Haven't had much time to post here lately, but this seems like a good place to jump in again.
|The process of coaching is removing error. Start with the biggest error then move down to the next biggest error in order.
John, thanks for sharing your honest and insightful observations as a student--much appreciated!
Although I'm sure your racquetball coach was effective in many ways, I have to disagree with his statement above. Certainly, there are some errors that need to be eliminated, when they interfere with proper movements or outcomes. But it is a mistake to assume that the reason someone is less than "perfect" is because of errors. Indeed, most errors are, themselves, learned. In many ways, a beginner (first timer) makes no errors, has no bad skiing habits. He or she may have very little skill, but that is far different from making errors. A blank slate needs only to be filled--not erased!
Many skiers do indeed assume that they must be making lots of mistakes. "Just watch me and tell me what I'm doing wrong" is a common request students make of their instructors. I guess they think that somewhere inside is the perfect expert, needing only to have the errors stripped away.
But in a perfect world of excellent instruction, students would start out doing nothing wrong and the instructor would see that it stays that way. Skills, movement patterns, tactics, and good habits would all develop, from the embryonic level to expert, in a seamless, nonstop track with no "wrong turns." Developing as a student is more like the opening of a rose bud. There's nothing "wrong" with the rose bud--it just hasn't developed yet! With the right nurturing and a little time, it will develop into a perfect rose. An infant is not just an adult doing everything wrong!
Unfortunately, it is not a perfect world of excellent instruction and perfect students all the time. Erors and bad habits do develop--we all have a few. But even here, it is not always the right tactic for the instructor to focus on the error in an attempt to remove it. Some "errors" are actually effective compensations for other errors, for one thing, and eliminating the compensation just worsens the problem.
Other errors comprise the only way the skier knows how to turn, and simply eliminating these errors would leave them helpless! For these, they must learn the appropriate replacement moves before the error can be removed. As often as not, simply focusing on and strengthening the "right" moves will make the errors vanish, almost magically. This is almost always a better instructional tactic than dwelling on the error itself. Show 'em what to DO--don't dwell on what they should NOT do. If the "error" still persists, then it may make sense to focus directly on it, but rarely as a first resort.
All this is not to suggest that the instructor should pay no attention to errors, merely that, having identified errors, there are often much better ways to address them than to focus directly on them."Most errors will take care of themselves, provided we ignore them."
I'm not sure that's an exact quote, but it captures the essence of one of the great statements by the legendary Horst Abraham, former ski school director at Vail and one of the original developers of PSIA's American Teaching System.