Do You Have a ‘Desert Island’ Ski Progression?

Do you have a ‘desert island’ ski progression?

Gates Lloyd, PSIA-AASI RM Alpine Chair

I recall a long-ago Ruby Horsethief trip on the Colorado River. Late season. Low water. As we drifted toward the Loma take out, we chatted and the question popped up, “If you could take only one book to a desert island, what would it be?” We batted our answers around, and with plenty of time on our hands, we moved onto the “one” movie, band, beer, ski, etc.

Back to the present: We’re in that wonderful time of year when the sun is higher in the southern sky and the snow is still squeaky dry and cold.

March is around the corner. You are fit and on your game. My question is, “Do you have a ‘desert island’ ski progression?”

And here’s the next question, “How do you make it work so often for different skiers?”

Top pros often have such a progression. They use it all the time. They understand all the ins and outs of it, how it can help blend or isolate alpine fundamentals and develop skills. But most importantly, pros set themselves up for success long before rolling it out.

Top pros have:

  1. A plan to build a lesson: they have a way to determine student motivations that builds trust (vs. a string of seemingly disconnected questions)
  2. The confidence to create a plan based on the specific information they hear and see.
  3. The knowledge to adapt that plan to meet the evolving group and individual student needs throughput the lesson.
  4. The ability to provide varied tactical choices for members of the lesson to accommodate differences in confidence, energy, skills, etc.
  5. The skills to help students articulate, and show, changes in their ski performance that are relevant to their goals set at the start of the lesson

Top pros plan enough time to focus on the words students use to describe themselves and their motivations to foster trust. They watch how (and if) the students’ skiing validates what they heard before picking a progression that features a drill. They adapt their progression as the lesson develops. They vary speed, line turn shape and size to keep students focused. They help students communicate the lessons learned.

The time at the start of each lesson is crucial to integrating any practical skiing drill into the lesson. The information exchanged allows the pro to collaborate with the student to create the relevance of any drill. With collaboration comes connection, and together the pro and student move along the learning path.

Encouraging the student to talk about the gains made the end of the lesson anchors the learning. It creates ownership.

All pros have a “bag of tricks” built through learning about teaching. But regardless of its size, that bag can only take a lesson so far. Top pros listen, watch, collaborate, adapt, support. They know it isn’t the desert island progression that makes a lesson great. It’s the work behind it.

Without that effort, any bag of tricks is just a series of exercises.

Here’s the thing: you don’t have to work for years and years to learn how to connect, collaborate and adapt. The information to inspire your next great lesson lies in the Performance Guide found at this address: https://thesnowpros.org/certification/national-certification-standards/ .

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