WATERSKI: SLALOM COACHING
Slalom skiing is so hard because a pass lasts 16 to 17 seconds and you can do at most 20 passes per day. In those 16 seconds you have to remember so many things that it takes years to progress, and usually without the right coaching you can get stuck or desperate.
You can not always have Chet Raly, Gordon Rathburn or Mike Ferraro in the boat, so what should you do to get good coaching?
In my experience the best coach will be the person who can watch you most often. He does not have to be a super skier or super coach he or she just needs to be willing to help you.
2. Always positive:
No one wants to hear what they did wrong. We always want to hear something positive about our skiing!
3. Give Solutions:
You can explain what they did wrong but you need to be able to give a solution or at least work out a solution with the skier.
4. Why and How:
One of the most common mistakes is to think that coaching is letting the skier know that they fell forward, that the fin went out of the water in the middle of the turn, that the tip of the ski did a willy on the off side, etc. This is not coaching this is just explaining the skier how they fell or how they missed a buoy.
What you need to let the skier know is WHY they are having problems and HOW to FIX them.
5. Spotting the problem:
90% of the times the error is not where the skier falls or misses a buoy. The mistake comes from 1 or 2 buoys before and most of the times it all start on the pull out for the gates.
6. Watch before you start coaching:
If it is the first time watching a skier let him run a couple of passes before you start coaching him. You never know in the first 2 or 3 passes if that is the way he skies, or if he is nervous, getting used to the boat, set up, etc.
Here are some tips to become a better slalom coach:
1. Coaching goal:
We all want to get better, we all want to win, but more important we all want to have a great time! You as a coach need to help your skier enjoy as much as possible his skiing. That will be your goal as a coach.
7. Interact with the skier:
Stand up (with the boat in neutral) and explain to the skier what they did wrong and how to do it right.
Try to find examples to express your self.
I like to compare slalom skiing to other things like car racing (the way they need to accelerate an control their speed) to talk about balance I use the example of a circus person walking on a cable, to describe a progressive wake crossing I talk about a golf swing, etc.
8. The coaching sequence should be:
I. Let them know what they did right. (Even if they fell at #1, they are trying so let them know.)
II. Show them what went wrong and explain mistakes in a proper way (never exaggerate on this).
III.VERY IMPORTANT give them a solution. If you don’t have one, talk to the skier and try to find one.
IV.Summarize by telling the skier 1 or 2 things (max) he needs to focus on the next pass.
V.Give the skier something that will motivate them!!! Example: Ok lets DO IT! Here we go!
9. What to do VS NOT to do:
Always let the skier know what to do rather than telling them what NOT to do. Our brain does not understand the word NO. For example if I tell you right now: do not bend your arms. What did you think about?
The skier Bending your arms, right! should run his
So it’s better to tell the skier to relax the arms or to keep the arms straight.
10. Specific goals on each session:
a) Learning something new
opening pass 99.9% of the times!
In this case, the skier needs to do many repetitions of the same speed or rope length, if necessary slow the boat down. The main goal is to focus on the technic and learn something new.
b) Getting ready for a tournament,
Try to duplicate the conditions you anticipate at the tournament: • waiting time between passes • try to get actual times • measure your rope and handle
• if possible practice with wind and bad weather conditions (you never know how it will be at the tour- nament)
• if possible practice with rollers. The best way to do it, is by doing back to back passes without stop- ping creating back wash.
• Try to ski with different boats, drivers and people on the boat. • Try different lakes • Once in a while go out one pass before your top pass straight from the dock. In case you have a tie. All this will give your skier more confidence
11. The skier should run his opening pass 99.9% of the time.
• This will help the skier get in focus, stretch and get motivated.
• The skier only has one chance to make his opening pass.
• You as a coach will help the skier choose the right speed or rope length so the skier will feel confi- dent to ALWAYS run the opening pass.
12. Running buoys VS running passes
A good training session will be when the skier runs at least 20 buoys which is a big difference than running 6 passes.
There is nothing more frustrating than falling and falling, especially if your are getting hurt.
If your skier has problems running a new rope length slow down until he or she can run it. It does not matter if you have to slow down 2 or 3 mph.
What is really important is that they get the confidence and the rope control once they start running it and get the confidence speed it up.
13. Step by step
If they can not run a perfect pass do not speed up or shorten can get hurt.
Help the skier enjoy each pass and work on the technic.
14. Setting Goals
Make a training plan with # of sets per week, days for tournaments off season training Short term goals
Long term goals
the rope, it will be useless. And they
15. Tournament Coaching
Probably when you need a coach the most is at the dock during a tournament. He knows you better than any one else, He will tell you what to focus on (2 or 3 things max), Help you with your equipment,
Help with the decision on the OPENING PASS depending on wind conditions and other scores And most important give you support and have a game plan in case things does not work out as plan.