Using the TIED Model to Develop Adaptable Technicians and Adaptable Teachers

The production of adaptable teachers is BASI’S overriding theme at this Interski conference.

BASI has undeniable success in creating instructors that can fit into any school anywhere. A BASI instructor is unbound by a prescriptive technique or an imperative lesson plan. It is not a new achievement. BASI has long embodied pragmatism and inclusion. A BASI instructor has always been considered a safe-pair-of-hands however disparate the situation.

BASI instructors work far and wide, from dry slopes and snow domes at home, to rolling carpets in South Africa, to the Alps, Rockies, Southern Alps, Snowy Mountains, Andes, Hida Mountains, and the Bulgarian Rhodope Mountains of this congress. British instructors have always had to adapt or fail. This lecture explored a process BASI uses to continue to develop and augment versatile teachers.

The TIED model (Task-Information-Evaluation-Development) was presented as a means to sculpt an adaptable instructor. Specifically, the lecture focused on the Evaluation element: why is the student not able to achieve the desired outcome. The lecture highlighted the need for an adaptable instructor to find solutions that are not merely technical, but may be resolved in other Performance Threads.

 TIED

EQUIPMENT

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The lecture expressed the importance of trainee instructors to understand specific blockages in performance that equipment can cause, from ski choice and tuning to boot stiffness, last, cuff adjustment, leg alignment.

ENVIRONMENT

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  • Visibility
  • Temperature
  • Snow conditions
  • Difficulty of terrain
  • Altitude

The lecture emphasised the importance of relating back to the TIED model, for instance adjusting the difficulty of the task.

PSYCHOLOGICAL

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Can you imagine tackling this??

  • Attentional focus
  • Arousal levels
  • Emotional thresholds

The lecture reinforced the need for aspirant instructors to be trained on the psychological aspect of performance and basic tools that they should have knowledge of.

PHYSICAL

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  • Strength/Power
  • Agility
  • Physical application when performing
  • Stability

There are two sides to this:

1.The actual physical strength/power/agility of the performer and how they can be better prepared.

2.The application of whatever physical power they have in the live performance. Are they underpowered/overpowered?

HOW MUCH TRAINING DO INSTRUCTORS GET IN THIS AREA?

TACTICAL

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  • Methods of speed control
  • Turn shape

At this point the lecture turned to the strand of bumps as a salient means to highlight the tactical thread (and indeed no other strand so immediately pulls together the requisites of equipment, environment, physicality, psychology, tactics, and technique).

TECHNICAL

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  • Steering
  • Movements
  • Posture and balance

It was suggested that trainee instructors understand this is sometimes the least important area that can be developed, and the other threads should have been attended to as effectively as possible.

 

Conclusion

The lecture affirmed the general target of BASI, to produce well-rounded, adaptable teachers. It used the TIED model and the evaluation element to show one way that BASI is striving to achieve this, and make the skill of versatility ever more important in the training and assessment of aspirant teachers. The lecture asked a pertinent question: how much emphasis is put on the training of instructors outside of the technical strand? By embracing the performance threads, where technique is a mere element, a coach can develop a rounded and pragmatic skier, able to react and make decisions at will. By embracing the performance threads, a trainer can develop rounded and pragmatic teachers, able to better performance efficiently and effectively.

Meet the team – Jas Bruce

We sat down with BASI NET team members and asked them about their journey through the BASI system. We all know that going through the BASI system (or any other instructing system) can sometimes feel hard. We wondered how these BASI members were successful in their journey. What we found were stories that are universal to anyone trying to develop at something. We thought we would share these stories with the hope that they inspire snowsport instructors to continue learning and developing in the sport they love.

Jas

Jas has a goal in everything he does: “to be as good at it as is possible”. He has dedicated himself to this mantra throughout his career as a skier and ski teacher. Jas started ski racing while he was at school and when he left school he committed himself to the sport as a full time athlete and was selected onto the British Ski Team. During this time he did his first instructor exam on a dry ski slope and loved it, so he combined racing and teaching when he could. When he traded his catsuit for textbooks to study for a sports science degree in Edinburgh, Jas continued ski instructing part time at Hillend dry ski slope, in the Alps and in New Zealand. Jas recommends ski instructing as a fun and lucrative student job. However more importantly, he believes it was during the hours at the dry ski slope that he developed the foundation of his ski teaching skills and his determination to forge a career in ski instructing.

Jas’s passion for skiing and ski teaching is infectious and his drive to continue to develop his skills is inspiring. Jas has learnt from a variety of mentors during his ski career who have helped develop a strong toolbox to teach in a variety of situations. His mantra still holds true as he is open to new ideas about teaching and technique, as well as seeking personal technical skills training opportunities whenever he can.

Jas is a full time BASI Trainer which means he delivers the whole range of courses to candidates throughout the year. He does this alongside managing New Gerneration Ski School in Val d’Isere.

Message… Enjoy the journey. Enjoy the teaching, learning, developing your skiing and being part of the snowsports community, so you can reflect with fond memories. You grow with time, be patient and never stop seeking knowledge: give yourself time and be open to new ideas to grow into the best ski instructor you can be.

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Meet Dave Morris

We sat down with BASI NET team members and asked them about their journey through the BASI system. We all know that going through the BASI system (or any other instructing system) can sometimes feel hard. We wondered how these BASI members were successful in their journey. What we found were stories that are universal to anyone trying to develop at something. We thought we would share these stories with the hope that they inspire snowsport instructors to continue learning and developing in the sport they love.

Dave

Dave earned a degree in English Literature and Philosophy and it is apparent when you speak to him that he approaches his coaching/teaching practice in a philosophical manner. He comes across as incredibly conscientious about doing the best job for the people he is teaching/coaching.

Dave skied from the age of three because of a ski mad dad and then ski raced until 18 years old starting at 10 on the dry ski slopes of North England – a bit like Dave Ryding but not as good! He has balanced a ski coaching career with an instructor and trainer career.

When you speak to Dave about his journey through the BASI system you realise that he has used his experiences in each role to inform his understanding of his other coaching practices. So for example his experience as a race coach has helped develop his trainer practice and vice versa.

What strikes you when talking to Dave is that he has been able to learn from his experiences and that he has the humility to keep learning. As a extremely experienced trainer (since 2003) and race coach (since 2000) and instructor (technical director for New Generation) it could be easy for him to assume he knows more than other instructors. However Dave spoke about learning from a young instructor who worked for him. He saw what a great job this instructor was doing and was inspired to adapt his approach to teaching ski school clients.

Message: No matter how much knowledge you have always be ready to learn from others around you. Dave has continued to experience, watch and question within his coaching/teaching practice. This is what makes him such a successful coach and trainer.

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The Perils of Dogma in Skiing, the Perils of Dogma in Life

Ru G

Dogma is “a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.” 

I remember an argument that two industry friends had about skiing. It is not the theme of the argument I particularly recall- perhaps it was about the use of lower leg versus hip in a turn, or the adjustments to technique needed when skiing the sand dunes of Namibia. The way things were argued was memorable. I remember a vehemence of conviction from both sides. More menacing, I recollect a mutual unwillingness to contemplate the possibility of being wrong. What started as a chat over a brew escalated to a verbal brawl, into personal attacks on each other’s skiing and personal hygiene. I could not help but see an allegory here: dogma leads to anger and fanaticism, as the world daily and bloodily attests.

Let’s ride this conceit back to skiing. Having principles alone is not dogmatic. As ski coaches, we probably all have a set of principles we wittingly or unconsciously purvey. Some may call these techniques. Others more may call these skills. But even the skill-based agnostics have their favourite skills to impart. We have biomechanics at hand, Newtonic laws to apply. We are experts at specifying tasks and exacting outcomes. The sport is not as open as some would perceive. I don’t know many people who set off without any intent at all when they ski: most will choose to turn, some may even choose a rounded turn that promotes ski performance and its accompanying delicious sensations. We would be flaky coaches to have no beliefs on skiing. It is the notion that these principles are incontrovertibly true, however, that defines the dogmatist, and stands in the way of imagination.

As a world-weary pragmatist, I have spent my ski career siding up to certain things that work for me and appear to work for students, only to listen, discuss, engage and argue with colleagues around the globe, and cherry pick new things. I do not forget or forsake my old notions, merely add to them. I will share an example below, focusing on Long Turns.

Build

I used to actively incline at the top of the turn, to create extreme space between skis and Centre of Mass. I became very good at the white-pass turn.

I am now more focused on establishing edges when on top of the ski by articulating the feet, ankles and legs, particularly on a longer radius ski. As such I changed a gross movement of the mass down the hill and away from the skis to a subtler movement with the ski and towards the work phase.

I would not stop coaching a white-pass turn to develop the skill of using old lateral separation to beget extreme early angles into the new turn, or indeed to prolong a light feeling for a slight smudge were that my intent.

Work

I used to focus on equal edge angles and aligned shins.

Now I accept that to use a greater range of hip laterally, it will be hard for the inside knee to point overly inside the turn.

Some may use too much hip in the build phase and so counter the hips in the work phase, making a focus on aligned shins a viable one.

Release

I used to focus rotational separation towards the fall-line which helped me create an extreme throw down the hill.

Now I try and line my shoulders towards the work phase (apex) of the next turn, sometimes even using a swing of the arms to move me early to the new outside ski before an edge change.

I have begun to overdo this and probably need to focus on more rotational separation as I square up too much and lose energy out of the turn!

Now the above is merely a distilled example of my own process, and a process that I relate, hopefully without bias, to students. Nothing above is right. Nothing is wrong. I still practise and preach what I did, as well as what I’m changing. I am merely exploring more pathways, being curious, and fighting against simplification. If I had a dogma, I could not be curious, and coaching skiing would be rather stale.

Interski is a congress, a place for discussion. As with all discussions, whether the existential ones about skiing or the trivial ones about religion, it’s not how passionate our views are or how robustly we defend them that we should be weary of, it is about how open we are to revision and others changing our minds. It is about engaging.

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Meet Tom Waddington

We sat down with BASI NET team members and asked them about their journey through the BASI system. We all know that going through the BASI system (or any other instructing system) can sometimes feel hard. We wondered how these BASI members were successful in their journey. What we found were stories that are universal to anyone trying to develop at something. We thought we would share these stories with the hope that they inspire snowsport instructors to continue learning and developing in the sport they love.

Tom headshot

Tom has always been a keen sportsman. He played competitive rugby to a high level before pursuing his first sporting passion, skiing.

Tom’s skiing career is a story of two halves. The first half was a rather easy route through the BASI system. He had been inspired to stop pursuing a career in the city when his good friend suggested that he come to work with him as a ski instructor at in Italy. Over the next few years he found the BASI qualification system very enjoyable and didn’t come up against many barriers until the eurotest. He said, “I backed myself and believed in myself but I kept failing the eurotest”. This is where it would have been easy for Tom to give up. Instead, he swore to himself that he would never stop learning and pushing himself, especially after the qualifications were finished.

When Tom got his eurotest he realised that he had learned something key and fundamental, that “better never stops” – a quote taken from one of the best cricketers of all time, Sachin Tendulkar. This is his main philosophy in life. It is something that he continues to embody through his choices, but it is also something that he hopes to teach others.

After Tom became full cert he continued to develop his technical skiing and knowledge by competing as a FIS athlete in NZ and working with Dave Ryding and the British team. He is currently learning more about human anatomy and biomechanics.

Message: Better never stops. Tom confronted failure head-on. Instead of giving up he became creative in his methods to achieve his goal. Be inspired by Tom and turn a perceived failure into a success.

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Testing testing

BASI NET team member Mark Jones gets involved in ski testing through the winter and runs through the highs and lows of testing

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I’ve been privileged enough to enjoy the role of running the annual ski tests for Ski and Board magazine for many years now. The way we run the testing has really changed over time, for the first few years it was a steep learning curve! One of the biggest changes has been the sheer number of skis available to test, with the increase of women’s specific skis and more recently the boom in ski touring it can be pretty daunting looking at the list of skis to get through. For the last couple of years, every test has had over a thousand pairs of individual skis ready to go…..

With the best will in the world, for that number you could make yourself a full-time job of testing! However, the reality is that the tests are only run for one week. This means a lot of preparation has to go into making a clear selection before going in with the team, normally we visit the manufacturers at the annual trade shows and pick out the latest technical innovations, and really get led by them on what skis they would like us to test. We also have to narrow down the categories of ski that we will test.

Once we have an example from each manufacturer for every category, the final list can be compiled and the team can be rolled into action.

THE TEAM

Getting the right testers is absolutely crucial to delivering an accurate test. In the early days, I used to try and get a wide selection of skiers, from different backgrounds that would be more closely related to the skills of the buying public. This proved to be not a great decision! It’s only when you start looking at feedback from skiers that you realize many of them can be more adversely affected by outside factors, other than the skis themselves. Deteriorating snow conditions, fatigue, bad tuning and many other factors can lead to an unfair assessment of a ski’s performance. This is when you need professional skiers who are much more adept at focusing on the ski itself and have the ability to filter out other factors out of their control. Once you get a strong, pro test team everything becomes easy and the skis will start to get consistent feedback, which allows me to write up an accurate review of how the ski performs

HOW WE TEST

It can be tempting to go mad and blast through as many pairs of skis as possible in the day. This is a balance that each test team has to get right, with the sheer numbers of skis available, there will always be a push to try and get through a lot of skis. This again can lead to inaccurate results; one quick run is just not enough time on a ski to give it an honest, realistic test. Each ski needs to be given the time and respect it deserves. The first part of the process is to have a conversation with the manufacturer about the ski that is about to be tested; Who is it designed for? What sort of qualities should you expect? What new technologies or designs are being incorporated? This can give the tester a much-needed overview of the ski before putting it through its paces. For each category, the tester will have a test card that guides them through what aspects of the ski they will need to assess. For example on a pure piste ski the tester will fully commit to making short carved turns, more progressive steered turns as well as making big carved arcs. They will look at factors like stability, edge grip, dampening,

be ease of use on groomed runs. However, with an all mountain ski it needs to be more of a broader picture, with a good test of piste performance while also taking some time to get some backside skiing and seeing how the ski performs in crud, powder and variable conditions. Each ski needs to be tested specifically for the category it is aimed at.

HOW TO GET IT RIGHT

From my experience, it works really well when you can have a pro team that can work well together as a team. I really promote those essential ‘chairlift chats’ between the testers, sometimes it’s difficult to put your finger on exactly what part of skis performance that is either a strength or weakness. An ability to bounce your thoughts off your teammates can often focus the mind and allow some great feedback to be written out on the test card.

The other strong factor in a great team is that they love skiing! This may sound obvious, but the reality is that a pro team will comprise of race coaches, instructors or full-time athletes who rarely get the opportunity to ski for themselves. Falling back in love with their sport after a long, hard season of coaching can really a great experience and can revitalize energy and passion in a test week.

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Meet Giles Lewis

We sat down with BASI NET team members and asked them about their journey through the BASI system. We all know that going through the BASI system (or any other instructing system) can sometimes feel hard. We wondered how these BASI members were successful in their journey. What we found were stories that are universal to anyone trying to develop at something. We thought we would share these stories with the hope that they inspire snowsport instructors to continue learning and developing in the sport they love.

gilesGiles is an extremely well respected trainer who has been at the forefront of developing BASI’s professional content. 

When you speak to Giles about his impressive career he is careful to not exaggerate his talent or career choices. He speaks about how friends, who shared his values and passion, help inspire him in his career. However, if you listen carefully, you realise that his career has been full of brave choices that involved risk and challenge. For example, setting up TDC (The Development Centre) in a time when no one was teaching intermediates using a coaching approach. Or, using his critical thinking skills to be a leader in refreshing BASI’s manual and approach. All of these choices exposed him to criticism because they were outside of the normal path. However his belief in “creating something better” over rode any doubts he might have had.

These qualities and achievements are underplayed by Giles because he puts great value on being part of a team. He continually spoke about how friends and team members inspired him to keep developing his skiing. His enjoyment of being part of a team has led him to be accepted as a member of the BASI team at 3 interski congresses. This will be his 4th congress representing BASI. 

Message: Being part of a community can help you develop as a ski instructor. Sharing knowledge and passions with others can lead to exciting opportunities. It may allow you to take risks like Giles has been able to do.

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The phases of the turn…

A few seasons ago BASI introduced phases of the turn into its lexicon:

BUILD – WORK – RELEASE

Although this is a work in progress in as much as it could well be extended to bump skiing or a wider variation of turns, it is a really useful addition.

Many skiing associations split the turn up into phases and purport slightly differing but ultimately similar ideas, but having it in BASI is still a useful endeavour.

It would be a mistake to think that the phases of the turn were an attempt to ‘reinvent the wheel’. The wheel is already up and rolling and we, as an association, are in the business of trying to provide definition to skiing; to offer blueprints or ways to understand skiing that can be adopted by our instructors to help pass on their ideas with clarity and relevance.

The phases of the turn, therefore, are not necessarily anything new, but their primary purpose is to be helpful to our instructors.

The phases of the turn help identify certain jobs, tasks or purposes as we execute a turn and this helps us as skiers concentrate clearly on the important things to control at any given moment. Every movement that we do on our skis needs to have a clear and definable function but this is often lost in the maelstrom of tipping, twisting, leaning and moving that fills the toolbox- and sometimes headspace – of less accomplished skiers. I remember having many an interesting conversation with Sean Langmuir [trainer and ex Olympian] about how in different parts of the turn we are searching for particular, and sometimes different, things whether it be stability, a turning effect, strength, quickness, momentum. The moves we are making on the skis are shaped by these purposes.

As a brief and non-exhaustive guide to a generic carved turn, we tried to highlight some of the tasks that were important in the phases of the turn at the last trainers’ conference. Here is a quick summary:

BUILD:

Build often involves using the lower leg joints first [Fig:1] in order to establish a platform at the edge change and is subsequently followed by trying to increase the angle whilst keeping the body’s weight pressing through the centre of the ski. This is to set up and optimise the skis turning capacity.

fig 1

Fig 1: early part of the build phase

WORK:

The work phase is not in fact characterised by busy or overly active movement but is actually all about moving in a way which allows the ski’s design to continue to work at its best. What we don’t want to do is lose pressure through falling back or inside through this phase as it will reduce the outside ski working. In fact, the work phase should be the part of the turn where the turn radius tightens continuously as the angle and forces augment. This means it is paramount to be able to balance laterally against a ski that is increasing in angle [Fig 2] to maintain the strongest platform or footing that we can. A long strong outside leg is often typical of a great work phase.

fig 2

Fig 2: mid work phase

RELEASE:

The release phase is all about not overcooking the end of the turn in order to link turns and carry momentum smoothly from one turn to the next. This means movements that lend themselves to stopping angular momentum, reducing the turning and straightening the trajectory will help to exit the body from the current turn. Moves such as maintaining separation out of the work phase whilst reducing the pressure on the outside ski [Fig 3] will help to let the body move down the hill and out of the old turn. This will promote linked and fluid carved turns.

fig 3

Fig 3: release of turn and reduction of angle

The use of phases of the turn is not a new idea in the world of skiing but that doesn’t detract from its usefulness. We could equally exchange the three words for three others or wrestle with the intricacies of each turn phase, but that is not essentially the point. The point is to help give reason to the moves that we make and to deconstruct the turn into useful and comprehensible parts. 

If we have clear ideas on what we should be doing, then we, as instructors, can communicate that to our students and that can only be a good thing.

 

Meet Ben Arkley

We sat down with BASI NET team members and asked them about their journey through the BASI system. We all know that going through the BASI system (or any other instructing system) can sometimes feel hard. We wondered how these BASI members were successful in their journey. What we found were stories that are universal to anyone trying to develop at something. We thought we would share these stories with the hope that they inspire snowsport instructors to continue learning and developing in the sport they love.

Ben

Ben was ski racing on dry ski slopes as a teenager when he went on his first BASI course at age 17. His interest in ski instructing was inspired by the course trainer, he said “I watched the trainer with the other BASI students and I couldn’t believe how much better everyone got at skiing during the week. I was interested in how the trainer got everyone better”.
 
When you interact with Ben what strikes you is his thoughtful consideration of everything that is going on around him. This quality has allowed him to find opportunities for development that might have passed others by. As an example, even though he was a fully qualified ski instructor in his early twenties, he still took the opportunity to learn about ski teaching from his international colleagues whilst working in New Zealand and the US. His eye for detail and his considered disposition means that he believes he can still learn from teaching every level of skier. He believes teaching beginners is just as challenging and fulfilling as coaching ski instructors.
 
He has been a BASI trainer for over 12 years and has developed a reputation for integrity within the training body. He is now one of the few trainers who has the tough job of running the quality assurance for the training body. Despite the respect he commands he was keen to clarify that, “I am more willing than ever to learn and develop. The more I do this job the more open I am to new learning. Even though I have a lot of experience I am constantly realising how much there is to learn and how little I know.”
 
Message: “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know”. Aristotle.
Ben is an example of this. The qualities that have allowed him to become a well respected BASI trainer is not just his skiing talent, but also his ability to think and to learn from what is happening around him.

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Meet Jaz Lamb

We sat down with BASI NET team members and asked them about their journey through the BASI system. We all know that going through the BASI system (or any other instructing system) can sometimes feel hard. We wondered how these BASI members were successful in their journey. What we found were stories that are universal to anyone trying to develop at something. We thought we would share these stories with the hope that they inspire snowsport instructors to continue learning and developing in the sport they love.

Jaz

Jaz has had a long and extensive BASI career. He has been a member since 1984 and a BASI trainer since 1995. He is currently the trainers’ director on the BASI board.

Taking into account his depth of experience it is easy to see why Jaz is viewed as a natural leader within the BASI training body. But to suggest that Jaz has become this leader through amassing experience or through a concerted effort would be wrong. He approached his career with the idea that he wanted to work “with inspiring people and in ground breaking environments”. As such he has made career choices that have challenged him to continue learning. He has a diploma in professional sports coaching, he has coached the Scottish National Freestyle squad and performed and coached competitive sailing at National, European and World Championship level.

Jaz comes across as a coach: someone who wants to help people perform to the best of their ability. He is able to put other peoples needs ahead of his own. One of his colleagues has described Jaz as “approachable, enthusiastic and humble”. Jaz’s leadership comes not only from his professionalism but also from his belief in peoples potential.

Message: Effective coaching is not about being an egoist. It requires a passion for people and development. Jaz is an example of how having qualities like humility and passion enable great leadership.