Private lessons

Most private lessons are taught on the weekends, many are children. It can be difficult to teach two or more children at once, especially at Pine Knob where the second wonder carpet is too steep for most students and many have a hard time with the rope. If you have to use the second wonder carpet a T-bar or wedge making tool is helpful to get students lower to the point where they can ski on their own. Some kids are afraid up there. If a student is in a situation when the hill is too steep, do a fan exercise away from the carpet to get off the steep section. 

Check their clothing and make sure their boots are put on correctly. Ask what the goals are and discuss the expectations. Do they think taking one lesson is all it takes to ski the whole area? Most will want to improve but have no specific idea what that means, so you will have to evaluate them and suggest a plan. Are they going on a trip, do they ski with better skiers? Ask them about their sports background, and make sure they feel free to ask questions.

They may not feel comfortable telling you what they want to do, so keep asking and looking to see if they seem to be having fun. People can be very sensitive to criticism so focus on the positive things they do, and how they could change other things. Shape their performance as soon as they get it by saying "yes that is it." Some people will want a bit of time to try it on their own without feedback. Customize what you teach to meet their needs and to keep the fun meter high


If the lesson is children, speak with the parents before and after the lesson to explain what you covered and how their children did. Discuss what you would do next. Children can be difficult to connect with if they are uncomfortable around adults or strangers, so be sure to smile say their name and talk about how much fun they will have. Some older kids are forced into a lesson and you will have to win them over by asking them questions: do their friends ski, what else do they like to do, what video games do they like, do they have a pet, what is their favorite subject in school. Listen to what they think and want to do so you can make it fun. Some have been in group lessons and have done a lot of standing around.

If you use the second wonder carpet at Pine Knob the T-bar, wedge making tool, or Ski Ring can help get the child off the steep top section. Use the wedge making tool on the first carpet especially for the 2-5 year old who can not make or hold a wedge. After a couple runs with the wedge making tool they can sometimes make a wedge on their own. Give them time to ski on their own lower on the run where they can come to a stop even if they can't make a wedge.

                                                   Lesson content                                               


For beginners use pole over the age of 7, and go at the proper pace not too slow or fast. Lessons need to be fun so get them using carpets and ropes as soon as possible. They will make more advancements with some momentum which will help with balance and stability.

Take plenty of time working on stance with adults. Usually they flex too much at the knees with little if any ankle flex which puts their hips behind their heels. Say less knee flex and more ankle. Chest and hips over their feet with a slight flex in the ankles, knees, and waist.


After wedge change up, gliding wedge and wedge stops, go to rope tows for more speed to work on turning. Key verbal comments will be hands up, look downhill, stand up, forward, point the big toes at each other push the heels apart. Some instructors lean back on their demos, stay centered. Loading and unloading the rope well at Pine Knob is critical because the rope is steep and fast, one hard fall and the students can become very afraid of the rope.

When teaching turns, start by skiing straight downhill in a gliding wedge for 3 seconds and make the bottom part of the turn first. This is different than skiing across the hill and making the top part of the turn first: be sure you know the difference. If you have to use a traverse to keep the student under control you are on a slope that is too steep.


Watch for slow snow conditions, speed is necessary to build momentum. Some instructors are trying to teach turning with very little speed, and way too soon before students have a lot of practice sliding downhill and doing wedge drills.   

Turn both feet first, then work on ankle flex (pushing on one toe then the other), or a combination. Ankle flex is not the same as a big lateral tipping move (airplane turn), or moving the knee inside. Make a specific number of small then big turns, then turn to a stop in each direction.


                                                    Experienced skiers 

Evaluate experienced students by looking for natural moves back, rotation, and banking. Then start working on exercises to achieve the goals. For most lessons that will be working on a more centered stance, turning the feet rather than rotating, and adding angulation rather than banking. A normal progression is static exercise, uphill christies, single turn, and linking turns. Look here for more exercises.


For trying to develop parallel skiing use the Big 5: gentle terrain, centered stance, narrow wedge, speed, and don't turn too far. Then work on early weight transfer, followed by smooth down and up motion, and touching the outside hand to the knee.


Students need to be standing in a skiing stance with their hips over their feet, not behind their heels. Working on the pole swing and touch will also help develop smooth rhythm and timing. Turns with some skid at the start will give infrequent recreational skiers more confidence and control.


Some will like verbal coaching from behind, others will like to follow you, and sometimes it is better to demonstrate first then have them ski.


                                                        Wrap up

At the end of the lesson ask them if they have any questions, if their boots hurt, review what you did, be sure they know how to get up, reset the binding heels, and put their skis on, make practice suggestions, where to ski, and tell them what is next. Thank them and invite them back if they want more help. If they liked the lesson they often want your contact information, and ask them to comment on Vagaro. 




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