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Teaching with imagery

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
We really get some superb technical explainations on the site, the best I've seen anywhere. But suppose you wanted to reinforce the learning experience by integrating right and left brain processes.

What metaphors, images, visualizations do you use for teaching specific skills?

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #2 of 29
best one I've heard I've already posted but it was pretty funny so.

Bump skiing, a friend was having a hard time getting her poles infront of her after each pole tap and kept getting her hands behind her. This was a big problem on the moguls. Keeping hands forward was not working keeping hands in view was not working. Her instructor finally asked her if she liked smurf's (hates them) so the image was think of smurfs on the tops of the bumps. Stab them with your pole and then punch them when they are down. jab, punch. jab, punch.

all of a sudden her hands didn't drop behind her. and off she went down the bumps, controlled and much better balance.
post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 
I've heard that, but isn't that something they use for kids? It is adorable, though.
post #4 of 29
If it works, it works...
post #5 of 29
When I'm integrating a deliberate flex/extend motion into class, I refer to it as SOFTENING the ankle, knee, hip, and LENGTHENING the body. People seem to respond well I think because it doesn't imply flexing muscles.

When getting students to rotate the legs, whether beginner or "upper" levels, I show people how to make BOW TIES in the snow by standing (without skis) right in the center of my boot and rotating my whole leg so that both the toe and heel are displaced... creating a bow tie track in the snow. Good visual feedback. The little kids call them butterflies.

My buddy David the Dinosaur from New Mex. used to teach leg steering and weight transfer by pretending you were standing on a clock and your skis always returned to 12:00 between turns. when you wanted to initiate a left turn, you "sent" everything toward 10:00... 2:00 for right turns. Pretty cool trick to dink about. (Robin, is it aboot, or aboat?) I've used the trick before and even gone so far as to draw a half clock in the snow in front of the student with notches at 12, 10 and 2. Nifty little deal.

Spag's quote of the day:
"I thought I had Mono once for an entire year. Turns out I was just really bored."
-Mike Meyers in "Wayne's World"-
post #6 of 29
Thread Starter 
I like your softening and extending. Would work really well for "turn musclers" like me.

It sounds like your friend David has some Feldenkrais training.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #7 of 29
Actually back in AF we did a few Feldenkrais clincs with the school...I can't remember did you boys attend, of were you in church that day? Incidently, the fact, Spag, is that we do speak the King's english with a little accent. If you could hear Lisamarie's probable Bostonian, ya wouldn't pick on me!
post #8 of 29
Thread Starter 
Bostonian who lived for most of her life in NYC. That's really bad! But fitness instructors have to at least make an attempt at a newscasters accent. So no Yahd Sales for me!

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #9 of 29
I wasn't aware that Lisamarie was from Bowostun, Maass!! No I never went to the Feldenkrais deal... you had me working on that friggin tubing hill!!! I don't know where Lucky got it. I heard he was a hermaphrodite anyway. Jerk hasn't been in contact since Durango. I may have been reading the Bible to local orphans when the Feld. class was being held I don't remember. (Cuz' I was beer-soaked prob'ly)

We speak a bit funny in Soath D'koata as well. Canadian influence doancha know.

All I know is the 10/2 exercise worked without having to talk about the proper edge angle, hip angulation, or pelvic attitude.
post #10 of 29
not much bostonian accent in lisamarie but mark. there was a bostonian accent!

it ain't got much spam in it! (british accent)
post #11 of 29
I use imagery specific to people's past experiences and other sports involvements. This not only accesses good imagery on their part, but accesses good muscle memory and kinesthetic awareness.

In talking with students I always guide the conversation toward what activities/sports they like/are best at.

Horseback riders 'steer' the horse by pressuring the side of the horse with the lower leg/foot/knee. Riders often relate well to imagining the ski as alive and knowing what it's job is so they won't knock 'it' off balance.

Bicycling at all levels has body movements that transfer well to skiing. (One of the toughest lessons I had though, was an english category 1 cyclist his first time on skis. He was too strong for his own good on the snow.

Most ball-sports involve athletic positions and situations readily usable on skis.

Racquet sports involve a lot of cutting and leg extension movements.

Hiking across (steep) hillsides (with a pack on) relates well to skiing.

Good athletes often teach themselves while I merely guide them toward using body movements they already know.

Good post. I wish I kept a better journal.
post #12 of 29
Thread Starter 
Okay, so what would you tell an aerobics instructor?
post #13 of 29

Just got back from a backpacking trip in the Uintah Mountains (UT), The trail was hard and rocky. With a 50# pack on, the muscles worked translate directly to skiing balance. The muscles used were the peroneals group and the tibialis group. Mostly, I felt the peroneals the most.

post #14 of 29
Rick H

Cool. I just did a trip myself. Just for a weekend. Our plan was to go for a ski on a glacier in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Unfortunately, the added weight of the lift-served style gear on our packs kicked our butts too badly. Plus we lost half of our approach day to an unfortunate mini-emergency. Much to my chagrin I didn't ski. We did get a great training hike in though. It was exhilarating to be up there again, out of the squalidness of the 'shitty.'

I constantly apply ski feelings while I hike.
post #15 of 29
Thread Starter 
Oh, Oh, Oh! I have to ask you guys this. Have you ever had a student who was so literal that they could not respond to imagery?
Spags post about the clock made me think of this. Pilates instructors have "stolen" a Feldenkrais exercise called the "pelvic clock". But often, when I teach it, people will get hung up on what position they are viewing the clock from, sort of missing the essence of the exercise.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #16 of 29
Gosh, Roto..."guided discovery" and "teaching for positive transfer"....you really are part of "the gang"....wonder what kind of acroynm harold has for those?..........Duck!!!
LM, I have gone to Pajarito (a cool little ski area in Los Alamos, NM, built by Oppie and freunds)to attend some clinics where many in attendance are Lev III's AND rocket scientists....yesh! Don't talk physics with those guys. Anyway we got our share of those types in lessons up north in AF...definitely not into imagery, or at least stabbing smurfs!
post #17 of 29

Yeah, there are a lot of people out there that imagry doesn't work with at all. I don't use imagry a whole lot, as it sometimes takes too long to explain, and if you verbally try to communicate an image to 10 people, there are 10 different brians with 10 different images. We all create images based on past experience, so if I give you an image, I really don't know what you are imagining, unless it's so basic and uniform that everybody will get the same image.

Some things like clocks tend to work (unless the 12 is uphill, not in front of them, which a lot of people will do), but explaining that pressure goes to the outside ski during a turn, which is similar to the way a car leans to the outside of a turn, will not work with an 11 year old kid who, when he thinks of turning something on wheels, thinks of being on a bike, and leaning into the turn with his shoulders.

Here's a great example: A D-Team member, in an effort to get me to start a specific turn with less rotary (we were doing very short, very aggressive, highly carved turns on a fairly steep pitch), told me to think about having the pivot point of the ski 6 inches behind my boot, rather than 6" in front of the boot. While the image worked just fine, by focusing on the area of the ski behind my boots, I found I was skiing with my weight too far back. So the image totally screwed things up. He was smart enough to immediately use something totally different, and luckily, I was able to understand how it actually effected my skiing. A typical student would not understand why their skiing got so screwed up.

When you use imagry, you need to be very careful and really observe to see if your students are doing what you asked, and to ask for specific feedback. If they don't get it instantly, then you need to completely throw the image out because you can't cause someone else's brain to come up with another image using the same description. And as I just said, the typical student, if the image screwed them up, would not be able to what happened.
post #18 of 29
Interesting you you put that.

Yes instructors need to watch very carefully the result of their explaination. Lyle was extremely good at this. Even in a group of 6 he would tell one person "try this" and watch what happened. Certain exercises were for the whole group, others were for one specific person. some were kind of for both. "dxxx you are doing this... try this. If others want to try it, it should feel like .... " and he would often change tacts several times in the space of one run until the person was doing what they were supposed to and could tell the difference before we moved on...

Thanks for the clarification.
post #19 of 29

Since I know little about aerobics it would go something like this.

I find out why you're there and what you want out of the time. On the chair we would have a conversation about life in general in which I would surreptitiously find out what other sports you are into and which ones you are best at/most passionate about.

Once we skied a little and settled on a direction to take I would ask you some questions about teaching aerobics. Some of the questions would be movement/application specific. Your answers would teach me something and I would acknowledge this. Then I would direct you in a specific manner to apply the movements to the skiing situation at hand.

It is difficult to determine exactly the lesson plan and mode of operation without meeting you and skiing with you.

Since you seem very keyed into specifics and movements, I may find this distracts you from the overall flow of skiing.

It seems likely to me you may be at a stage where mileage over some varied terrain and situations would be very beneficial, allowing you to both anchor previous learning, and gain ownership of your skills as you begin to make technical and tactical choices in repsonse.

appropriately paced, non-stop runs would be the modus operandi.

This isn't as non-specific as it sounds. In coaching we call it 'directed free skiing.' It is quite specific in a different way.
post #20 of 29
Good post JohnH. It certainly applies to me. I am not into imagery at all. I am very much into feedback. I prefer to be told what to feel (pressure, anglulation, various forces on the muscles) and I like visual feedback.
post #21 of 29
Good points,all! The misinterpretation of the projected imagery is why you teach to the learning style, and if using verbal imaging have more than one tool in the bag. Checking for understanding is not only verbal either, and may be a form of MA, like in John H's case.
post #22 of 29
Thread Starter 
Excellent! This has helped me clarify a few things, and once again, thank you.

In instructing Pilates, it is absolutely essential that you make you students aware of how to use their core, which Pilates called "The Powerhouse". I tend to use imagery quite a bit to convey this; "Zip up the abdominals like a pair of tight jeans, press the navel to the spine and down to the floor, etc.

The other day, someone came up to me and asked why I don't emphasize "Pulling in the abs" more often. She was surprised when I tod her that that was what I meant when I said navel to spine.
Now I just say "Pull in you gut!"

Roto, that does not sound non specific at all. In fact, its almost scary. How does this guy know me so well.

Towards the end of this season, I went to Sugarloaf a few times. Each time I took a lesson, I was told the same thing. 'The most important thing for you now is to make the leap pf faith. You took the 'journey' {close to 5 hours} of getting here, now get out of your comfort zone and make the journey around this mountain.

And gosh darnit, each of those teachers did the same thing. Made a few minor corrections on my techniqe, then took me someplace where I would not have gone on my own, and told me what skills I ALREADY HAD to get down that trail.

Must be some kind of conspiracy!

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #23 of 29
Someone might call it our "gang mentality"
post #24 of 29
It's those locker room talks at the end of the day. They are probably talking about you and telling each other that "when lisamarie gets here this is what you need to do with her"

post #25 of 29
Thread Starter 
And here I thought I was too old to be talked about in locker rooms!
post #26 of 29
According to the purpose of PSIA's inception, to provide consistency in teaching nationwide that is good news.

However, were the lessons still beneficial for you?
post #27 of 29
Thread Starter 
Very much so, yes. Some of it for minor points in my technique, but something else happened. I'm not quite sure that most of you would agree with or approve of this, but it was actually helpful.

On the more challenging terrain, each instructor made the point of reasurring me that it was okay if I did not ski the run "correctly ". I noticed that I was the only one that they had to stress this to. So I learned that I can get down quite safely from a scary run using {HORRORS!} less than perfect form.

As we then got into easier terrain, they would point out how much better I was skiing. Their philosophy is that you get "messages" about your skiing when do a challenging run, that can be processed into all round better skiing, and that sometimes, once a skier has reached a certain point, this is more effective than simply doing drills on easy terrain.

Relating this to my original topic, many of Sugarloaf's instructor's have been there for over 20 years. They have a somewhat Jungian spirituality to their teaching style, and view the long trip to the mountain , as well as its varied {for the East} as sort of a journey of discovery. My roomate on that trip had been skiing for 20 years and was still a level 3. She made the breakthrough to 4 that weekend.
Guess it works.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
post #28 of 29
I have learned the most while free skiing.

Coaching has still been invaluable.

One of my favorite memory banks is "recovery learning" in which recoveries from crashes, or near crashes have led to breakthroughs and discoveries.

learning what to 'let go control of' has been more important than what to control.
post #29 of 29
Thread Starter 
Uh huh! I've said this many times before, but I have learned alot by skiing through whiteouts, or skiing by braille, as people have called it.

For one thing, if I can't see what the trail looks like, I can't say "No way am I going to ski that!!"

Sometimes I think that it can be more about intuition, tapping into the kinesthetic memory of another activity you have done that may "feel" like skiing, or something that is visual that can help you create that feel {My favorite, Kate Winslet on the mast head of the Titanic}.

But to get to that state, I really need to turn off the analytical, which for me, is quite a challenge.

Be Braver in your body, or your luck will leave you. DH Lawrence
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