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"The hardest skill to master..." - Page 3

post #61 of 80
[quote]Originally posted by Nettie:
Originally posted by ant:
[qb]A ski slope 20 miles from home, a warm cafe at the base, three pubs within 50 yds., coffee shops, a climbing wall and toilets! It's go to be better than plastic skiing.
Are you talking about Xscape?
post #62 of 80
Yes Yogi!
post #63 of 80
Please switch on Private Messages, I want to say hello!
If you click on Edit My Profile, then View/Update Profile, at the bottom of that page you'll see a box for "Allow members to send you private messages?"

Once you've done that, click on Send PM against this post from me, and say hello.
post #64 of 80

This may be something of a repeat of what Bob said but I want to say it anyway.

Lift and tip is a cue that leads to implicit learning because so many good movements (I guess we could call them secondary movements) happen as a result of this primary movement cue. It seems to me that point your toes/tips/wedge does much the same thing.
When a student points where they want to go they; experience a natural pressure change to the outside ski (and learn to balance on "ride" that ski), experience a tipping of the outside ski to the inside edge, experience having their bodies on the inside of the turn in relation to their skis, experience that they are in control of where they will go and experience that they can control their speed by pointing their toes/skis/wedge up the hill. Seems to me that there is a lot of implicit learning going on from an explicit movement cue just as happens in the kenitic chain in PMTS.

As to the wedge. What's wrong with learning to balance on the outside ski from a wider stance be it wedge or parallel. Properly taught the student will quickly move to a parallel stance with a stance width that is natural for their body type and the speed/terrain that they are skiing. Personally, I feel that this will happen even quicker if the student learns it from a comfortable, stable stance rather than being forced to learn to balance on one foot for an extended period of time. Also the student is more likely to allow themselves to experience the sensation of being inside the outside ski if they know the training wheel is there if they go too far. Finally, there is a little speed control inherent in the wedge, this helps the student overcome the "fear" pointing down the fall line. Using the wedge I don't have to spend a lot of time doing a fan progression to get them to approach the fall line gradually. Also if your terrain isn't perfect that little bit of speed control can be critical in creating a high level of confidence in your student. Yes, there are pitfalls along the way such as the student becoming too enamored with the speed control side of the wedge or having that "training wheel" begin to interfere with their bodies moving to the inside of the turn. But an observant, competent instructor will address these problems if and when they occor just as an observent, competent instructor in PMTS would correct a student who was moving their body up the hill to transfer to their new stance foot.

Kind of nice to have Bob around. I don't have to feel that my posts are long winded,

post #65 of 80
Originally posted by ant:
Nettie, it must be really rough teaching in the UK. Whenever I feel hard-done-by, I think of you poor things!
Not so bad! A ski slope 20 miles from home, a warm cafe at the base, three pubs within 50 yds., coffee shops, a climbing wall and toilets! It's go to be better than plastic skiing.

Originally posted by ant:
I think I teach kinesthetic/cognitive (the medical people at the numerous conferences seemed to like my style in particular!), whereas most kids seem to be more doer/watcher learners. So I have to tone down the explanations, and focus on doing stuff.
Thanks I just needed some confidence I guess that I was doing it right! I agree with the kids being doers but they tend to watch everybody and everthing other than what I want them to look at! [img]tongue.gif[/img]
I find teaching adults easy even if they are scared. Our slope environment is quite claustrophobic and there aren't too many places to lose it big time.

Originally posted by ant:
I had quite a few little kids for 1 hour privates, it's a very short time, but on the obverse, you can be incredibly energetic as it's only for a short while.
We can get upwards of twenty kids for an hour. There are often three instructors though and we split the tasks of travelator supervisors (On and Off- halfway) and instructing. Mostly we get 4-8 tiddlers each and as it is only an hour they generally don't want to go to the loo during that time.
This Sunday was hard as I got all the kids who were remedial i.e. not getting a thing. In four hours we may not have improved our skiing but we at least had some fun and practiced skills.
After five and a half hours of being really energetic and picking kids up (with parents watching you can't ignore the persistant 'I won't move until you lift me' for too long even if they benefit in the long run) I'm knackered. But, I llove it!
post #66 of 80
First of all let me say thank you for the fine responses I've gotten on this thread. Also, I want to say that I am a little sorry that discussion around my original comments, in response to ant's post, have involved little direct interaction with ant. Just to be sure on this point, ant, I want you to know that I meant no disrespect to you or your teaching abilities in my first post. I truly wanted to just open up some issues for discussion.

Now let me (briefly? probably not!) respond to Bob, Ydnar, and others (they get named on the basis of the number of words they have contributed). I think that any good (great?) instructor in any sport must have a grasp of what I refer to with the terms implicit and explicit learning. If you believe the science on this subject (and I do at least to some extent) you've then got to expect that people who THINK and work in the motor learning arena must recognize and understand these issues. You two obviously have no difficulty relating to these concepts.

The more depth we get into the more I see that there is as much room here for agreement as disagreement. We all seem to agree on the advantages of implicit learning and the desire to employ it to the greatest extent possible. We all agree that it's not automatic or full proof and that there has to be a way to correct deficiencies in a skill or movement pattern when they occur (quality instruction certainly being a major player here). We all probably agree that none of us always seems able to use an exclusively implicit approach. The list goes on ....

Where we do not agree, perhaps, is on the relative degree of effectiveness of certain specific approaches to implicit learning, the relative importance or impact of negative effects (especially perceptually) from one approach vs. another, etc. Here, one might interpret that your collevtive experiences should be listened to more than my theory and much more limited experience. While there is truth in this, there also is the point of view that people who strongly believe in what they are doing may be biased in their viewpoint. So I offer my comments, if nothing else, as a reality check.

At this point in this discussion I think arguments on both sides have been made pretty clearly so I'm not going to try to reiterate in hopes of swaying the opinions of those who venture to follow this discussion. (Let me pridefully : note that it appears an article I wrote on the perceptual issues will be published in The Professional Skier and so at some time I will be able to point to that as further support of some of my arguments).

Finally I would like to point out that no matter how these discussions go, one factor that always arises is the ciritical role of quality instruction in any apporoach. I don't think I've ever seen anyone here imply other than there are a lot of mediocre and poor instructors out there who are not very effective. While there are many roots to this problem (as have been discussed to a great extent here on Epic) I have to question whether we are lacking in the areas of approach and teaching progressions. I am not in anyway aligned or exclusively oriented towards PMTS, I only see it as one approach that allows even a new instructor to develop good skiing habits on a relatively consistent basis. Perhaps this is in part beacuse, from my way of thinking, it describes a relatively specific approach that is versatile and not limiting. I can't say I know of any other examples, as well developed, that I can point to. There are certainly other "brands" of ski teaching that I find attractive as well, but again, non that I find as well developed. If someone can point me to a concise description of other approaches that they deem to be most effective I would be thrilled to investigate for myself (if I haven't already done so).

P.S. Bob, as I have worked in education my whole life (and have dwelved into sports coaching as well) I am totally in agreement that teaching is absolutely the best way to learn for yourself.
post #67 of 80
Yd, on training wheels:

I've got 2 kids (older teenagers now) both always have had a lot of athletic ability, balance, etc. I used 2 very different approaches to teaching them to ride a bike. My oldest had a bike with training wheels that we tried to remove a few times with varying degrees of success. Eventually, over the course of a week or two he figured it out and was able to ride the 2 wheeler. My youngest never rode a 2 wheeler with training wheels. At an age younger than my son, I went out with her and created an environment where she could try to independently ride the 2 wheeler with no fear or sense of falling or failure. (I ran alongside of her not touching the bike at all, just picking her up whenever she started to go over). She learned to ride the bike in under an hour. Note, there was a cost to this - a very sore back!

I have done this a couple of other times and I am thoroughly convinced that training wheels are a clear impediment to learning to ride a 2 wheeler.
post #68 of 80
Games and competitions seem to be what gets kids motivated to do stuff you want them to do. I started a topic here on that a while back and got some great stuff.

I used to set up dual slaloms at Mt snow with cones, race through 5 or more cones with the clincher being the winner was the one who stopped at their "stopping cone" first. That stopped the out of control thing happening.

Using games ot get them moving, curling up and then standing tall while skiing. I did a lot of Indian running, where the person at the back had to ski to the front of the line (better with older kids, a bit complex for the really little ones), if it was flat and boring, we played man-slalom (the kids are the poles, good for the still careful wedgers).
They really love follow the leader with Simon Says combined, but you have to ensure there's enough time for everyone to be leader!

what stuff do you do with your kids?
post #69 of 80
Thread Starter 
I must admit, Si, that implicit and explicit learning were new terms for me. If you would be so kind as to check my specific examples, perhaps I would be able to connect this new information to the old stuff I already know.

Is explicit learning when you teach how to do a sideslip?

Is implicit learning when you ask a student to be your partner for some synchro skiing?

Is the difference that one is in a context and the other is outside of its context?
post #70 of 80
Quote: [Yd, on training wheels:]

The story of my eldest son is worth hearing.
We have always had lots of Two wheel vehicles at our house, Bikes and Motor Bikes of all sorts.
When my 1st son got interested in bike riding, I set him up and would give him a bit of a shove off. After several crashes, He gave up. Over about a weeks time, he pleaded for me to put training wheels on the bike. Then he could ride it, he said. We didn't have any, and I didn't want to get any.
Well, one morning, he got out the bike, and calls for me to watch. He had had a DREAM that he could ride and he now could. He could and did! Visualization????

The other two kids went off on their own after about an hours worth of my bent back as described.

I have since found that the very best tool for getting kids on two wheelers is a small bike with the pedals and crank set removed. Low seat. lots of fun!.

"Brakes? We don't need no stinkin' brakes!"

post #71 of 80
Hardest skill to master?
The parodox of re-learning how to really learn.

You know, like you did as a child.
All results valuable to the process....
Always fun.....

Inate learning, the lost skill -

The more you can allow it,
the more you will master it.

The more you try to master it,
the less you will be able to allow it.

[ June 24, 2002, 01:56 PM: Message edited by: Arcmeister ]
post #72 of 80

Explicit and implicit learning are not that common in their use so its not surprising you haven't run across them. I just came across them when I was given a preprint of a paper that used the terms and referenced them in other works. They seemed pretty reasonable to me so I use them. I am in no way an expert on them and there is certainly other terminology for these concepts.

Explicit motor learning refers to learning a movement through reference to the components of that movement. An instruction that focused on hip (femur) rotation and a stable pelvis in teaching someone to steer the skis would be explicit in nature. Implicit learning is based on an overall goal and does not focus on the separate components of movement. Telling someone to point their skis in the direction they want to go or tip the skis to the little toe edge would be compatible with an implicit learning model. Of course if the general instruction doesn't produce the desried effect some feedback (explanation, demonstration, etc.) may be necessary.

In my way of thinking the ideal case is when an external (to the body) cue can be provided to effectively initiate the desired movement with an objective outcome prescribed against which performance can be measured.

I don't expect these concepts are new to you or many other experienced coaches (in a variety of sports). Most that I have talked to, readily understand them. What I observe, however, is that very few impliment them to a great extent in their coaching. It has always seemed to me that there is potential for improvement in coaching methods (again for a variety of sports) based on an understanding of these concepts.

While I know next to nothing about golf, the most intense examples I have seen of an explicit approach to learning of skills comes from some of the TV golf lessons I have briefly watched while flipping channels.
post #73 of 80
Thread Starter 

How can you do a beginner lesson in an hour? Okay, I agree that "it can be done," but what is the highest possible quality of an hour-long beginner lesson?

Was the product designed with customers in mind? Did customer feedback go into the decision--for instance, did surveys show that one hour was the limit of their tolerance?

In my opinion, the one-hour lesson, whether for beginners or any level student, is a FRAUD. If a management decrees one hour lessons and then wonders where the repeats are, who gets the blame?

This reminds me of a story about a janitor whose employer furnished a vacuum cleaner with weak suction. The poor guy had to go over and over the same piece of carpet, still not picking up all the dirt. An office worker who had stayed late at the office commented, "That must be frustrating." The janitor replied sadly, "Not as frustrating as being told to go back and do it over."
post #74 of 80
Thread Starter 
Second thought: Maybe I think one hour lessons are a fraud because we don't have any high speed lifts...
post #75 of 80
What is airy-fairy stuff in skiing?
post #76 of 80
Well Si, the others put it so much better than I ever could. I just outlined how i use rotary stuff in my lessons. Teaching beginners is most of what I do, day in, day out. If it doesn't work, I don't do it, simple as that. Theory is great, but when you're out on that hill with a group, what works is the only thing. And this works.

Most of these people aren't there for airy-fairy stuff; they expect to be able to control their slide, stop and turn when they want to, and hopefully enjoy it.

They aren't skiiers yet and exploring the metaphysics of skiing is not on their agenda. But I fervently hope that after an hour or so with me (or one of the others here), one day it will be.
post #77 of 80
I want to address a couple odds and ends from this thread.


The straight run wide stance left point left, right point right idea you asked about would indeed work but you would have to have just the right terrain to do it with a novice and not generate a fear reaction in them from going straight down the hill. Once a fear reaction happens the student is unable to make the subtle movement with their feet and start throwing their bodies around to keep from death and injury. This is where the wedge can be such a aid, because the student knows that they will only go so fast because of the speed control inherent in the wedge they have the time to think about what you have asked them to do and perforn the movement you are asking of them. Extremely short, very shaped beginner skis and very flat teaching terrain do make what you are proposing a viable option for a direct to parallel progression.

Now what you are talking about is something that I do a lot with upper level students to introduce them to the concept of using the right foot/leg to lead them right and the left foot/leg to lead them left and the idea that if you point left a natural pressure shift to the right ski will occor and visaversa.

Scientest Bill,

Let me make it even more puzzling. What I am teaching is that when we are riding on an edged outside ski it is a rotary movement of the inside foot that will produce a pronounced tightening of the turn radius. Greater tipping of the inside foot will produce a shorter turn radius but to really shorten the radius but keep the turn smooth and round point the foot.
I teach my students to do both tipping and pointing and explain that every turn is a blend of the two and the proportion of the blend depends on what kind of turn you are making, the speed you want to go and the terrain/conditions that you are skiing and that by practicing both your body will learn to blend them together without and concious thought on your part.

Now as to just whats happening. The subtle pressuring of the tip that you mentioned is there but to me doesn't seem to be enough to account for the change in turn shape. ere is waht I think is happening. Because the tip can't move in the direction we are trying to move it in the tail of the ski moves in the opposite direction and we are creating a very subtle, HIGHLY CONTROLLED, skid/scarve. Now if you believe like Robin and I that 99.99%of all turns involve some degree of skid then you can see how being able to creat and control the degree of skid in the turn is very important.

Hope that answers the questions,

post #78 of 80
Hour long lessons? I agree. Mt snow had hour long privates, Keystone started privates at 1.5 hours, although Mom Dad and Me were one hour. (Using Perfect Turn, however, I was able to teach up to 3 beginners to do smoooth linked wedge turns from the top of the bunny hill in an hour!).

Our beginner group lessons were 2.5 hours, a decent length of time. I taught 2 per day plus privates. Many of the privates were never-evers also, and sometimes there were more people in the privates than in some group lessons.

Having 8 or so people for 2.5 hours works, but you will invariably have problems with the different rates of progression. It can be very dramatic. 2 people are ready to ride the chair to the top of the bunny hill, 6 still need more time puddling about on the Carpet, and 1 freaks every time her skis start to slide and she loses her wedge.
post #79 of 80
This is a very interesting thread with great insights and obviously individuals with mastery in skiing and teaching. If you don’t mind I thought I might jump in with a few observations I have from reading the postings.

Actually I wonder if it is a good idea to think of your skis taking you down the hill versus you taking the skis where you want to go. Something like “turn them or park them” comes to mind. It seems to me if the skis are taking you down the mountain they are in the lead and you are playing “park and ride” attempting to play catch up versus the theory of “moving into the future” of the turn.

I believe the question was could you teach a new skier starting from a wedge and progressing from there? I like to say with the proper student and a knowledgeable teacher you could start with just about anything and teach a beginner to ski. Unfortunately I believe too many teachers do not understand the wedge and put their students in a defensive wedge, which can create future problems with the students learning progression rather than a very tiny turning wedge. When we say wedge most, including a few teachers, think of big. A skilled instructor and the right student could start with a sideslip to a turn. To start with a wedge or to direct parallel maybe is a different approach to some but not to all. Possibly direct parallel started to become infamous as a means for launching a new product. Can’t really say.

To all as I read the posts I thought I noted Si coming close to my thought. The toughest thing to learn is sensitivity. Knowing what your feet and body are doing while in motion. Sometimes we even have trouble not in motion eh. As an example, and I am not surely saying I am totally correct in my assessment, watch a very good skier in a bump field filled with powder almost to the top (pillows) and an intermediate skier. Neither can see so they must be sensitive to what is happening under foot etc. I am sure there will be a large difference in how the pillows are skied. Difficult to learn sensitivity, you must be ready to let go of your inhibitions to the mountain and yet your inhibitions due to possibly a minute lack of skill and confidence are what hold you back. Granted we can say it is balance, rotary, edging or pressure but if you can’t feel what is happening underneath you and with the rest of your body and possibly to some extent your surroundings can you improve on any of those skills?

Just a few thoughts. Thanks for the opportunity. Very nice site. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #80 of 80
Great first post, John Cole--way to go, and welcome to EpicSki!

You've reiterated a very importatant point--that a good instructor, unencumbered by any particular dogma, could develop a good turn just about anywhere, with just about anyone, from any given point. It might even be a good game--develop a sample progression that takes a student from "X" to "Y," or develop a progression to introduce good turn mechanics, with one or more of the following restrictions:

- from a sideslip
- from a a traverse
- from a wedge
- without using a wedge ("direct parallel")
- on very flat terrain
- on very steep terrain
- in deep snow
- on black ice
- with a student who has one prosthetic leg
- from railroad tracks
- using 210 cm conventional GS skis
- using "Snowblades"
- with a 16 y.o. star hockey player
- with an 80 y.o. great grandmother
- in one hour
- in one week

Then develop DIFFERENT mechanics with the same restrictions--braking movements, for example.

This exercise actually simulates the real job of teaching actual students, doesn't it? Different capabilities, different environments, different needs, desires, and motivations.... This is what we do!

MilesB--a few days ago you asked

Do any of you just tell the students to do the "left tip left" thing in a fairly wide parallel stance, without demonstrating or even mentioning doing it in a wedge? Would many of your students be able to follow?
It's a very good question. Yes! As I've said, the basic movements, the essential mechanics, are not dependent on a wedge or parallel stance. They can occur--or not--from either stance. Frankly, they don't even have to occur from a WIDE stance--the act of "pulling the left tip left to go left" will cause a narrow stance to open.

Nolo asked whether a wedge turn could be viewed as an introductory PARALLEL TURN. I say, let's just call them TURNS--basic TURNS. Why perpetuate the artificially imposed and fundamentally irrelevant distinction between the stances? If the movements are the same, the wedgeness of the stance is no more significant than whether the hands are held wider or narrower. But if the movements are wrong, changing the stance won't fix them!

In many ways, though I usually involve a wedge in most beginner lessons, I've ALWAYS taught "direct parallel" turns, and I suspect that most instructors have too. If you lead your students to step/walk/push with their poles around a circle on the flats early in the lesson, if you get them to step out of a straight run into an arc, if you have them do "star turns" (stepping around in place), or some of Ant's static drills, you have introduced turning movements before introducing a wedge! If you teach turns with some of the ideas we've discussed here--"left tip left to go left," "point your skis," etc, you teach TURNS. Not WEDGE or PARALLEL turns. Just TURNS!

Successful "direct parallel" programs really just package this idea of de-emphasizing the wedge. PMTS, Arcmeister's concept of the "micro-wedge," Aspen's "Beginner Magic" program--though their marketers may spin it otherwise, they all address the wedge. They may call it by another name, insist (correctly) that it has uses, but that it has nothing to do with turning movements, or simply ignore it altogether--allowing students to use it if they do, without making a big fuss over it. They may try to distance themselves from so-called "wedge-based" teaching systems, but the actual differences between SUCCESSFUL programs are mostly marketing spin!

Of course, there are many less-than-great lessons and programs out there, "wedge-based" or otherwise, that really DO miss many of these fundamentals. I'm not talking about those....

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
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