Race Coaching lesson plans

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Re: Race Coaching lesson plans

Postby precisionchiro » Wed Mar 10, 2021 9:18 am

Basil j wrote: I watched for season after season of coaches with minimal game plans favoring the strong racers and leaving the middle and lower skiers with minimal coaching and feedback.


This disgusts me to no end, Basil j. That's one of the hallmarks of a lousy coach, and I see it often.

Our groups of 6 kids per coach were assigned this season by the Team Coordinator/Parent Club Secretary, who has been involved with the program for years. She knows most of the kids by name, and certainly by race results. She tried to vary the abilities within each U12 and U14 group as much as she could, something I wholeheartedly agreed with given the circumstances of this season. It gave me a great opportunity to develop my ability for organizing/teaching 6 separate private lessons in one group -- something I've only seen done by Harb coaches -- as well as pairing up kids and have them teach/follow/critique each other.

The "head coach" of the U12s this season (a race program alumnus and college racer now in his mid 20's, very mediocre skier and horrible coach, I have no idea why anyone would put him in a head coach position) was complaining at the beginning of the season because he didn't/couldn't have the top 6 racers in his group. He wanted my son and another one of my kids in his group, so I explained to him:

1. For COVID reasons (exposure, contact tracing, etc.) it's better for parent coaches to have their own kids in their groups this year, whenever possible, to limit possible quarantines within the program and such.

2. Lower kids benefit tremendously from skiing and training alongside the stronger racers... especially from a social perspective and confidence-building perspective at this age. It's also an opportunity to enhance the empathy of the stronger kids, in understanding how the lower kids look up to them.

3. An effective race coach, at U12 or any age group level, is able to teach all ability and experience levels, particularly when the group is so friggin small. So put on your big boy pants and BE A BETTER COACH.

About the third weekend of training, this head coach asked to talk to me in private (over the radio). So I waited at the top of the hill, where we stepped away from my kids. He told me one girl in his class is stuck in a wedge and he can't get her out of it... he's never had to coach lower level kids before. And since, in his words, "I have the PSIA thing and everything," (LOL, I'm the only coach on staff who is a previous PSIA instructor from 25 years ago), could I help him get her out of her wedge.

"Well, what have you done with her so far?"

"I keep telling her she's got to bring her feet together. But she just won't."

"That's it? "Bring your feet together?""

"Well what else am I supposed to do? I coach racers, not beginners."

:roll:

"Hey C! (the kid I mentioned in my last post who was my weakest)... come here for a sec.......

..... C, tell Coach E why most skiers are skiing in a wedge."

"Because they're standing on it too much."

"Standing on what?"

"Ummmm, their inside ski."

"So, what do we have to do if we're standing on that inside ski too much?"

"We gotta get balance standing on the downhill ski. I mean, outside ski."

"How do we do that?"

"We lift the inside ski. Like this."

"You're awesome. Now... what do you do after you lift that inside ski a little bit?"

"I Phantom that Bad Boy like THIS!!!" :::almost falls over trying to demo, arms all over the place::: :mrgreen: That's exactly how he said it, because that's how I usually say things with my kids.

"Tell Coach E what's the Phantom thing you just did."

"You lift your inside ski like this, with the tail higher, and then I pull my foot back like this, and then I angle it like this to the outside. I mean, the inside. I mean, that way."

"And what's that called?"

"Ummmmmmmm........ little toe edge!"

"Why do we call it a Phantom Move?"

"Because when you're doing it when you're skiing, you can't really see it but you're still doing it."

"You rock. Give me a fist bump. Tell the group I'll be there in a minute."

---------------------------------

Two years ago, I would have happily and politely explained what I do to help kids get out of a wedge... or how I teach or demonstrate anything. But I lost my tolerance for typical race coaches since then. Now? I'll make it a point to *demonstrate* to them just how incompetent they are, using my own students whenever possible.

The Director jumped into my group a few times this season while I was teaching. And while I'm happy to see him floating around and monitoring, he has this nasty habit of trying to take over the class and change the entire focus... that's completely disrespectful to the coach. After he did it twice, and he witnessed how I had to re-explain his confusing coaching to my class so that they could understand, I decided I wouldn't let him do it again. When he tried the third time, our daily lesson plan was based on developing balance on the LTE (traverses, garlands, J-turns, etc.) so that we could bring that into early weight transfer. He decided to scrap that, and wanted to get a couple of my kids to get their hips farther inside the turn -- by pushing on the outside leg, of course.

Now I'm going to NAIL HIM.

After confusing my kids with vague talk about "separation" and "getting that inside leg out of the way," I jumped in and said, "Let's try something to see if it will help with this focus on the hips. You guys remember doing our J-turns a few weeks ago, where we lift the inside ski and tip it in the air to the LTE to start our turn? Here's what we are going to try this time: Let's start in a glide, lift the inside ski, pull it back, really tip it STRONG to the LTE..... and try to keep your stance ski flat and going straight!"

Each one tried, each one couldn't do it... BTE engaged.

Director says, "This doesn't do anything."

"It actually does A LOT."

"No it doesn't. I can ski all day long with my inside ski lifted and tilted, and it won't do anything to make the other ski turn."

"OK. Show me."

"Here. Look........."

Glides, lifts inside ski high, halfway up his shin, tilts it way over....... stance ski engages and veers on the BTE. :D

"Looks like it works, huh?"

"NO, it doesn't work. I know what you're trying to do, but this doesn't move their hips."

"You just demonstrated that it absolutely does."

"That's because I'm used to it. But I can still hold the ski flat if I want."

"THEN? DO! IT!"

He can't do it.

He never bothered me again. :D
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Re: Race Coaching lesson plans

Postby Basil j » Thu Mar 11, 2021 12:58 pm

I truly believe that if my daughter had better coaching, she would still be ski racing. her last year as a U19 was difficult as she skied only weekend and her team mates were all daily skiers. I watched her ski down a few runs with her old mates the other day in a GS course and she actually had better form and was skiing as fast as her old team mates that are still skiing every day. What really hurt my daughter was slalom. She was thrown into gates very early in her race training and never felt comfortable in a slalom course. Her coaches would have her do run after run reinforcing bad movements and or fears. In GS she was fine. Its water under the bridge now. if I had more resources, I would have moved her over to Waterville with Tom Barbeau. he coaches with PMTS influence and his slalom kids look and perform very well.
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Re: Race Coaching lesson plans

Postby precisionchiro » Fri Mar 12, 2021 9:45 am

Basil j wrote:She was thrown into gates very early in her race training and never felt comfortable in a slalom course. Her coaches would have her do run after run reinforcing bad movements and or fears.


It's hard to watch a race program throw so many kids into full practice SL courses who have no business being there. It's even harder to try to show other coaches some various ways to make SL gate training more effective for kids, from a PMTS model, when they stubbornly believe that it's productive to set a full practice course with coaches standing at the bottom giving the same 3 or 4 critiques to each kid coming down like "Get your hands forward" and "Push your skis out more to the side." They've been doing things that way for years, and DO NOT LIKE when someone comes along and starts changing things up.

So..... I kept my kids out of those full practice course sets as much as I possibly could, (maybe allowed them to try it once) and told them to NOT stop at any of the coaches at the bottom, no matter what any of them tell you to do. I caught flack from some of the other coaches for instructing my kids to avoid them, and as much as I wanted to reply "I don't want any of you f***ing up my kids' skiing," I instead explained that my group had a specific goal and focus every training day, and I didn't want them getting confused or off-track if another coach gives random comments on things other than the focus of the day.

You mention Waterville Valley, Basil...

My Level 200 on-snow exam was held alongside the USSS Eastern Division Skills Project (2 day advanced camps for U12's and U14's) at one of our local areas in NJ. It was a great combination... there is a lot of course setting for the exam, and we 200's got to do most of the course and station setting for the Skills Project, and then observe dozens of racers go through them, rather than our small exam group going off to an empty hill, setting a course, then circling around for us to ski through it ourselves.

On our last exam day, a guy named Fred Turton from Waterville came to observe the Skills Project on his way back up from a Pennsylvania event. Fred joined our 200 group for a couple of hours, sharing various observations of what he saw with the Skills Project. I knew very quickly that this guy understands Primary Movements, from the way he skis and how he conducts his race training at Waterville. I learned more from him than from the entire Level 200 process.

There's a big part of me that hopes my son tells me within the next couple of years, "Dad, I don't want to race anymore. I just want to go skiing." But I don't see that happening. He loves racing, he's good at it and gets credibility and respect from his peers, he has a fantastic social life at the ski area separate from his school/town social life, and he's the only ski racer in his school so that gives him a sense of identity and pride.

I love teaching and thoroughly enjoy the technical aspect of race training, but loathe race days and I really hate being on a coaching staff. So if I'm going to participate in a race program for a while, I'm planning on visiting Waterville Valley and Welch Village so that I can observe a quality race program.
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Re: Race Coaching lesson plans

Postby h.harb » Sat Mar 13, 2021 12:56 pm

On our last exam day, a guy named Fred Turton from Waterville came to observe the Skills Project on his way back up from a Pennsylvania event.


Thanks for posting. I am in complete agreement. USSA coaching is a waste. I've known Fred for 40 years. He was always one to follow my coaching ideas and as soon as my books came out he was all over them. I still have contact with him, he sends me questions whenever he's not sure. Also, Tom Barbeau at Waterville worked for me as a coach for 5 years.
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Re: Race Coaching lesson plans

Postby precisionchiro » Mon Mar 15, 2021 7:50 am

h.harb wrote:I've known Fred for 40 years. He was always one to follow my coaching ideas and as soon as my books came out he was all over them.


I KNEW IT!!!

Although Fred wasn't using all the distinct PMTS terminology when leading the group of coaches on the hill, I could tell from the way he explained things that PMTS influenced him more than USSA does. And he wasn't shy about expressing his disappointment with most race coaching today. While everyone else was taken aback, almost insulted that he would dare criticize traditional race coaching, (right in the middle of a traditional race coach exam, LOL!) I always find solace and reaffirmation whenever I encounter an experienced skier/coach/instructor who intelligently sees the entire industry for what it is.

I hope camps and shop business are going well for you guys out there, Harald.
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