Nordic Ski Instructor

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Teaching skiing

Teaching: [ role | ethics | styles | alternatives | terminology | preparations | lessons ]

Terminology and understanding

Be careful of the use of misleading or confusing words when describing methods of improvement. Ski instructors use terminology which is often totally foreign to students and expect them to understand. Even the terms 'weight-transfer', 'phase', and 'steering' can be confused or misunderstood. Use basic and familiar terminology, and phrase it so that positive elements are highlighted, rather than focussing on the negative elements. Jargon is to be avoided at all costs, unless the student has a complete understanding of what you are talking about! When in doubt, use fewer words, not more. Show, not tell, is the way to success.

Encourage students to understand what is happening to them and their skis by outlining basic concepts and focussing on their feelings and sensations. Try to guide their own discovery of their skills, thus reinforcing both the technique and their ability at the same time. Encourage dialogue by asking questions related to the activity which will lead to a greater awareness of what they are doing. However, try to avoid the judgmental questions that imply dogmatic answers, such as 'Where should your weight be centred during uphill diagonal stride?', as these do not always help to reinforce better skiing. Instead, ask 'Where do you think your weight is centred?' and 'Does it feel better to pull your weight back or push it further forward?'

Caution is required here too, though, as there are times when the student will reply that it feels better to do exactly the opposite of what is considered normal accepted practice. This will often happen when teaching the most simple techniques, and can catch an instructor unawares. An example of this predicament is to ask a student to experiment between flexing at the knees a lot during double-poling, or flexing only a little, to discover which is the more powerful at propelling oneself along, and having them hopefully reply 'Sitting down feels much less powerful...'

Problem-solving in this manner must be applied with a good deal of knowledge of the skill at hand, or at the very least having an open mind about how the technique is best performed. If the student has a greater understanding of the technique and how to perform it, the instructor is more likely to succeed using this form of interaction.

No matter what form of instruction you decide suits your personality, it is important to be able to employ a wide variety of styles to suit the equally wide variety of students you will teach. A good instructor will assess the inner feelings and emotions of a group quickly and accurately, and adjust to suit. Skiing and speaking well are not enough on their own. A good instructor must have several instructional styles on-call to guarantee a rewarding experience.

Teaching: [ role | ethics | styles | alternatives | terminology | preparations | lessons ]

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[ Contents | Preface | Organisation | Teaching | Techniques | Equipment | Resources | Appendices | Glossary | Index ]