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post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Curious am I on the subject of "fun".

"Fun", to me, is the thrill of trying to get better everyday. I don't expect it to be easy, and probably wouldn't do it if it was.

So when taking lessons, I become frustrated when the EXPERT and PROFESSIONAL I have chosen and paid to give me an expert and professional opinion on my skiing seems compelled to always hide the "bad" news with a little snippet of "good" news, as if I'll stop having "fun" when faced with an honest and informed critique of my skiing skills.

Maybe I'm a little different from the normal guy... but when I take a lesson, I have specific questions that I want answers to. I'd like to think that when I purchase a lesson, I'm buying not just INFORMATION, but more importantly the OPINION and INTERPRETATION of an expert. I don't want my instructor to be a fence-sitter with a lot of ambiguous, politically correct answers. I have paid the instructor to tell me what he thinks. I do not and cannot expect the instructor to make me a better skier. That work is mine to do. I can only ask the instructor how he THINKS I can become a better skier. I will then translate that opinion and interpretation into my own "language" through practice and thoughtful consideration. This, for me, is FUN.

If I agree with the opinion of the instructor, I learn. If I disagree, I learn. I can separate his opinions and interpretations on matters of skiing technique from his value as a human being.

Clearly, I don't buy my instruction "off the rack". I choose discriminately, and I believe that the certification process is valid. I personally don't need the "guest experience enhancing" tactics in my lessons. I have paid a pro to tell what he thinks, and I'm a big boy. I can take criticism about my skiing, and that's exactly what I want from a lesson. It is, after all, only skiing and it will still be fun even if it's hard!

What do YOU think?
post #2 of 20
Your posts always make me so happy! I start having more fun when i start fixing my weakest links. There are subtle things that go on with me that are not that evident. I have certain strengths that do a good job of masking some imbalances. I want a teacher who can do the detective work to help me find my weakest links.

With the right attitude, that in itself can be a fun task.
Stick around and don't leave us again! [img]smile.gif[/img]

[ December 13, 2002, 08:54 PM: Message edited by: Lisamarie ]
post #3 of 20
SnoKarver knows a client who had a great line to tell the instructor to make your needs clear.

I'll leave him to tell the story [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img]
post #4 of 20
Standard delivery methods for coaches is to sandwhich the correction between praise.

This is the best way for most students to hear it. You can't expect instructors that deal with the average student to adopt a more brutal presentation just because you showw up.

Communicate your preferences, then allow for the instructors normal patterns.

Listen for the correction, if that is what you want.

post #5 of 20
ihavethesecret makes a good point: do not assume that flattery is fun. In my case, flattery sets up my defenses: okay, what does he want from me? Flattery makes me suspicious of the meat that is sandwiched inside. Give it to me straight. Be honest. The most important quality in a teacher is authenticity.

Don't patronize me, is the bottom line.
post #6 of 20
I do a little digging with every student to find out how they like their sandwich served. I have had students who prefered to be taught using military drill sargent style and I have had students who wanted to be flattered.
If you don't tell your instructor what you want , your instructor will have to dig a bit to find out how you will receive constructive changes in your skiing.

[ December 13, 2002, 04:20 PM: Message edited by: Pierre ]
post #7 of 20
ihavethesecret: great post!!! My thoughts exactly. Last season I paid an ENORMOUS sum for a two hour private lesson at a well known western resort. I'm ashamed to say how much and where. I'll never do that again. Anyway, I was really hoping for a breakthrough type experience,(and willing to pay for it). I skied with this guy for two hours or so and never got anything very substantial. All he basically did was compliment how good my skiing was. Now, I know I'm not near worthy of that much praise. Last weekend I paid much less for two full days of race clinic and finally got what I needed. Fun, for me too is getting better.

Which brings me to another gripe. No wonder most people don't take lessons. My gosh they are expensive! Even group lessons out west are like $85 for two hours. Here in the midwest (Mich) I can get a two hour group (advanced) lesson for $25. It then becomes a 1 hour private because I'm the only one signed up. Much more affordable.
post #8 of 20
Hi IHTS--excellent post.

Like Pierre said, don't hesitate to help the instructor out--tell us what you want, and how you like it.

But please be patient with us too! Remember that the solution to improvement does not always lie in identifying and eliminating all your "errors"! Indeed, many "errors" are, in fact, accurate and appropriate corrections for other, less obvious errors. Fix the cause, and the effects will vanish of their own accord. Focus on the effect, and the problem will NOT disappear!

The legendary Horst Abraham once said something to the effect that "many errors will vanish by themselves, provided we ignore them."

Furthermore, it is quite possible to be doing NOTHING wrong, and still not be very good at skiing. That is the case for beginners--they, of course, are the only people on the mountain who have no bad habits! In a perfect world, beginners would learn only good skiing skills and movements, which they would continue to improve steadily with practice. And they would NEVER do anything "wrong," never develop a bad habit! This is actually a goal of good instruction--to avoid teaching things that lead to bad habits and that will need to be "unlearned" later.

So I'm not excusing the instructor you described. I too hate transparent efforts to "sugar coat" critique. True "Guest-Centered Teaching" requires that the instructor identify your personal needs and desires--which includes sugar-coating when necessary, and NOT sugar-coating for those who, like you, don't want it. If the instructor misses your preferences, it is not "guest-centered."

But finally, do remember that few people are as mentally tough as you suggest that you may be--even if they think they are. I've often had people tell me "just tell it to me straight--I can take it," and then obviously shrink and become depressed and discouraged when they didn't like what they heard. There is a well-known military "study" that suggests that it takes half a dozen "attaboys" to make up for just one criticism. Of course, a true military-style dressing down is probably not something even YOU are looking for!
post #9 of 20
I have pros that I ski with regularly, who ask for very directed feed back. I, in turn, ask them if they want me to be diplomatic, or to tell the truth. Not that I mean to be brutal, but when they answer- "The Truth", I usually tell them, (in my best impression of Jack Nicholson, in "A Few Good Men"-) "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!"

I mean it jokingly, but many of them realize at that point what they really want is for me to tell them how well they are doing. And for those of the soft-skinned variety- I will sugar coat it a bit, with some specific ideas on what to work on.

But for those who I've trained over the years, who CAN handle it- they will attest that I can be EXTREMELY specific (read BRUTAL). You want me to call a spade a spade? Then tell me you can handle it, and you'd better be ready. It's going to be a rough ride...

Now , of course, nobody will want to ski with me at the Academy...

post #10 of 20
Hello all-

Like many of the posts have mentioned; The instructor should ask you what you want out of the lesson (i hope) and if he/she doesn't, by all means TELL EM'!! As the customer we want you to get what you want. If you tell an instructor that you want it straight up and honest, they will most likely give it to you that way.

A large part of instructing is reading the person's learning style and I must say, you are most likely more of a minority. Many people learn better under praise and if an instructor is good they will praise while pointing out "the good things". But where many instructors fall short is "the people read". Many cannot pick out your type. It sounds like you learn better when people tell you what they think you need to work on, rather than telling you what you do well.

The Moral: just tell em' how you want it,they'll give it to you that way.
post #11 of 20
I remember readng somewhere that 70% of the comunication between people is nonverbal. Which makes the reading even more important. I would only add that reading our students doesn't stop with them telling us their wants. It continues as the lesson evolves, start to finish. they may very well change their wants as the lesson progresses and be too involved to say. We (I) need to be able to change with them without missing a beat.

Now for an obvious plug. Bridger Bowl still has $25 group lessons, $50 privates, awesome terrain, great conditions, great people, and $35 lift tickets. Not to mention great insructors like Nolo. Come give us a try, if the destination areas are bleeding you dry.
post #12 of 20
For me, the most useful feedback (as opposed to insincere flattery) from a private lesson is to be told, "The one thing that would do most to improve your skiing is....", or "You will never advance to the next level unless you learn to...." That gives me a focus for practice and future lessons. Of course, this assumes that these are obvious to the instructor. It may not always be that simple. For multi-day clinics, there's more opportunity to integrate "learnings", so a single focus is not so critical for me. However, the really valuable lessons for me (either private or group) have been with instructors who were VERY CLEAR in what they thought were the few critical things. They may have been an oversimplification of the skills needed, but it kept me inspired in thinking I really could improve.

This is a great thread! Reminds me of a quote by Wynton Marsalis:
"Invest yourself in everything you do. There's fun in being serious."
post #13 of 20
I left a ski area when the GM decided he didn't need PSIA certs to teach lessons but people who know how to have fun. He said, "I have a greater need for instructors who can teach people how to make snow angels than instructors who can teach people how to make carved turns." I said, "You don't enjoy making carved turns?" He said, "Of course I enjoy making carved turns, but I don't take lessons."

post #14 of 20
Thread Starter 
Basically when I take a lesson or a clinic, I'm looking for clear feedback and someone with the balls to say "this is right" and "this is wrong". It doesn't have to come across as "brutal"... it's just the facts as seen by an expert professional skier. Of course I like it when I'm told "that's good"! Who doesn't? But what's wrong with an instructor saying "that's wrong?" I have paid for his OPINION, just as we do in many walks of life.

I wonder sometimes if we are too caught up in the concepts of identifying "learner types" and pretending to be psychologists and "reading" people. What about the bottom line? If little Billy goes to school and says that 2 + 1 is four, that answer is simply wrong. We haven't made a judgement about little Billy's person, we have simply stated a fact.

Sure, one could argue that there are no "rights" or "wrongs", on a playing field as big as the ski slope, but I happen to think there are! There is a set of skills to be developed in becoming a better skier, and while there can be a very broad interpretation of these skills, there are also factual limits. Ski instructors are often called "clones". Sure, because we all tend to look more and more the same technically as we increase our understanding of "how to ski". The Interski demo teams are all shapes and sizes, men and women, tall and short, but they flow down the slope as one in syncro demonstrations. Doesn't that say that the top ski instructors from each country have put their considerable experience and talent together and come up with a picture that says "this is how to ski"?

I'd rather have my instructors tell me this, rather than taking up my time trying to figure out "what kind of learner" I am. It makes no difference what "learner type" little Billy is, 2 plus 1 does not equal four. Tell me the bottom line as you, the expert, see it. As some of you have said, I can simply ask this of my instructors... but even when pressed for a specific answer to a specific question, we seem to go off on a time consuming journey of "guided discovery", rather than simply getting to the bottom line.

Whoa... hold on there. I'm not saying guided discovery is a bad thing! Yes, it's very valid as a teaching tool. I use it a lot. But it's not the only way.

I'd like the input of more worldly types on this one, but isn't the european model generally more "military" in nature? "Zis is how ve do it, you vill do it, und zen you vill do it again until you get it right". It's demanding, and perhaps "survival of the fittest". Here in North America, everything is OK and all warm and fuzzy "as long as you're having fun". Not to say that they have it all figured out over there, but who does most of the winning on the World Cup tour? We're quick to trot out the old "lack of funding/support/facility" excuse, but what about the work ethic?

The teacher can open the door for me, but it is I who must walk through it.
post #15 of 20
Oh so you would like one of my instructors "THAT is not skiing THAT is crap" [img]redface.gif[/img] etc etc (It was a lot longer than that) followed by something to think about for the next run... I redeemed myself within a run or 2....

This person is not really NASTY or anything - just knows me well enough to know I will respond to that sort of thing with a concerted effort.
post #16 of 20
How about this...
David from Extremely Canadian's comments to me after one of the first runs… “Your stance is very good, but you weren’t using your poles well.” He then proceeded to give me a few tips to go through to work on my pole plants. That was how he dealt with the others in my group as well. He would comment on a good point, then emphasise work to be done on a bad one. It worked, although he did point out the thing about it taking 21 days for the body to automatically do a changed action.

I was happy.

post #17 of 20
Originally posted by vail snopro:
Now , of course, nobody will want to ski with me at the Academy...

Well, if that subject could come, he would!
As it is, nobody can't come to Utah.

When I was 13 (or was it 14 can't remember) a bunch of us kids from the same village were skiing at a resort attending one of those 5saturdaysx3hrs lesson skiing course....
One of the teachers ooops, Instructors I should say...was from the same village as ourselves.
One Day, midway thru the 5 saturdays, we were all around this
instructor and he was telling to each of us how good we were...
When I asked him "Am I good too?" the reply was " No, you could be much better, but you don't wish to, thus you'll never progress"
Well, from that day, I progressed, indeed.
So, think I can hadle the truth, whichever it wil be.
I'd rather have the truth, no matter how brutal, than living a lie.
As for having fun, I sincerly have a lot of fun while skiing, I'm happy if I feel I have executed a particular move to the perfection (perfection in execution= mechanical perfection+soul)

[ December 17, 2002, 04:25 AM: Message edited by: Matteo ]
post #18 of 20
Of course I want to ski with you, if only to see the look on your face as you witness a pair of Axis X Pros being used by a complete amateur!
(One of my friends described me as having "all the gear but no idea")

post #19 of 20
Originally posted by Wear the fox hat:
One of my friends described me as having "all the gear but no idea"
We say: "He who has got the bread doesn't have the teeth, and viceversa"
post #20 of 20
I don't want to be lied to, but there's nothing wrong with praise in the right place, as long as it's specific. "You're a great skier" is usually blatantly untrue and a waste of good mountain air.

I find feedback of the form 'this is good, but you need to work on that' more helpful than just 'you need on work on...'. I don't know then if everything is dreadful but I'm just being told the most important things, or if some things are good and other things need work.

Also, there are very few people in the world who don't like praise. In particular being told that I have managed to incorporate some of what I was supposed to have learnt yesterday is very encouraging!

So in essence, I think the 'perfect' form of feedback is something like this:

"Your balance is much improved from yesterday, particularly you are not leaning back so much coming into the new turn. It is good to see both skis doing the same thing exactly together. The next thing to work on is reducing body rotation; you tend you rotate your upper body too much..." (continue with detailed explanation & demonstration of what's wrong & suggestions on how to improve).

To most students, simply saying "that was crap" won't work, it will just cause them to turn off. It's the same as saying "that was great" - how's it actually help? I'd have thought it's only possible when you already have a good relationship between student & teacher, so it's shorthand for "TODAY that was crap, I've seen you do so much better, let's improve things".
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