Do You Believe in Magic?
Put Bamboo in Your Bag of Tricks
BY STEVE KAUFMAN
Abracadabra, ala kazam! Watch carefully as I wave my magic wand over my student and unleash their supernatural powers. “You are now a skilled skier,” I proclaim with a flourish, and ta-da! My student is
skiing better than ever before.
With the magic wand I was able to control
my student’s speed and turning. It also
helped him develop muscle memory. Over
time, he learned to control his skis when
we used the magic wand. I slowly made the
prop disappear and by then he skied just as
well without it. The wand had worked like
The wand is also effective with students
who can ski the bunny hill with no
problem but lose confidence on bigger
hills. Try using the bamboo wand with a
student who is timid or afraid. Stand next
to them and have them hold onto the
wand with both hands out in front (photo
1). As you go down the hill you’ll be able
to talk with your student and explain what
you’re doing. Your student will be able to
communicate issues they are having as
they come up, instead of after the run.
Talking with your student as they slide on
snow helps reassure them, creates a relaxed
environment, and builds their confidence.
The magic wand technique works well
with all ages and all types of students. Here
are a few examples of different kinds of
learners and how using the bamboo wand
can help them.
n Visual learners are able to watch exactly
what you are doing and then implement
it. They see where your hands are and
the position of your body over your skis,
as well as the way you turn your legs and
point your skis. They will watch carefully
how you use the magic wand and copy
n Auditory learners are able to learn
well through listening. You are able to
talk with these students and explain
the turning of your feet, keeping your
upper body quiet, where your weight
is over your skis, and where to look.
These students will respond to your
Sounds too good to be true, but it really
can be that easy once you know the secret
behind the trick. As instructors, we try
all sorts of ways to get into our students’
heads. Sometimes, finding the best
teaching approach is like trying to pull a
rabbit out of a hat. That’s why we all carry
our bag of tricks on the slopes, and if you
don’t’ have one, a “magic wand” should be
part of your kit.
About three years ago, I was teaching
a lesson at Boyne Highlands in Michigan
and noticed a fellow instructor using a
bamboo pole as a teaching prop. He skied
alongside the student and held one end of
the pole while his student held the other.
As they skied, the instructor used the pole
to guide his student down the hill.
At the end of the day I sat down with
the instructor and we talked about the
benefits of this magic bamboo wand. I
realized this could be just the trick I had
been looking for and I began using it in
my lessons with great success.
I first used the bamboo-wand technique
with a special needs child I was teaching.
Steve Kaufman uses the magic wand technique while skiing alongside a student and giving directions.