Articles such as the one below are what I originally intended for the RANT section of this blog. The improvement of instruction. I have been reading the EPICSKI technique forum. In one very long thread (read Bob Barnes (#7) post for a great summary of the debate) it was talking about the PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) and PMTS (Primary Movements Teaching System/method). The intention of the rant is not to promote either side (the debate of which is moronic at best), but rather to speak of a Pink Elephant in the room in new skier instruction.
What are the movements promoted by PSIA? When one poster spoke of PSIA and his children, he thought of what a well meaning instructor told his student make a slice “PIZZA”. Yes, many of us have heard it. Make a “PIZZA”. Instructors, let’s get original. Whenever I get a young student who says, “You want to see my Pizza”. I tell them, “No, I want to see you ski like a big kid.” Let’s skate, Let’s traverse while sidestepping up the hill. “Let’s glide over the snow, Keep your hips over your feet and have the tips closer than the tails. Let’s go.”
I do use a combination of direct to parallel and wedge-based approaches in my teaching. It is student, equipment, and conditions dependent. Don’t get caught in the dogma of an approach. Change at least one thing in your lesson EVERYDAY. A phrase, an exercise, etc.
If you as an instructor want to use a pocket coaching phrase such as, Pizza. Change it up! Use, the front of a boat (gliding through water), etc. Think of gliding and resistance to make your metaphors and analogies. We are balancing friction and gravity when we ski. Be original.
The second phrase to get rid of is, “Snowplow”. We do not plow snow, we ski! Usually our students come with the phrase and image ingrained. They do it because they want to stop. Although they did not come to “STOP skiing”, they came to “GO” skiing. A major thrill of skiing is about gliding and going, not braking and stopping.
You may say, “Now wait a minute Jon. My students need to feel they can stop. And the braking wedge is the best way.” I will agree with you on two points. Our students do need to know how to stop in a number of different situations. And sometimes the braking wedge is the best way. What I will argue is that the braking wedge does not need to be the first way we control speed. In fact, I would say it may be third or fourth on the list. A) Stepping across and up the hill. B) variety of “Gliding Wedge” sizes to increase friction. C) turning across the hill (J-turn). These are all better ways than pushing out and away from the body to stop.
And for the PSIA detractors, the SnowPlow is not a "PSIA" taught move. It is a variation on what is possible. And that is ok, because as I mentioned earlier, it can come in handy. One of the many things I have taken from PSIA is that we teach from a system that allows for latitude in our instruction. Not GOOD vs BAD, rather many options which interact together to give us different results.
The PSIA clinics I have attended talk about the glide. How to provide instruction which promotes gliding movements. In some situations how to integrate braking type movements too.
I hope this helps,
I will turn a few of these rants on what they should be used to convey. The improvement of instruction. What are the movements promoted by PSIA?