Can't make a WC turn? Why do you think you can teach one?

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Re: Can't make a WC turn? Why do you think you can teach one

Postby h.harb » Sat Apr 06, 2019 11:01 am

Well focused skiing and exercises. In the finalization of alignment video the left boot is certainly over canted, hope this has been addressed. In the future, after the alignment is all sorted, I'd like to see what happens with slow fore/aft movements. There seems to be an excess of upper body involvement that can be covered up when speed is added.
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Re: Can't make a WC turn? Why do you think you can teach one

Postby razie » Fri Apr 12, 2019 9:50 am

Wow… this was 6 years ago. Let me summarize where I am now and debunk some of the stuff I was thinking back then… and add some thoughts for others that may be where I was 5 seasons ago, from the perspective of the guy that’s sort of been there and done that.

Where I was then: I couldn’t analyze even low-level skiing and didn’t know what to do about improving it. What was worse is that I thought I skied reasonably, even though I had no idea how to improve. My racers were angulating and separating and skiing with big edge angles and since I could not see anything obvious to improve technically, my only plan for improvement was to challenge them with random drills and course training.

Where I am now: After taking the PMTS red pill and working hard at it over 5 years, my ability to analyze and fix high-level skiing in real-time has drastically improved along with my ability to demonstrate. I have also been working to learn more about how to correctly diagnose equipment setup, fix boots and even spot physical limitations (result of previous injury, etc.) of some of the athletes.

I thought I understood PMTS, because I had read the books and I thought it’s just a more detailed view of what I was already taught! But… you don’t really understand until you can actually do it! Reading the books is the first step. Then you need to spend time on snow with knowledgeable people and a video camera. The right dosage is twice a day, with no sugar-coating!

You also can’t coach well until you can actually do it yourself! Don’t think that just by reading the books, you now know all you need to create great skiers. I was stumped that after reading the books, I still could not see faults in even low-level skiing! Not having any previous racing experience obviously was a handicap, so it took years of a lot of work to understand PMTS, execute, be able to see it at a high-level and coach it. You don’t need to ski hip to snow, but must be able to show all the technical elements in a reasonable high-level turn that the athletes can relate to.

It's one thing to talk, in a seemingly knowledgeable way, about ‘skiing technique’ and another thing entirely, to actually do it! If a coach or skier can’t do it, they have no basis to evaluate the skiing of others. A lot of professionals may recognize when someone skis well but can rarely explain how that skiing differs and have no idea how to improve it. The point is not just knowing five movements, but how they feel when done right, how they interact, how they combine, what effect they have, how exaggerating one or other looks and feels and how it impacts ski performance… and how an athlete will compensate when one is missing; how timing changes result in turn shape and ski performance differences, and how alignment and equipment together with body shape fit into the entire equation to impact the athletes’ performance.

Since I didn’t know what to do to improve the kids past a low level, I was assuming that I could help them a lot by training tactics, psychology and safety while course training, but that’s not even remotely true. So many kids are denied a better life-long enjoyment of the sport and a shot at greatness (whatever greatness looks like for a given athlete), because so few coaches can train solid fundamentals, at least around here. The result is they don’t spend much time on it, letting the talented racers self-select themselves, very Darwinian.

While some would deserve it, I don’t wholly blame the coaches. Coaches are generally not trained rigorously from a technical perspective and certainly not pointed in the right direction. Therefore they pick up what they can—from here and there — bits and pieces of a whole that is not captured in detail anywhere (except in Harald’s books). Without a solid technical foundation, as a racer or skier, you’re not going anywhere interesting fast, you'll be improving slowly and on the margin.

Technical coaching is generally very basic and coarse: Even at the higher levels, there are a lot of misconceptions and mistakes, where the racers often learn to ignore a lot of the coaching they receive. Very few coaches can describe what different joints should do at this or that point in the turn and more importantly — why! Many just cycle racers through a course, with minimal feedback and just keep telling them to get forward. There is a lot of lip service being paid to equipment and technique, but no actual understanding of how this ski is different from that ski and what to do to fix a boot that’s not working, a binding with the wrong delta or how to spot the relationship between a poor stance and body build.

IMHO, one of the issues facing some coaching organizations is that they are built to turn racers into coaches, on the assumption that they’re good and can ski already, so they just teach them to teach what they already know. The reality that I see is that most of these were not taught how to ski technically well, it’s more like their bodies figured it out, in different ways. They can’t teach fundamentals in a structured manner, because most of them were not taught fundamentals in a structured manner – as evidenced at some of the courses I’ve been to.

They just tend to repeat what their coaches were telling them, but since those were also not taught how to teach fundamentals in a structured way, they don’t have much to repeat! And the cycle continues, with more and weirder stuff repeated by each generation!

What Harald has said is completely true. There are bad coaches lucky enough to stumble over a few talented skiers and good coaches that have no talented skiers. The only way to tell them apart is to look at the middle of the group they coach and see if they can ski… and do they ski similarly… are their results grouped as well or all over the place? The ones who ‘get it’ will have good skiers who all ski similarly to one another. Results in a race course are a bonus on top of giving a skier a life-long technical foundation from which to draw enjoyment from and maybe coach others in the future.
Last edited by razie on Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:26 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Can't make a WC turn? Why do you think you can teach one

Postby h.harb » Fri Apr 12, 2019 12:01 pm

Excellent evaluation, too bad most coaches and parents won't reach your level of understanding Razie. There are no short cuts you have to go through the learning, studying and applying, before you can figure it out. I see this every day, coaches think they know what they are doing when in fact, "They have no idea what they don't know!"

In a nutshell, this is the problem in US coaching. USSA and the US Coaches Ass. don't know what they don't know and they are proud of it!
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Re: Can't make a WC turn? Why do you think you can teach one

Postby tarnaby » Wed Apr 17, 2019 3:10 pm

In my observation, if you attend practices for kids' sports in baseball, basketball or hockey, even if the parents are literally pulled out of the stands to coach, they will have, generally (more often than not?) forgotten more about those sports than typical ski racing coaches understand about technical skiing. You won't see those parents doing the equivalent of telling the kids to "widen their stance", "push on their o/s ski", etc.

There are many coaches who are phenomenal, phenomenal skiers - ex europe cup/world cup, etc. but , again this is just my observation, they seem to do things like yell "get forward", "get your hip on the snow", "move inside". PMTS, on the other hand, explains the movements required to generate these outcomes. Which has a higher probability of generating the desired outcome?

I'd love Malcolm Gladwell to do a podcast explaining why PMTS has not become the defacto method to teach every aspect of alpine skiing.
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Re: Can't make a WC turn? Why do you think you can teach one

Postby h.harb » Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:01 pm

I can do that podcast you are referring to; it is rather obvious and I have dropped tidbits of that conversation on the forum over the years.

-First, you have to acknowledge that you don't know what you have not used. PSIA won't go there.
-If you are under pressure from your peers or your organization not to change or not to acknowledge that there might be a different way, you won't attempt it
-Apathy
-Hubris
-Corporate culture

These are just a few, it goes much deeper.

However, we can see there is a tipping point of sorts that has occurred. We no longer get the insults about PMTS from the opposition. They would be looking foolish if they, (PSIA instructors) tried the original line they used which was, "PMTS is not different" or "PMTS doesn't work." There are just too many people out there skiing, who are raving about how well PMTS works for the PSIA types to disparage it, they would only look stupid if they tried.
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