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"Follow me"

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I was in Les Arcs for a week. I mostly skied by myself but took a one-hour lesson with a French instructor. This was after I had done one (long) run with him, at the end of a two-hour private he had with my girlfriend.

On that first run, he did watch me at the beginning and towards the end, when I asked him to.

On the one-hour private, 90% of what I did was to follow him in fast, GS-type carves and some tighter bump skiing.

I have mixed feelings about the value of the lesson. On the one hand, the guy did observe me one day before, he was a very good skier, he knew his stuff and he was giving me helpful tips. On the other hand, when I tried to incorporate some of those tips in my skiing, he couldn't have seen me (he was seeing only my last one or two turns out of 10 or so, after he stopped). One defining moment: he was telling me how I had to work with my knees and how to lean into the turn, I asked 'so am I doing it at least partly right?' and he answered: 'At 60 kilometres per hour, I can't look behind me...but you were keeping pretty close to me so you must have been doing it pretty well'.

I know I could have asked for him to ski ahead and watch me but I was just curious to see how he'd structure the lesson.

By the way, he was extremely helpful in helping my girlfriend get over her mental block and back on skis after an ACL tear. (A friend recommended him to me for that very purpose).

So my question to other instructors is: do you sometimes feel that for your students one hour of 'follow me' skiing is the best learning help at their level or was this guy just so happy that he was off beginner classes that he went ripping for a bit with me in tow?

(for anyone who's interested: the cost of a one-hour private with the ESF is €33)
post #2 of 24
I think that's about standard everywhere in Europe...Also he may have been so happy to have a good skier as a student that he decided to "let it rip".
post #3 of 24
"You must have been doing it pretty well."

Now, THAT is the kind of feedback I want to pay for. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #4 of 24
OTOH the "follow me" is a "game" I like to play with my friends, if they have the nerve to stand having someone in tow (if I stay in front, I usually end up alone at the end of the run, I read this as not-a-good sign of my capability as a "leader")
post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 
cattracksplat, that was the only really positive thing he said! Other than that: 'it could be worse' (when looking at my attempted railroad tracks with the inside one somewhat brushed), 'why all the show-off with your hands?' 'is anything wrong? why do you grunt?' (on bumps)

ok, he also said 'I don't have anything major to change in your skiing, no magic wand', which I also took as a compliment.
post #6 of 24

I was being a little sarcastic, actually. Truthfully, i'd like a little more than "you must've skied it well."
To give the benefit of the doubt to the instructor, maybe his having seen you ski led him to the conclusion that the best thing for you would be to follow along on big, fast GS turns.
Having seen you ski at JH, it's true enough that you ski well. Still, merely hypothesizing about how you might've been skiing behind him, well, personally i'd expect - i'd ask for - more specifics. And if he couldn't come up with SOMEthing, i'd be a little disappointed.

Were you getting anything from skiing behind him, besides a good time from skiing fast? Were you able to see any specifics in his movements that helped you? I assume this was one of his objectives.
post #7 of 24
Welcome to L'Ecole Francais. :

You obviously didn't appreciate his immaculate skiing/dress/grooming enough. And what does he care; he has a union.

That said, 1st and last time I took a private in France, the old boy who didn't speak English (but that was agreed beforehand) took the lead but spent a LOT of time looking over his shoulder and peeling out whilst I skied by.

Yours is a all too common complaint and is why there are lots of British ski schools in Europe.
post #8 of 24

SOMETIMES, follow me is the most effective form of teaching. The advantages are that there is no loss of info from "talk the walk" to "walk the talk", and no excessive thinking on the part of the student. The disadvantage is that the students don't know why they are skiing better and thus may have difficulty replicating the movements on their own.

I use follow me a fair amount during my lessons, but never exclusively throughout an entire lesson. I can learn a lot about what is going on from hearing alone (e.g. if skidding is occurring or when the student starts to fall behind), but I also use a lot of "sneak peaks" when I'm leading. We don't need to see a lot to determine if fundamental movement patterns are changing. The most important part of "follow me" teaching is choosing the turn shape and speed and the line down the terrain to help "force" movements to occur naturally. Other things leaders need to focus on include:
1) getting the student to follow close enough so that the focus is either on the instructor or the instructor's tracks,
2) slowing and resetting when the gap gets too big without stopping and losing the flow,
3) retasking or abandoning follow me when the desired movements are not occurring.

I used to feel guilty about the level of my effort in follow me lessons. Then I realized that there is a lot of work going on that the student can not see. As long as the desired results are occurring and students are improving, there's nothing to feel guilty about. If you're wondering if an instructor is working during a follow me session, see if you can spot some of the above things going on.

When someone is close to owning a movement, repetition may be the thing that is needed the most. So, although your lesson sounds like it could have been better, it could have been exactly what you needed. Without you explicitly asking the instructor more "what, why and how" questions during the lesson there's no way to tell if the instructor was teaching a great lesson, being lazy, or nearing the limit of the level at which he can teach. From the "he was giving me helpful tips" comment, I would guess you got a good lesson that was just short of a "great lesson" because of a few answers that were less than inspiring. Getting the feedback that you are or are not making the requested moves is critical to effective teaching.
post #9 of 24
First, I want to see you ski to evaluate your body mechanics.

Second ... we talk about the corrections with a static demo.

Third, I follow to see if you are incorporating the corrections.

Follow me is good after 1 through 3 because it is easier to feel the moves as they are happening right in front of the student and for some, it's easier to mimic.

I think you got blown off by the guy. But, were there some things you had asked to work on?

Most flaws show up at the slow end of the spectrum when on steeper terrain ... any idiot can wail down the trail doing "big GS turns" and not look so bad.

I did have one instructor some years back ski the main run side by side with me. His evaluation was "you ski fine but lets kick it up a level". Back through the trees to some chutes and rocks. All he said was follow me and turn where I turn. While not a "technical lesson", he did worlds for my confidence because I would never have done that on my own.

I did do that to one self proclaimed "Level 8" skier one night .... the guy was a hard head and arrogant so I kinda did that (blasted some fast GS stuff) to him for the first part of the run to put it into "perspective". After that he was open and had a major change of attitude so I spent an extra hour with him (no charge).
post #10 of 24
I have been to Les Arcs twice in the last three seasons and have had a great time. A two star resort with five star skiing. Through friends I have met and skied with a number of local instuctors who are excellent. Like many things it is a case of local knowledge. If your interested PM me and I can give you a contact.

By the way was the new gondolla running between Les Arcs and La Plagne?
post #11 of 24
We usually talk of four types of learners: Thinkers, Feelers, Doers, Watchers.

One way to make a good guess at what kind of student you have is to ask: Are you the kind of person who would rather follow me and watch or would you rather I ski behind you and offer some feedback in real time.

I've found that the person who wants to lead is usually a Doer/Thinker in that they want to do it themselves and think about and incorporate your feedback.

The fact that your French instructor just assumed that you preferred to follow was a major mistake on his part (IMHO).

Since you were paying the money if you didn't feel like this was achieving your goals then you were remiss in not speaking up.

post #12 of 24
I think "follow me" is the worst form of instuction there is. Other than line selection and speed control there is little to be gained by that approach.
post #13 of 24
At this stage in my skiing career I find I get the most out of skiing with (trying to stay up with) VERY high level skiers. It encourages flow, commitment, execution, and go-for-it attitude like nothing else. It also provides examples of movements and tactics for me to strive for. Perhaps that wouldn't be the case if I didn't have at least something of a technical background but I find my previous experiences to be more than adequate to work towards postive changes when there is a "rich" (with great skiers) skiing environment.
post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone. (cattracksplat, in the future I'll try to drink some coffee so I stay awake and don't fail to spot the sarcasm!).

I agree that if I wanted something else I should've spoken up. But I was really curious to see how he'd structure the lesson without my asking him for specific stuff. Distilling the answers, I get the feeling that to follow him MAY have been a good exercise, but that he should've at least explained that to me or checked to see whether I agreed.
post #15 of 24
because you didn't speak up you got the standard french lesson. It's a perennial complaint.
French ski instructors used to be able to teach English speakers with only two English phrases, 'Bend ze knees' and 'Follow me'.

Next time it should be different!
post #16 of 24
Originally posted by TomB:
I think "follow me" is the worst form of instuction there is. Other than line selection and speed control there is little to be gained by that approach.
Not for everyone! [img]tongue.gif[/img]

Remember conga lines filled with children snaking their way down the hill, with instructor at the head screaming "Tall as a house!.....now, small as a mouse."

For adults, the instructor should be two full turns ahead -- better to see the students efforts.

post #17 of 24

I know that "follow me" is an accepted form of instruction. But if you after technique improvement and get good feedback, then "follow me" is a poor method. The third or fourth person in the conga line might as well ski alone.
post #18 of 24
Originally posted by TomB:

I know that "follow me" is an accepted form of instruction. But if you after technique improvement and get good feedback, then "follow me" is a poor method. The third or fourth person in the conga line might as well ski alone.
Without question, the instructor must be able to evaluate each student. I think "follow me" can work, but only if each student can be viewed independently performing the exercise. The conga line is great for kids, just to make sure they turn! You are right though, technique and feedback comes only from analysis, and conga lines don't allow for much of that...
post #19 of 24
That sounds, like a great lesson. Well, from the instructors vantage point anyway.

I think I should go teach in France, it sounds great place to teach. Just go rip it up free skiing for an hour, hope your student can keep up with you, then give him a few generic (because you didn't really watch him) pointers on the lift.

Actually follow the leader can be very beneficial when used in the right situation. I use it when I'm introducing a rather complicated drill to a group, of which some are getting it and some aren't. I have the group break up into pairs, then have those who are having trouble with the timing/body movements of the drill follow those who have it down pat. Having a visual model present right in front of the student who's having trouble with the drill, while he's attempting it, helps tremendously. It very much expedites the journey to "OK, NOW I'VE GOT IT".

But as Tom points out, there are methods of usage of "FOLLOW" that are pretty useless. The one you encountered was ridiculous!
post #20 of 24
I've been working this year with a pretty good instructor, IMO. After "normal" instruction, we do "follow me" and alternate as to who leads. She gives me feedback on the lift after the runs in which she follows. This approach to ending a lesson has worked well and has been alot of fun.
post #21 of 24
If I'm with a group I usuall go SECOND. That way I can give the first person feedback and the others can watch me.

I DISAGREE about two full turns ahead. I want the people to be right on my tail. I want them following my LINE as well as my movements. I don't want them to worry about line. I'll pick that for them and they can concentrate on movements.

post #22 of 24
Follow me works great when working on turn shape. For example Z turners. I also use it when teaching people to choose less agresssive mogul lines. It can also improve someones balance by reducing abrupt direction changes. I agree the person/people should be as close as possible to gain the full effect.
post #23 of 24
I basically learned to ski by following good skiers. But I didn't have to pay them!
post #24 of 24
i envy you

(Ps - can someone do my study for me please?)
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