No matter how good you are at skiing, there’s always more to learn.
Having a qualified instructor provide you with constructive feedback can really help your technique.
As your technique improves, so does your enjoyment.
There’s nothing like the sense of achievement as you realise how easy something has become and fly down a slope which have given you a panic attack the day before.
But taking lessons can be expensive. Especially if you have private lessons every day.
So how do you get the most out of going to ski school? What are the best questions to ask your instructor?
What type of lessons will suit your needs best?
There are so many options and if you’re splashing the cash, you’ll want to be sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
Do your research
Some resorts have more than one ski-school.
There can be varying differences between the schools including which qualifications the instructors have, how they teach, class sizes and language.
Before you book, you’ll need to have a look at what is available and what type of instruction you need.
Some places will let you book online in advance so if you want to be sure of getting a space, its highly recommended to get ahead of the crowds.
Particularly if you want a private lesson.
What do you want?
It sounds like an obvious question – you want to learn to ski, but figuring out what exactly you want from your lesson, and telling this to the instructor can make or break your experience.
If you want them to criticise and improve every aspect of your technique then you’ll leave dissatisfied if they give general pointers.
If you want general instruction without too much pressure then you’ll be downhearted if they pull your technique to shreds.
Figure out why you are taking the lesson and what you expect from them before you go.
This way you’ll be able to help them, help you. Some only seeing skiing as a leisurely hobby and don’t want as much instruction as those who take skiing a bit more seriously.
Whether you want to learn how to tackle moguls, to try some off-piste action, or maybe you just want to not fall over every three meters, there will be a class for you.
Whatever you want, decide and then tell the instructor; they aren’t mind readers!
Group or private?
Some people believe that if you can afford private lessons then it’s the better choice, group lessons are for those who cannot afford to pay more.
But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Group lessons offer a more relaxed experience so if you don’t want a rigorous workout and just want to tips to improve, a group lesson may be best for you, even if you have all the money in the world.
The other benefit of a group lesson is that skiing in front of strangers is out of most people’s comfort zone.
While initially uncomfortable, a group lesson can be exhilarating when you push yourself and receive encouragement and support from a total stranger.
It can often be a more supportive environment than a private class, after all, you’re all in the same boat, metaphorically of course.
But private lessons do offer more intense focused teaching and if you can afford it, the one-on-one time with a professional instructor can help you to improve massively in just one session.
If you have a limited budget you’ll have to decide if you want to splash it all on one private lesson or take group lessons over several days.
There is no right or wrong answer here, it all depends on how you learn and the environment you’re looking for.
Understand how you learn
As when choosing between a group and private lesson, its good to understand a little bit about yourself and what you need.
Do you tend to hide at the back of class? Perhaps a group lesson isn’t for you.
Do you act out when you don’t have a teacher’s full attention? Maybe go for a private lesson.
Do you hate being the centre of attention and panic when the teacher focuses on you? You might be best in a group, rather than a one-on-one.
Whatever your style is, it pays off to book a class which suits you. It’s also important to tell these things to your instructor.
If you tell them that you hate being called on to answer questions, they won’t make you feel uncomfortable later in the day.
If you need diagrams and drawings to help you visualise a movement, most instructors will draw in the snow with their poles. But they can only help you if you tell them what you need.
Not only will you make a good impression with your instructor, but arriving early means you won’t feel stressed and rushed before you even get on the slopes.
Take your time to get your gear together and arrive at the meeting point in plenty of time.
If you’re taking a group lesson, the minutes before the class starts will give you time to get to know the people who may be about to watch you fall over repeatedly.
It’s good to break the ice and form a bond and you can’t do that while trying parallel turn for the first time.
If you’re taking a private lesson then arriving early will give you a chance to meet your instructor properly and discuss with them what you want from the lesson without using up the precious time you have booked.
Chatting to your instructor is a great way to gain knowledge of the area.
They will know everything from which slopes get super busy, to which restaurants are always booked and which bar is the least expensive.
You’ll be surprised how much you can improve your holiday overall with a few tips from a local.
Getting to know your instructor is also a great way to enjoy the lift rides.
Remember, this may be their job but if they enjoy their time with you, they may just go above and beyond with the tips, and the time limit.
If you are going to have the same instructor for several days, it’s only polite to get along with them.
You’re in for an awkward holiday if you don’t get along. Instructors are very in demand during peak season so you may not be able to change if you don’t get on.
Full-day or half-day?
A full day may seem like the best option for many people; an entire day of focused learning can change a lot.
But consider splitting a full day of instruction into two half-days.
The same amount of time with an instructor, more time to practise in between.
A full day of instruction is very tense, tiring and expensive.
By the end of the day, you may be too tired to execute the proper technique and therefore your money may be wasted.
A half-day not only means you can fully concentrate and work for the whole lesson, but it also means you can hit the slopes to practise before your second session.
Wowing your instructor by nailing the technique on your own is impressive and means you can move into learning something else.
Morning lessons are preferential, if you can get out of bed in time, as the pistes in better condition.
Also, providing you aren’t hungover from the night before, you’ll be fresh and ready to learn, no tired legs here.
Take a Snack
Even if you opt for a half-day, the concentration and effort of learning something new can be draining.
It’s hard to focus on your new technique if you’re tired and thinking about lunch.
Taking a small snack to eat on the lift can help keep your focus and energy levels at their best.
Also, if it’s a snack you can share, you’ll get brownie points for sharing with the instructor; teaching is as tiring as learning!
Lessons with Family
If you’re planning on having a lesson as a family, and especially if you have kids, then be aware that family dynamics can often get in the way of a productive lesson for everyone.
If one child tends to grab attention naturally, then they may prevent a sibling from getting the attention they need.
Alternatively, any existing tension between family members can affect the entire lesson.
Families often choose to separate and go in different groups to avoid confrontation and allow each member to develop new skills on their own.
When sending kids off to ski school it’s worth double-checking they are in the right class not only for their skill level but also for their age range.
Have the right mindset
Going into the lesson feeling positive and open to learning and adapting is the most important thing to ensure you actually enjoy the class.
If you have concerns, speak to the instructor.
The instructor will be helping to improve your technique and of course, this means pointing out what you are doing wrong.
Make sure you are open to hearing this criticism, it’s meant to help you.
Finally; enjoy it!
You’re here to have a good time, it’s your holiday after all.
If you aren’t getting what you want, say something so it can be fixed.
Especially if you are having several days of lessons. You don’t want to be dreading the following day.
Relax and enjoy the process of acquiring a new skill.
The fact you’re getting lessons in the first place means you’ll see a marked improvement in your technique so have fun in the lessons and get ready to show off your new moves.