or Connect
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › What can we learn in a lesson?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

What can we learn in a lesson?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
Something Lisa said in one of the threads rang a bell: that in a day-long clinic, she experiences mental fatigue (or a saturation point) after so much instruction. Lisa describes herself as an intermediate skier. (My comments relate to students at Lisa's level and above.) I wonder about her instructor's pacing, because as any of us knows, there's only so much one can pack into a day. That's one thing.

Another thing is, as Lisa also mentioned, one must empty the cup before receiving more. This is another aspect of pacing called readiness. The teacher must observe closely to gauge when the student has emptied her cup and is ready for more instruction.

A third thing is this: I believe that most students don't learn a great deal during the lesson. The learning comes later. What can happen during a lesson is a tickle that becomes an itch that begs to be satisfied. I might call this "awakening a need," or identifying a lack that the student was vaguely aware of but couldn't quite place.

The corollary is that anything that can be learned during a finite lesson is probably relatively trivial. The really profound learning takes time, persistence (perseverance), and going through some pain and/or discomfort.

In my experience, the really great learning is not what I would call easy, quick, or painless. It's more like blood, sweat, and tears. It's scary, threatening, and fraught with risk. A "lesson" takes several months to arrive at a point where the clouds part and the sun comes out: this is the payoff for making yourself vulnerable.

It's probably true that not all students and not all teachers are interested in working at this level. Most are satisfied with a few tips and the affirmation that "I'm okay."

If we (students and teachers) are satisfied with what can be learned in a finite lesson, then the current state of the art is perfect. Don't change a thing. Tell, don't ask. When you have taught one skill, teach the next one, and the next one, and the next one, until time's up. Fill all the space with stuff. A lot of teaching fools a lot of people into thinking a lot of learning must have happened too.

When I present information, I like to supply lots of "white space" for people to work with. When I ask a question, I wait for the student to arrive at the answer without supplying the answer prematurely, even if the wait causes both of us to squirm uncomfortably. When I teach a movement, I provide many opportunities to test it in different situations. Finally, I teach "after action review" so students can do their own assessment of how they are adapting to the new movement(s). AAR is what the Army does after every maneuver, whether in training or for real, answering three simple questions: what happened; what did I intend to happen; what accounts for the difference?

Just a few late-night, post-season thoughts for your criticism. I hope that you will check my thinking.
post #2 of 17
As usual, it seems, your thinking is exquisite, and correct.

A couple of challenges:
People come with different levels of readiness. Sometimes they are way beyond the slight itch stage already, and ready for the full scratch. If you recognize that moment, you can achieve a major shift during the lesson itself (again if you don't overload).

Having said that, there are so many levels of the game that you can manipulate a minor shift into being a huge perception of change--again because of the shift of skiing paradigm rather than just new moves. I think this is the hidden secret to Lito's stuff and why he dares use that word "breakthrough".

I think you can achieve "breakthrough" of some sort in every lesson, but you're right, to really establish ownership takes much more time.

I had a lesson with two women yesterday, who didn't ski THAT much better at the end of the lesson, but
1. they now have the "stuff" to ski way better by next season and,
2. they made a huge breakthrough within the lesson, because they were able to relax, understand their skis, rearrange their purpose, connect turns together, center themselves, and realize amazingly that they could enjoy difficult snow.
post #3 of 17
I sometimes wonder if the instructors I've raved about are a little bit perplexed. Because in my best lessons, I am never skiing well at all.

I define a lesson as excellent when an instructor quickly discovers my weakest link; that point in the kinetic chain that is having a negative effect on all the other movements.

This does not translate into a Big Smile on the Face lesson!

But there is often, a "morning after syndrome". The first few runs of the next day are tentative, then, suddenly what I learned the day before clicks, and its the YIPEE zone!

Sometimes instructors get excited about a student's progress, and perhaps push the envelope a bit too much.

I mentioned this about a workshop I took in January. The instructor took a bunch of us down a black trail, for the first time. Everyone except me had been skiing 10 years or more. {gives some perspective on the non-epicski population.}.

Excited about our progress, she decided to take us back in the afternoon, when the trail had become overcrowded, and bumped up. 3 out of 6 participants decided to pack it in for the day, the 3 that stayed ended up getting hurt.
post #4 of 17

Your experience sounds just like my last class. The 2 women I was with did not"progress" too far but they were much more relaxed in their skiing, Their breakthrough for the day was getting off the lift confidently!
A couple of smiles Good speed control (no longer worried they couldn't stop or turn) we have 2 hour lessons and by 1:15 hours I sensed they were starting to over load. I pulled back and told them "think of the one thing that helped you most and work on that. Now let's just go ski! [img]smile.gif[/img]" and I gave them a big smile. After that run I asked what they were thinking about/working on and we went to ski the rest of the time. I only corrected or reminded them of the one thing they were working on and then reminded them of the rest of the things during our wrapup chat.

Thanks Nolo for bringing this up. It helps to understand and hear what others do to chart progress..
post #5 of 17
Every lesson I've had, whether it's 1 hour or 3 hours, I've only learned 1 thing. And that's fine.
post #6 of 17
I have noticed that sometimes I was not "ready" for the lesson taught. It wasn't until maybe a year later (with more lessons and thought) that what I thought I understood at the time now really made sense. Sometimes it's like trying to understand advanced algebra when you are a first year student. Ego and no wanting to feel stupid in front of others make keep you from saying I just don't get it, and maybe the lesson was too advanced at that point.

Some of my favorite lessons have included specific feedback from the instructor/coach at the end of the lesson and written (by either of us) progressions or drills to improve.
post #7 of 17
I'd underscore the observations of Weems and Lucky as to the level of readiness of the student. I've had a number of lightbulbs come on months or years after initial exposure to a new teaching. Another issue that has been well discussed in this forum is that of alignment. For several years I was unable to perform sideslipping, except on the steepest slopes, while other class members did it with impunity. As I became aware of alignment issues (never discussed in a lesson), I finally got Dale boots with cants and, voila, no problem.
post #8 of 17
Harvey, do you feel cheated by those lessons where your alignment was not addressed?
post #9 of 17
Ya' got my mind racing on this!

There is one other thing, something intangible, that is really not about learning, per se.

Some instructors are simply catalysts for change. It sometimes has nothing whatsoever to do with what they say in a class.

Certain instructors just have a "presence', a sort of je ne sais quoi, that inspires the student to go beyond their percieved limits.

I was once in a workshop where the instructor was a bit annoyed that I kept speeding up way ahead of the class. I had to explain to her that I am terrified of speed, and whatever it was that was allowing to feel comfortable with the pace I was keeping was a sign that something positive was going on, something probably mor important than any drill I may miss by speeding ahead.

The highest non monetary compliment i can give a pro is to point my skis straight down and go!
post #10 of 17
You're right, Lisamarie. Out best pros seem to just sort of pull the people into their own skiing. They dance with the students on the hill. The trust level and connection is complete and lifts the student to unimaginable achievements.
post #11 of 17
I've recommended to several freinds that they read "Inner Skiing". Just now the author escapes me but I'll remember in a moment. The book delves into learning and the ability of the skier direct their awarness to what they are doing. That, in my view is a great benefit of an instructor. It's so difficult to visualize yourself skiing. An instructor can not only suggest appropriate technique, but can also describe what you're doing so you can focus on it. Once you're aware of what your doing, the gate is open for improvement.
post #12 of 17
Tim Galloway. Also check out Centered Skier by Denise McCluggage
post #13 of 17
Thread Starter 
Timothy Gallwey and Bob Krieger are the authors of Inner Skiing. Another book I highly recommend is Mermer Blakeslee's In the YIKES Zone: A Conversation with Fear, from Dutton Books, 2001. And since I'm on a roll, there is also Horst Abraham's Skiing Right, which may be available from PSIA. I believe nonmembers can purchase books from the catalog at www.psia.org.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 28, 2002 08:15 AM: Message edited 1 time, by nolobolono ]</font>
post #14 of 17
Thanks for jogging me on the author. I'll check out the other books!
post #15 of 17
I feel that instructors should, at least alert you that alignment could be an issue. WW and HH have done great service in this respect. I've gone to Gray Rocks for several years running and never a mention of it. My skiing has definitely improved since canting. I understand that Atomic will offer canted boots next season. I feel that it's an important issue where you're expected to be on your edges with skis. In my case I did all the work with a plumb bob and the help of my wife and the measurements and indicated correction were confirmed by Dale, so it's not a big deal.

<FONT COLOR="#800080" SIZE="1">[ March 28, 2002 11:57 AM: Message edited 1 time, by HarveyD ]</font>
post #16 of 17
On the Inner Skiing stuff:

I feel that Tim Gallwey's Inner Book of Tennis is a far better book about skiing than Gallwey and Krigl's Inner Skiing book. It's simple and elegant, and their is only one chapter (master tips) that is not ski friendly. His premise? Let Self 2 play the game! Great stuff.

Denise McLuggage's book on the Centered Skier has really become a classic and it really is good. Many of the old Sugarbushers who worked in that program are at Buttermilk now--including Hans Hohl, who managed the program. He's the area and school manager at Buttermilk.

And yes to Mermer's book!

I also recommend Tom Crum's Journey to Center.
post #17 of 17
BTW, click on the Amazon link at the bottom of the page. AC gets credit for it.

Wow, Mermer's book came up in 2 threads in 2 days! Cool!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Ski Instruction & Coaching
EpicSki › The Barking Bear Forums › Ski Training and Pro Forums › Ski Instruction & Coaching › What can we learn in a lesson?