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Exaggerate your demos

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Its very important, you instructors.  


Make the movement or skill you're trying to teach clearly visible.  Teaching flexion extension?  Get your butt on the ground when you flex, and be on your toes when you extend.  Angulation?  Your inside oblique should be ripping, and your outside oblique should be smashed.  Counter?  Better be almost looking behind you.  Just a few examples, but you get my drift.  


If you exaggerate a movement to 200 percent of what you want the student to do, you'll be lucky to get 50 percent out of him or her.  


Takes added skill to exaggerate movements to this degree beyond ideal.  Practice, practice, practice, my friends!  

post #2 of 19

This goes both ways - when you're in a clinic, trying to mimic a movement or a drill, we should also aim to exaggerate.  When we move even a tiny bit out of our comfort zone, it may feel very awkward, but we may be miles away from where we should be.  There's nothing better than a video review.

post #3 of 19

Okay, I'll take the third leg of that stool: the person learning also should exaggerate the desired movement for the first several reps in order to make distinctions between the new movement and the old. Exaggeration makes us more aware, and the state of awareness is the single biggest learning boost next to a shot of adrenaline.


We instructors call this an "attention set." We always want to get a student's attention aroused before embarking on the work of any lesson. My coach taught me that he always likes to scare his student a little before attempting to teach him anything: "They have to want to know what I have to teach them." That's probably more apropos with advanced students, but you get my drift.


There's also the matter of forgetting--if the student has an emotional connection to the new movement(s) it's more likely to stick. You have to add more to the exaggeration to stir an emotional connection. Here's an example of how you might do that, which was a candidate's actual teaching demonstration for Level 3 Cert. His assignment was to teach a bumps progression. He took the group to some smallish bumps and explained the Old Norse legend about certain trolls who pretend to hibernate under the snow, only to jump out and grab you by surprise. The trick is to be proactive. First you want to provoke them and then you want to subdue them, so you poke 'em in the belly and punch 'em in the nose. This resulted in a crisp touch ahead of the boots and a strong inside hand. Of course he passed, and I stole the trick. I have students come up to me years later to tell me how memorable that lesson was. 


So, yes, I agree, exaggerating the demonstration to the point where it can't be confused with something else ("close confusers") and stays on the mind like a catchy tune is really good ski teaching. 

Edited by nolo - 12/21/10 at 4:15am
post #4 of 19

I'll take the forth leg. Exaggerate to show the movement you are looking for, but once they start to show they are getting it demonstrate as you wish it to be done.


I always start just pointing out what to look for in a static demo, then a moving demo with no exaggeration. If people get it (more likely at higher levels) great. If not then I'll start to exaggerate.  I'd rather people learn to do the task and rather then learn to overdo the task.


Skiing is a subtle world and many of us need to learn how to let the ski and snow interact rather then make them interact.





(Nolo, I use it that trick, only it's invisible dwarfs standing on each bump. You stab them in the toes so they can't trip you with their feet then punch them in the nose. I like your version better.)

post #5 of 19



Can you expand on your bump drill please.....

post #6 of 19

rfl1, the point of the exercise is to not drop the hand after touching the pole tip, but to drive it forward. It gives the pole action a one-two rhythm, touch-punch.  


DaveW, I think I might have embellished a bit from the original version...dwarfs are people, whereas trolls are dirty, filthy, rotten--well, you can see how I feel about trolls!


post #7 of 19
Thread Starter 

Good feedback, gang!  


Nolo, I had a similar teaching analogy presented to me this summer in a whitewater kayak lesson.  When encountering nasty waves, people will sometimes pull back and freeze up, just like in skiing.  The suggestion was to "stab the bear".  The bear is the wave, and the knife is the paddle.  In other words, move forward and keep paddling!  

post #8 of 19

Good topic. Im all for exaggerated demos. Its important that the students see what to do. Its also good that the students overdo their own movements. Have the students angulate, counter or stay forwards like crazy during the drills and some of it just might stick once the lesson is over.

post #9 of 19

I disagree with the original premise. Skiing is about subtle movements. Sometimes the student has to do it more than they think to get the right amount, but I don't want them to do any movement more than they need to. For a student on day one, I point out that the best skiers don't really appear to be doing anything. Our students are pretty smart people, you don't need to beat them over the head.

post #10 of 19

We need to be careful when we show a demo. If it's a specific exercise that features an exaggerated movement pattern, then are you really exaggerating it? Or are you simply presenting an accurate demo of the exercise that includes exaggerated movements? It more than a play on words here. Final outcomes need to be considered when we introduce a learning segment. Why? Well it has to do with first impressions and the lasting memories we create in that introduction. I could be all wet here but I strongly believe the "some is good so more must be better attitude" is instilled in students when we focus too much on exaggerated movements in learning segments. I would also offer that these exaggerated movement patterns actually can be an impediment to their further improvement. Which means we need to be very diligent about explaining the difference between a drill where we feature a skill in an exaggerated way and the more refined blend of all of the fundamental skills they should use when skiing. Since a lot of my lessons involve de-programming the exaggerated and inappropriate movements they are currently using, I'd say we need to revisit the idea of using exagerrated moves so frequently. Which leads me to suggest another saying, while some is good, more is rarely better".

post #11 of 19

 I think it's more important to tell the student what to look for in the demo than to just provide an exagerated demo.  You want them to extend?  Ask them to watch the crease in the back of the extending pantslegs disappear.  You want them to flex?  Suggest they watch the ankles and look for parallel body parts such as torso and lower legs.  Then invite them to emulate the move.  If they don't get it, revisit the whole process.  When you teach, you also need to coach.

post #12 of 19
Thread Starter 

Exaggeration of the task in the demo is important so the student can actually see the movement you're trying to get him/her to do.  Their eye is not yet as adept at seeing the fine points of ski technique as ours is.  They need the exaggerated positions and movements to even see them.  That, too, is part of their learning process.  Once they see it for the first time, they're better able to identify more refined versions of it later.  


It's also important for the student to strive to perform the exaggerated execution themselves.  I guarantee you, scant few will come close to achieving your exagerated version, but in trying to, we hope that they will be able to experience a distinct contrast sensation to their default way of skiing.  We NEED them to feel that contrast, it's crucial to their learning.  Once they feel it, they come to understand the difference it makes in how their skis and body perform when doing it, and they can more readily return to this new way of skiing later.  Generally, small adjustments to what they were doing before will initially not provide enough sensory contrast for them to feel.  As time goes on, they will learn to fine tune the intensity of their executions over a broader range, form gross to micro, and their contrast sensory awareness will grow in harmony.  That's what we're shooting for.  When they get to that point, they own the skill.  When they get to that point, their need for our help melts away.  They take another step down the road of becoming their own coach.  

post #13 of 19
Originally Posted by Rick View Post



They take another step down the road of becoming their own coach.  

Remember, not everyone may think that is a good thing... it means less clients.


However, you probably wouldn't be shocked to find that I agree with you.


EDIT: The only thing I would add is that to be a truly effective coach you need to [edit2] make the student/athlete seek the contrast they should be looking for... between what they are doing and what we are teaching them to do. If the student isn't seeking what you're showing them, you can demo until the cows come home, but it won't make a difference. If you don't have an excited student, you can't "make" them learn anything, despite how much you need to make them see something...

Edited by HeluvaSkier - 12/21/10 at 8:54pm
post #14 of 19

This exaggeration thing is very important in my other life as art instructor (20 years teaching art, 3rd year teaching skiing).  When I'm teaching painting, my beginning painters often are quite reluctant to paint light and shadow across a surface.   But it's absolutely essential that they achieve that contrast if they are to create a believable illusion of real objects in their paintings.


What they will do is use a slightly lighter version of a color for the highlights and a slightly darker version for the shadows.  The painting will have little light-dark contrast.  I'll point out to them that the real objects have a great deal more contrast than their paintings have, and they will agree that they see this difference.  But after they adjust their work, it will often look almost the same as before.  They find it truly difficult to get very light highlights and very dark shadows.


They have to REALLY EXAGGERATE to actually get it right.  They have to exaggerate so much that they think they are ruining their painting, before they can get a good likeness of what they are actually seeing.  Once they do it, then they can see the improvement.  It's just getting them to do it in the first place that's so difficult.


And... they never actually were exaggerating; it just felt like they were.


I'm finding it's the same in ski instruction.   

post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 

 LiquidFeet,  great comparison!  

post #16 of 19
Thread Starter 

Heluva, so true.  Faith in the knowledge and abilities of the coach/instructor goes a long way to fostering that enthusiasm to follow their lead.  

post #17 of 19

A lack of consistency and accuracy can usually be tied directly to excessive movement patterns. The Marhes were famous for the good turn bad turn type of drill where a student explored a wide range of motion but in the process the coach also had an objective of helping the student find a zone somewhere in the middle of the two exaggerated extremes. They also communicate to their students the fact that the movements were exaggerated. The accuracy and consistency their students experienced once they found that zone, as well as how to get from an unbalanced position, into a well balanced stance, is a great example of a positive use of exaggerated movements in a teaching progression. 

Which is totally different from showing an inaccurate introductory demo with an exaggerated RoM simply because you assume the student won't use sufficient RoM the first few times they try a move. I assume they will be tenative at first and less likely to perform a move with enough RoM but that's where my subsequent feedback to increase their RoM comes into play. That's where I can encourage them to try to exaggerate the move. It gives them a transitional phase where successes will lead to further investment. Simply stated,  Success breed confidence and it takes confidence to explore increased RoM. That's where an exaggerated demo makes more sense in my world. You can show them nothing traumatic will happen in the exploration of a greater RoM.


Beyond that I offer a compelling reason we don't see exaggerations in other sports like Golf or Tennis. Showing a student a demo of over-swinging only adds to their inaccuracy and inconsistency. Further along their journey (like when they start playing competitively), adding power becomes an objective but as any good player can tell you, power comes from better footwork, disciplined and directionally relevent core movements. Not from exaggerated movements.


Ski Mango Jazz wrote about learning to perform a song at a slower tempo before performing it at full speed. I teach skiing that way and if I want a student to focus on something I'm doing while skiing, I take the time to show the move standing still so they know what to look for as I ski. Once moving I tap the part of my body I want them to watch with my pole. I may even have them tap their body part with their pole to remind them what we're focusing on. All without exaggerations.

post #18 of 19

I think it really depends on what you are demoing. For example I doubt that I will ever see a student use too much hip angulation, therefore I think it is appropriate to have a lot of angulation while demoing. Similarly for retraction/flexion.


However it should be made clear that the demo is exaggerated. If the demo is to display good technique, everything should be perfect.

Regarding exaggeration I think it is much more important that drills are exaggerated in order to push the boundaries of the comfort zone.

post #19 of 19

We're going over the same ground here. Will a skier's first attempt include a smaller RoM than later attempts. Yup, it's quite normal. Give them that. Let them experience exploring RoM in stages, not all at once. That's setting them up for several little victories on their way to a bigger success.

BTW, I've used exaggerated introductory demos, in fact, like many of you I used them for years. Working with the Aspen school opened my eyes to the ideas I've been sharing here. My experience is that I get more positive results from the methods I am using now.

Merry Christmas everyone,




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