Testing, Testing RSTP Theory – Snowboarding, PART 2a – Using the carpet lift on the bunny slope

The first thing I tackled today was using the beginner’s carpet lift. It’s a revelation how daunting and difficult even the smallest pieces of the learning process are the first few times they’re attempted.  Something as simple as getting on, riding, and exiting one of the world’s slowest moving devices – a moving rubberized carpet lift, climbing up the bunny hill at a glacial pace – requires placement, timing and balance – all in just the right measure, to be able to complete successfully.

On the video, it doesn’t look like anything spectacular is happening. And this is the deceptive aspect of learning something new – while there may not look like there’s a whole lot going on from casual observation, there are distinctions that must be mastered and integrated fully in order to obtain the confidence that comes from true competence.

In order to demonstrate the complexity lurking in the most basic skill acquisition segments, here’s the breakdown for each component of using the carpet lift:

1) Getting ON the carpet lift – video 4218 – The lesson learned here is in realizing how little things are taken for granted in structuring the sequence of instruction. I should have learned stepping with only one foot in the binding first, because it is necessary to use side stepping to walk up to the lift and to then position oneself on the lift. There’s a couple of subtle little distinctions needed to successfully mount the lift – it’s necessary to place the snowboard facing straight up the lift, both sides of the board parallel to the sides of the lift, not sideways or at an angle. It’s also important to position the front tip of the board approximately 8” out over the moving treadmill without allowing the board to touch down onto the moving surface. Finally, you press the tip of the board down onto the moving treadmill and at the same time that the board catches, place the back foot on the stomp pad while maintaining an upright position and balance, facing perpendicular to the direction of the moving lift. (see “Nested Distinctions: Distinctions within Distinctions)

2) Riding the carpet lift – video 4218 and 4219 – ahhh – the easiest part of this slow-moving roller coaster ride! For the duration of the ride, the rider DOESN’T MOVE – this is instructive because even NOT doing something IS doing something intentionally (see “Not doing IS doing”). Once the individual is balanced and maintains a loose stance with knees slightly bent in the riding position, and looking straight ahead (perpendicular to the movement of the lift), remaining still insures the safety of the rider and the other lift users.

3) Getting OFF the carpet lift – video 4218 and 4219 – now the most daunting part of the lift – exiting the lift. Again, one must keep their board pointed straight forward (just don’t move), both sides of the board parallel to the sides of the lift, not sideways or at an angle, keeping weight balanced in the center, foot on the stomp pad. As the board comes to the end of the lift, your board will be pushed off the end. DON’T MOVE, just stay centered and balanced over your board, in a loose riding stance, until you come to a…. stop.

The lesson here is that even the seemingly smallest subskills require being broken down to single item subskills, accompanied by very explicit and precise instructions and repeatedly practiced until mastery. If an instructor attempts to have the student assimilate too many subskills simultaneously, the brain cannot process them all and confusion and failure results.  If the instruction is broken down sufficiently, successful assimilation ensues.

Check out my next post, to continue my magic carpet ride (see “Testing, Testing RSTP Theory – Snowboarding, PART 2b” )


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