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Teaching first timers!

post #1 of 6
Well hey there, down under, how's the snow? Some folks that teach at Perisher teach at Breckenridge with me in your off-season..

Interesting observation about the folks from India. As long as you try to work with those folks, and be enthusiastic AND patient, it's a valid observation. I have noticed it too. But I think it's a cultural "not doing balance sports" thing more than a racial thing. And fear of slippery feet. Friend of mine is Indian (Brahmin) and he RIPS! Grew up in the states tho...

Balance drills on one foot are quite good, and "scooter turns" have been effective for me. I like the Perfect Turn methods, a lot of my Aussie friends that teach here use it, and it's pretty good. But there are other methods. Yea, I'm talking PMTS. Imagine that!

Have you tried any of the PMTS methods? Since most ski "traditional" ski schools "require" teaching the wedge due to presumed saftey concerns...

Check this one out: http://www.harbskisystems.com/olg2.htm

This move (Phantom Wedge) is one that really turned me on to PMTS methods, and it's quite effective. If you progress into the phantom foot move after that, then your students will be parallel skiers quite quickly. Success Rocks!

This is good too: http://www.harbskisystems.com/olg1.htm

There are a number of other things one can do before the skis are even on. I recommend the video (and teaching manual) on this web page: http://www.harbskisystems.com/detpmts.htm

You CAN teach beginners without messing around with that darn wedge at all. It's NOT dangerous, it's effective! Use the wedge to keep your ski school happy, and for stopping in a straight line, but try teaching them to turn with the Phantom Wedge instead of the traditional wedge turn.

Visit me here >>>SnoKarver
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[This message has been edited by SnoKarver (edited August 09, 2001).]</FONT>
post #2 of 6
Hi Ant! I hope you don't mind if I respond as a student.

For the most part, I am a "child" of the Perfect Turn System, and indeed I found it to be a far better approach than the teaching styles of 12 years ago, which completely turned me off to the sport.

But as I begin to study certain aspects of ski conditioning, there are certain things I wish I had learned in the begining.

We've spoken about this on a few threads, but an awareness of how the feet and ankles work is so crucial to skiing. The first time ski student is put in a pair of heavy uncomfortable boots. The awareness of what is going on in the feet is practically non existent. Unfortunately, the student has a visual image of what they THINK is happening, but that visual may be quite incorrect.

I think it would be a great idea to spend a few minutes indoors, BEFORE they students put their boots on. Practice a few fore/aft exercises with the ankles, as well as exercises involving stance and alignment.

I know this may be a little bit time consuming, but, IMHO, it would have been far more beneficial to me than watching a video of Johnny Mosley jumping off cliffs.

And maybe Perfect Turn and other systems are a bit over zealous about getting people to ride the lifts on the first day skiing.
Yikes! Being someone who got into skiing to conquer a small fear of heights, that was not something I wanted to do!
Being trained from the very start about what the actions of the feet are supposed to be, how to balance, dynamically, as opposed to statically, and how to align correctly, would have been more desirable.

Good Luck, Ant! From what I have read of your posts on different boards, you sound like a dedicated professional!

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #3 of 6
I spend the first half hour of every beginner lesson without the skis on doing nearly everything that will follow except slide. If I can key folks into foot awareness with regular reminders that their feet are going to grow considerably longer soon (if you're stepping around to the left, you HAVE to move the left foot/ski first kind of thing), I find they progress much more rapidly once sliding commences. So I do all the "feel your feet inside the boot" stuff like rocking back and forth with pole support and making knee angles, and then I put them through a bunch of moves like balance-on-one-foot, walk by sliding the shoe on the snow rather than picking it up, sidestep up an incline on the edges of your feet and then back down, turn your toes toward eachother, walk around in circles both left and right on the boot edges, step through star turns that are toe-centered and then heel-centered, hop gently through the same, etc. I then go through some of the same things with first one ski then two, especially the sidestepping and the circle-on-the-edges stuff. I usually end up talking about a wedge as a stable base for steering the ski tips instead of picking them up to turn (first turns from a straight run are steps to one side or the other), and, alternatively, as an emergency braking maneuver. Terrain available for teaching beginners wherever I've taught has involved the hazards of either running into crowds of others or running into trees, so hazard avoidance in a necessary concern.
post #4 of 6
I, too, use a boot only start. It gives me an opportunity to introduce edging and fore/aft balance. I also teach PMTS exclusively. But as an alternative, you might look at Roger Kane's "Pathways To Parallel at: http://www.hyperchangecafe.com/ Click on Practice, click on Beginner's Progression in the Profession column. Roger has laid out a very good progression that uses a "micro-wedge". I hope that this is of help.

RH<FONT size="1">

[This message has been edited by Rick H (edited August 09, 2001).]</FONT>
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

Teaching first timers!

Inspired by the Teaching Styles thread.

In Vermont, I taught kids (mainly mid and upper levels) and adult privates. Here in Oz, all I get is large groups of adult first timers. I combine the Australian method with the Perfect Turn method, and have found that if we do more one-ski preliminaries and balance stuff before moving to wedge, glide and stop, more of the class have success. (They still teach the snowplough here, first they learn to stop).

I'd really like to hear about others' experiences teaching first timers, maybe how they solve the common problems, things that work. This is going to sound racist (and it probably is), but in Vermont there was a common view that Indians had more trouble than others. And I've noticed this here, too. Any hints or suggestions with this group would be extremely welcome!

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
wow, some interesting stuff.
Yeah, I am teaching at Perisher (over at the Blue Cow area...it's a big spread out resort). We've had a slow start, but finally the good snow has arrived.
I have to say, I really enjoyed working in Vermont this year, and I'm having trouble comparing it to my experience in Oz. Maybe it will improve here. I hope so.

I'll look up the Harb stuff. In Vermont I was mainly teaching progression to parallel and progression to carving, and I used what I think is the phantom move quite a lot.

The Perfect Turn stuff I mainly use is lots of boot-work...however Kneale's stuff is even more boot work. I will definitely try all that stuff this weekend. I do a lot of scootering and steering with the knee wiht one ski on...this seems to result in more success for more of the group. We don't get to see them before they put their gear on, unfortunately. And the groups average around 12 people.

I try to teach a combo of wedge and snowplough, and encourage them to keep it as narrow as possible rather than going for the huge snowplough thing.

This is great info though...I feel I need as many options as possible, especially for people like the Indians who often seem to have trouble making the wedge shape...they can see the others doing it and they get very frustrated. I get a lot of Asians also (chinese, vietnamese etc), but it's hard to generalise with them...so long as their English is OK and they understand what you are saying, they are as varied in their progression as anglos and other racial groups.
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