Ski instructor courses stupid questions

Season Workers asked a handful of leading training organisations some stupid questions in an attempt to expose some of the nonsense and myths surrounding snow sport instructor training.

If you are a great skier you will make a great instructor

This is not true. In the first place, the idea behind Ski & Snowboard instructor courses is to deconstruct your riding before reconstructing it without the flaws that many people naturally pick up from recreational riding. For the more experienced skiers, this can prove difficult as it can often be a case of teaching old dogs new tricks. I have seen excellent skiers fall over when they are asked to demonstrate snowplough turns as it has been so long since they were last required to do them. The process of deconstruction often takes longer for more experienced skiers, however with these stronger skiers, the process of reconstruction often proves more expeditious. One other thing I have found; in some cases, "great skiers" can find it difficult relating to their students. It is like a Professorial mathematical genius teaching maths to ten-year olds: the Prof. may find it hard to understand how his students can not understand theories that he finds very basic. On a pastoral note, communication is so key. A instructor can have all the technical knowledge in the world, but if she can not communicate this to her students, it is lost. Poor communication will result in difficult and un-flowing lessons. A variety of specific drills are very useful in getting this message and keeping the lesson fun and interesting. How about this: great instructors make (weak skiers into) great skiers!

Clearly, all ski instructors must be able to demonstrate correct skiing technique to their students. However, as well as demonstrating technique, the ski instructor has to teach these skills to his class. Therefore, a major part of being a ski instructor is having the communication skills, patience, enthusiasm and teaching ability to pass your knowledge on.

Not necessarily the case, it is much more to do with commmunication skills, understanding of the sport and how to pass on that knowledge to your clients. There are personal traits that a good instructor needs, not just to be a strong skier. In fact some of the best instructors are just Level 1 instructors who have an amazing ability to pass on information and, of course, endless patience for the new skiers they are teaching each day.

Not entirely the case - if you are a good skier, have a lot of patience and you are outgoing and enthusiastic, you will make a great instructor!

In my 15 Seasons of teaching skiing throughout the Alps and North America I have met some great skiers and some average skiers – I can assure you not all of the great skiers were great instructors – there is much more to being a professional ski instructor than just skiing ability.

We recently asked Ski School Managers and top examiners we work with, as well as and our own staff (also x-instructors) what the most important attribute was to becoming a great instructor. They all agreed on the answer: A great ‘attitude’. Everything flows from your attitude – all the required elements of your instructor ‘bag o tricks’ such as your work ethic, technical knowledge, demonstrations, personal skiing, communication and lesson planning…. If you have the right attitude, coupled with passion you will be a great instructor.

It is getting easier to find work as a ski instructor, especially in France

Can not comment on situation in France. If you want a job as an instructor in Canada, obtain relevant CSIA/CASI qualifications, obtain a working VISA, apply as early as possible (May-June for the following season). It is not overly difficult with there being a worldwide shortage of ski instructors.

An experienced skier may find it easy to teach themselves the basics of snowboarding but it would be like asking an in-line roller blader to teach skateboarding. The two sports share certain basic principles but are ultimately completely different sports and should be respected and treated as such. The ESF's stance on snowboard instructing is normally viewed as pretty archaic. French instructors must first qualify as a ski instructor before being able to teach snowboarding and additionally the training required to instruct snowboarding is nothing in comparison to what they must go through in order to become a ski instructor.

You could instruct skiing and snowboarding if you were proficient in both sports and had the relevant instructor qualifications for both too. Just because you are a good skier does not automatically make you into a proficient snowboarder and vice versa. However, there are some transferable skills which could help people from either discipline learn the other. These include simple matters like being familiar with the mountain environment and chairlifts etc.

No not true. Snowboarding is a completely different sport and you wouldn't expect a snowboard instructor to teach skiing! It would be like a rugby coach trying to teach football. Ironically the French ski instructor qualification allows you to teach snowboarding!

No not true. Snowboarding is a completely different sport and you wouldn't expect a snowboard instructor to teach skiing! It would be like a rugby coach trying to teach football. Ironically the French ski instructor qualification allows you to teach snowboarding! Many of the skills required to instruct skiing are cross-creditable to snowboarding. However there are aspects of snowboarding which are far different from skiing and can have even the best skier looking like a break-dancing octopus! If you like both skiing and snowboarding it can be a smart move to become an instructor in both because ski schools will value your skills and versatility.



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