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Play & practice - Page 2

post #31 of 57
"Out of discipline comes freedom". Sure there's two sides two every coin. But whats the motivation for the discipline? And whose discipline? You can take any misserable job and let it stay misserable, or you can take a misserable job get it done and find ways to have fun while doing it. This really isn't peculiar to skiing.

If a lesson motivates a student to pursue a change in their skiing then freedom is being served because it has become personal for that person and they have made a choice. It has come from inside that individual. On the other hand if the lesson is impersonal and the student finds nothing they can claim ownership of or find nothing motivating in the content of the lesson, then this lesson is helping free no one. Including the instructor.

We can't give people freedom, but we can help them find it for themselves, or we can pretty much garuantee they don't find it or even inadvertently take it away. It's when discipline serves it's own end or some one elses idea of your end that we're in trouble finding our freedom.

Understanding how to ski and helping people get better is good, but understanding why people ski is maybe more important don't you think? Hopefully I'm making my distinctions clear.
post #32 of 57
"Understanding why people ski is maybe more important don't you think?" -- Ric B

Absolutely! But, herein lies the problem -- one size simply
doesn't fit all. People don't ski for the same reasons.
Best we can hope for is to indentify what "most" people
want and maybe do a little "custom work" for the rest.

So, probably the right solution is to honestly be the best and most knowledgeable Ski Wizard on the mountain, but to
also have the finesse required to correctly apply your magic as the situation demands. And this, grasshopper, is why the "Master" level instructor will always be in demand.
post #33 of 57
Thread Starter 

Master, what is the same about skiing and golf?
post #34 of 57
Originally posted by Bob.Peters:

And Weems...

I have sitting here a copy of the Powder Magazine 20th Anniversary Special (1992), in which there's a piece on you appearing to be anything but "mindful". I suspect you know what I'm referring to.

So, I know in my gut that you have acres of fun when you ski [img]graemlins/evilgrin.gif[/img] and I don't doubt you bring that same attitude to your classes. I think you're just tweaking me a bit.

Ah, but you're still using the word "mindful" as a synonym for "thinking". I would prefer that "mindful" simply mean "aware". In this case, it is not at all the opposite of fun. That article was big fun. (Man that was a long time ago!) But it was also built out of acute mindfulness about how I thought I could tweak reality (and the magazines in general)--and the fact that we take ourselves incredibly seriously. And awareness carries both discipline and chaos in really good balance. If the article had been too chaotic, they wouldn't have bought it. (You shoulda seen the ones they didn't print. Even Powder, in those days, had it's standards.)
post #35 of 57
Originally posted by Bob Barnes/Colorado:
...and a coin cannot have one side without the other!

Concerning the dichotomy of discipline and creativity:

A man does not show his greatness by being at one extremity, but rather by touching both at once.
-Blaise Pascal, philosopher and mathematician (1623-1662)
post #36 of 57

Golf and Skiing -- Many similarities but just as many

Golf is very competitive -- score for each hole, score for the
round, handicap, etc., etc. When was the last time you heard of
anyone who regularly plays golf, but never keeps score?
Skiing, on the other hand, seems to be more ungraded individual expression -- skiers keep score late in the day after the bars close.

Could skiing be made to be more like golf? Probably. We could
figure out a way to make it a very "win-lose" style competitive
activity, then hustle all those summertime grass maggots to play
our snow and spend their big bucks all winter long on our score
enhancing lessons.

Good idea? Nope.
post #37 of 57
Thread Starter 
Most of the time I don't keep score.

Similarity: both draw water from the same pool. I mean this figuratively.
post #38 of 57
Originally posted by Sitzmark:
Skiing, on the other hand, seems to be more ungraded individual expression .
Nope - sorry MOST skiers I know are REALLY competitive - just in their own minds/own ways.

Most will compete with each other for who skied the gnarliest runs; had the biggest stacks;got the biggest air; they race each other to the bottom of the hill(who can ski fastest); they compete for the best looking outfits; they all want the BEST equipement(like what LOOKS good or is 'trendy' now - not what suits my skiing); I even know ones who won't take lessons because that would spoil their 'ten years & no lessons' toughness!

They HATE being GRADED by ski school - because that destroys the 'mental image' they have of themselves & their skiing - "I ski better than my mates(reach bottom first) therefore I am ski god" - especially when they are given a 'list of faults' rather than a 'TOTAL REVIEW' - have a look at how many negative comments appeared in the last photo analysis. Don't believe me? - want some links to discussion threads in an Oz forum with just an average skiing population? - It is interesting to watch....
post #39 of 57
Yin and Yang, empty and full, disciplined and free. Tis very true we opperate from both sides in a costantly changing balance between the two. The scale tipping back and forth trying to find balance. Which side is the scale tipping to most when the average skier is out skiing? Even if you think as Sitz does, as I do also, that one size doesn't fit all, this grasshopper believes there are major common themes that run through the reasons that people ski. The 40 yr old mom, free for two hours from her kids, skiing only where and how she wants, the bus load of kids on ski PE, skiing the afternoon where and how they want, temporarily free from their restraints. The grandparents free on the side of a mountain, free to enjoy all there is to see and experience at their own pace. a place they would never be without a ski area. Or the architecture student, so mentaly drained they're just screaming for release, hiking the ridge and bustin loose, and turnin her mind off. All of them having fun in their own way at the same ski area. We're only of value to them if we can add to their experience. Give them a return for the time and money spent with us. And we will certainly be shunned if we detract from their experience. If only a few masters are capable of adding to their experience, then it's no wonder this business is in trouble!
post #40 of 57
Ric B. This is really good and I agree.
post #41 of 57
Ahh, Ric B., You are a true "Master" -- one so enlightened that he can continue to genuinely see himself as a "grasshopper".
Your last post speaks great wisdom.
post #42 of 57
Thread Starter 
"If we can add value to their experience..."

That's the question! How do we add value? Let me rephrase that: how can we be certain that we have added value to a student's experience, when all is said and done. What are the unequivocal signs of it?

(Only those who think they are grasshoppers are masters. If you think you are a master, then you're not. Others may say that you are a master, and Ric, I would agree.)
post #43 of 57
Originally posted by weems:


Ah, but you're still using the word "mindful" as a synonym for "thinking". I would prefer that "mindful" simply mean "aware". )[/QB][/quote]

Weems, once we agree on definitions, the gulf starts to contract (although it's possible we just have a bunch of angels square-dancing on the head of a pin).

I know that so many of you instructors on this forum are the "best of the best", so to speak. You work primarily with repeat customers because your clients have already seen the value you bring to the experience (fun included). You obviously see ski instruction as a real profession and have worked hard to develop the ability to "teach" both improvement and enjoyment.

So the key for a potential lesson-taker is to somehow hook up with an instructor who really understands what the student wants/needs rather than one who simply regurgitates the drills and movements that a student in whatever classification "should" need.

I fear that's where the reality and the ideal tend to break down.

post #44 of 57
All I ever wanted to be was just another grasshopper in the Bridger Bowl locker room, surrounded by my masters; The mountain, my students and my peers. Thanks for the kind words. Must be that TAI SKI, OOPS, I mean TAI CHI that I started a couple of weeks ago.

"how can we be certain that we have added value to a student's experience, when all is said and done. What are the unequivocal signs of it?"

To be certain I guess I would have to be told by them. I always try to ask, as I'm sure most do, some gladly volunteer this info, but,,,, Beyond that I try look for changes in attitude, a difference in their eyes or their smile, changes in body language ect. Do they return for another lesson? These are just things I look to for my own personal information, how to nail it down for the ski school or the industry is a tough nut to crack I think. What should we be doing?
post #45 of 57
Originally posted by Bob.Peters:
[QB So the key for a potential lesson-taker is to somehow hook up with an instructor who really understands what the student wants/needs rather than one who simply regurgitates the drills and movements that a student in whatever classification "should" need.

I fear that's where the reality and the ideal tend to break down.

Exactly. And this is a huge training issue for the schools. I think every year, it becomes less of a crap shoot, and I'm really proud of my colleagues (both trainers and pros) for making these great efforts to step up.

In exams, for example, it's really common for examiners to be acutely aware of performances that are nothing more than drill regurgitation, and lacking of substance. And I'm proud to say that, normally, we don't let them get away with it.

I would even risk saying that all training departments are aware of this on one level or another, because the people who run them have usually been successful pros and know what it takes. Sometimes the response is not adequate, and sometimes, as we know, the pay is not adequate to draw the more authentic teachers.
post #46 of 57
Thread Starter 
"Adding value to their experience" is a pretty big target. It seems to me to depend on how one defines "value." What are the benefits of taking a lesson? The customer decides what those benefits should be, and, depending on whether you are able to learn what he/she wants from you, your lesson either exceeds those expectations or not. As far as I'm concerned, meeting expectations is like getting a "C."

So, I don't see how any instructor can add value to anyone's experience until they become quite good at learning about their students and what makes them tick.
post #47 of 57
Nolo, I mainly agree with you, but I've also had and seen lots of experiences where the incredible experience of skiing with clear, easy, and great technique completely supercedes the original goals/needs of the guest. In other words, yes, get the C, but the A is beyond the realistic imagination of the student.

In other words, when the student finds what makes SKIING tick, she often drop her concerns about herself and emerses herself in the world of what-could-be for her. I think that's where the fun starts. It's about surrender.

I guess, though, that the instructor really has to find what makes her tick in order to help her open that door.

I guess this is a different thread--about mastery, perhaps.
post #48 of 57
Weems - happens to me regularly

When I started skiing I would have been happy to ski down the beginners hill & not do serious damage to me or someone else.

Now I want to ski down the race course & not do damage(note SKI not RACE).

My instructors on the other hand seem to have always had different ideas about HOW well I will ski.

Even those are being challenged - one day I had my instructor admit that HE NEVER thought I was going to ski the run we had just done in the manner I had.

I keep doing what they ask & keep discovering NEW things I want to learn to do & NEW things I ENJOY(LOVE???) doing on skis...
the discovery is a LARGE part of the addiction
post #49 of 57
Maybe you're right Nolo. I do think though, in this day and age, where having your expectations met quite often is a surprise, that's a good place to start. Exceeding their expectations may simply mean taking care of the minor details, doing all the little things right that add up to a bigger whole. The customer does decide whats is valuable to them, but they may surprise themselves with what they discover in the end that is adding the most value to their experience. Doing the little things may be the deciding difference in whether they open up or not to new discoveries. I know I just love it when someone treats me as a valuable individual with no strings attached.

Life teaches us alot all about this stuff if we're paying any attention at all. It doesn't need to be learned on the ski hill. We (I) will never learn enough about human interactions but hopefully this won't stop me from doing the best that I can with what I already understand. Besides, isn't experience our best teacher?
post #50 of 57
Thread Starter 
I know what you're saying, Weems. That post ended up a lot different than it began, which was more of a discourse on "whose values" are going to apply to "their experience." But I thought about it and came to the conclusion that the student decides whether I added value or not. My self-assessment is perfectly moot and often dead wrong. Why? Because I am applying my values to the measurement.

I am not saying that you can't sneak some creamed spinach in with the yummy applesauce. I have found that a spoonful of creamed spinach followed imediately by a heaping spoonful of applesauce can leave the impression that both the spinach and the applesauce are yummy.

EDIT: The key may be the word "add." What values do you add to what they came with? The value coming in might be "to be competent in everything I do." The teacher can help the student assess the pros and cons of that value and expose the bad bargain of having only precision to look forward to (getting better at doing what you already do) instead of the excitement of conquering a new frontier. The value added might be: "to be willing to risk incompetence to gain new competencies."

The value added may be helping them to put this learning into the wider perspective of how they typically approach new experiences in general and how their attitudes can prophesize how the experience will turn out. This goes back to changing a person's thinking to change their skiing.

[ October 16, 2002, 08:26 AM: Message edited by: nolo ]
post #51 of 57
This is where ski teaching becomes a microcosm of life. Way to many people are still promoting the Golden Rule. Isn't the Platinum Rule ( Do onto others as they would have you do onto them.) far more empowering? Who are we to force our values on someone else? As instructors it is our job to help others develop as skiers in THEIR minds, not ours. Does this mean we subjugate are goals, at least temporarily. I hope so. It is only by making the student number one that we can build the trust that is necessary to open their minds to a new, strange group of feelings that will utlimately bring more enjoyment through less fatigue.

As pointed out above the difficulty is in learning the students values, skiing and otherwise. If we do not learn as much as we teach how can we be successful? Many threads have commented on instructors who talk and don't ski. How many of us really listen to each and every student? Laying in bed at night, after a less that stellar day, I have figured out the reason I didn't get through to the student is because I didn't listen, I tried to teach.

What does this have to do with play and practice? I'll be damned it I know, but after numerous rereads I think that this is where this thread is going.
post #52 of 57
Very intersting thread! IT DEPENDS! Are we able to blend play and practice in the right % for each individual? We need to watch and listen to make sure we do. Ski all day with quick comments or images great, spend an hour on straight runs working on stance, thats great to, IT DEPENDS In the end we all get enjoyment from different things. As a coach or teacher we need to find the right fit for our student. Back to Golf, I don't like to go practice chipping and putting I would rather just play, but I also know if I don't spend the time on a range my frustration of trying to change while playing will make the playing NOT FUN! IT DEPENDS!
post #53 of 57
So you get on a plane and arrive in a different land. You are completely alone in this world of different food, different language, different customs and different humor.

Then you front up for your first client. The whole SS is watching, some resent your presence, some want to be you, some are very scared of you, some think that that client should be theirs because you are a foreigner and some want to be your friend.

No language connection and just your smile and demeanor to get you through the day.

Ahhh but as you ride the lift and laugh and smile with your client and breath the mountain air you know that after all that PRACTISE to get full cert and all that PLAY to make the moves automatic all you have to concentrate on is making your client comfortable with your foreignness ….

And they don’t teach you how to do that in your local SS ……….

And the same skills apply when at home ……

post #54 of 57
Tom, I've been there in bed, just like you, wondering why this or that lesson didn't go well, why I couldn't reach two of the people in my group. With similar conclusions too. It usually comes to something I did or didn't do. Or my failure to understand what they were really trying to say instead of just what I was hearing. Sometimes my view window isn't big enough. At least we care enough to think about it. We try to learn from our failure instead of just writing it off.

Tom said "What does this have to do with play and practice?" My observations are that most of my students consider skiing play. They ski to play. The ski area is their playground. I don't think most care to spend much time practicing their skiing. In particular those that only have X amount of days to ski a year, or have only 4 days on their ski trip. They may take a lesson or two, hoping to add something to their skiing that will enhance their 4 day experience. Tough to do in an hour and a half. If we leave them with the feeling that they have to practice for half of their ski trip to get something out of the lesson they may very well view this as a distraction from their purpose of play and shine on future lessons. Hell,,, they're probably right about that. My hope is to engage them enough that they feel like what we "played" with in our lesson is not only worthwhile but also fun and so practice then becomes play, and their day or days skiing are enhanced or skiing experience is added too. I don't know about calling it value added, but I do think our value lies in adding to or enhanceing their skiing experience. Is my instructor system values or judgement a part of this? Yes. I don't know that I'll ever get to the point where I become transparent. Does anyone?

Do I practice? All the time. Sometimes too much. If I find I'm not rolling my practice into just skiing my skiing suffers, and I think my teaching also suffers. In this respect I'm no different than my students. I don't know about the rest of you, but I ski to number one, have fun. Now my fun may be different than yours, and it may change from one day to the next, but if you take away the fun then I'm left standing there going "What the hells the point of this?" I teach because number one, I want to help others have more fun than they are already having. Whatever fun may be to them, I want to help them find it. Do you think there is more to it than that?
post #55 of 57
To learn to ski I have to play to learn to golf I have to practice. Therefore I enjoy skiing more because I love to play and hate to “practice”.

In my mind as an instructor I should teach my students how to play and the “playing” results in practice. Gee I can have fun and improve too? You bet you can and let me show you how.

Now if I could only keep all this in my mind when I teach!

Have a good day! :


We want more from our students than they want from themselves. Who is right and what is wrong?
post #56 of 57
I've been reading the words of master teachers, wise thinkers and great sports folks in this thread. Thank you.
post #57 of 57
I'm the one that needs to give thanks. Thanks for the stimulating posts, posts that get me thinking about why and what I do, whats valuable to myself and my students, and allowing me to freely speak my thoughts. Thanks all. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
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