How to Teach
1- Demonstrate the move while giving a brief explanation
2- Provide specific feedback during or immediately after the performance.
People love to know when they are doing it right. Pay close attention and shape their performance with positive reinforcement; so as soon as they do it right say great, that is it, excellent! This gives them a clear path to success and makes learning fun. Assist them if they can't make the move on their own. Go at a pace that is challenging without creating fear. Make skiing like a video game with clear targets and rewards when they are achieved.
Smile, be playful, keep it light, this is fun! Read your students to see if they are having fun, ask them if you can't tell. Are you doing too much work on the flats while they are watching all the people come down the hill and want to join them? You don't have long to hook them, many people learn by doing and you have to get them skiing down the hill. Be creative and innovative to connect with your students because each person is different. Keep the Fun Meter high!
There is a wide variety of abilities and expectations which is easier to deal with in private lessons. At
one extreme some people can barely walk without falling over, and at the other extreme they can do everything you show them right away.
This diversity makes teaching beginner groups difficult. Trying to the keep the weak students upright and moving while using the lifts is hard for one instructor in skis, which is why team teaching can create a better experience for the students and instructors.
Some beginners are afraid and need to go at a slow pace. Others think they can quickly ski like everyone on the mountain and don't think exercises on the flats are fun; they want to get going. So pacing is critical; you need to be able to read your students to see how fast to go. You may have to give strong students different tasks than the slower ones in your group.
A big problem when friends, family, and even many instructors teach, is they go too quickly to terrain that is too high and steep which can cause injury, frustration, defensive natural movements, or control problems. So going to flatter slopes will help get skiers centered in a good stance so they can progress. But instructors can also go too slow and make it complicated, which makes lessons frustrating and boring. Great teachers read the student and finds the right pace.
If you are going too slow or fast there will not be smiles and excitement. Look at their faces; are they smiling, does it seem like they are having fun. Ask yourself if you would be having fun in your lesson.
If you don't talk too much and keep them moving on the proper terrain, learning is fun.
Big MO (momentum) helps skiers right from the start. Get students going on the carpets if they are having troubles walking and balancing; their momentum will help them balance, like riding a bike faster. Set them up and support them for part of the run if necessary, but let them go when they can handle it.
Repeatedly ask if their boots hurt, are they cold, or do they have any questions. When you create clear achievable goals and provide specific feedback, learning becomes a fun game like reaching the next level in a video game. Students will be excited by the sense of achievement and look forward to learning more. So gamify your teaching.
Racers, mogul skiers, and park skiers will have a goal for what they want to do such as go faster, smoother, or do a specific trick, and they can achieve the goal without knowing how they did it. Instructors can apply clear goals and provide feedback at the proper pace.
Use the appropriate terrain, which often means less steep, look for uncrowded areas on the sides of trails where you can be seen from above, watch for traffic before skiing, and provide instruction and assistance with lifts when necessary. Know "Your responsibility code." In case of injury, protect students from above and call for help, ask for witnesses. Tell every class they must ski in control and avoid the skiers in front of them.
When you understand something well, you can explain it more simple terms. To teach you need to understand skiing better than just doing it. Explaining what you want in a sentence or two is better than using ten sentences and a lot of terminology. Words can have different meanings, and using technical terms may sound authoritative, but it does not mean you are teaching or communicating effectively.
We teach a lot of beginners. Teaching great beginner lessons is very important for creating new skiers, and it generates return business for you.
They need time to develop a skiing stance and confidence sliding down the hill and stopping, so don't rush to turning. Demonstrate, verbally coach, and position them when necessary, especially in their first few run. Your main cues will be hands up, look ahead, stand up, and forward.
Keep them off the ground and moving with just as much support as necessary to keep their confidence up and create a sense of accomplishment.
Poles should be used when the students are old enough to coordinate their arm and legs; this is usually age 7. Poles can help with walking, turning the skis downhill to make a gate before skiing, and taking skis off or putting them back on after a fall. But you can take them away if they get in the way, especially if they are a problem on the rope. So start with poles, and remove them if they are not helping.
How you say something can be as important as what you say. Speak with confidence, enthusiasm, and keep it light we are not teaching anatomy.
Cues for wedge, wedge change up, gliding wedge, straight run to wedge stop-
Stance is critical start working on it right away: hands up, look downhill, forward, stand up, stand on tip toes, chest over toes, hips above feet, shins to boot, less knee more ankle. When the waist is bent slightly forward into the proper position, the knees will often bend more putting the weight back, this is a natural move. Then if the knees return to the proper bend the waist will lean back.
Wedge- point the toes at each other and push the heels apart.
Turns- go straight downhill in wedge, more speed, less turn, turn both feet, no shoulders or hips, push on one big toe then the other, turn and push, make small turns, big turns, 5 turns to a stop
Use the Big 5: on a gentle slope, centered stance, small wedge, ski straight downhill with speed, slightly turn both feet or flex one ankle then the other. Then add down and up, step on the outside ski sooner, or be more deliberate matching the inside ski while touching the outside hand to the outside knee.
Young children ages 2-4 may not be able to make a wedge. Tools such as: T-bars, tip ties, or Ski Ring may help, along with positioning the child in a wedge repeatedly. The wedge making tool can be extremely effective for the 2-5 year old group. After a few runs they can sometimes feel how to make a wedge on their own, and parents love to see the progress.
Don't hold children the whole time they ski, rather use a T-bar in front of their ankles and be sure they are in motion to make creating a wedge easier. T bars can also be used from behind between the heel of the binding and the back of the boots to push them on slow snow or to slow them down on ice.
Let them go on their own near the bottom; they need to develop independence and some speed. Try to make one big quick wedge, and if necessary move the elbows out to help the legs move; at this age they often work together. Putting their hands on their knees can be helpful. If necessary go right to turning. Ski backwards in front of them and make very slight turns. They will probably turn their whole body but be able to make a slight turn.
Both resorts use team teaching for some programs like Kindersparks. The beginner terrain at Pine Knob is challenging for teaching because the second wonder carpet is steep on top and it slopes toward the carpet, the rope tows are fast, and the top of the chair is steep. Most beginner group lessons at Pine Knob (Student, Super Stars, Kindersparks, Discover, day school groups) will use team teaching.
Team teaching makes it much easier for instructors to deal with the wide variety of abilities. It also, is more fun for the students if they don't all have to wait for the slow student, who often feels like a failure because they can't "get it" and are holding the group back. One instructor in the team can physically assist slower students and help to keep from falling.
Summary of Instructor's tasks-
You have to work fast-
At the bottom of Wonder carpet
1- Help students load carpet
2- Maintain spacing
3- Emergency stop if needed
4- Provide feedback
5- Show how to get up
On top of Wonder Carpet
1- Help students exit
2- Help them get set up
3- Give a push if needed
4- Support at hips if unstable
5- Demo stance and give verbal feedback
On the bottom of rope
1- Stand behind them
2- Position next to rope skis pointing uphill
3- Catch if they grab too fast
4- Push if needed
5- Support rope to prevent sitting or leaning
On top of rope
1- Be out of skis below exit point
2- Help exit support at hip
3- Help turn downhill and set up
4- Give task
5- Provide feedback
Team teaching requires very active participation by visually showing, verbally coaching, and when necessary physically guiding students to success. It reduces frustration, fear, and falling. One instructor will be in boots (this can be snow boots in many cases) to assist students before using the carpet, and then when loading carpet and rope tow. The other instructor will also remove skis at times to help unload the carpet, rope tow, and respond to falls on the carpet or slope. There are stop buttons on top and bottom of the carpets. At Pine Knob it is usually better for both instructors to just be in boots to assist with setting students up, slowing them if the snow is fast, giving them a push if it is slow, responding faster to dangerous falls, as well as loading and unloading the lifts.
Great teaching requires a lot of attention; the top instructor provides instruction and the bottom one helps students up and on the carpet. It is critical for the bottom instructor to also maintain spacing on the carpet and rope so the person on top has time to help students exit and get going as soon as they get to the top, especially the first time up and until students become independent. The bottom instructor helps students walk, get up, and provides verbal feedback while they are skiing.
Keep students moving in a nonstop loop when using the the carpet rather than have the group line up. This provides more practice time and keeps it fun. When necessary gather the group for instructions, this can be at the bottom if they have trouble standing on the hill. On busy days when there are a lot of beginner groups, the instructor at the bottom can gather the class and keep them together to load the carpet. If you are unsure if someone is in your group ask them.
Loading a rope well makes a huge difference in the student's success. It is a hands on job that requires a lot of attention to details. The person loading the rope stands behind the student to make sure they are next to the rope, both skis pointing uphill, gripping slowly with two hands, providing a push if necessary or supporting a student who grabs too fast, and lifting the rope up or to the side to keep the students up. Students will loop so spacing is important; the top instructor needs time to get students off and skiing downhill.
The instructor on top will be in boots and provide any necessary support on the side or back of their hip so the student can exit and get set up in a wedge to ski downhill. You have to pay a lot of attention, and know how to set them up and support them so their momentum helps them head straight down the hill. Some will need support for a few feet to get their balance, and reduce fear. If the snow is slow some will need a slow push on their hips to accelerate them. Watch for ice on the ski bottoms if they are not sliding.
Formats for experienced skiers
1- Ski first then provide feedback after they perform
2- Ski behind and provide verbal feedback while they perform
3- Have them follow you
Use Exercises- see the exercise page
1- Progressions- Practice statically, traverses, garlands, bottom half of turn, fan, top half, link
2- Compare opposite and extremes- of the 4 basic moves: fore/aft, up/down, lateral, rotary
3- Variety- flat/steep, small/large, slow/fast, ice/deep