There is a huge diversity in the types of lessons that we teach. The age and ability of our clients, their learning styles, their individual goals, snow and weather conditions, etc, are just some of the factors involved.
No lesson is ever the same. In different situations, different elements become more important, and the best ski instructor is the one who gets the blend right.
Formal training towards recognised qualificaitions allows you to develop your technical understanding (among other things) and it is your qualifications that give clients, peers and employers a benchmark of you level of understanding and skill as a skier.
As you can imagine, experience counts for a huge amount. Rather than working through every drill looking for a solution to a certain problem, experience will teach you which ones are most successful, with whom and when.
With experience you build confidence in your teaching, meaning you are not second-guessing or trying to cover too much in a short space of time. You are learning how to format your lessons so that you can achieve what the client wants in a way that works for them.
This is the first impression your client gets. It is all part of the important process of gaining trust: do you look professional enough to take my kids out for the day and bring them back safe? Will you know what to do if there is an accident or something goes wrong?
Being on time to meet your clients goes without saying, they are paying a lot of money to ski with you and turning up late is a definite no no! Finishing your lesson on time is equally important, planning where you are skiing and finishing back at the meeting point, rather than half way home shows you are in charge of the situation.
In our teaching qualifications we learn about different teaching and learner styles, but you have to be a great communicator to do them justice.
- Does the client understand?
- Have you captured their attention enough that they are really listening?
- Can you change the way you are approaching something to help the client understand you better?
- You can check out your clients’ body language, if they are looking down, over your shoulder or mindlessly tapping their ski pole in the snow it might be an indication that you haven’t captured their attention as well as you had hoped.
- If your clients are engaging with you, asking good questions about what you are saying or smiling and laughing when you crack a hilarious joke it’s another great indicator that they are truly listening.
Patience & empathy
Real patience, not the kind you think you are showing while you are subtly clenching your jaw in frustration. A genuine sense of calm, while your client is struggling with something today that they were fine with yesterday, and the ability to smile and encourage. An understanding that making changes is hard and can take time.
Friendly & enthusiastic
Is also still learning
We like to say at Summit ‘Only the best skiers know… there is always more to learn’. It might sound a little corny but we truly believe it. There is no end to improving your technique or your teaching, as long as you are still inspired to improve then your teaching will remain fresh and will continue to evolve.
As you can see, there are lots of facets to being a great instructor. While the ski school you work for will count qualifications and professionalism high on the list in terms of importance, most clients will take those as a given (just as they will expect you to turn up with your lift pass and skis). The clients are more likely to rate your enthusiasm, communication skills and patience as the most important. The best instructors are those who possess all the above qualities and get the balance right for the school they work for and the clients they teach.
We welcome any comments or any additions to personality traits or skills that makes a good instructor; after all… there is always more to learn!