This morning, a post I wrote for Liftopia.com went live.
I think it’s definitely worth reading in it’s entirety, but to get you started, I’ll share a few highlights.
It’s called Why You Should Never Teach Your Loved Ones To Ski, and the post provides information on:
- Why lessons are important,
- The perils and pitfalls of teaching a loved one,
- Three significant advantages professional ski and snowboard instructors have over you, and
- How many lessons are needed.
Now if you are one of those amazing people who has successfully taught a child, spouse, partner, or friend to ski and ride, please share your experiences below. You’ve got skills and patience to a degree that most of us do not. You are special, as are your loved ones.
For the rest of us, we’re better off enjoying a morning or afternoon of freeskiing while our loved ones take lessons.
This doesn’t mean we can’t play a significant role in helping our children, spouses, partners, and friends learn to ski or snowboard. We can.
More on that at the bottom of this post.
Three Things Ski Instructors Have That Most of Us Do Not
Certification. Ski and snowboard instructors — certified in the US by Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI) — go through a rigorous process of training and development. And it’s a process that never ends, with ongoing instruction to ensure that all instructors are on top of the latest teaching methods.
The Tools for the Job. Professional instructors know how to adapt their teaching to meet individual student needs, even in a group lesson. They are trained to listen to students, identify learning styles and keep everyone happy and having fun.
As Jennifer Simpson Weier, a PSIA Alpine Team member and ski instructor at Aspen Snowmass, puts it “Instructors have more tools to help you learn.”
Blessed Neutrality. Here’s where most of us fall down. We really, really want our spouse, or best friend, or child to ski with us. We love skiing and we want them to love skiing.
This means we often 1) are impatient; 2) push too hard; and 3) get too emotionally invested. Objective teachers we are not.
And it’s even harder on the person we’re trying to teach. This person also wants to ski with us, but doesn’t yet have the skills. This person really wants to please us and make us happy.
It’s a recipe for disaster with the emotions of both parties bound up into pleasing the other. Yikes!
The Right Role for Friends and Family
I was recently speaking with Nathan Y. Jarvis, a PSIA children’s specialist and instructor at Park City.
I asked him what should parents do after their kids finish a ski lesson. His answers apply to both kids and adults. I hope you find them helpful.
Follow Up With the Instructor. Ask the instructor two questions.
First, “what is the one thing my child/friend/husband and I should play with to get better?”
If this sounds a little funny to your ears, it’s because Jarvis doesn’t want to associate skiing or snowboarding with work. He believes in the power of play. Translated this means “What is the one skill my child/friend/wife and I can practice together?”
The second question is “What runs are appropriate for my child/friend/spouse to play on?” In other words, what terrain will help reinforce her new skills, versus the terrain that will scare him and make him hate skiing.
Let the New Skier Set the Pace. This is critical. Your role is to be supportive. If the new skier doesn’t want to ski more immediately after finishing a lesson, don’t push it. Maybe it’s time to take a break for an hour, a day, or a week.
When you do get on the mountain together, keep in mind everything the instructor told you. Start on the recommended terrain and stay there if that’s what your loved one prefers. It’s better to ski the same comfortable run over and over while anchoring new skills than to lose these skills, reverting to bad habits and form, on terrain that’s too hard.
Be in Play Mode. Keep it light. Keep it fun. Make up games. And most of all, keep your eyes on the prize. You want your loved one to love skiing with you. Do whatever it takes to make sure that happens.
Hot chocolate break, anyone?
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