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Positive and Negative movements in skiing... a personal observation.

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
(disclamer: I DO FULLY REALIZE that I have am relaying observations that are "negative" and have left out ALL of the positive things we do... there is a method to my madness. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img] )
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Some people don't try what the instructor asks.

Some people don't "hear" what the instructor asks.

Some people don't tell the instructor what they want or need.

Some people complain about the lesson, but not to the instructor.
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Some people follow instruction well AND then revert back to old habits when the instructor is "not looking".

Some people think so much about the instruction it makes them tense (muscularly and mentally).

Some people are afraid to feel new sensations.

Some people just don't want to ski the way (or trail, or whatever) the instructor requests.
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Some people don't like to be told about their mistakes.

Some people make excuses for themselves and their short-comings or mistakes.
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Some people don't want to do "difficult" or "intimidating" tasks in lessons.

Some people just don't TRUST their instructor.
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On this discussion board and at the Epic Ski events a lot of time is spent discussing the the "postive" and "negative" movements we make in skiing. At ETU, Bob Barnes spent time discussing "carving versus braking" movements.

This board has also recently hosted discussion topics about instruction and learner improvement. Yet, we keep discussing the PHYSICAL aspects of skiing.

What about the "positive and negative" MENTAL movements in our skiing?

I welcome all comments and feedback.

kiersten
post #2 of 24
Kiersten,

Great topic and thought starter. Especially since while waiting for the heating repair technician today I curled up in front of the fireplace and happen to pickup the 1993 “The American Teaching System: Alpine Skiing” and reviewed its discussions of the social and psychological side of ski instruction prior to seeing your post.

One of the major concepts I discuss in training is that lessons (and also our own personal ski improvement) have both a psychological and physical side. And the psychological side may be as important if not more so than the physical side.

Do instructors (and non instructors) have to achieve an internal comfort level with the mechanical side of skiing before they can begin to delve deeply into the psychological side? Are we overly mechanics biased?

Perhaps the emphasis on the physical side of skiing in this forum you mentioned is predicated on the fact the vast number of bears have little experience in teaching biomechanical activities or teaching in general? I'm not sure.

In another thread Nolo hypothesized

“The difficulty of learning at levels 8-9 is that it is work (practice is work; free skiing is play) and can be frustrating (progress is slow) and boring (all that repetition!). No wonder so many settle for the false summit and disbelieve that the true summit is high above the clouds.

This happens with ski instructors, whom I consider to be a subset of advanced skiers, who "settle" for their current level of achievement. I don't buy the line that they are more interested/more adept in teaching--if ya ain't learning, ya ain't much of a teacher. “

I believe you can apply this thought to teaching proficiency too. It takes just as much effort to be a great teacher as great skier!

An interesting discussion would be whose responsibility is learning-the instructor or the student? Or is it a partnership in which both parties must actively participate, which would be my assertion. Then the question would become how could the instructor develop the skills to foster an effective learning partnership. Do we even teach this skill or is it supposed to happen by magic?

Back to the fireplace. My toes are getting chilly.
post #3 of 24
Galloway explores this well in all his classic and enlightening "Inner Game of" (Tennis, Skiing, Golf) series.

I'd suggest reading Inner Game of Tennis first to learn more about the inner game concept, then read Inner Game of Skiing.
[img]smile.gif[/img]
post #4 of 24
S&G - part of fostering the relationship with the student is LISTENING..... not hearing - LISTENING

I have twice now posted suggestions in discussions on poles & if they are needed - to date only ONE instructor from these forums has attempted the exercises & asked about the outcome.....
I think a couple of others have ASKED about what happens & why - privately....

This is NOT the kind of interaction that would inspire me with TRUST in the teachers ability.... those that ASSUME they know it all already generally disappoint as teachers....
post #5 of 24
I read the Inner game of skiing the second month I taught skiing, and it was like a weight was lifted from my shoulders. I felt like someone gave me permission to explore in any direction, and go anywhere with my students. Liberating!

I read "Courage to Teach" every fall, and I've read the Yikes Zone twice. Some others that are good reads are "Thinking Body Dancing Mind", and Tai Chi as a path to wisdom. There are many books out there that have application to teaching skiing that don't have anything to do with skiing.

My current book that is taking some time because it's so complete and full of practical scientific info is "Smart Moves" by Carla Hannaford. This should be a must read for all teachers, or anyone interested in the learning partnership. I can't recomend this book enough.

This another good topic.

I'd like to hear what sources others use to further their knowledge in this direction.
post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally posted by disski:
S&G - part of fostering the relationship with the student is LISTENING..... not hearing - LISTENING

Listening is definitely a component of developing a learning relationship. Active listening requires a sender, a receiver and constant checking for understanding. It requires providing feedback and adjusting the lesson plan if needed. Active listening and participation in a lesson is a requirement of both the instructor and student if an effective learning relationship is to develop. If either party fails to participate the lesson is doomed.

I have twice now posted suggestions in discussions on poles & if they are needed - to date only ONE instructor from these forums has attempted the exercises & asked about the outcome.....
I think a couple of others have ASKED about what happens & why - privately....
This is NOT the kind of interaction that would inspire me with TRUST in the teachers ability.... those that ASSUME they know it all already generally disappoint as teachers....
I'm not sure I follow the corrolation of failing to try an exercise or posting a response and that lack of interaction providing an indicator of teaching ability. It certainly dosen't mean those who don't respond feel they know it all.
post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by disski:
[QB]S&G - part of fostering the relationship with the student is LISTENING..... not hearing - LISTENING

[QB]
I am a good listener. AND, I cannot read minds. This past weekend I was a "learner" AND THEREFORE, was privy to the conversation between learners. It reminded me of how much is NOT said to the instructor. (relevent in GROUP instruction)

If the instructor doesn't listen, shame on them.
If the learner doesn't speak, shame on them.

kiersten
post #8 of 24
Very true. You also mentioned that some people make excuses for themselves. I have found this to be true in my own industry. But there is another phenomenom that I myself am actually guilty of.

Some people have valid excuses, but are in denial. "Nothings wrong, I'm ok!" Then they tell finally admit that they had surgery a few months ago, or something like that.

I spent my first few years of skiing going to classes that were below my skill proficiency, because I have this very bizarre, but not dangerous "heart thing," as well as a very mild case of cold weather asthma, going on. Without going into detail, for purely physiological reasons, it takes me a few runs to get comfortable with speed.

At ETU. Tom was surprised that by early Sunday, I was finally zooming down ahead of everyone. I decided that it was time to tell people what was actually going on. This was a really important communication, because it gave feedback as to how I needed a class to be structured. Too many breaks in the middle of the hill makes it difficult for me to get started.

In contrast, Bonni, for other reasons, actually needs the mid hill breaks. But she is very verbal about this. It works out well, since she is by nature, faster than I am. Nobody ends up having to wait too long for each other! [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #9 of 24
Kieli,
Quote:
On this discussion board and at the Epic Ski events a lot of time is spent discussing the the "positive" and "negative" movements we make in skiing.
I did a search and found nothing recent on positive and negative movements. These terms really grate on my nerves. To me they have no meaning. If we're referring to more efficient and less efficient movements, phew - I can at least see where we're going. If we're referring to carving versus braking movements, that's very helpful too. But we could just as easily be referring to the weight training concept of positive/negative movements (i.e. the lift is positive, the return is negative). I'd simply perfer to use more descriptive terms.

The terms positive and negative imply good and bad. These are terms I really try to avoid using in my instruction. IMHO the only "bad" skiing is breaking the rules (which leads to the next 2 reasons), unintended unsafe skiing or unsafe skiing that endangers other skiers. If you choose to ski inefficiently or make a risky move for the fun of it, so be it. Everyone needs to be able to perform braking movements. If someone relies on them all the time, then there is an opportunity for growth. If there's no interest in growth, this is not "bad". If we start using the term "negative" in our teaching, we are focusing on what we want people to NOT DO as opposed to what we want them TO DO and we're using an attitude that can be a hindrance to learning. I've been taught the expression "This is what I see. This is what I want to see. Here's how to do it." I think this accomplishes the goal in a more positive mental manner.

Another problem I have with "negative movements" is that they usually happen for a reason. They won't go away just because one says "don't do that". If one wants to get rid of a "negative movement" (grrrrr), one needs to perform a different movement so that the negative movement is no longer necessary. Usually, you don't need to say "don't do" the negative movement because performance of the different movement will cause the negative movement to become unnecessary and it will disappear on it's own.

Positive and negative mean a lot more to me when describing mental attitudes. I'm not so sure what a "mental movement" is. The comic in me starts thinking "brain fart". The instructor in me is more concerned about dealing with negative thoughts in a positive manner. The number one red flag to an instructor is "I can't". An unresolved "I can't" is a self fulfilling prophecy. The standard tactic for resolving an "I can't" is to demonstrate success at various pieces of what is being asked and proving that the requested task is less than (or equal to) the sum of the pieces of what has already been accomplished. That's focusing on the positive.
post #10 of 24
Quote:
Originally posted by therusty:
I did a search and found nothing recent on positive and negative movements. These terms really grate on my nerves. To me they have no meaning.
Bob Barnes defines "negative movements" as any movement in the direction opposite the intended direction of the turn.

One simple example and one a little more complex;

The simple example is active transfer of weight uphill when one is trying to go downhill, ie., attempting to create a stance foot by transferring weight onto the old inside/new outside ski.

A more subtle example is the matching of skis in a wedge christie. In a turn to the left, inside foot steering with the left leg facilitates the "match. It also serves to steer the turn. Well done the left tip keeps going left and at no point does the left tail go right. The left tail going right would be a form of a negative movement.
post #11 of 24
[quote]Originally posted by therusty:
Kieli,
Quote:
The number one red flag to an instructor is "I can't". An unresolved "I can't" is a self fulfilling prophecy. The standard tactic for resolving an "I can't" is to demonstrate success at various pieces of what is being asked and proving that the requested task is less than (or equal to) the sum of the pieces of what has already been accomplished. That's focusing on the positive.
ACtually when I said "I can't" I usually could NOT do any of the pieces....

It was still a banned statement as it was felt that that would lead me to limit my perception of HOW WELL I would learn to ski...

Those things I cannot do yet are just that - THINGS I HAVE NOT YET LEARNED TO DO ....
post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally posted by Ski&Golf:
I'm not sure I follow the corrolation of failing to try an exercise or posting a response and that lack of interaction providing an indicator of teaching ability. It certainly dosen't mean those who don't respond feel they know it all.
Actually I think it does reflect on their teaching...

My take on the ONE respondant is that that person is a GREAT teacher - not ski instructor necessarily - but TEACHER..... I have never even seen that person in real life...
We used to have another similar soul in here - who no longer frequents this site(well maybe reads sometimes) - again someone I see as a GREAT TEACHER.....

My two ski instructors will often STOP & ski a few turns when I tell them something "feels like xxx" they will concentrate on the bit I am discussing & we will discuss how THEY feel it.... sometimes it is the same - others it is different.... but they will TRY IT OUT.... Sometimes one of us will go back to the topic weeks later while trying to get common reference on a point....

A one way discussion is a LECTURE not a lesson...

Good teachers want to learn more...
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally posted by kieli:
I am a good listener. kiersten
Good - try the exercise(s) yet?????

What happened?

Why? [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by therusty:
Kieli,
I did a search and found nothing recent on positive and negative movements. These terms really grate on my nerves. If we're referring to more efficient and less efficient movements, If we're referring to carving versus braking movements, that's very helpful too. I'd simply perfer to use more descriptive terms.

The terms positive and negative imply good and bad. These are terms I really try to avoid using in my instruction. Everyone needs to be able to perform braking movements. If someone relies on them all the time, then there is an opportunity for growth. If there's no interest in growth, this is not "bad". If we start using the term "negative" in our teaching, we are focusing on what we want people to NOT DO as opposed to what we want them TO DO and we're using an attitude that can be a hindrance to learning. I think this accomplishes the goal in a more positive mental manner.
Rusty, this post makes me feel defensive. I am not sure why you have chosen to pedantically chastise me over semantics. A kinder and gentler approach to discussing ideas with people is to ask questions about what you don't understand rather than go straight to CORRECTIVE feedback.

I didn't realize that I was offensively breaching skiing vernacular with my post. Nor, did I realize that anyone would have a DIFFICULT time understanding my intent.

I didn't *JUDGE* the words "positive" and "negative" before posting them here.

positive: Measured or moving forward or in a direction of increase or progress.

negative: Indicating opposition or resistance.

Further, I don't appreciate the assumption you've made about my use of language on the hill.

Oftentimes I use very simplistic language because I don't like to overcomplicate things.

Naturally you have never heard of "mental movements" as I just made it up to suit this post.

The object of my post was to say "we talk about the physical aspects of skiing ALL THE TIME - what about the mental aspects of skiing.".

I did not write this post to commence a flame war; let's move onto more productive conversation please.

Thanks so much,
kiersten
post #15 of 24
Moving back into productive conversation [img]smile.gif[/img] ...

While I've read Inner Skiing, the Yikes Zone, etc. I recently discovered that psycho babble does absolutely nothing for me. I recall a lesson I took a few years ago, when I skied my first diamond. The instructor said nothing about "self 1, self 2," no "you can do it" comments, and definitely not "fear is all in your head."

Instead, prior to skiing the trail, she reminded people of skills that they already have. While on the trail, she constantly cued and reinforced those skills in a very precise manner.

Again, this not to negate the value of "psych talk," since it obviously works for some people. I tend to get a bit annoyed by it. I can do just about anything if information is presented precisely and comprehensively.

Keep in mind my perspective is a bit different. My own background and course of study has illustrated that there are a multitude of reasons that many people can not even walk properly let alone ski.
I saw this last year at the academy when I conducted postural assesments. Many particpants told me that issues I pointed out in their static alignment had their counterparts in their skiing.

Another issue, is, of course, equipment. Floppy boots, skis that are too long/too short,etc. may make someone feel unnstable.
In fact, they are. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #16 of 24
Lisa,

I think Kieli is talking about learning the sport psychology and learning theory that informed your instructor's teaching during your first black diamond descent.

Quote:
prior to skiing the trail, she reminded people of skills that they already have. While on the trail, she constantly cued and reinforced those skills in a very precise manner.
That's a perfect example of excellent teaching. Students have learned the prerequisite skills, students are aware of their preparedness, students receive concurrent reinforcement that is directly relevant to the target performance.

Those are teaching skills that could be more consciously propagated in the instructional community, I reckon.

Psychobabble, like technobabble, is jargon. Jargon is the language professionals use with each other as a form of shorthand that is never appropriate in mixed company.
post #17 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by nolo:
learning the sport psychology and learning theory

Those are teaching skills that could be more consciously propagated in the instructional community, I reckon.
Nolo - I want to build on your post.

I assert that learning is a partnership. Instructors need to use "sport psychology" and "learning theory". What do learners need to bring to the table?

kiersten
post #18 of 24
What do learners need to bring to the table? An open mind.

Nolo, I get your point about precise teaching being a form of sport psychology. Some teachers just seem to use it better than others. Reminding a student of what they are already capable of is an excellent use of sport psychology. Assuming that something is "all in someone's head" is lazy teaching.

I remember an incident at Sugarloaf, with this fabulous teacher named Linda (HEY LINDA! Quit lurking and join the fun!}
It was one of those trails that demanded that you let the skis run without turning, lest you be poleing on the flats at the bottom. I did just that, but picked up no speed. She skied up to me and said "get your skis tuned tonight." No problem the next morning. Another instructor may have assumed that I turned before reaching the flats. Linda was also the one who explained exactly why my old cushy boots were not allowing me to edge properly. Others assume that its "mental."
post #19 of 24
Mea Culpa,

Kiersten - my deepest apologies. I should of labelled the "grating thing" a general rant not a personal one. I saw your focus as "mental movements" and did not realize the rant would be taken personally (since it was a sidebar to your posts focus). Since you did bring up the issue of physical movements, my main concern was to get a definition understood. I like Rusty Guy's explanation and understand why the line of thought is useful, but still am exasperated by the terminology. I'll get over it.

I tried to follow your intent, agree with you and continue the thread on the mental topic with my last paragraph. Unfortunately I let an inappropriate attempt at comedy get in the way. I agree with your intent that instructors need to focus on psychology more, even though I'm personally much like LisaMarie (it does not do much for me). I do try to be sensitive to psychological needs when I'm teaching, especially the subtle unstated ones detectable only though posture and facial expressions. I'm expecting this thread to help improve my teaching in this area and I thank you for it.

Dissski - while I'm at it ... I'm not sure if you were also taking offense to my post. I was just speaking generally about the problem of instructors detecting negatives and redirecting focus. As I think more about, I don't hear "I can't" in my first time lessons as often as I used to. Has anyone else experienced this?

I'm not used to writing flames. If you see something that looks like a flame from me, it's just bad editing on my part. Chastising accepted, appreciated, my apologies and a promise to behave better in the future.
post #20 of 24
Kiersten,

Maybe a way to set the stage for answering your question of “what do learners need to bring to the table” is a brief description of what they do bring. I love your question!!! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

1. Individual characteristics and backgrounds-age, sex, athletic ability, prior lesson experience, kinesthetic awareness, knowledge of skiing etc.

2. Learning Preferences-need for feedback (high or low), patience level (high or low), visual, auditory, kinesthetic etc.

3. Motivation-internal or external, a focus on outcome or process, personal goals, fear of success or failure, the need to move rapidly or cautiously, etc.

4. Beliefs and Values-willingness to change, attitudes towards instruction, etc.

How does an instructor accommodate and work with all these (and more) in trying to develop that learning relationship?
post #21 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by therusty:


I agree with your intent that instructors need to focus on psychology more, even though I'm personally much like LisaMarie (it does not do much for me). I do try to be sensitive to psychological needs when I'm teaching, especially the subtle unstated ones detectable only though posture and facial expressions. I'm expecting this thread to help improve my teaching in this area and I thank you for it.
hahaha - I am imagining Dr. Phil is a ski instructor's uniform and his learners are crying.

Rusty - in this thread I wanted to focus on the learners and the ways they behave that benefits or impedes their progression.

Nolo made an excellent point about jargon. What we as instructors know about the physical or mental behaviors of the learner - that's useful information that we use to present a more meaningful experience - it's not something we discuss or project during the lesson.

[img]smile.gif[/img]
kiersten
post #22 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally posted by Ski&Golf:

1. Individual characteristics and backgrounds-age, sex, athletic ability, prior lesson experience, kinesthetic awareness, knowledge of skiing etc.

2. Learning Preferences-need for feedback (high or low), patience level (high or low), visual, auditory, kinesthetic etc.

3. Motivation-internal or external, a focus on outcome or process, personal goals, fear of success or failure, the need to move rapidly or cautiously, etc.

4. Beliefs and Values-willingness to change, attitudes towards instruction, etc.

How does an instructor accommodate and work with all these (and more) in trying to develop that learning relationship?
Developing a learning relationship requires a foundation of trust and respect.

then...

1. Understanding what differentiates the "individual characteristics"... example: children 8 and under are in a bubble and tend to only be aware of themselves, short-term memory gets shorter and shorter with age, thus older folks need more repitition. I also think of "cultural" aspects in the event that we have lessons with non-amercians.

2. Learning Behaviors need to be observed - or determined through well-asked questions. I find it particularly meaningful to ask "does that make sense" and watch for nods followed by "how do you feel about that" and see who replies. This instantly identifies the *thinkers* and *feelers*.

3. Motivation is one of the first areas of focus for me - "why did you decide to take this lesson?" Some folks are technical in orientation while others are more personal. This also speaks to particular Learning Styles.

4. Mental attitude is something that can require lots of finesse. If the instructor has been able to create an environment of trust (through respect) then there is a real ability to affect meaningful change with the learner.

Ages ago I spoke of Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning. Sadly, most learners are not very "evolved".

http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/hrd/bloom.html#back1

kiersten
post #23 of 24
While not a instructor(I have spent lots of time teaching others) I always found that drills/excercises that helped me "Feel" something did more to move me in the right direction than being "told" anything...
post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally posted by therusty:
Dissski - while I'm at it ... I'm not sure if you were also taking offense to my post. I was just speaking generally about the problem of instructors detecting negatives and redirecting focus. As I think more about, I don't hear "I can't" in my first time lessons as often as I used to. Has anyone else experienced this?

e.
No - not offense... I was simply stating that some of us cannot even do the pieces.... it is still important not to look at the negative side... if my instructor had accepted my physical "limitations" I would still be stuck on blue runs....

Luckily he did not & would not allow me to either.... Yes - once my idea of success was to ski a moderate length blue run down the main hill at my favourite resort - comfortably....
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