Would you… risk learning?

What level of risk are you prepared to take when you’re skiing?  Are you a risk averse, fair weather slider or driven by the adrenaline of skiing fast and steep?  It takes all sorts and at TDC we ski with a huge range of performers and that is part of the attraction of this wonderful job. One of the great fascinations is observing, and sometimes influencing, how people approach learning and seeing how learning and risk interact.  In order to learn one has to risk attempting something new.  It may be a small step and a small risk but it needs to be there nevertheless.  Without it the dreaded plateau beckons, and at worst – decline.

Terry James Walker TDCski
Skiing hard with rocks hiding under the surface

For some the very mention of risk is enough to set knees trembling yet most people want to get better at skiing.  Fortunately it is not the level of actual risk but the level of perceived risk that is central to learning.  For a nervous intermediate who feels frightened of pointing the ski downhill on a blue run, the perceived risk of doing so is potentially greater than that experienced by an expert skier who descends a steep, rock-filled couloir.  The actual risk of failure is indeed greater in the couloir but because the performer is within their comfort zone and perceives minimal risk there is likely to be minimal learning.  By overcoming a greater likelihood of failure we access a more significant learning episode.  So who is in fact the risk taker in this example; the extreme skier or the nervous intermediate?

At TDC we frequently reflect as a group on the way we coach and upon how we build relationships with our clients.  A common point of discussion is how to manage the expert skier who books lessons with the intention of improving.  It is difficult for adult learners to relinquish old habits and accept the risk of failing at something new.  More often than not a change in performance necessitates unfamiliar sensations, and a certain vulnerability as motor programmes adjust, proprioception recalibrates and expectations are reframed. Here progress depends on two factors;

  • A willingness to embrace perceptions of risk
  • The relationship forged between coach and learner.
TDcski Coaching
TDCski Coaching Sharing their Knowledge

Most people when asked “what do you wish to achieve during this lesson” will focus on success, however, it is openness to failure that sets the really successful learners apart.

This memoir has been forged by Coach Paul, from a reflective foundation of many years teaching people ‘how to learn’.  He is a director of TDC, an inspirational ski teacher and lecturer at the University of Gloucestershire in Sports Coaching.

Staff training 18 March 2011

The staff training program continues to run through the whole fo the season with the development centre. This week we were looking for off piste routes accessible with clients. The snow is good on most aspects. We had a great time…

Tignes Glacier skiing

Whilst the final touches are being made to the renovated chalets and Hotels in Val d’Isere and Tignes, the glacier is being put to good use. Not only are TDC coaches running pre-season BASI prep courses and slalom training, but national teams have been up on the hill making their final preparations for the World and Europa cups.

See how the slalom training is getting on at: http://www.youtube.com/thedevelopmentcentre

All our coaches regularly use video analysis as a tool for teaching and all you need to do is ask you coach. You may even feature on this site!

Ski Clubs Unite

Thank you very much to the members of the Ski Club of Manchester and the Ski Club of Great Britain for their enthusiasm and good humour at the Chillfactor in Manchester over the past week.

We have run nine sessions together and they have been really well attended. Over the nine sessions there must have been a few thousand runs completed. We have covered topics like balance (a lot), rotation, edging, pole plants, relaxing, flowing, skidding, gripping, jumping, arcing, carve turns, short swings, short turns, punchy turns and more. Thank you for listening, talking and asking questions, the sessions have passed really quickly.

We all need to extend warm thanks to John Weatherell for organising everything, a great effort.

We are back next year so if you are around next September then put the dates in the diary. Unless i see you in the Alps, until next year.

See the videos on our youtube site http://www.youtube.com/thedevelopmentcentre

Giles x

Ski Club of Manchester kick off the season

What a good start to the winter season!

The Sale Sharks were improbably victorious against the reformed but unloved Harlequins at Edgely Park and the Ski Club of Manchester were enthusiastic and dashing at the Chillfactore indoor snowdome in Trafford Park.

The combination of these two events is becoming a much loved fixture in my diary and the dates for the SCM 2011 are already confirmed. The skiing was good and the Chillfactore was busy. More dates throughout the coming week. On snow dates for BASI prep and preformance training available on the website.