Instructor Training Ideas
It's looking like I won't get any skiing at all this season as things are pretty dire here in the UK and understandably I don't see other European countries being in much of a hurry to open their borders to us after Brexit.
Having passed my Level 3 teaching exam in 2019, I am desperate to train towards the technical exam and at 63 I can't sit around doing nothing.
Rather than being totally negative, I thought I'd start a thread to share ideas for any of us with aspirations of furthering their instructor qualifications.
So if you're training for Level 1, 2, 3 or 4, let's get sharing suggestions and asking the questions we want answered.
Great topic! For starters I suppose we could break it down into some broad categories:
Physical Conditioning: Strength, power, agility, balance, flexibility, endurance etc... Where do we start?
Strategy: I think being on here analyzing various skiing objectives, discussing tactics for terrain and conditions, and discussing the optimal techniques for those particular objectives is a good way to be proactive from a strategic standpoint and will allow you to maximize your training time when on snow.
Visualization: I think watching lots of great skiing can certainly help you become a great skier. Seeing and immersing yourself in the experience has been shown to build many of the same neural pathways as having the experience in real life.
Motor Skill Development: Patterning ski specific moves with dry land drills and exercises. Might have to get creative:)
Mental Preparation: Motivation, habits, confidence, pushing your fear threshold to be able to ski more aggressively, performance under pressure, etc.
Equipment Optimization: Boot alignment/fit, ski prep/tune etc.
I'm going to weight in here with my take on physical conditioning.
My view is that it's something I can control living 1000 miles from the mountains. I won't be moving any closer but I can find time to work at my physical condition. I've heard some people say you don't need to be particularly fit for levels 1 and 2 but even if that's the case being the fittest you can be will optimise your potential for acquiring new skills, avoiding injury etc., but for level 3 you do need to be fit and level 4 even fitter.
I work on my fitness most days. I generally have always found it fairly easy to motivate myself and actually easier as I get older. Over the years I've accumulated quite a lot of equipment for training at home: a variety of kettlebells, resistance bands, weight bags, suspension straps, agility ladder, hurdles, step, BOSU ball so I can really vary my routines. Of course body weight exercise is always good as well.
My aim each week is to do at least 1 strength session for legs and one for arms, chest and back, a power and agility session and/ or an HIIT session, an aerobic session, and at least one discreet mobility and flexibility session focusing on my hips in addition to the stretching I finish each session with.
I'm particularly interested in skier assessment and diagnosis required to improve their skiing.
Prior to the rejigging of the syllabus seemed to be that the CSIA L1 and L2 courses cover about everything needed in order to pass the course and provides a starting point for an instructor career.
Is this still the case?
L3 Teach is another matter where it seems that the Advanced Teach module provides more of an insight into what's needed to conduct an advanced level lesson. However there's more to know than can be covered in a 2 or 3 day course and a great deal of learning outside the course needs to be undertaken.
Would that be a fair assessment?
IMO there's at least this list of phases in developing the knowledge and skills:
1. Understanding enough human physiology and a strong understanding of skiing fundamentals. A recommended reading/viewing list would be:
- Section 8 Piste to Peak Vols 1, 2 and 3 videos - a strong starting point, especially Vol 1. Vol 2 and 3 focused on bumps and carving respectively.
- Ultimate Skiing by Ron le Master. The new CSIA manuals seem to rely heavily on this book.
- CSIA Physics of Skiing, Skills Framework and Performance Model
- Tom Gellie's Big Picture Skiing series of videos. Tom's stuff is advanced material and feel it is best to have reviewed the material above to get most value. Tom's insights into physiology and how it relates to skiing are very useful. (It's worth going through his free youtube channel for that alone although the BPS vids are much more detailed.) Be warned that Tom's vids cover a wide range of topics in detail.
What other material is useful?
2. Using the knowledge from step 1 for movement analysis of skiers. A start can be made on this at home watching vids of skiers. Recommended viewing:
- Ken Paynter's Whistler talks available on youtube. One below, the others available from the youtube channel. Also lacks organisation and structure. It's really a flow of consciousness from Dr Ken - wonderful insights however.
- Tom Gellie's materail - throughout his vids Tom provides movement analysis on skiers ranging from best in world (Hirscher, Shiffrin, robinson, Ligerty) to mere mortals such as his own students. All the better to help understand his main points. It's extremely useful. Here's a smaller insight from his free youtube comparing CSIA's Russ Woods and an unknown student.
What other material is useful?
3. Doing that same movement analysis on the hill in real time. Cannot replay what's just been seen. Cannot freeze frame nor play in slow motion. See the run once - analyse!
This last item would like to discuss in detail. What do people look for? What are the mental checklists that are used? Have developed a few things out of my time doing course and would love to hear what other people look at in assessing a skier.
4. Diagnosing an appropriate task or tactic to improve the skiers. Will keep this one for another time...
@geepers all of the above are excellent geepers. Within this framework, however, I don't think there's any substitute for practice and lots of it. Watch and watch all sorts of skiers over and over. I used ken's videos extensively amongst other things and used to make sure I had a plan for the skier before I listened to Ken's assessment and then compared. I definitely got better doing this.
In the exam, one of the things I made sure I did was to give myself lots of time to assess. Not being able to slow mo or rewatch the action, we need to give ourselves time. As I mentioned in a previous thread, on my exam I gave the group 3 pretty long sections of piste viewed from different positions before I gave any proper feedback. Even if you know the common errors of a certain skier, you have to be sure you are seeing it on that run. The examiners will come down hard if you analyse on the basis of previous performance.
On the last Advanced Teaching module I did just before the exam, there were a few instances were people dived in with comments and Nick Reader really wasn't impressed. Comments like ''If you can see that you have a better eye than I have'' were made.
For all the great quality of information from such as TG, who is excellent, we have to remember that it's a CSIA exam and we need to assess within our framework. I used the Technical References as my model for assessment and found becoming very clear with them made for a simple, clear cut analysis. I haven't really done more than read through the new framework but a similar approach will work well.
I found doing the above made for a feeling of real confidence in my ability to see enough in my group to give me the material I needed to work with.
Another very important factor in my opinion that isn't to do with analysis is just structuring your lesson well. Basics such as being clear and concise in outlining the task, making sure the group know where they're meant to stop, positioning yourself well, keeping a good eye out for safety considerations, adapting to changing conditions, speaking clearly and confidently etc. etc. are things everyone can do without knowing anything about assessing but 2 from my group failed to manage these basics. No excuse in my opinion.
I'll elaborate more but this is the outline of how I approached things.
I think a reassuring thing if you have a good structure for your analysis is that actually skiers do the same things wrong, it's just that the better the skier is the harder it is to see but if you know what you're looking for you're half way there.
I spoke to Ken about what he was working on in his own skiing a few years back. He said he'd been trying to get rid of rotation in, I think, his right hip for 2 seasons and felt he was at last getting there. It's the same stuff but at in a much higher level performance.
That's why the Technical references were so useful and before that the 5 skills. Now we have an updated structure but when you get your head round it, it will be just as useful.
Something I definitely struggle with is confidence. I can't pinpoint the origins. I have always played sport and while never the bravest, neither was I timid playing football, rugby etc.
Age may have something to do with it as I am definitely more aware of the potential consequences of injury but I don't think this is the biggest issue.
I have had hardly any coaching down the years, neither do I often get to ski with better skiers who can push me. Me and my wife generally ski together and while Cath is a good skier, she's probably a bit behind me I think and is definitely not brave. Consequently I know I don't push myself hard enough.
I read all sorts of Sports Psychology to try and overcome the problem but when the pressure is on I default to my more cautious self.
Graduating the challenge would be the best approach perhaps but then trips are not terribly long for us to really have the time to take that route.
I know 100% that this is something I need to find a solution for if I'm to ever get close to the L3 skiing standard.
The old technical reference may not be used in the learning materials anymore, but they are still good good rules of thumb for most skiing situations and remain useful as an assessment tool when looking at the mechanics.
However, I think the key to accurate assessment lies in the skis and how they interact with the snow.
- Are the skis under-steering or over-steering in any part of the turn?
- Are the skis under-gripping or over-gripping in any part of the turn?
- How is the pressure managed? How does it need to be managed differently to reach the objective?
If the skis are misbehaving then we can look at the body to determine where a change in action may be needed. I try to look at each body segment individually to determine what needs to move more or less.
Sounds simple enough, but of course it does take a lot of practise to see the subtleties in higher level skiers. The one nice thing about assessing at the L3 level though is that there is usually only one or two issues that stand out, whereas with the lower levels it can sometimes be hard to know where to start.
A more detailed description of my assessment system is here: https://skierlab.com/simplifying-skill-assessment/
...and I will try to add some assessment walk through videos in the near future.
Good points above. I do have some hesitancy to spend too long assessing. It's partly our local L4s who have a quick assessment style and partly that it can be a big chunk out of the ski improvement time of the lesson. That time goes so by very quickly! Take your point on structure - the 1st attempt at L3 was the 1st time I'd ever really run a ski lesson of any sort let alone in an exam. Was pretty much out of stuff about 35 minutes in. More recent attempts have been ok on structure, just not getting enough ski improvement in all the "students". As the L4s tell us - getting the assessment right is most of the challenge. It's too late to realise the drill or tactic isn't getting results with a particular skier with 10 minutes to go.
Agree on the practice, practice, practice. Definitely see more than I used to.
On confidence... My take is there's nothing like time on skis. The unconscious competence that comes from a 100 day season is something that has to be experienced. If there's one thing that separates the L4s from the wannabes it's the number of such seasons. (Apart from athletic ability, inherent balance and...) Generally don't really feel it is getting back in the zone until at least the 3 or 4 week point.
Skiing with others about the same or better standard also helps. Have the same problem - my wife is an intermediate and skis exceptionally slowly. So I do a lot less challenging runs and spend less time on speed work than normal. She skis less than me and usually flies home earlier and l always need a few days to ramp up after that. Typically time courses and exams so I have such a gap. Mind, will probably get in a lot of outside to outside hop turns after our next trip - it's ideal practice opportunity.
In terms of the exam day itself I think the best advice is to treat it like another day on the hill. Once they've done the task demos put the assessors completely out of mind. They aren't there any more. Relax. Enjoy the snow, the skiing, the time with some other skiers. The results will be what they will be.
@geepers of course those guys have incredible ability to see stuff quickly but there's no point wading in with ideas to correct something that isn't there or you haven't seen, so you really need the time.
Is there any chance you could do some teaching? It would help enormously.
3 or 4 weeks is about the time we would be returning from our longest trip but I completely agree that this is probably the time it takes to really get back into it. Sadly there is little to no prospect of anything longer. I don't want to sound too negative but I am slowly beginning to think that the L3 skiing is going to beyond me.
Well, hang in there a while longer. You've yet to overlay TG's stuff on top of the Section 8 and CSIA work to date.
Not much chance of instructing for me. Canada it's a visa issue - need L3 to be considered at the mountain where we go. (We go there as my son's family with our grand daughter is there and going elsewhere for weeks to work, even if that was possible, is not going to happen.)
In Australia I could only really do it part time with domestic situation. And need L3 for a part time gig too!
It's Catch 22. ?
@geepers I thought maybe you could get some work over there. I don’t know how far you live from your nearest ski hill, but I wonder are there any programmes in organisations that take groups to the hill with their own instructors.
It’s just that a friend of mine over here is in a very similar situation. He’s a really good skier and passed his L3 skiing 4 or 5 years ago but has had several attempts at the teaching without success. One of the examiners on his last try actually commented on how well he was doing given that he hasn’t done any teaching.
I was encouraging him to do a short contract with one of the schools operators who take groups to the Alps and employ their own instructors. He hasn’t done it as yet and now Brexit may have put an end to that anyway.
It just gives that bit of experience of structure, pace, projection and organisation that are so important.
Not much chance of anything whilst the pandemic still rages. In Australia we've kept it very much under control however we shut down whole areas - from a few suburbs to cities to whole states - at the drop of a hat. Which makes booking trips something of a lottery. Overseas travel is something that may resume at some point in the distant future. ? ?
So whilst on hold have to practice virtually. ?
I take your point (a few posts back) re TG's content for a CSIA exam. With the revisions to CSIA material there's much less gap than there was. Tom makes the point that he's not aligned with any particular organisation however there's a very healthy chunk of Ron le Master in there and, without having done a recent CSIA course, I don't see many topics where his stuff conflicts with CSIA. His content on, say, toppling, aligns perfectly with the way it is described in the new CSIA manuals.
@geepers yes agreed. I think he's even been involved with some of the new content. All I was meaning was that while I think the CSIA is one of the organisations more open to ideas and variety, we still need to conform somewhat to something that can be technically identified as CSIA skiing.
@geepers sometimes proper assessments take time.
As a strategy to keep a decent lesson pace and simultaneously buy a little time to dial in your assessments on the more ‘complicated’ students, Tell them what you see that is working well for them and encourage more of it.
Then focus on making changes to those whom you are are certain of the assessment. As you progress through the lesson you’ll have a second, third or fourth the chance to pick up on those students you couldn’t quite figure out the first time.
Examiners are also guilty of having to use a little trial and error to digg through all the possibilities until they eventually find the root cause. There are often multiple factors are involved, and I have made plenty of skiers worse before they got better.
The important part of reflection is recognizing what is working and what isn’t. That way you can adjust course and find a cue that actually works for each individual.