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Pro Athlete vs. Weekend Warrior

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 
At a Balance & AGility workshop in Toronto today, the
presenter was talking abot our goals ofr teaching various
really scary balance toys to weekend warriors vs. pro athletes.

For the non pros, we need to make them feel sucessful.

But for the pros, we need to find the point
where they are not sucessful, and work from there,
since that is the difference between winning & losing

How much of this is true for ski instuction?.
post #2 of 55

Doesn't this relate to the customer service model...find out what the customer wants?

If the week-end warrior is competitive in their own minds, they would also want to be pushed.

I had a high school racer (okay, not a "pro") that just wanted to enjoy the race....and did very well. Two top US racers that come to mind that enjoyed the race are Tamara McKinney (1983-first US woman to win a downhill) and Andrea Mead Lawrence (1952 Gold at Oslo)

Wasn't there a thread over at Hyperchangecafe about "push/pull" students?

What I'm getting at is, yes we need to know what the client wants, and most fit into a category, but not everyone.

Enjoy the conference. Looking forward to hearing more!!!!
post #3 of 55
Great food for thought, LM! As KeeTov suggests, it all depends on the individual, and that individual's motivations, doesn't it? All learning involves challenge, and involves the risk of failure. Just how hard does any particular individual want, or need, to be "pushed" is a tough question, but a critical judgement call for any successful instructor or coach!

Performing at the the ultimate edge of your capability, which you must do in the highest levels of competition, requires FINDING that edge--which requires stepping over it a few times--which entails risk of not just physical injury, but of FAILURE, in its many forms. Top athletes, motivated by winning, money, glory, or whatever else, are surely more willing to risk that failure (in training), to help reach their goals. These extrinsic sorts of motivations supersede the "failure" of a fall, or a bruise.

I suspect that most recreational, non-competitive skiers, are ultimately more motivated by the intrinsic value of the experience itself. If the experience involves "failure," it loses pretty much all of its value!

But I've just stereotyped competitors and recreational skiers with some assumptions that could prove disastrous for individuals. Certainly, some competitors do it primarily for the love of the experience, and some recreational skiers are very goal-oriented, and willing to risk more "failure" than others toward attaining their objectives.

The customer service model, "Guest-Centered Teaching," humanistic teaching systems--whatever we want to call it--where the extremely diverse needs of the individual student become the ONLY focus of the lesson--is clearly the only way to succeed, isn't it?

One size does NOT fit all, and this notion is of collosal significance for the successful instructor! It's no wonder that we can't "train" instructors to accomplish this reliably, with the present reality of ski schools!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

[ August 23, 2002, 10:21 AM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #4 of 55
Thread Starter 
Glad people are looking at the "grey' areas on this.
I had an interesting experience today. The Toronto conference was finishing up, and different equipment dealers were selling their stuff.

A master trainer from Reebok was showing The Core Board to a few trainers. He was demonstrating an extrmely challenging exercise, on that they themselves were having difficulty with. Although they were excited by it for themselves, they had compunctions aboutpurchasing something for their facility that people will be intimidated by.

I was passing by, so I told them that we have been using it in Boston for a year, and the beauty of it is the fact that you can adjust the stability level of the board, and have people of many different levels in one class doing the same exercise. I also showed them how there are certain things that most people cannot on a flat ground that become very doable on a core board.
Well, the very famous master trainer asked if i would hang out for a bit and talk about the board, in exchange for one of Reebok's new core board resistance tube.

I made many converts in about 20 minutes!

But what I found interesting, was the fact that the Master Trainer chose to market the product by how challenging it was, and I chose to market it by its easy learning curve.

This made me think about how skiing is marketed. For some, the idea of challenge is the selling point. But for myself, having failed royally at the sport the first time I tried, what got me hooked was finding out what I could in fact do. the first time I went down a hill in a wedge, and turned instinctively, before actually learning to turn, was a really exciting experience.

I do agree that some weekend warrior types will also want to work out of their comfort zone. But when non pros become interested in ski racing,and skiing off piste, it become really important to realize that they are only as strong as their weakest link.

And its really important to figure out what that weakest link is, and work on strengthening it before engaging in the more athletic versions of the sport. I think this would apply to both their conditioning and their ski instruction.

Since the body is so great at compensating, its really difficult to discover what the weak links are, when someone is working at their comfort level. Strong musculature can sometimes mask a major instability.

BTW, the person who said this is the conditioning coach for the Vancouver Canucks! Finding the weakest link in his athletes is a matter of big money, not to mention team pride!
post #5 of 55
Hey--what's going on here? Only about half of my previous post appeared when I hit "submit"--the other half is gone! Does EpicSki now have a self-editing feature? It was all there when I previewed it. I've been robbed!
post #6 of 55
I could try to convince you that AC had just installed special anti-trolling SW and was trying to tune it up, but I think the bulge in my cheek formed by my tongue would give me away.

... There must have been a glitch in the server because for several minutes the "Todays Posts" page was down to one post and looked generally strange.

Don't worry ... the black helicopters aren't out to get you quite yet

Tom / PM
post #7 of 55
Why can't they market that? What's not to like?

Well, there's the cost thing, once they figure out how long and how much $$ it's going to take for them to get proficient. There are many other activities that are equally challenging and satisfying (for many folks) that do not require
such a huge buy-in. There are friends that I have wanted to take skiing, but I know that they cannot afford to get into it, especially the ones with families. Because we all know what a big money pit skiing can be. And you know what? Someone who goes skiing only a few days a year (and is not proficient) is better off spending their recreation money elsewhere.
So don't wonder why the ski industry lies to novices. They have to.
post #8 of 55
Now there's the flipside of this, which is to play up the expense as an exclusivity thing.
Instead of it being hinted at, (as in "C'mon up to Mt. BigDeal and get away from it all") how about ads proclaiming "You deserve a recreational experience where you will not have to mingle with the great unwashed!". Or "97% of our guests are WHITE!" :
post #9 of 55
Making it look easy??? Ski companies market the high end gear (big bucks), so why would a family want to take up skiing?

When was the last time you saw a smiling family skiing together as beginner/intermediates wearing inexpensive gear/clothing on beautiful terrain?
post #10 of 55
Thanks Tom--another strange thing is that I can't edit that post either! It will let me edit the post that follows it--the "hey what's going on" post, but it blocks me from editing the one it chopped in half. And more weirdness: the "General Ski Discussion" forum shows ZERO posts on the Forums home page, although clicking on it reveals all 70 pages of threads still intact. But the "Epic Ski Academy - A fresh thread," which I need to catch up on, shows up in the list, but comes up blank!


Anyway, here's a second attempt at the first post. I recreated it the best I could (but I liked my first effort better):


But what I found interesting, was the fact that the Master Trainer chose to market the product by how challenging it was, and I chose to market it by its easy learning curve. This made me think about how skiing is marketed.
Interesting insights, Lisamarie. There's been a lot of effort recently to market skiing as "easy"--from equipment ("the skis turn by themselves") to instruction ("anyone can be an expert in a day") to the manicured, "user-friendly" mountains themselves. It's a sure bet that this trend has prompted a few people to try skiing, who would not have considered it if were perceived as difficult, dangerous, or slow and frustrating to learn.

But that same trend that may entice some, turns others off! For many of us here at EpicSki and elsewhere, skiing is more than just an activity, more than a casual diversion to occupy a slow Saturday once in a while. It's a passion, a lifelong pursuit, a personal challenge of "epic" proportions.

Who would ever become that devoted to something as quick and easy to master as skiing is marketed to be? Our efforts to make skiing more accessible--in both actuality and perception--have also made it less desirable! It's a paint-by-numbers painting, rather than a masterpiece, "chopsticks" rather than Chopin, McDonalds vs. a feast! No one lusts over something that "everyone" can get with no effort. If it's that easy, it can't be worth much!

Where's the challenge? Where's the adventure? If "anyone" can master it, what's so special about it? If doesn't require skill, doesn't require time or effort, doesn't come at a cost, it can't be worth much!

We all know that this is not the case. Skiing is NOT easy! We all know that real skiing involves challenge, that true expertise represents a lifetime of devotion. We know that skiing produces rewards in direct proportion to the effort we put into it. If you get really good at it, you can be assured that you are one of the very few. Skiing is not easy--it's the ultimate challenge!

BUT...LEARNING to ski CAN be easy, and fun (with the right equipment and proper guidance). The staircase is endless, but even the very first step can be a thrill! You cannot learn to be an expert skier in a day, a week, or a year--but you can learn to be a PASSIONATE skier in a moment!

That is the TRUTH about skiing--and this reality is far more appealing than the fiction of the bland vanilla alternative-to-bowling the marketers have created. And not just to me! There's no bigger smile than the one that takes over the entire body of the skier who has just realized that "this is CHALLENGING--but I'm up to it!"

Why can't they market that? What's not to like?

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

[ August 26, 2002, 12:37 AM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #11 of 55
on my Come Ski Brianhead brochure.
post #12 of 55
So don't wonder why the ski industry lies to novices. They have to.
Sorry, Miles--I'm not following you. My argument is that, for beginners through experts, the actual reality of skiing is BETTER than the fictions the marketing gurus have tried to create. Better means MORE VALUABLE.

That skiing is at least moderately expensive is a given. That it's expensive, yet marketed as if it has little value, is the problem! That it's so expensive is certainly no reason to CHEAPEN its perceived value. If you want to sell an expensive product, it's got to be worth something!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes

[ August 26, 2002, 01:48 PM: Message edited by: Bob Barnes/Colorado ]
post #13 of 55
Thread Starter 
Bob, I really like your distinction! The aspect of LEARNING is in fact fun, and quite doable IF you are willing to put the work into it.

The same applies to the balance toys we are trying to encourage people to use at the gym. Yes, you can be sucessful at it, but in the process, you are going to learn a good deal about what your weaknesses are. Unless you put the work into correcting them, you are going to be frustrated.

As far as ski marketing goes, I've mentioned many times that the Perfect Turn marketing tool of showing a Johnny Mosley video to first timers did not work for me! Fortunately, they've gotten rid of it.

But on the other hand, statements such as "Anyone can be an Expert Skier" are also a big turn off.
post #14 of 55
Thread Starter 
Another thought: recent studies regarding the physiology of balnce training show that balance is only trained if it is challenged.
That sounds like a no brainer but hear me out. If you strength train, and don't increase the load, you will maintain your strength. But if you train for balance, and don't continually challenge it, you actually lose the benefits of your initial training!

So whether in the gym, or on the slopes, instructors always need to be making a judgement call, as to what will work best depending upon the wants and needs of a student.
post #15 of 55
Bob, a Lexus has more value than a Hyundai. But what does value matter if you can't afford it?
Not everyone wants to spend alot of $$ on something that they will never be good at because they cannot participate enough to improve. Hence the popularity of the parks. THOSE skills can be practiced off the hill, mostly for free.
Let's take your argument to an extreme (Just for fun. I generally hate doing this, it doesn't prove much). Do heli-ski operators cheapen the value of their product when they say that intermediates can participate with the help of fat skis?

My second post above, while flippant, represents what has to be at least SOME of the marketing strategy of the ski indusrty since it's inception.

[ August 26, 2002, 06:37 PM: Message edited by: milesb ]
post #16 of 55
Bob, if you want to reply, maybe it would be best to start a new thread, as this is getting to be off topic. More in the territory of the "what have you sacrificed for skiing?" thread, which was an excellent topic.
post #17 of 55
Thread Starter 
Originally posted by milesb:
Bob, if you want to reply, maybe it would be best to start a new thread, as this is getting to be off topic. More in the territory of the "what have you sacrificed for skiing?" thread, which was an excellent topic.
No WAY am I going to post tHAT topic again! But I'm glad at least one person appreciated it!

That being said, I think that the cost of becoming proficient is something to be considered. And if an adult beginner feels that they don't have a prayer of becoming at least a moderately proficient skier, they may not want to make the financial sacrifices.

I think that in the past few years, the attitude in ski instruction has changed significantly. My first lesson at Killington many years ago made me feel as if I was being set up for ridicule and failure. Not only did I vow to never go back, the cost involved in being made to feel like an idiot infuriated me.

So if you want to get people hooked by the first lesson, you probably don't want them to be black and blue from falling every five minutes.

One thing I need to clarify: They were talking about the first contact with a client. Needless to say, you would progress. But if they had a client who just began skiing, and has been doing only traditional weight training, they are not going to put a dyna disc on an extreme balance board and ask them to stabilize!

On the other hand, having a pro skier do standing one legged balances is not going to do much for their proprioception. They would need to find the thing that causes them to lose either balance, strength or stability, and take note of what muscles are not functioning properly while performing those tasks.

The same, I guess, would happen on the slopes. If someone was skiing competively, but had some technical problems, on first contact, it would be important to figure out what skills challenge them, and work from there.
post #18 of 55
Can anyone learn a foreign language?

Can anyone learn to better par at golf?

Can anyone get a college education?

Theoretically, barring a disability, YES. But probably the more important question is: Can anyone who tries to learn a foreign language, play the game of golf, or earn their B.A. be any worse off from trying?

So what if they never get to try French on the Rive Gauche? So what if they bogey their live-long days? So what if they never settle on a major?

So what if they never become expert skiers? So what if they only invest $500 in the sport? Are they any worse off?

Miles, it saddens me to think that you would protect your friends from exposure to a passion that probably makes your life richer than a Kuwaiti sheik's. Let them decide what it's worth, just as we have. If I was told I had to amputate a limb in order to continue skiing, I'd gladly lop off the left arm (and improve my form, no doubt).

[ August 27, 2002, 05:09 AM: Message edited by: nolo ]
post #19 of 55
I agree with what you say, and I would also add that there is a big difference between Value and Cost - milesb mentioned value above and related it to $$$.
Each individual values things differently. A comparison was mentioned about a Hyundai and Lexus. 5 years ago I bought a Hyundai Coupe. It was of greater VALUE to me than a Lexus would have been back then, but its COST was considerably less.
If someone sees value in something, then cost is not as important. If I believed my skiing would come on leaps & bounds by going on a 3 day intensive course, then, unless the cost was prohibitive, I would do it, because I believe the value would be far greater.

The more knowledge we have, and the better understanding we have, then the better judgement we can make about decisions, and the greater value we will place on things that are important, and less on the trivial.

post #20 of 55
Thread Starter 
Ok, then, what is it that inspires someone to see value? After my very first ski lesson, I saw no value in skiing or ski lessons. It just seemed like it would be impossible to learn.

When I tried again, it seemed attainable, but still a challenge. If it were something on the difficulty level of miniature golf, perhaps I would have continued, but I would not have taken lessons.

But if a pro skier was choosing a coach, my guess is that they would find the most value in someone who can discover their weakest link, and know how to work at it.
post #21 of 55
You can't please all of the people all of the time, Lisa. There's a saying in the profession that I used to subscribe to, and that is, "The student's failure to learn is always the teacher's fault." That is simply untrue! Sometimes it's the student's fault; sometimes it's the rental shop's fault; sometimes the incident that spoiled the lesson occurred before the lesson began. There are too many variables to locate consistent causes of lesson failure.

Certainly I have had students who put the challenge to me quite bluntly: "I know I'm not going to enjoy this. I require no convincing, but my significant other does." It's pretty hard to get motivated for a lesson under those circumstances.

However, given reasonable willingness on the part of the student, only an incompetent teacher can fail to make the experience one that the student will want to repeat.

Now, to your note about finding the weakest link and working on it: you have just described leverage. This is an important concept in education. This excerpt is from a program devised by Peter Koestenbaum, Ph.D., that Weems turned me onto, which you can access at www.pib.net:

By assessing the relative strengths and weaknesses...you can identify where your increased efforts can be best leveraged, giving you the maximum impact from the least effort. Your weakest orientation is your Leverage Corner. Cultivating your Leverage Corner, while continuing to value your stronger orientations, is key to breaking through your "stuck points" so that you can experience ... transformation.
post #22 of 55
Nolo, you must understand that at the income levels of the above mentioned friends, it would be entirely irresponsible for them to take up skiing. ESPECIALLY the ones with kids. I didn't even take my sister until she had her act together a few years ago. Now she's hooked, but can afford to indulge.
post #23 of 55
Again, Miles, given the cost of skiing, there are many people for whom it simply is not an option. The high cost of skiing is something we could discuss, but as it is, skiing is expensive.

We're talking MARKETING here. Marketing/promotion has one goal: to increase the perceived VALUE of a product. You can sell a product by improving the cost/benefit relationship. If cost is fixed, then all you have to work with is the benefits! Those who can afford to ski, but choose not to, have not perceived the benefits to be worth the costs, for whatever reason. Simple!

My point is that, given the real benefits of skiing (I think most of us here would agree that they are huge!), the marketers have done a poor job of portraying them. They have done it exactly wrong--they've REDUCED the perceived benefits, without reducing the costs.

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #24 of 55
I would say that the people who are going to appreciate the reality of the challenge of skiing do not need to be marketed to. It's the "everyone else" that they are trying to reach, and those folks may need to be conned to get them to try skiing instead of easier activities (like snowboarding, for one).
post #25 of 55
Turn it around: can any of you afford NOT to ski?

Even when I was earning crap wages, I bought a season pass.

Here's a deal: buy a $35 Big Sky Frequency Card and ski free from Dec. 1 through Dec. 6, 2002; 50% off Huntley Lodge rates; 25% off adult lessons on Saturdays. And more!

There are ways to ski on a budget, and since Bogus Basin wowed the industry with its legendary season pass sales, other areas are fielding attractive offers to increase economy class visits.
post #26 of 55
nevermind. edited ramble. continue.

[ August 27, 2002, 03:32 PM: Message edited by: ryan ]
post #27 of 55
Nolo, that's the kind of information that experienced skiers know, and should pass on to novices. Because it's not really aimed at them.
However, it still doesn't change the fact that
most people are going to take a considerable amount of even those "cheap" skiing days to attain proficiency, and will STILL plateau at a fairly low level. Unless they get plenty of good training, and then so much for the "cheap" days*.
Also, if they are only able to go on weekends, conditions for not conducive for improvement, with the long liftlines and crowded slopes at most areas.

*This excepts those that are fortunate enough to be able to effectively use media such as books, magazines, videos and Epicski. Indeed, were this not the case for me, I might very well have given it up.
But from what I have learned here, such people are in the minority.

BTW, I do not think it's fair to portray Harb's "Anyone Can Be An Expert Skier" as a "get good quick" scheme. He advocates ALOT of practice time. Plus, he gives effective exercises to do at home. If anything, reading his books gives you a clear idea of the scope of the challenge. But if you have the discipline to practice EACH task he gives you until you can pass the "test" for it, you cannot help but improve greatly.
An entirely different proposition than what the Ski School section of most resort brochures lays out. Not to mention the lies spewing forth from the ads for ski shows.
But hey, they all do it, it must be somewhat effective. You scoffed at SCSA critique of ski instruction when he hasn't taught, yet now you non-marketers and non- executives know better?
post #28 of 55
Lies? What lies? :

Harald Harb has a good system and excellent word of mouth. There's no better marketing than having a good product and a good team to deliver it.

Miles, you just pointed out the strength of EpicSki: inside information! I think this site is going to be very big because of this strength.

The more we all share the goods, the more value this site will have for us.
post #29 of 55
Nolo, I'll dig up some lies tomorrow.
post #30 of 55
Ok, here's a question:
What sort of skier am I?
I am passionate about the sport.
But, because of where I live, I only ski for about 3 weeks a year.

So, the comments you read from me are from my perspective, where I don't have the opportunity to ski every weekend, or every day, so my limited time on the slopes needs to be spent wisely. If I thought a 1 day lesson in 5 days of skiing (i.e. 20% of my time on the slopes) would be a good use of my time, compared to spending it just skiing, then I would consider it. But I also have to think about the timing of the lesson. Not on day 1, cause I need to get my snow-legs back, and recover from jetlag. And not on day 4 or 5, cause I'll be going home shortly after, and it could be 9 weeks, or 9 months before I'm next on the snow. So that leaves day 2 or 3 of the trip. Now if I wake up in the morning, and there's been a massive dump of powder, I want to get up there and make the turns, not stand around in a group watching others get there before me.
I'm not sure about others here, but I think sevreal in the UK that post here would feel the same way.

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