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Feedback from you upper level instructors

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
I'm looking for your opinion on something. In a recent clinic, I had a DCL basically slam a drill that I have used myself several times with great success, especially with younger children.

The drill is tractor turns. Where one places their poles on top of their bindings and uses the poles as "levers" to make their turns. Pushing the right pole out causes the the student to pressure the right ski turning left. I have also found this helps put the hips and shoulders into the direction of the new turn. After a few of these tractor turns, I ask the kids if they felt the pressure of their shins against their boots and most will agree they did. I now have them ski regularly applying that feeling of pressure to the turning ski and watch them start going parallel and turning with more ease. I also feel this drill helps them realize the importance of hands/elbows forward.

Do you agree with this DCL that this drill is an absolute waste of time? He basically laughed at it as if it were useless. I wish I had time to discuss his reasoning for slamming it, but had lessons waiting...so I ask of you.

Looking forward to your opinions.

[ January 26, 2004, 08:13 AM: Message edited by: Taylormatt ]
post #2 of 18
That drill has been around a long time. It works for kids.
A lot of people think that kids minds work the same as theirs. Not true. They can't analyze things like that. Often their "feedback" is what they think you want them to say. I see a lot of "high level" instructors standing there giving long explainations to little kids. The kids nod their heads that they understand then go do the same thing as before.
Does it usually produce the desired result in their skiing? Then use it.
I'd say "SHUT UP AND SKI!" Keep moving, talk little, change it every run and HAVE FUN.
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 
That's why I like the drill with kids, many of them (older, say 10 years and up) actually notice that they "lean" into their boot tongue to do this and then can repeat that feeling without the "tractor lever" portion of the drill. IMO it actually helps start a little flexion/extension also.

I personally see nothing detrimental in this drill to have laughed at it and basically call it stupid to the group.
post #4 of 18
Quote:
Originally posted by Taylormatt:
I'm looking for your opinion on something. In a recent clinic, I had a DCL basically slam a drill that I have used myself several times with great success, especially with younger children.

Looking forward to your opinions.
I venture to suggest that the high level instructor was not making a very good example of how to teach. A good instructor never slams a student's honest idea, no matter how bad it may appear on the surface. It is a basic tenent of respect that an instructor accords to his students.

Many higher lever instructors are so into analysis that they sometimes twist themselves into a pretzel with their logic. Then they expect that 8, 9 yr old kids to swallow their lengthy theoretical discourse on CM and cross unders and angulation and inclination, and perform. No... 8, 9 yr old kids just want to ski. They ski intuitively, which is probably the best way to ski. If you want to get through to young kids, you need to appeal to their intuitive sense.

[ January 26, 2004, 09:42 AM: Message edited by: josseph ]
post #5 of 18
This is kind of sad!

It ain't Robin....it's Rusty Guy

The desktop at the Eldora ski school still has Robin logged in and registered. He has.......matriculated!

Anyhow, back to the topic at hand

It's -25 out so I'll sit here rather than go ski.

I can only guess the DCL was seeking a focus on inside leg steering as opposed to outside leg pressure. I would also add that most clinicians are focusing on a neutral stance in the ski boot as opposed to pressuring the front of the boot.

I don't teach a lot of kids, however, I'm of the opinion excessive movement of the tib/fib/ forward via ankle and/or knee flexion CAN worsen stance issues.

It all goes back to intent. Why pressure the right ski when you are seeking to go left?

You also mention utilization of the poles as a "lever" to align shoulders. I think one concern might be that the drill might be the genesis of rotary pushoff.

I guess my favorite drill for kids is skating and/or 1000 steps. All provided the terrain is appropriate and the kids are old enough to have the strength/coordination to do so.
post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Robin:

I can only guess the DCL was seeking a focus on inside leg steering as opposed to outside leg pressure. I would also add that most clinicians are focusing on a neutral stance in the ski boot as opposed to pressuring the front of the boot.

I don't teach a lot of kids, however, I'm of the opinion excessive movement of the tib/fib/ forward via ankle and/or knee flexion CAN worsen stance issues.

It all goes back to intent. Why pressure the right ski when you are seeking to go left?

You also mention utilization of the poles as a "lever" to align shoulders. I think one concern might be that the drill might be the genesis of rotary pushoff.

I guess my favorite drill for kids is skating and/or 1000 steps. All provided the terrain is appropriate and the kids are old enough to have the strength/coordination to do so.
"seeking focus on the inside leg" Rusty, kids can't understand this sort of thing. If anyone has a SIMPLIFIED drill that kids can feel to understand, I'd love to hear it.

Yes, it may create upper body movement, but most of these kids already have upper body movement, unfortunately, most of it is counter productive. This at least gets the body moving in the proper direction. We can quiet it down when they are old enough to understand the how's and why's. We're going to have to quiet the upper body movement of 99.9% of them later anyway.

Pressuring the right ski to go left (and vice versa) eventually leads to long leg short leg...does it not? In long leg short leg, we weight the downhill ski slightly more than the uphill, in the left hand turn, our downhill ski is our right ski.

I'm merely looking for a way to show kids what it feels like without spouting technical mumbo jumbo like a clinician that they will never in a million years comprehend.

Sometimes, simply telling them to steer their skis with the big toes of both feet is not enough to lose the wedge. They don't understand, have the mucle skills or coordination yet.

I ask these things because I like teaching Jr Ski, but am running out of ideas on how to advance some of my many regular students. They are ready to ski more technicaly, but how do I get them to understand what they need to do? This really is much tougher than teaching adults.

An adult can at least understand initiating a turn with the femur or knee of the inside ski and attempt doing it. To a 9 year old that comes across as "blah blah, blah blah blah ski".
post #7 of 18
Kids repsond very well to move towards the left tip and guide the left tip left to go left and move towards the right tip and guide the right tip to go right. The more they do this the more they ski parallel. This appeals to their intutive nature. One focus and lots of miles. Add some guidance along the way if things are going wrong. Sometimes they throw some interesting upper body movements into the picture.

Working with a move towards the opposite direction of the turn (pressure the right ski to go left) is more defensive braking movements and will likely lead to rotary push off.

The DCL could have been a bit more personable about the issue though.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Pierre:
Kids repsond very well to move towards the left tip and guide the left tip left to go left and move towards the right tip and guide the right tip to go right. The more they do this the more they ski parallel. This appeals to their intutive nature. One focus and lots of miles. Add some guidance along the way if things are going wrong. Sometimes they throw some interesting upper body movements into the picture.

Working with a move towards the opposite direction of the turn (pressure the right ski to go left) is more defensive braking movements and will likely lead to rotary push off.

The DCL could have been a bit more personable about the issue though.
In fairness, the DCL didn't know that I personally do this drill, he made mention that we may have seen some instructors having students do this "stupid drill". I just thought it sort of closed minded as he said like you could possibly use your poles in this manner to magically turn. Well, if you've ever tried it...you WILL turn without even conciously steering the ski.

Anyway, we may be somewhat on the same page here. The tractor turn drill essentially does get them moving toward the inside ski a bit. Try standing there with poles on the floor and push one pole forward while pulling the opposite pole back to you. You basically rotate and lean slightly to the inside ski (and edge it) while at the same time, you have no choice but pressure the downhill ski through the turn.

If you have any tricks to getting them to go toward the left ski to turn left and vice versa, I'd love to hear the details. I could really use it.

[ January 26, 2004, 11:37 AM: Message edited by: Taylormatt ]
post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally posted by Taylormatt:

An adult can at least understand initiating a turn with the femur or knee of the inside ski and attempt doing it. To a 9 year old that comes across as "blah blah, blah blah blah ski".[/QB]
Again....Rusty not Robin

I have a ten year old daughter under the teaching of Bob Barnes. I think SOME kids that age can BEGIN to understand tipping the foot, rolling the foot towards the little toe, tipping the boot.

Kids can mimic that movement and are remarkable in their ability to mime.

I will still say the best deal is to take nine year olds who spend their summers on skates, get them on appropriate terrain, and have them skate their little hearts out.

THAT WILL create inside foot steering, dynamic balance, movement, etc..
post #10 of 18
One that I used on the 10 and unders that I used to work with was, if wedge was a "V" then make an "A" by pointing the downhill ski downhill. Most of them would stand on the other foot and make a pretty good turn on it. We then made a run chanting "As are fast, Vs are slow". Then we did something else the next run.
I used to have them do a lot of driils in boots only first, then put on the skis and try it. One time one of our boot ski sessions ended up with the whole group sliding down the hill on their bellies.(don't think they learned anything from that but they sure had fun )
One of those kids is a JO level athlete now.
post #11 of 18
I like your thinking taylormatt. Jr. ski pulls a lot out of you for 4 hours.....and one must be very creative with a lot of mileage......I think Pierre had some good points---a familial cousin to your exercise.....
post #12 of 18
One of the tools in my (admittedly limited) bag of tricks for teaching children is "monkey see, monkey do". I lead them in a line and do things they can obviously see that will improve their skiing. I ask them to copy. For inside leg control I do some simple things like put my hands on my knees and obviously "push" the new inside knee towards the inside of the turn. Anything I can do to make it obvious. We play with fun things. I let them lead when conditions and crowds are safe. I find that if many children are on the cusp of "getting" a movement they are great at copying my movements or their peers mevements.

Aar
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Thanks guys, I have a few more things to try now. I guess I will keep doing the tractor turns on the appropriate students. No matter what the DCL says, it works, they have fun doing it and it adds improvement to their skiing in some way...good enough for me.
post #14 of 18
I really liked what an instructor taught my 4.5-y.o. at Alpine Meadows. He had her put her hands on her knees (no poles, of course!) and push one knee or the other with her hand. Kind of a poleless variation of tractor turns, but with more control: not just pushing the pole into the ski, but the hand into the knee.

Worked like a charm! Now she just imitates that feeling without hands, and if she's going fast enough to need that extra push, she pushes down on her knees with her hands - and "carves" that sharp turn.

I forgot to ask the instructor how to progress from here: he's a visiting guy from Europe and may not be there when we come back to Alpine. Should it be pushing the knees down and to the left to turn left, down and to the right to turn right? Is that a reasonable progression to parallel skiing for youngsters?

[ January 27, 2004, 11:50 AM: Message edited by: AlexG ]
post #15 of 18
I'm not an upper level instructor, as you know but, the thing about drills is that drills are not skiing. Drills isolate and highlight particular movements. Yes, we endeavor to get our students to ski with both edges but the outside ski is still dominant. Learning to balance on the outside ski is a progression we all make and it is the most difficult breakthrough most 'wedge skier' will make. I'm going to try tractor turns whenever I have a chance.
post #16 of 18
Springhill,

It is exceedingly insightful of you to make the connection about drills. They are merely what you describe and can be grossly overused and of course underused.

I guess I'm sitting here trying to figure out how to be p.c.

I would like to say learning to balance is something we do and our goal should not be balancing on an ouside ski. We should be balanced.....period

The more I explore "balance" the more I'm convinced it is a result of efficient movements. If there is a holy grail in skiing or a magic movement it is inside foot steering.

Inside foot steering is a complex animal. It can involve tipping, turning, flexion and/or extension. It eventually involves the tib/fib, femur, and hip.

Can a child understand the complexities of this? I believe it depends upon the kid. I can introduce you to a variety of kids who fully understand it. I bet a group of kids yelling "A's are fast get it!

A child can be introduced to the concept by fun drills and by a good demo. You pair up a young girl with a CU coed and she will mime every move that instructor makes right down to the number of braids in her hair. We have a great cadre of snowboard instructors from CU and the kids never take their eyes off the teachers. At times it borders on hero worship.

I guess in short I would argue "good teaching" is about offensive or positive movements. Various sources have suggested movements to an outside ski are generally construed as negative and will lead to defensive movements.

What kid can feather in pressure. It will merely lead to a tail push and as pointed out by several folks.......rotary pushoff.

The original query was to upper level instructors and the genesis came from a DCL who didn't like the drill. I don't know if you mean DCL and Examiners, however get kids balanced on their skis....not on one ski. Get kids moving with big smiles screaming "A's" are fast....that is simply superb.

Get their left tips going left when they want to go left and their right tips going right when their done with going left!
post #17 of 18
Rusty, sorry it has taken so long to get back to this. Your points are well taken. I have never done this drill so I don't know exactly what movements are in play or what sensations are generated. However, my point was also that any drill has an inherent flaw and that's why it is not efficient skiing. Thousand steps and skating have you lifting your foot off of the snow. Going from V's to A's has you stem yet all are useful in learning the sensations and movements of edging and inside foot steering. Once that drill is learned, we eliminate the foot lift and stem. Other drills have us leaning fore and aft and side to side to find a centered neutral stance. Another drill will have you leaning down to touch your outside edge to set up alignment for agulation. Some drills are done blindfolded (by ski school staff). None of these are efficient moves yet all highlight important movements and sensations. All must be corrected once the particular skill is understood.

Remember, this question was framed in repeat Jr. skiers. It seems to me that the fun and novelty of a tractor turn is a great way to introduce new movements and sensations as a building block to dynamic balance. If you ever taught a lot of kids you will know they are not interested in learning to ski efficiently or even learning to ski at all. Kids want to have fun, some parents want their kids to be excellent skiers, most want baby sitters so they can have some adult ski time. So as a guest centered snow sport coach what do you do? You have as much fun as possible, you spend as much time on the snow as the kids want and you do a lot of things you never would do with an adult that is looking to improve a particular skill set or terrain challenge.

A few more questions I have concerning neutral stance and outside dominate ski. Does neutral stance and inside leg steering also mean equal pressure all the time? Are railroad tracks what we strive for all or most of the time? Will one set of movements that are inefficient in most circumstances always inefficient?
post #18 of 18
Quote:
Originally posted by Springhill Crazie:
[A few more questions I have concerning neutral stance and outside dominate ski. Does neutral stance and inside leg steering also mean equal pressure all the time? Are railroad tracks what we strive for all or most of the time? Will one set of movements that are inefficient in most circumstances always inefficient?[/QB]
Pressure CAN be actively added or lessened via flexion/extension, turn radius, and or speed at any point in a turn. Want to add pressure to the ouside ski? Push on the ski, go faster in a turn or tighten the turn radius.

I think the biggest "breakthrough" in my personal skiing has come as I have allowed pressure to build in turns in a progression or time continuom.

Turning results in pressure on the outside ski. Pressure building on the outside ski is one factor that creates a turn.

RR track turns are merely a drill. I refer to them as the seedling or genesis for a more dynamic turn. The movement is created below the ankle in the sub tallus and builds up into.....perhaps a little tipping of the lower leg.

There are no "bad movements" in skiing. Movements are merely offensive or defensive in nature and/or intent and thus have varying applications.

A braking wedge may be the alltime "defensive" set of movements, however, it sure works well in a crowded liftline

[ January 29, 2004, 05:24 PM: Message edited by: Rusty Guy ]
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