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Primary Movements Teaching System

A Little VideoBlog

Harald Harb has been a leader in the ski industry for a very long time particularly where it comes to learning how to ski using the technique used by the best skiers in the world.  Click through on this link for a video blog hosted by Peter Stone (Stoney) as he has Harald trace his fabled career through more than 7 decades.  Discover how Harald has evolved and stayed relevant in an industry that has been fighting to evolve and make great skiing an attainable goal for anyone who wishes to make that dream a reality.

PMTS is a ski teaching method developed by Harald Harb and Diana Rogers which employs 5 essential movements to coordinate the upper and lower body to make skiing safe, efficient and fun.  More importantly, PMTS is also a learning system that anyone can use to emulate the best movements of world cup skiers and create dynamic balance that elevates ski performance, technical understanding, and overall enjoyment of skiing in all snow conditions.

All coaches/instructors teaching PMTS on Whistler/Blackcomb are dual certified, both as CSIA instructors, trained by the Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance, a compulsory requirement to teach on Whistler/Blackcomb and by the PMTS, Primary Movements Teaching System accredited by Harald Harb.  PMTS instructors are not recognized or further compensated by Whistler/Blackcomb Snow School for this additional commitment to learning how to advance the education of skiers and pay for their own training and accreditation.  This speaks to the level of dedication these individuals bring to their students and do it because they believe it is the training they need to assist skiers to ski like the best skiers in the world.  Over the years, these instructors have higher than average rates of return of skiers to their sessions and in some cases, waiting lists to join their groups. 


PMTS is Student Directed Ski Instruction {SDSI}, so the instructor is focused on determining the skiers motivation,  and what the skier wants/needs to know at any level in order to release, transfer balance and engage the skis effectively. 


The skiers reason for taking the lesson is fulfilled when the instructor creates an understandable link to easily employ these movements  by using facts, not beliefs that relate to a body part, such as a foot, an arm, hand, leg or torso.

Students are prompted to ask questions then explain their understanding in their own words. The instructor then uses these words in subsequent explanations. The student summarizes again; to build concise quality explanations.  More on this a little later; along with an easy and effective way of verifying that the explanations got through.

Primary Movements are refined and combined with secondary complimentary movements by instruction that breaks the lesson into small, easily mastered steps that logically build on one another.

Accurate, objective feedback on an ongoing basis combined with "external cues" on appropriate terrain completes the circle of fulfillment.



Achievable, not easy

By now, the reader should get the sense that great skiing is achievable by most people that employ themselves in a motivated way.  However, that doesn't mean that any learning process is easy for either the teacher or the student.

If you're not familiar with, I strongly recommend you give it some attention. Goalcast is an inspiring community for achievers dedicated to helping them improve all aspects of their life. As they say on the web site, "We provide you with practical advice, resources and the motivation to help you realize your full potential."

You could do worse things than spend the time listening to one of these every now and then.  Here is an example of the kind of message you can access and one that has universal reach:












Effective communication is the secret to almost anything and certainly when it comes to learning to ski, the learning process has to address the needs of both those who comprehend by seeing and those who need to hear how something is done.

So communication—is not only the skill of producing and providing information that can be easily understood and remembered—the giving out, but,  it’s also about the art of assessing whether it’s actually gotten through to the student.  A PMTS instructor has invested a lot of time gaining a good understanding of skiing in order to provide accurate and concise information and most importantly, knows that providing information does not necessarily mean that the student is gaining understanding.


To make sure students understanding needs are being fulfilled, students are always asked: "tell me in your own words what I just said or what you just saw," thus providing an effective way of verifying that it got through.

However, not all communicators are created equally and, good communication can’t be that hard. Can it?  Gordon Heinrichs, who writes a Blog on Doctor/Patient relationships offers the following insight on what the experts say.


Here's what Dr. Debra Roter, a professor with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Health and co-author of "Doctors Talking with Patients", revealed during an interview.


"After analyzing thousands of doctor-patient encounters, “I can tell you that doctors are not terribly articulate.” Even though the doctors knew they were being recorded and were technically on their best behavior, “If you were to analyze a transcript of any of these encounters, we find a lot of repetition, ambiguity, and misstatement.”

Of course, this study was conducted on mere doctors and, after all, in a ski lesson, you're listening to a ski god and not a doctor talking and demonstrating to you on how to ski.  Surely, these "gods" must be terribly articulate.  Don't count on it!  Somewhere in the lesson, it is imperative that you as a student hear some variation of the following:


Everyone has questions about their skiing, what are yours?  This means that your instructor is actually forcing the issue. After all, you'd feel like a fool if you didn’t ask questions.  As a student, it is normal to get confused, therefore, be prepared to ask questions.


I think it is fair to state that, in general instructor/student communication is not in a good place right now.

What are the Consequences?


To make a comparison to the medical industry in Canada, let's use the actual Financial and Physical cost when medical miscommunication occurs.


Financial: Canada spends an extra $10 billion each year due to medical miscommunication.  That’s 3-5% of every healthcare dollar spent or, similar to the annual cost of Diabetes.  And, this is a preventable problem. But it’s more than just dollars isn’t it.  


Physical consequences: You may have read the recent headlines: Medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in the USA. And, of course, there are other less fatal consequences.

Overlaying these medical statistics to ski lessons, and considering the financial side of the equation: how many "learning to ski dollars" could be redirected to becoming an even better skier if you were learning under an effective communicator giving and showing you concise and accurate information?  Although you're unlikely to die from miscommunications between you and your ski instructor, time is a commodity you can't buy and for most of us, we want to make every minute count.  Watching the following video may give you a sense of the gratefulness one individual feels for having discovered and applied PMTS to his skiing.


The Neurosciences of Skill Acquisition

 From Harald


The link I posted below offers an interesting look at learning movement skills and the internal mind participation vs the external thinking process for application of learned movements. This isn't an end all to motor learning, but it does cover some of the important points that help in the understanding of motor learning.  Again, what becomes rather obvious, is that not only must your coach be extremely specific about what and how to move, but also, be able to convey this information in a logical step by step manner as not to clutter the mind with less useful information.


I think we can see how this supports what we try to do in PMTS coaching. The emphasis on accuracy, specificity, and economy of movement information is what we always strive for. Without the understanding of efficient movements in skiing, a coach is basically lost. What I accept as part of this understanding is that movement analysis skills are part of that bigger picture of complete understanding.


I hope you develop questions, suggestions and inspiration from this discussion.







Self Educating Tactics

The first pangs of motivation are always wonderful and compelling as the road seems wide open in front of you with possibilities; and, it certainly is.

Developing a strategic plan to succeed is another story and, an adventure all to itself.  Where does one start? 

My advice is always the same and that is to start at the library.  All of the books recommended below are available at the Whistler Public Library and likely via inter-library means at most local libraries as well as on sale at Armchair Books in Whistler Village.


Harald and Diana have authored books on the Primary Movements for both the folks who learn by "seeing" and for those that need the whole story and all the details.  This is the link to the "Books" section on the Harbskisystems web site where you can order them.

If seeing the picture is your preferred way to learn, start with the "Essentials of Skiing" and for the details oriented, start with "Expert Skier 1 & 2.

There is also a ton of information available through ebooks and evideos as well as some very helpful "Indoor Training" evideos to work on your ski conditioning specific to the Primary Movements in the off season.  I have found these to be particularly helpful as you have the opportunity to isolate the balance and muscles that provide it and practice the movements to discover range of motion and all those good things in the comfort of your home or gym.

Finally, get yourself signed up for some PMTS lessons.  The Green & Blue Camps are sold out at the moment but there may still be access to some of the SST teams that teach PMTS in the regular SST 12 Week Program.  At the moment, most of these groups are full but I do keep a wait List so send me an email if you're interested and I will try my best to find you a spot for next season.

 Here is a link to a podcast by Tom Gellie chatting with Harald Harb on skiing.  Give it a listen.

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