Avoid Ruts in Technique & Teaching; Getting Stuck Is No One’s Idea of a Good Time By Michael Rogan


e humans are creatures of habit. But if you’re not careful, those habits can turn into ruts – in which you can get woefully stuck. There are lots of ways to get stuck – whether in your skiing technique or the

teaching tactics you use – and you might not even know it’s happen- ing. Here are some common examples of how instructors can get stuck… and how to avoid or get out of the rut.

SKI TECHNIQUE Making the same turn shape and size. There’s no doubt that we all have a preferred turn shape and size with which we feel most comfortable. During early morning hot laps or when we get some time off, those are often the first type of turns we make… and some- times they are the only type of turn we make. Deliberately making lane changes – and hour glass, funnel, and acceleration/deceleration turns –are great ways to change up your routine.

Skiing the same runs the same way. We all have our favorite runs, even our favorite sections of a run or combinations of runs. If you’re not paying attention, you might find that you ski them the same way… all the time. Make sure you mix it up and discover new ways to ski your favorite runs differently.

Always using the same skill blend. When you get stuck using the same skill blend or movement pattern, you might get good at that way of doing it, but it’s hard to get good at anything else. If all you know is extending to start a turn, be sure you experiment with flexing too.

TEACHING TACTICS Teaching a movement instead of teaching a person. It’s important to understand that you have to teach both, but when you get caught putting the technical part before connecting with the person, you run the risk of getting caught “playing a tape” rather than teach- ing in the moment. Remember to always focus on the student first.

Focusing only on the science or art of teaching. Great lessons are part science and part art. As we develop as instructors, it’s critical that we build an understanding of both. The tendency is to devote

PSIA Alpine Team Coach Michael Rogan mixes up his turn shape and skill blends to keep his skiing fresh... and so should you.

more time to the science rather than the art. When you lose sight of being artistic in your approach to lessons, you’ll likely get caught spending too much time focusing on your teaching and not address- ing your student’s learning.

Using the same progressions. Using the same progression – the same way and in the same places – can have its benefits when you make a conscious decision to do so for the sake of consistent repetition. However, if it happens as a default because you’re missing creativ- ity or the desire to try something different, you’re definitely stuck. This can be a big trap if you teach a lot of the same-level lessons.

No one is immune to getting stuck. Train yourself to recognize when it has happened or, better yet, become self-aware enough to do your best to prevent it from happening. This is something that we have to be vigilant about to become the skiers and teachers our students will appreciate and trust.

Michael Rogan is a six-term member of the PSIA Alpine Team, and currently serves as its coach.


Like Alpine Team member Brenna Kelleher, make sure the only ruts you’re in DUH WKH WUHQFKHV \RX FDUYH ZKHQ \RXȇUH fl\LQJ GRZQ WKH mountain.

Like PSIA Alpine Team member Jonathan Ballou, focus on the person – not strictly the technique – to make sure your teaching tactics are student-centered.





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