Are you being coached or taught?

Think about some of your main keys that help your slalom. Everyone has a short script of a few key technical elements that they know work and make them ski better. Some you may have got from a coach or some you may have figured out on your own and some you may have acquired from watching other skiers. Now if you break down those keys do they trace back to the big picture of slalom taken at 30,000 feet or are they simply band aids to help compensate for some bigger issues in your technique that you may not understand?

There is a big difference from being coached and being taught. Being coached is like when you help someone with their math homework but basically do it for them. Yes it gets the assignment done and they may kind of understand it but without you holding their hand every time they do it more then likely they will have problems and need you to get through it next time. Being taught is taking the time to break down each step until the person truly knows it, from that point they really don't need much help in the future until something harder comes along. If they have to do that kind of math again they will be fine and will have the skill for life.

Waterski instruction is much the same. Having a skiers understand the “goal” of slalom is key before they can truly understand at what point they are at and where you need to begin to break down the barrier that currently holding them back. “Technique” is fancy word that describes a series of movements that we go through to try and make our ski do what we want it to do when we want it to do it! But do you know what you want your ski to do?! If a coach helps you understand the big picture then all the exercises/drills or techniques he has you do should be helping you reach the goal. Understanding how the ski works in the water at different times in the course is step one…once you understand this then any body movements should compliment what you want the ski to do and where you want the water to be breaking on it at every point in the course. Many times i have students at the school who say “this person told me to do this” so i ask them is this what you want your ski to do here? Never forget for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction…this could not be more true as our sport is performed on an unstable surface. There are 3 planes of balance and if we move 1 plane then the other 2 will automatically adjust. Nothing on a slalom ski is ever static.

I have always found that once i explain the big picture of slalom and help skiers understand how the ski reacts with the flow of water at difference points in the course then the “technique” becomes very simple and they can take away all the band aids and focus on the main issues that are holding them back.