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Zones of Comfort, Performance, and Fear

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Hey Bears, I have been meaning to write this for a few years now.  I finally did yesterday.  Enjoy the ideas and expand as necessary.  I look forward to learning from your insights as well.

Here is the post.  Zones of Comfort and Fear 

to your sliding success,
post #2 of 6

That page blew up when using IE7 - ah I see you've fixed it.

Valid concepts. You've covered the downsides of the orange and red zones well, but I'd like to see something about the up side as well.
We sometimes get lessons where we are expected to take the student into the red zone and minimize the danger. Sometimes the instructor mission is to give the student tools or the motivation to stay in the orange zone longer, similar to the role a personal trainer plays when they push their clients to extend their performance. The job of the pro in these situations is to push, but back off before the breaking point is reached. This requires a high level of skill from the pro in the areas of positioning, situational awareness, movement analysis (for both technique and mental/physical condition), feedback, line selection and pacing.
post #3 of 6
I like it. It concisely conveys an awful lot about what we need to do (perceive & judge about a students abilities and mental state) to provide a lesson that is both effective and enjoyable. I admit I've given lessons that were to far away from that optimal learning zone, either to comfortable or to uncomfortable.
I've copied it onto a note card to carry in my pocket as a reminder.
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
thanks for bringing those up.  As for the upsides of the Orange Zones, I will make additional entries to the blog. (update - blog has been revised. Thx guys)

Here are a few adjustments in general...  Once we begin to take action (start down the run/activity), the color usually drops between 1/2-1 grade.  For the simple fact that we take action, and show our minds that it is OK.  
    I often speak to myself at the top of an orange experience (reference- 1st time I dropped Corbett's in Jackson), and say "Mind you can tell me how scared I was when we get to the bottom of this run.  Until then, body... do what I have trained you to do".

Also, my findings have taught me the fact of repeatedly applauding the effort in the Orange Zone tend to relieve stress by 1/2 a color.  And the more we move from Yellow to Orange and back, the further we push out on these color zones.  What was once orange is now yellow or OP, and perhaps eventually green.

Red Zone can do this too.  However it is ill-advised to push a student into this zone.  A skilled instructor knows to move into yellow-to-orange eventually pushes into the terrain that was once in a skiers red.  This can be accomplished without ever going into red.  
     For example, a new Level 1 skier.  You wouldn't take them to a black diamond bump run for their first run.  The black bump run is definitely in their RedZone.  However, we all know most skiers can eventually be able to ski a black bump run with enough training and practice, however this is preferable when it is in their yellow or orange.  An instructor can create plan to help the skier accomplish it without ever needing to ski the black run when it is in a person's RedZone. They take the time to build up the skier's skills and experiences. Unfortunately most spouses do not follow this guideline, and it has given resorts millions of dollars in Private lesson revenue for which has been guilt sponsored.

Thank you for the feedback,
Edited by snowpro - 1/14/10 at 6:52pm
post #5 of 6
more food for thought ....

Red Zone is an interesting concept. When viewed in the perspective of a car tachometer analogy, it's simply a don't go there area. You can go in there by accident, but you should get out ASAP. When viewed from an engineering mentality, red zone is just beyond the design limit: it's understood that you can operate on there purpose but you have to understand that things could break at any time. When red zone = danger from the skiers perspective (i.e. "a person's RedZone") we get into a gray area where the mix of skill, thrill and experience changes the definition. So it's good the definition is based on reaction to the terrain, but then it becomes hard to define what terrain is dangerous. At the upper levels a lot of a persons orange terrain is pretty dangerous.

I tend to overzone (pushing a student into a zone) some of my students more than many other instructors would. I would think that I'd never push a student into what I would say is their red zone, but it's likely for some rare students I do push them into their personal red zone because of a big difference between my assessment of their skills and their own self-assessment. When I over zone students most of the time my primary intent is to down zone easier terrain for them in order to allow more offensive movements to be used in easier terrain. When students come to me with a lesson goal of being over zoned (e.g. I want to ski my first black), I make every effort to accommodate them.

When we do take students into the orange or red zone, it's the pro's job to put up virtual safety netting. By staying in front, choosing the line, setting the pace, taking breaks, pointing out hazards, giving appropriate feedback, teaching tactics, etc. we can greatly reduce the risks involved.
post #6 of 6
Very interesting.  IMHO, the zones aren't just specific to an individual, but also to the individual's control over his frame of mind.  You CAN change gears when you are in the red zone, or you can get killed  Of course you may die anyway, but you don't have to let your fear impede your performance if you can disconnect your fear.
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