Private lessons can be beginner, intermediate, or advanced students but most are beginners. Some are private lessons but many are semi private. At Pine Knob we will team teach groups that are larger than four. Stronger students can be given different tasks, while working with the weaker ones. Some children do not want to take a lesson, but most adult students are motivated to learn. Talk to parents about their expectations and give them a review after the lesson with a plan for what to do next.
Beginners need a lot of work and feedback on developing an athletic stance and then putting it into motion in straight runs or gliding wedges. The main exercise for this is chest over toes and bounce on toes. Feedback should be given while the student is performing.
Intermediate and advanced will be dealing with the same three natural move problems, they will just be more refined and ingrained. We can get students in a bit better stance, but will need to work on turning the feet, and tipping to the outside of the turn in a one hour lesson.
Once students have worked on improving their stance, work on turning by pointing their big toes, or pushing on them, or both. Students can be on gentle terrain, in a narrow wedge, and ski straight downhill with speed making slight turns. Many instructors do not carefully make sure students are doing all of these elements. Rather they replace them with traverses and turns to a stop. Fan exercises work on steeper terrain to improve the finish of the turn.
When student have their poles it will help them make a gate and get set up properly before skiing.
If they rush to turn right away, turn too far, have too wide of a wedge, or start in a traverse and make the top part of the turn first, they will usually struggle especially with rotation. Keep the momentum moving mostly downhill with MINIMAL turning. If you need to make very completed turns or use a traverse, there are stance and turning problems. If the terrain is too steep, do up hill christies to get to a mor gentle part of the run.
Speed reduces friction and increases the forces so the ski responds quicker. "Turns before terrain" will increase success and safety. If you have not watched the how to teach lesson yet here it is, you can watch at 2X speed by clicking on the icon on the lower right that looks like a gear - video
Students have a wide range of ability, age, fitness, learning style, motivations, and expectation. Ask them about any goals they have and their experience in skiing or other sports especially skating or rollerblading. Are they going on a trip, do they ski with better skiers, how often do they ski? Most of the time they just want to improve and do not know what that means, so you will have to evaluate them and discuss a plan. More control on steeper slopes and skiing parallel are common goals.
Every private lesson should be unique to fit the needs of the student. If you use a lesson plan where you try to get everyone to a certain lift or position on the hill, or if you teach the same thing to every beginner student, you need to replace that with going at the proper pace for your student. The goal is to keep it fun without creating fear or putting them in unsafe situations. If you are not sure if they are afraid or bored ask them. Make sure they are comfortable telling you what they want. Some will need a lot of work before using the carpet, but others need very little work like kids who play hockey.
Check their clothing and make sure their boots are put on correctly. 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." You have to pay a lot of attention to what they are doing and feeling. Some people will want a bit of time to try it on their own without feedback. There are some students who will like verbal coaching from behind, others will like to follow you, and sometimes it is better to demonstrate first then have them ski. Customize what you teach to meet their needs and to keep the fun meter high.
Most private lessons are taught on the weekends and 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. If the snow is level with the carpet you can ride with skis off and step off at any point. You can always side step down a bit or walk down.
When teaching 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.
Use any of the tools to help especially the wedge making tool on the first carpet 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. If the kids move their elbows out it will sometimes help them make a wedge. If they have trouble with the wedge you can go to slight turns. Hands on knees can help if they are unstable. The handle bar tool and ski ring can help with athletic stance. T-bars can speed kids up, slow them down, or help them turn.
At the end of the lesson ask them if they have any questions, ask 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, tell then where to ski because friends and family will often take them too high right after the lesson, and tell them what is next. Tell them they must be able to ski in control so they can turn or stop before anyone in front of them. Thank them and invite them back if they want more help. If they liked the lesson they often want your contact information, at Pine Knob you can schedule the next lesson on Only Sky.
Pine Knob beginner overview
1- Get student information and set goals. Check clothing and gear.
2- Proper amount of work before using the carpet relative to the students ability and desire. Use the area where student lessons line up when busy. Position them if they can not get into an athletic stance. Hands like holding a lunch tray, bouncing on toes and stop before the top. Their chest will be over their toes and the weight on their toes.
3- Remind students to start in an athletic stance before each run. Eyes ahead, hands up, stand on toes with chest over toes. Feedback when the student is performing.
4- Be out of skis and assisting students when necessary as they loop next to the carpet
5- At least five runs working on wedges to develop some stability and stopping ability before turning. Proper assistance on the rope and turning downhill to ski.
6- Teach turns in an athletic stance, using a small wedge with speed straight downhill, slightly turning both toes, then straight before turning in the other direction
7- With that same start have students try the other way to turn by pushing on one toe then the other. Like kneeling down, correct if moving the knee in, or bending the knee rather than the ankle
8- Try a combination of turning and pushing on the toe, or the reverse pushing on the toe and turning.
9- Makes a specific number of small turns, then big turns. Then works on combining big to small and small to big
10 - Link turns then turns to a stop at the end, do it in both direction. Moving higher at the proper pace. End with a summary, telling them to ski in control, where to ski and to gradually move higher when they can link turns and stop, how to put ski on and off, invite them back, schedule then if they want. Tell them where the cafeteria and restrooms are located.
Space is very limited on top of the wonder carpets, so ski instructors will use the area next to the carpets and snowboard instructors will use the middle.
This means we won’t line up private lessons on the crowded top, rather they will come off the carpet and ski down. They will ski more, and will not have trouble falling while trying to stand and turn downhill.
You will be out of your skis to assist them as necessary, but you will need to be quick because there are other instructors and the public there too. Use T-bars if necessary. You can push them behind the boots if it is slow, or use it in front of their ankles to slow them down, or to help them turn.
Review 9 of 10