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question for new instructor

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
This is my first year teaching at seven springs, and I have mostly been teaching level one. But every once in a while I have to teach a level two private, and am wondering if any more expereinced instructors have any suggestions on what to do in a level 2. I have a pretty good idea of how it works, but i could use some other perspectives. Also, I need some ideas for how to help people get centered over the ski.

thanks, Pow Ripper
post #2 of 25
To make sure we are speaking of the same LEVEL..I am going to use the PSIA Level 2 reference...'Link wedge turns on the the easiest terrain'........

I would suggest exercises focusing on flexing and extending slightly at the ankle....depending on athletic abililtes.......

some small 'Thumper turns' you have them focus on the shin and boot contact....also be aware of their hand position......a big culprit in their weight being back.......

"Flex and settle at the end of the turn....extend and release to start".........Concentrate on steering with the feet........ focus on the feet upward......

This can be carried out at Level 1 with boot exercise..such as jumping .......and the proverbial....'crushing the grape between the shin and the boot...... good luck....... [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #3 of 25

I have to respectfully disagree with any focus on tongue and shin or grape pressing. I think it's archaic and does not address the cause......only the symptom. In fact modern skiing is very tib/fib neutral so why press forward.....tip sideways!

1000 steps on gentle terrain is a superb exercise. Teach people to "go there". Any attempt to have folks do something with their tib/fib doesn't mitigate a defensive "I'm afraid to go there posture" with their pelvis behind their boots in a "braking" posture.

I think gentle terrain, a gliding wedge, and the idea of turn shape is applicable at all levels. Begin to introduce inside foot steering with Bob Barnes's wonderful mantra "left tip left to go left and right tip right to go right".
post #4 of 25
When it comes to teaching "individuals", nothing is archaic (sorry Rusty ) if it works to remove an obstacle to someone learning an appropiate new skill. This even more important at level 1 & 2. At this level everthing is new, and the best we can do sometimes is to help remove unnessasary movements so our students can find new funtional ones. Leave your system in the locker room. work out side of the box. Learn to recognize what's keeping your student from learning the appropriate skill, and then do whatever it takes to remove that obstacle, even if it seems silly, ridiculous, or archaic. Do whatever it takes to set them up for success, and don't forget to tell them why you're doing this so they understand it's a way to get to the funtional skill they need. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #5 of 25
Ric B,

Archaic is defined as "borrowed from older usage". I think it is safe to say our concern or emphasis on driving our knees into the front of the boot has been to some degree supplanted by technological changes in skis. Remember......borrowed from older usage.
post #6 of 25
To get your students centered over the skis try this... Tell them to bounce, and show them how. Standing still just bounce up and down just a little 3 or 4 times.

This is the idea... when both feet come off the ground the brain says, "Whoa there! what's up?" And when you come back down on your feet the brain automatically distributes your weight evenly between the two feet.

Often you see your students wedging downhill and bent sideways one way or the other from the waist, and/or skis may be crossed. Tell them to bounce. it's amazing how they get centered!

We employ this at Cooper Spur, Mt. Hood. It works. We've gotten at least 16 people, new to skiing, in one day skiing down the rope tow. They are usually on their own by the third time up the tow, albeit wobbly, but they are skiing, bless their hearts! Then we just let them practice, take a break, go in and rest and get warm, come out later and rejoin the class. you watch for them going straight down with stability and controling their speed with 'getting tall' (narrow wedge) to 'bigger' (larger wedge).

Most often you will see a natural occurance - they will instinctively start turning a bit toward the rope tow. When you see this happening, they are ready for you to start teaching the turn.

Important.... show, don't tell. Too many words confuse. Work on one thing at a time. if you are working on keeping the tips together, don't worry about their elbows way out and hands way back like chicken wings! you'll be amazed at how many things start to correct themselves as they gain balance and stability.

Watch out for knees glued together... tips cross. Tell them to keep a basketball between their knees.

Don't start out with traversing across the hill. Go straight down. Get them in a wedge, you get in front, bend over and grab their tips. Ski backwards, holding the tips and letting go as they start getting their balance. You might have to grab them again to get them aligned again. it might take a couple of trips up the rope tow, but try it. As you see more stability, let go fo the tips and ski backwards, out of the way. Tell them to get big and hold. (bigger wedge) We have found with many people if you say 'wider' they open the tips of the ski as well. One or two word ques works. We found if we just say 'big' they get a big wedge and close it again. Big and hold! Bigger! They come to a stop. They are so proud of themselves when this happens!
This has been so successfull many want to go up the chair lift. Of course we have to pull in the reigns a bit. All we have are shor blue runs, no green runs.

My apologies if I'm off the subject here.
post #7 of 25
Pow- My appologies- I WAS off the topic. Anyway the bounce idea does work.

Have them 'get tall' using ankles and forward, knees still bent. Practice it standing still. This gets teh skis flat and a bit more narrow (easier to turn then). The skis will naturally turn downhill. Then of course the rest of your insruction comes into play... weighting the downhill ski and steering the inside ski, and they complete the turn.

Many will do this, but they, out of fear, hold the fall line too long and consequently pick up speed. Have them get on the downhill ski quickly and quickly do another turn. This will control their speed and their success will start to overcome their fear. Soon you will find the wedge will start to disappear. When you start to see this they are ready for a wedge-christie. Watch for the uphill ski wanting to steer parallel. You don't even have to teach it. When you see it happening, then work on it. In other words you will see signs from your students' skiing when they are ready for new input.

Remember... show, don't tell. Use few words as possible.
post #8 of 25
I posted the "shin" technique to move the student forward.....I would have to disagree that it is archaic......I also NEVER discussed the knee.....all of the movements are to be focused at the ankle(the knee will flow with that movement)........I have to disagree with the statement that that modern skiing is tib-fib neutral......If one skis like that they are very stiff with very little flow in their skiing.......flexing and extending is vital.....and can easily be incorporated into the wedge turn.........Next time we are on snow lets all try the different modes discussed........without flexion and extension....things are going to be very tough.......if you have a beginer just tip the boot.....they will really struggle......most likely creating too much edge angle for the speed and terrain......they will also tend to brace against this force ......instead of riding on top of it...........we all need to steer the front of the ski....the only way to direct the energy that way is to flex into the boot......One can easily just tip the boot and be very far back on ones skis.......How is one going to stay in a -balanced stance- and change edge pressure without flexion and extension.......tipping the boot will certainly change edge angle................but then how would one release that edge angle.......Once again....I would suggest that we all try this when we are on skis......this is good stuff....great food for thought.......Obviouosly, every student is different and has individual needs......but we all have to start with some common ground.........Pow ....looks like a great topic!!! [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

Just wanted to ad ....that this is all stated in the form of a polite discussion/debate........ [img]tongue.gif[/img]

[ January 29, 2003, 08:25 AM: Message edited by: Shencycle ]
post #9 of 25
Great topic.
Exactely what I was going to ask.
Last saturday my cousin son asked to ski with me instead of
attending his usual skiing lesson (which He should have attended toghether with my sons), claiming that the lessons were boring
(I thought, well one less the instructor will have to care of, and so will have more time for my kids, very egoistic).
Anyway, to make the story short, he is way too backwards,
much of it, I think, is due to the equipment (two buckles boots,),
not adequate for him (my sons, much younger, are much more centered than him)
I tried to convince him that to take lessons is the best way to improve (he agreed that my kids are skiing well), but he has elected to ski with me, claiming that he has more fun.
Anyway, we have done some exercise to try to put him more centered.
Keep discussing this, I'll keep sucking from it!!!
I too think that to discuss the fore aft movements is not archaic
Of course the tecnique has moved with the technology, and yet,
I don't know if it's a defect of the schools in my region, but I've observed that most of the kids don't come out of this (many kids are sitting back) even after many years of school (my cousin son says he's being attending classes for 5 years now, but he skis the same level of my kids whom have taking lessons only since last year, all the ground work has been done by myself in the previous years, it's not been easy, and I think that I've done a mistake but...)
post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the good info, some very good comments here!
All of what was said will be very helpful, however, I think I should have been more clear in what I meant, I am not looking for what to teach so much as how to teach it. Someone mentioned "thousand turns", which I believe is the shuffeling the feet drill. This is really what I need, exercises that I can use to show the student a new movement. For example, I had a ten year old girl for a private lesson maybe a week ago, and she was profficient in wedging and wedge turning. However, she had the all to common problem of bieng in the back seat. I tried the thousand steps drill, but it seemed her skiis were to short to get up any speed on the flat terrain, and any time it got just a little steeper, she went into survival mode and just plain wouldn't shuffle her feet anymore, so it seemed that thousand steps wasn't the best option. I then moved on to having her put her hands on her knees while she was skiing, and for the most part it got her forward, but this seems like it really isn't the best answer either. I can see this causing problems later. So, what could I, or maybe, should I, have done to correct this backseat problem?

Also, someone mentioned thumper turns, I don't know that one, could you possibly explain a little?

And if anyone else has some drills I could use, I would love to hear about them in detail. Thanks, Pow Ripper
post #11 of 25

I use the "bouncing" thing that was mentioned, only I take it to more of an extreme. I make them hop.

The first thing I do, is a static exercise, having them hop in place. Then I have them hop just the tails. I ask them to slam the skis back into the snow as hard as they can. That good, solid landing is what you want. It means they are in balance. You can, if necessary, have them do the same thing in a gentile straight run.

Once you are on the hill, moving, start out with them on terrain that is groomed, and a very comfortable pitch for them. Make some nice, comfortable medium to long radius turns at easy speeds. Have the students follow your tracks, and ask them to hop at a certain point in the turn. I usually start with a hop when they are facing straight down the fall line. I then ask them to hop 3 times during each turn. Just before the fall line, in the fall line, and just after the fall line. Then I go to 5 hops, and basically have them making little hops all the way through the turns. Then I go back to just one hop, and ask them to only hop the tails of the skis. This is what will really put them in balance, just as it did in the static exercise.

The "jist" of all this, is that if they can hop the tails of the skis at any point during the turn, and land solidly, then they are in balance throughout the turn.

When they get this on the easy terrain, move them up to slightly steeper terrain and do the same thing. Hopefully, you have a hill that has some pitch changes, and can do it without having to go to a different run/lift.

We do this with kids too. We call them "pop corn turns". As they follow you down the hill, have them hop when you yell "POP!". They love it, and it works really well. I've also found that if the kids are pretty good skiers and ski intermediate slopes, I'll find little bumps and ridges, and tell them to jump off anything they can. Taking a little air is a great balance exercise. As the pitch gets steeper, their body will learn that it has to be perpendicular to the slope to be able to land solidly. Slamming the feet into the ground (try to make an earthquake!) amplifies any unbalanced position.
post #12 of 25

I forgot to mention....

I'm not a fan of "thousand steps" as a balance exercise, because 99% of the time, even instructors, will lift the front of the ski to redirect it (Thousand steps is not shuffling the feet, it's picking the foot up and redirecting it). This has a tendency to push people into the back seat. And if the person is already in the back seat, it will not fix the problem. I use it more for edging, once I already have the skier balanced properly. But in reality, I rarely use it because it tends to promote a poor stance in lower level skiers. There are many, more effective ways to teach edging to someone at that level.

post #13 of 25
I'm no instructor - but what about 'playing basketball'??

you know the old dribble(bounce) imaginary ball downhill side - then stand up & shoot then bounce downhill etc
post #14 of 25
Great topic- One of the best exercises I use is skating.Skate them every where. When trying to skate it is difficult to be in the backseat. Skate on the flats,skate across gentle terrain,skate uphill! Have skating races! Skating promotes balanced stance,foot to foot movements, flexing at the ankle and gets people moving in the direction they want to go! Hope this helps!

Happy Skiing,
post #15 of 25
Uncle Yuki wants you to take pictures of the BOTTOM of the hill. The bottom only, no shots of the trees alongside or the lift towers!

We are going to do LOTS of turns for speed control .... feeling is PUSH the RIGHT ski ..... PUSH the LEFT ski (give them a cadence).

Demo with the hands forward like holding a big camera .... pointed down the fall line. The upper body remains looking down the hill, the lower does all the work and motion.

As they start down watch their speed and coach the appropriate cadence. They need to hear your voice for those first few turns to develop a rhythm. Each student will need their own cadence since skis will run a bit faster or slower and you need to keep them in their comfort zone.

I do teach a traverse with a turn to a stop just prior to this exercise. The terrain is a bit steeper at this point and I want them to feel in control.
post #16 of 25
Thanks for the definition Rusty. Keeping our leg shaft in contact with the boot tongue is not archaic. It happens every time we flex our ankles and knees if we stay centered. We can only be boot cuff neutral if we are static, so I respectfully disagree. [img]smile.gif[/img] Where do we tell them the pressure goes when describing flexing to a new student? Definetly not the back of the boot, and I will use whatever cue works for a given individual. Whether it's been used for years or I just made it up.

Pow Ripper, try traverses where you simply have your student lift there feet one at a time, just like in walking minus the forward swing. Disski's suggestion of shooting the basketball is a very good one that I use all the time to introduce movement, (flexion and extenion) into begginers skiing. Shuffling skis while traversing or in between turns works well also to get them centered, as do hopping the skis like a rabbit or a roo, (skiing or moving like an animal works great for kids) or thumping the inside ski in turns, (lifting the tail off the snow). These also work to create matching or a more parallel stance. Hands forward on the "handle bars" is also important. I use the karate kid's one legged stance alot to get kids balancing on one ski standing still. Get them hopping from one leg to another this way. Be creative but don't be afraid to look to the past for things that work. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #17 of 25
IMO, standing centered and balanced over one's skis gets progressively counterintuitive the steeper the grade gets. We feel safest, I believe, when our body is perpendicular to level ground. When we walk on a hill, the body naturally remains at an angle more or less parallel to the hill. Gravity wants to take our mass straight down, not into the hill. In skiing, we have to go against gravitational force and keep the body more or less perpendicular to our skis... no matter what grade we are on. The easiest way to do this is by attempting to keep the upper body forward and more toward the shovels (not really over them, but pushing toward them). Keeping the shins against the tongues of the boot provides a better feeling for this position.. a frame of reference, so to speak (like curb feelers). The steeper the grade, the more actively we have to work at keeping the upper body flowing downhill toward our direction of travel. Without this, gravity takes over and we end up falling into the hill and the back seat. Good skiers have ingrained this counterintuitive action into there skiing... it just feels right. And, indeed, it makes turns more complete and controlling speed much easier. Skiing becomes easier.

I feel this might just be the single most important factor in keeping skiers from progressing. If students only learn a balanced stance on level or flatter ground (ie. the learning hill), it can't address what happens when they move to steeper hills.
post #18 of 25
JohnH- Bob Barnes probably would "prescribe" 1000 steps first to anyone "in the back seat" as the ultimate exercise to correct the problem. I just took a skate skiing nordic lesson. I think skating and/or 1000 steps is the ultimate "go there" drill and works real well to get students aligned over their skis.

RicB- Your initial response said pressing the tib/fib which I differentiate from being in contact. Pressing seems like levering to me. In either case, what is so magical about shin/boot tongue contact? I can get my shin to contact the front of my boot and have horrible stance and posture issues. Picture any young kid locked in a wedge "braking" his way down a beginner hill. I bet he is touching the tongue of his boot.Isn't it more accurate to say we want students to stand in the middle of the ski.

Our SSD was laughing at a kid's race coach the other day who was telling young skiers to "squish the bug save the butterfly". The "coach" thought this might cure stance issues with seven year olds.

[ January 30, 2003, 08:33 PM: Message edited by: Rusty Guy ]
post #19 of 25
You can achieve shin to tongue contact in different ways. The right way by centering the body over the skis or the wrong way by bending at the knees forcing the lower leg forward. I don't think concentrating on shins to tongue (squashing a bug) is a useful training technique, myself. But if you place a penny in there and ski in a correct stance, the penny will be in place at the bottom of the hill.
post #20 of 25
Rusty, when it comes to an individual student, they may require a vision of pressing just to get contact. I don't tell my students to press on their boot toungue regularly, but I might if it would work to get effective contact from someone, or if it's appropriate to type of skiing we're doing.

The question was how to help new skiers get into an upright effective stance. There are many ways, don't discount any of them. I didn't know we were talking about what JH and BB would do, I thought we were discussing responses to powdigger's question on how to get beggining skiers standing upright on their skis. Whatever cue works for the individual skier is what I say. Keep trying until you find one. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #21 of 25
I agree. This forum is a place for thought. I, quite frankly, think any emphasis on shins and the tongue of the boot is a dead end. I do agree wholeheartedly that if one thing doesn't work try something else.

I heard a new instructor seeking advice. I was attempting to get him/her to cue in on the types of MOVEMENTS that will center a student on their skis. The right movements will center.

Again, I agree to pull whatever out of the bag for a fix.
post #22 of 25
The part of the "camera" drill that gets them out of the backseat, is proper hand position.

Another method is to get them to extend their arms forward, palms face forward with the finger tips up. Balance their poles across the tops of their arms. They seem to focus so much on the balancing of the poles they forget the sit back stuff and, it also gets them erect.

Many, have a fear of falling forward over their skis. I demo how far forward you can lean without popping out ...... warning them not to try this .... it's just to show them that you don't pop out with forward pressure.
post #23 of 25
I agree Rusty about the right movements, and wouldn't our job as teachers be easy if all our students did the right movements when we asked them. That's the wonderful challenge to me, finding that one thing that makes the connection with that one student who's struggling with the right moves. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]
post #24 of 25
I think the objective in level two lessons is simply to move the students up the skills ladder in a way that ensures they will continue to progress. A balanced funtional stance should be no more or less of an objective than at any other level. The level of skill attainment should be at least consistent with what the students are doing and experiencing at this level. I generally expect that students at this level will be experiencing slightly steeper terrain and developing higher speeds. You would expect that turn completion and linking nice round turns would become increasingly impoprtant as these things happen. They will begin to experience more edge pressure as these things happen. This provides the opportunity to develop an increased movement of the body to the inside of the turn. This is quite natural in response to the feeling of pressure against the outsuide ski and deserves reinforcement. The direction of the lesson ought to be to build on and improve the skills and movements learned in Level One. Ideally they will come into the class able to to make wedge turns with a balanced stance and be able to guide the skis with leg rotation and, hopefully, link their wedge turns. Its worth working on two footed (or legged) steering, particularly emphasizing actively guiding the inside ski. This will really begin to pay off as the students begin to move inside the turn as thay will often discover the wedge christy all by themselves. The average bystander probably won't see a wedge christy happening here at all but something appearing more like a somewhat sequential "parallel" turn. What you actually do with a class at this level will probably have more to do with what kind of experience they had with their level one lesson (and how good a job your predecessor did). I am taking a respite from teaching myself these days but a friend whom I regard as an extremely competent teacher informs me he finds it necessary to retrain virtually all the students he gets. I'm sure the general quality of teaching varies from place to place though. I noticed in my last few years of teaching that the teaching product varied widely, perhaps more than was tolerated formerly.

I think it is useful to visualize skills and movements at any level in the context of advanced skiing. There really should be no "dead ends" in the skiing taught at any level, just progressive levels of attainment. It helps to develop the habit of seeing skier development this way as you will practically always need to customize any particular lesson to the particular needs of the student or students you face. Hopefully, in this way you will avoid impairing your students with "incorrect" or dysfunctional movements that will impede their progress and need to be remedied in the future. This is one reason why coming to understand how you, as an advanced skier, ski can be very productive in informing your teaching. Be very wary of any canned lessons or "cheap tricks". The key is to understand how we ski. That (skiing well-not understanding it) is what we attempt to foster in our lessons. Knowing how to develop and pace the progress and how to identify and correct dyfunctional movements is part of the art.

Ideally students brought along this way will experience pleasure in their progress and build confidence and enthusiasm.

[ February 03, 2003, 06:54 PM: Message edited by: arcadie ]
post #25 of 25
The hopping or even think "jump shot" works well. Especially if the student plays basketball. Ever try to do a jump shot off your heels. It doesn't work. Take your student to a very flat area or a shallow incline with a runout and have them do gliding wedges or straight runs (if they are comfortable with that) and put on the floor some bamboo or draw some lines. have them try to "jump over" the lines. if they are anywhere but centered, they will not be able to achieve enough height to get off the ground.

Then graduate them to linked turns (wedge or skidded parallel) Same exercise. Make sure you do explain that this is not how we ski but an exercise to get them centered. It also gets them warm and loose on a cold morning!
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