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What makes a good ski instructor?

Last Updated on March 25, 2021 by James

The ski instructor job description does not always tell the full story. Every day can be different; every hour can be different. There are many traits required to become a good ski instructor.

Getting a good ski instructor can turn a good ski holiday into a great one. Hence, your enjoyment is sure to improve at the same time that your is skiing progressing!

So, lets take a look at the traits of all good ski instructors:

Good at skiing (Duh!)

Pretty obvious place to start…right!?!?

While being good at skiing is a must when it comes to passing your ski instructor qualifications, being able to continuously demonstrate near perfect technique is what separates the good from the great.

Explaining precisely how to complete a task is great, however, it’s also a very important part of the ski instructor job role to be able to provide accurate and consistent demonstrations.

You would like your clients to look at your skiing and think; ‘I want to look like that!’

Giving people some aspiration is a sure fire way to increase their confidence and trust in you – which in turn will improve their skiing ability.

Adaptable to different types of students

Every lesson you teach can be hugely different.

It might be your morning clients first day skiing but your afternoon lesson could be an expert!

You might find yourself teaching a seven-year-old in the morning and a seventy-year-old in the afternoon.

Your seventy-year-old skier may have a cautious approach and an analytical mind, meaning that a lot of detailed explanation and demonstration will most likely be the best path to development.

However, a seven-year-old will usually prefer much less talking and much more action! Task setting, humour and games might well be a better approach here.

Kids don’t usually want to be stood still for 10 minutes while you explain the details of how to make a ‘pizza’!

Good ski instructors are able to adjust their teaching style to suit any type of learner.

Skiing, Ski Lesson
Kids Don’t Want Any Boring Technical Chat!

Adaptable to different situations

Circumstances and conditions can change at any moment. A good ski instructor is able to think on their feet and modify any lesson plan they might have previously prepared.

The mountain is an ever-changing natural environment. Weather and snow conditions can change quickly and you need to be able to adapt your lesson to suit many variables.

If it’s due to snow heavily then you might be inclined to teach your advanced group some powder skiing! However, that snow might not come.

Adapting to these scenarios is a trait all good ski instructors share.

You must always have additional lesson plans and ideas ready at short notice that can keep people entertained and improving…even if it’s not what you (or they!) had previously planned.

You also must be able to adapt to any number of situations you can be put in by your students. When you have a group ski lesson, not every student is going to be at the same level.

skiing, traces, snow
Not Every Day Is A Powder Day!

A good ski instructor is good at multi tasking

When you have a group of students with varying ability levels, this can make your ski lesson a challenge. However, this is something you might need to deal with almost every day!

The first thing to mention – safety is paramount.

When deciding which slope to use with your group, you should always make your decision based on the ability of the worst skier in the group.

Again, ensuring the safety of everybody in the group is priority number one.

Secondly; keeping everybody occupied, learning and improving is a skill that takes time to perfect. You can easily find yourself teaching two, three or even four lessons at the same time!

It’s very important to quickly determine the ability of each individual group member before selecting suitable terrain.

Once you have found the best slope to use, you will be able apply separate tasks to individual group members if necessary.

No matter how basic the terrain is; there is always an aspect of everybody’s skiing that they need to improve!

Enthusiasm and passion

As with any sports coaching role, a little enthusiasm can go a long way – and a lot of enthusiasm can go even further!

It’s important to keep the energy levels up in your lessons – enthusiasm can be infectious. The more you encourage and portray excitement, the more your skiers will enjoy your lesson and have fun.

If your skiers are enjoying the lesson – they will always improve quickly.

If you have a passion for skiing, you are more likely to be enthusiastic.

When you talk passionately about skiing during your lesson, this will rub off on your group. They will see it in your mentality and they will believe in you. They will want to improve.

The trust of the group they’re teaching is something all good ski instructors have and talking passionately is sure to help reassure the faith that your learners have in you.

Organising your time

Organisation in a huge factor in being a good ski instructor. If you want your ski school to approve of you, you will need to show great organisational skills.

The first part is that you must be excellent with time management.

From meeting your group on time, to dropping them off at the end of the lesson, you always need to make sure you adhere well to the set schedule.

Getting your group back at the correct time can sometimes be a challenge, as weather conditions and skiing ability can affect this. If there is an accident in your group on the last run coming back, you may well be late!

Having a good knowledge of the ski resort you’re working in can play a huge role in organising your time. Putting it simply – if you get lost, of course your going to be late!

Organising your group

Organising your ski group might be one of the most important traits that make a good ski instructor.

You need to know how many people you have and where they are at all times. Remember – safety is paramount.

Organisational skills are especially important when it comes to children. When you are enthusiastic in your lesson (which I hope you are!), they will have a lot of energy. They will want to be skiing fast and furious!

Keeping your group of kids safe should be your highest priority, so setting boundaries and keeping them organised is a must.

I’m sure you don’t want to tell any parent that you have lost their child.

As for adults…they can be even more difficult!

Remember, you cannot control adults; they have a mind of their own. Keeping track of your group of adults is as easy as keeping them engaged and occupied.

If they’re hanging on your every word of advice, I’m sure they will not go very far!

Stamina and energy

High energy levels is a certainly a trait all good ski instructors have.

Stamina is important in many different ways, short term and long term!

You will need to have the energy to keep up with skiing for five or six hours per day while taking limited breaks. Keeping up the enthusiasm and energy for a full day can sometimes be a challenge.

Remember; every client deserves the same treatment!

From the first lesson of the day until the last, your energy levels and attention need to remain at 100% if you want to be a good ski instructor!

The second part of stamina is more long term. Now, instead of thinking about five hours, lets talk about five months!

When you’re a ski instructor, you’re almost sure to be working six days per week on the slope.

During the peak season, it’s not uncommon to be working seven days per week!

Being a good ski instructor means keeping up those high energy levels for the whole winter season.

Every lesson counts. Four or five months are not a long time. Make sure you give 100% during the winter so you can enjoy your summer break with no regrets!

Being sociable is a skill that will get you a long way

A good ski instructor is not just good at talking about skiing!

Your clients will not only want to talk about skiing all day. Being personable when you’re not talking about skiing can certainly help your lesson once you are on the snow.

If your clients like your personality, they will believe in you more and take action on your advice. People will also take criticism better from somebody they like!

Remember, another important part of being a successful ski instructor in securing those lesson requests!

Socialising with your clients is a great way of keeping them coming back for more.

As I have mentioned in previous articles, your clients can become friends for life…and who wouldn’t want to ski with their friend!

Skiing Is Supposed To Be Sociable!

Fun Loving!

People come on holiday to have fun. People ski because it’s fun.

Don’t be too serious. Click To Tweet

People will always learn better when they are having fun. Keeping your lessons light hearted and lively is a great trait of all good ski instructors.

Everybody is different, meaning every person has a different idea of fun. This is another example where your adaptability can come into play.

Fun can mean playing silly games with your group of kids. Fun can also mean setting a competition with your group of adults.

Every lesson can be just as entertaining in many different ways – it’s your job as an instructor to figure out how.

The more enjoyment your group have, the more engaged they will be and the more they will learn.

Ski Instructors Are Fun Loving
Fun Loving Ski Instructors!

A good ski instructor is a confident ski instructor

Confidence is key. If you would like your clients to believe what you’re saying, you need to say it like you have no doubts!

When you become a ski instructor you have already been through so much to arrive in your job. You have passed all the exams and you have proven yourself.

When a good ski instructor speaks to his or her group, they speak with absolute certainty and belief.

When you project confidence you will always be able to win people over. Get people to believe in your methods and you will usually succeed in improving the skiing of your group.

A good way to feel confident is to make sure you stay up to date with teaching methods and gain as much knowledge as possible. Make sure you always know exactly what you’re talking about!

Another method is time. With experience comes knowledge and with knowledge comes confidence.

Summing Up

Every day as a ski instructor is different and you need a wide-ranging set of skills to excel in this career.

In my opinion, if you have a genuine passion for skiing, you already have the main tool required to become an exceptional ski instructor. Click To Tweet

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