If you’ve just started taking ski or snowboard lessons. We congratulate you on taking a big step towards heightened awareness of your form, sharper skills and better safety practices. At the Vertical Challenge, we witness the evolution of skiers and snowboarders who compete year after year—and we can tell you that we see more success among those taking classes.
We’ve written in previous blog posts about the benefits of ski lessons for children and what to expect if you seek classes from a snowboard or ski instructor. In this post, we’ll assume you took our advice and have already had at least a couple of classes. Now, how do you know if your ski or snowboard instructor is actually up to the challenge that the job implies?
In this post, we’ll go over some key skills and traits that any snowboard or ski instructor should have.
Your snowboard or ski instructor is qualified
This one might seem vague, but it’s not—in the interest of both quality and safety, there are some specific certifications that any ski or snowboard instructor must have in order to teach. In the US, the most recognized organization that certifies teachers is Professional Ski Instructors of America and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI).
According to the PSIA-AASI’s official website, the level one certification demonstrates “an understanding of basic skiing/riding skills, teaching skills, and professional knowledge.” This initial certification may not give instructors the ability to teach more advanced students, but it’s a necessary first step towards one day becoming a pro snowboard or ski instructor.
A ski or snowboard instructor who has honed their teaching skills by giving classes to beginners can proceed to take the exams required to reach a level two certification. At this point, they are considered qualified to teach not only beginners but also intermediate students. According to the PSIA-AASI website, they must also have an integral understanding of the snowsport industry.
Snowboard and ski instructors must wait at least a full season after getting their level two certification if they want to apply for level three. At this point, instructors should be experts at assessing students’ needs, helping them set goals and creating personalized lesson plans for all levels. They should be equipped to modify their classes based on any circumstance.
Your instructor makes you feel excited about the sport
Giving winter sports lessons is a physically and mentally demanding job, so it’s natural for a snowboard or ski instructor to get tired toward the end of their workday. But good instructors make their best effort to bring positive energy to every class and encourage students any time they hit a roadblock or get frustrated.
Your instructor has great communication skills
It’s fundamental for ski and snowboard instructors to be able to clearly transmit what the student needs to do in order to progress. This skill involves evaluating which communication style resonates the most with each individual student. For example, if the student is a first-timer or a child, an explanation of the physics of braking is probably not what they need to actually master the skill.
Your instructor helps you set challenging yet realistic goals
How can you advance if you don’t know where you’re going? A good snowboard or ski instructor should have the necessary knowledge to evaluate your skill level and help you define realistic, short-term goals that fit into a larger plan. Goals are a great tool to motivate students, because the sense of achievement they get from reaching each objective will inspire them to keep learning.
Your instructor equally divides their attention among students
In the case of group lessons, your ski or snowboard instructor should be sure to give each student individual attention at some point during the class, even if it’s just to take a look at their form and give them verbal confirmation that they’re on the right track. Some students may need more support than others, but every student should feel seen and receive feedback.
We hope that this blog post has helped you realize what a great ski or snowboard instructor you have, as well as all the hard work and skill that goes into doing the job well.
Are you getting ready to hit the slopes for the first time ever? Check out this blog post about the ski and snowboard elements that will help you have a positive experience. If you’re an experienced skier who wants to improve their racing, in this post you can find some tips to improve.