilliant! Definitely makes sense.
post #10 of 26
I have often said that learning begins when you've got it right. Too many instructors seem to think it ENDS there, and they move on to the next "topic" as soon as their students manage to do the first one right. I would find that extremely frustrating as a student, usually. Once I learn to do something new, I am usually dying to try it, to play with it, to hammer it into my muscle memory. If you're going to give me a new toy, then please let me play with it a little!

Practice makes permanence--there is no substitute. Of course, it is absolutely critical that what we practice is the "right" stuff--if we practice bad movements, we simply get good at bad movements. Accurate feedback to make sure the movements we practice are correct is a crucial part of learning. Many skiing movements are very subtle, and few are "innate." The well-trained eye of a good instructor has no equal. This is why I would be very cautious about recommending the "peer feedback" that you suggest, Si.

In some situations, peer feedback can be great. Instructors often use what is known as "reciprocal teaching style," in which students are paired with each other to practice and give feedback. It can be fun, and it can be effective. But it can backfire--as Lisamarie points out. Few students are willing to pay the price of a ski lesson only to get the feedback of a "peer."

But peer feedback works well if the feedback relates to some simple, easily observed movement, ideally a simple "yes" or "no" situation. It does not work well when the feedback requires a value judgement or discrimination among subtle shades of gray.

Instructors are trained to understand some of the basic principles of practice theory. Shaping behavior with varying amounts of feedback, assuring accuracy of the movements practiced by monitoring and providing effective feedback and reinforcement, using "massed practice" (single long, uninterrupted practice session) and "distributed practice" (multiple brief, intense practice sessions separated by an optimal interval of time) effectively, and so on, are all covered in basic instructor manuals and training programs.

But it's a lot to learn, and to apply effectively and consistently with the wide variety of students the typical instructor deals with. Probably the most common mistake instructors make is to try to teach too much at once. It's an honest mistake, usually made for all the right reasons--they want to be as helpful as possible, and to share their enthusiasm for and knowledge of the sport. But in most cases, it overwhelms the students and leads only to frustration. Sometimes the students THINK they learned something--they recall hearing a lot of information, and may even believe that they ski better for it. But they go on practicing the same old mistakes, having failed to truly MASTER any of the new movements to the point, as Si puts it, of "automaticity."

My only suggestion is to never hesitate to ask the instructor to give you a little more time to practice something, if you want to. Take control of your own lesson--ask the instructor to watch and make sure you're doing it right. Don't let him/her move on until you're ready. Don't be afraid to ask for a "free run" to blow out the cobwebs, so you can focus again.

Instructors do need help to determine the right pacing for a lesson. The best are highly tuned in to even the most subtle signs of overload--or boredom. But don't be afraid to give your instructor a great big neon sign, if necessary, to help out....

It IS your lesson!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ November 19, 2001 11:00 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Bob Barnes/Colorado ]</font>
post #11 of 26
I totally agree with Bob,i once was told that to make a new movement "automatic" you needed 3000 CORRECT repetitions.Every wrong one would subtract 2 correct ones.The numbers are not important,the idea is.
The brain takes some time to assimilate/organize new motor skills,spending a full day practicing the same drill is therefore not efficient (nor fun!).
What works for me is 15-30 min.(downhill time)on a drill and then free-ski or do
something else.
I´ve found that i reap the benefits of practicing a drill on the day after.
It takes a lot of willpower and concentration to make perfect repetitions of something new,you have to slow down so much your brain will be screaming at you for freedom.
-PERFECT practice makes perfect
post #12 of 26
I totally agree with Bob but I tuned into the thread too late to steal his thunder. I will focus more on self practice and automaticity.
If you are going to make a new movement automatic, you have got to practice it the right way and often. To do this, it is best to remove all distractions that you can from the practice and use an exercise that will isolate the movements you are trying to make automatic. By isolate, I mean selecting an exercise that will give you feedback on your movements about right and wrong that you don't really have to think about.
Steep, deep and speed are all very big distractions that completely obliterate any meaningful feedback. Take your practice to the bunny hill and practice very slowly at first. Here is where a coach can give you the best exercises for what you want to achieve.
Practice, practice, practice until the movement is automatic at slow speeds then gradually increase speed.
Its important to get continued coaching so as to work the automaticity into your regular skiing. When going from exercises that isolate a movement to real skiing that blends movements the new automatic movement can be incorrectly applied. [img]smile.gif[/img]

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ November 20, 2001 06:43 AM: Message edited 1 time, by Pierre eh! ]</font>
post #13 of 26
Several people have mentioned the need for practice time. How does this pan out in a first time/never ever class or during the first 2-3 levels? I understand the need for learning and muscle memory/movement memory but in a 2 hour first time or second lesson group lesson, how would you keep them working and practicing something without boredom setting in. I'm fishing for suggestions to assist my training as a new instructor.

The need to get the people out. sliding and having fun has been emphasised by the ski school. How do we incorporate this into our early lesson plans?
post #14 of 26
Thread Starter 
Bob, that's a nice summary that covers the basics very well. Of course execution in practice is not always so easy. At this point in the process (doing an early season training camp for 3 years) I mostly don't request any additional guidance when asked what I'm working on since I find the guidance and feedback I get without such request to provide all the learning support I need (a pretty rich environment). I just try to work on my skiing within the scope of the context developed by the coach.

I am pretty lucky in the environment I have been working that the PMTS trainers display the patience and support to allow me to approach things in my own way and provide a rich enough learning environemnt that I almost never find myself in need of more specific instruction. Feedback, of course, is a different story as it is sometimes the only way I can accurately assess whether I'm progressing at the early stages of working on something new. However, even in the case of feedback I eventually require less as I progress (which is where I think about the possibility of developing simple criteria and possibly use peer feedback or "distributed practice").

I think that good coaches or instructors respond to the needs of their students. You can call this guest centered teaching or anything else you like but my suggestion here is that there may be disparity when students want more specific guidance and they are not exploring and developing their own perceptions to the fullest extent.

I think LM and Man from Oz are on the right track in trying to contrast "craft" and "performance." I think others might use different terms but I don't have anything I would consider better, only different.

Bob said "But it's a lot to learn, and to apply effectively and consistently with the wide variety of students the typical instructor deals with" which I certainly agree is very true. Nevertheless, what I am asking about I think goes beyond this. I am looking for experiences or anecdotes from both instructors and students where there was guidance that helped the process along in an innovative or special way.

Perhaps this is a futile effort because the most effective approach stems from the kind of instructor characteristics Bob described and I have experienced together with a great deal of repetition. Yet, I figure it can't hurt to see if others have experiences where they felt there was innovative or unique methods used to help them (or to guide others to) get in touch with the "performance" (as opposed to "craft") side of things.
post #15 of 26
Dchan: Your question about practice time requirements would make a good topic for a separate thread.

There are numerous group handling practices employed to provide adequate practice for individuals within the group.
post #16 of 26
The only sort of peer reinforcemnt that has ever worked for me is the time at Sugarloaf, when each student had to lead the rest of the class for 6 turns. By teaching it to others, I was able to get my mind off my own anxiety about the terrain.

In terms of automaticity, lets back track. Think of the Cave Men. Think of the ancient Greeks. Are bodies are supposerd to be NATURALLY athletic. In order to reclaim what technology has taken from us, we need to bring athleticism into our daily lives. When you get a chance, stand on one leg from time to time. Ride the subway without holding on. Believe it or not, the balance we have when we ski is supposed to be natural. When you do other activities, think about what similar movements are used in skiing.

My Pilates students sometimes ask me how fast they will see "results". I tell them that its not how odten they do the actual class, its how they incorporate it into other activities.

So when I teach Step, I am using the same postural alignment cues as a Pilates class. And in my mind, I am thinking about how I can make my step class 'feel" like skiing. [img]smile.gif[/img]

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ November 20, 2001 12:52 PM: Message edited 1 time, by Lisamarie ]</font>
post #17 of 26
Believe it or not, the balance we have when we ski is supposed to be natural
I disagree with this. I doubt that the cavemen or the Greeks could have coped with sliding upright with very little friction down a hill any better than the Dilberts of today. And the balancing fore/aft while the skis are headed into the fall line is anything but natural. Just look at all the self taught natural skiers for evidence of this. Indeed, we probably have better balance for skiing because we have done things like roller/ice skating, riding trains and escalators, etc from a young age.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ November 20, 2001 12:08 PM: Message edited 1 time, by milesb ]</font>
post #18 of 26
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Si:
With this experience I'm starting to develop a idea of what I would think could be a more optimal (and economically affordable) learning environemnt where small chunks of time are spend with a coach and larger chunks are spent with a peer group (perhaps just 1 other person) providing feedback to each other as people work both together with others and on their own towards automaticity.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Perhaps this belongs in a seperate thread, but I think this is such a neat idea! Especially if you made a little less formal. So, I don't know if this is where you're headed but it would be cool to set up what amounts to a kind of on the hill mentoring program.

Perhaps a few slopes could be learning zones; students would buy learning passes (something identifiable from a distance, like a vest or armband) that would entitle them to ongoing mentoring on the hill. People could do freeskiing and practicing on their own, and then drop into informal groups that are working on particular skills, or just have occasionaly one on one interactions with on hill instructors.

Instructors would have immediate feedback about what they were doing that was working and what wasn't, just by the amount of people on the mountain who are interested and energized by what they are working with. If people can just ski off without worrying about wasting their money, its a pretty powerful motivator to give them stuff they can use and relate to.

It would be a radical departure from the way things are done now, kind of like an 'open-classroom' on the hill, but I bet it would go a long way toward encouraging people to get into the thing. Mayhbe set up some terrain features, or a little slalom course. Set aside a protion of a bump run for this kind of work.

There could be off hill component, peer interaction, and so on. If it was reasonably affordable, you could have people sign up for weekly particiaption, again encouraging the social component.

I don't know, maybe this is unworkable, but it sure sounds like it could be cool.
post #19 of 26
Hey All,

This is an interesting thread. And I really like what everyone has to say. I also believe that after a certain point of instruction focused on a defined movement and/or objetive for the skier, there comes a time to simply ski and ski some more. Practice makes perfect (or as close we all can get).

But I would also add that there is another important element which has not been touched on here much. It is the sensation of a good turn; what it feels like to make a good turn. There a lot of folks who have never really experienced the sensations inherent to good skiing. Helping people to define this can also help someone in their personal awareness and self teaching. If we can help someone to "feel" when they make a good turn, utilizing our teaching cues, they can be aware and learn more effectively. Here's a couple examples: "You Know you made a good turn when you're not sucking wind" or "you have smooth build up of G's in the turn" or "when you linked two or more turns with no effort and good balance" or "one turn ends and the next just starts on its own". Then just try to rememebr the good ones and toss the bad. Things like this. Then point out which were their best and have them remember those turns and what they felt like. Most people do remember their best turns but remebmering the sensation is key.

It is a slight difference in awareness from focusing on specific movements or body position to being more aware of the natural movement to create the sesations of good skiing. It used to be that only the best skiers could generate the sensations of a real carve turn with a smooth build up and release of G's while arcing down a slope. Now, with modern skis, these sensations are obtainable to many more skiers. That's a beautiful thing.

I think it is important for us a Pros to communicate these sensations to make our skiers aware of when they hit a good turn and when they link a few together. It feels a lot bettter then the old skid and check.

So just another couple thoughts on making skiing more natural and less contrived. Already good ideas on this. There is always room for improvement no matter how good you are.

post #20 of 26
<BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Lisamarie:
Think of the ancient Greeks. Our bodies are supposed to be NATURALLY athletic. In order to reclaim what technology has taken from us, we need to bring athleticism into our daily lives. When you get a chance, stand on one leg from time to time. Ride the subway without holding on.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Good to know I'm not the only one who rides the escalator and subway on one leg. [img]smile.gif[/img]

I'm still not sure what 'natural' is and I'm pretty sure skiing down a snow covered hill/mountain on a pair of planks isn't natural - but I don't give a stuff because it sure feels good. [img]smile.gif[/img]

post #21 of 26

I think what LM was alluding to was the fact that our modern lives actually destroy core balance. The ancients where much more connected to the earth and it cycles and so could be said to be “in balance”. They certainly where much fitter physically. LM defines "in balance" physically by having a strong core group of muscles which when applied to skiing will make us better skiers by improving our “natural” balance which, in the absence of fear, improves our ski balance.


If you want to move to the performance stage then the agreed first step is learning the craft intimately. This takes time and devotion. As was stated by others we have to go back to the basics done slowly, whilst removing the gravity and adrenalin assistance of steeps and speed. This is a constant ongoing process. Instructors have an advantage that many rarely take in when working they can practice 8 hours a day for the “perfect” turn. Many just “lead badly”.

I believe that to move to the performance stage one must find the correct mentors. Someone on the hill that skis effortlessly, races fast, is approachable and is a “natural”. A few mentors are preferable. They must be artists not just craftsmen. The best sunglasses are not a prerequisite. Ski with them using self-visualization techniques and try and steal some of their “rhythm”. Close your eyes when performing for a turn or two. Run gates on varied terrain and snow. Don’t slow down for ice. Ski in blizzards and white outs. Study the way an eagle soars. Visualize, use music and rhythm, (waltzes\ballads not thrash metal)Etc etc etc. Reach into your core and feel the rhythm just like an artist. Apply the craft subconsciously and you will then be “performing” What you are trying to achieve is the environment telling your brain to react automatically. To coach\teach this may not be possible with every pupil.

Soul ski …. for miles and miles.

Oz [img]smile.gif[/img]

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ November 20, 2001 02:24 PM: Message edited 1 time, by man from oz ]</font>
post #22 of 26
automaticity? gosh, Si, couldn't you come up with a more cumbersome word, preferably with 3 or 4 more syllables?

I don't have any real solutions to offer, but I do think that you are asking for someone to divine the surest way to instantly tell what is each student's "type" and what that "type" needs as a method of instruction.

Essentially, you are asking the question, "How do people learn motor skills and how can we optimize that learning?"

There always will be people who learn slowly and cannot reach that "automatic" learning you seem to desire.

Seriously, I enjoy the fact that I can't learn it all in one day or one hour. How boring would that be? We'd have a nation of Shane McConkeys, Kina Picketts, etc., and nobody would want to ski anywhere except OB at Jackson or Targhee, or at Squallywood, or up in the Chugach, Monashee, etc. ranges.

Hint: sell your soul to the guy with the horns and the cape [img]redface.gif[/img]
post #23 of 26
Thread Starter 

I didn't come up with automaticity, it comes from the research literature in human performance. The argument can and has been made that automaticity is never truly reached. Certainly in skiing there are many who may never achieve a very high level of such a state while demonstrting proficient skills. I'm really not looking for the path to nirvana, although in some ways automaticity in high level skills is thought of as such by many in a variety of sports.

What I do see is people who don't seem to have much idea about this level of achievment and focus so much on specific cues and guidance that they inhibit discovery along these lines. I understand very well that time must be spent at this level in order to have any hope of ahcieving some level of automatic skill performance. At the same time I think that there is opportunity for an instructor or coach to help someone to discoveries about this level of achievement right from the start.

I am sure that many here have worked (or stopped working!) in order to move towards this level of performance. For me it is one of the very best parts of both skiing and tennis. I just want to see if others have had experience in helping to bring themselves or others towards this level.

I think that a level of automaticity can only be achieved to a partial extent. The joy for me is in the pursuit and whatever success I can find in this endeavor.
post #24 of 26
"Automaticity" may be too strong a word. What we seek in a lesson is "mastery," as defined by Benjamin Bloom and others in their concept of "Direct Instruction." "Mastery" is the level of proficiency (learning) at which students can practice a new movement or concept on their own, with a high level of consistency and accuracy (say, 85-90%).

Anything short of mastery leaves students in a situation where they are likely to go out and practice bad movements. They are unable to perform the "new material" accurately enough, without the instructor's feedback, to benefit from practicing!

So the challenge for a ski lesson is to determine reasonable goals that are in the interest of the student(s) and that can be mastered in the allotted time! Try to accomplish too much stuff, and the student will learn nothing.


Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #25 of 26

Your note (and all these great replies) really got me thinking. I love the concept of relatively short "lessons" followed by sessions of practice with one or more friends looking for the right movements. I'm not sure that model works very well for keeping the instructor properly paid, but I think it's a tremendous way for students to learn.

My general sense is that a lot of modern ski instruction seems to be built around teaching many skills in a half day lesson. The instructor demonstrates some movement, the class practices it for a portion of the run, gets critiqued, and then the instructor moves on to the next movement. By the time the lesson is over, the students have a whole laundry list of new skills that they are supposed to go out and incorporate into their skiing. They then rejoin their family/friends and most of them quickly revert back to the way they were skiing before the lesson.

Race coaches, on the other hand, concentrate lesson sessions on extremely specific movements or segments of a turn and then make the students practice, practice, and practice until that movement becomes "natural". That's the point, I think, where automaticity begins.

The problem most instructors have, of course, is that most students don't seem to have the time, the motivation, or the patience to follow a more systematic approach to isolating movements and then practicing them diligently. By our nature in today's world, we tend to want quick and painless "solutions".

This topic is interesting for me because I've been very much in the learning mode this summer in traditional rock climbing. I've spent a fair bit of time with an instructor and the learning progression is fascinating. Climbing and skiing are similar in that there are several important movements that need to be learned.

As in skiing, you can get from one point to another (on the rock or on a ski run) with a whole bunch of different movements. Some of these are "correct" and will lead to improving technique and higher skill levels. Others are dead ends and can actually *prevent* you from improving. If you end up repeating the bad movements, you won't develop your skills as quickly or completely as you might.

Being frequently reminded of the "right" movements is important, but then practicing them with the goal of reaching automaticity is critically important. I like your idea.

post #26 of 26
Thanks, Si... I was just teasing.

Bob.Peters... very well put. You said --

Your note (and all these great replies) really got me thinking. I love the concept of relatively short "lessons" followed by sessions of practice with one or more friends looking for the right movements. I'm not sure that model works very well for keeping the instructor properly paid, but I think it's a tremendous way for students to learn.

My coach, Jim Weiss, does exactly that. He gives me a little movement or idea to work on, watches me for a few runs, then suggests that I work on it some more. My skiing improved greatly last season by following Jim's excellent instruction. [img]smile.gif[/img]
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