Decide Which Lesson Style Suits You Best
Two styles of ski tuition exist; group lessons and private lessons. A group lesson is a package of lessons that you share with other participants who have the same level as you. You’ll learn in a group environment, sharing the cost of your instructor’s time. Group lessons are ideal for smaller budgets, allowing you more tuition time for your money.
Some people prefer group lessons because they enjoy learning in the company of other skiers, and many people find that a group offers a positive dynamic to all participants. If you’re a nervous skier, a group lesson might give you more confidence, and if you’re a bit competitive then a group environment will push you to give your best.
Others prefer an instructor’s full attention, all to themselves. The advantage of choosing private lessons is that you’re guaranteed an instructor will be solely focused on your needs. In a private lesson, you won’t feel like you are slowing down the group or that the group is slowing you down. This does of course mean that private ski or snowboard lessons are more expensive than group lessons, as you alone are paying for the instructor’s time.
During a private lesson the instructor will tailor the lesson to your specific needs, although private lessons aren’t necessarily one-to-one; you can book a private instructor to teach several people together. This can be the ideal way for a group of family or friends to ski together, splitting the cost while each working on the skills or techniques they most want to concentrate on.
When booking a private instructor you should try to give as much information as possible in regard to what you’d like to get from the lesson. Clearly understanding your goals and expectations allows the ski school to assign an instructor that best fits your needs, and allows the instructor to approach the lesson from the right angle.
Private lessons aren’t necessarily “better” than group lessons. You’ll just need to work out what’s best for your specific needs and for your budget.
Private lessons and group lessons can cater for all abilities of skier and snowboarder, from first-timers right through to fine-tuning advanced techniques. The best way to find out what’s the best option for you is to get in touch with our friends at ZigZag Ski School. Their friendly, English speaking office team will help to establish your goals and offer a range of options to suit your budget and needs.
During busy periods, the best instructors and prime lesson hours book up quickly. Securing your lessons in advance will ensure that you get the days and times that suit you best.
Outside of busy holiday periods, you can wait until the last minute to book lessons. Of course, if you have specific dates and times in mind, then booking them in advance will mean you can rest assured, knowing they’re secured.
If you’re not sure how many lessons you’ll need, you can always schedule a few sessions early on during your stay, then rebook additional hours if you’re enjoying yourself. The start of the week is generally in higher demand, so these days will be book up faster than the latter part of the week.
Morning sessions are always in high demand, so if you’re dead-set on getting a morning slot then booking early is vital. Keep in mind that lunchtime is also a great time for a ski lesson, as while everyone is eating lunch there are far fewer skiers on the slopes and lift queues are generally shorter - so you’ll get more skiing done! Afternoon sessions are generally in lower demand and as such, afternoon lessons are often cheaper (this isn’t because of deteriorated snow quality, but simply because fewer people want to book lessons in the afternoons, leaving more instructors available to work).
Provide Good Information When Booking
Ideally, an instructor wants to start your lesson with a good, basic understanding of where you’re currently at, and what you’re hoping to achieve. Keep your goals realistic and be precise if there’s something specific you’re expecting.
Saying you’re an “intermediate” level skier is very vague. Try to detail what you are and aren’t yet capable of doing, what you’re comfortable with and what you’re not.
Don’t say you’re a beginner if you’re not. Being overly humble can be just as unhelpful as being overly confident. Try to be straight up and honest, as your instructor will assess your real ability within a few minutes of starting the lesson, in any case.
Communication is vital. If there’s something you’re not happy with, tell your instructor immediately. If you’re not enjoying an exercise, or feeling uncomfortable, or just not really understanding what you’re being asked to do; then speak up. There’s nothing more frustrating for an instructor than hearing that a client didn’t enjoy their lesson, when that client gave no indication of dissatisfaction during the session itself.
Equally, if something really does go wrong, or if you’re just not getting along with your instructor, it is best to alert the office team immediately. Sending an email to complain a week later won’t allow a solution to be found, but a quick call or message the same day will offer the ski school an opportunity to make things right.
Be Patient With Yourself
As you advance as a skier or a snowboarder, the content you cover during your lessons may feel quite technical and abstract. It will take time to fully absorb the information and to learn how to apply these elements to your skiing. You might not see the results of a lesson in your skiing as quickly as you’d expect, particularly if you’re already an experienced skier.
Progress takes time, so remember to be patient with yourself and take time to acknowledge your accomplishment when you do finally nail something you’ve been working on. An instructor’s goal is always to help you to progress. For beginners, progress is rapid and the improvements are plain for all to see. As your level of ability becomes more advanced however, the progress you make will be fine-tuning that is difficult to see and sometimes difficult to feel. An instructor might spend a lesson helping you to understand a concept that you’ll then need to go away and work on independently before you’re able fully grasp. Depending on your level, you may feel the results quite quickly, and sometimes the process of acquiring an ability will require more time and practice. Don’t forget that instructors have practised for hundreds of days to reach their level!
Listen To Your Instructor
This is another one that seems obvious but is very often overlooked. In order to get the best from a ski lesson, you’ll need to follow your instructor’s instructions.
As adults, we make decisions all day long. We’re used to choosing what we want, and what’s more, we think that at this point in our lives we’ve come to know ourselves better than anyone else. It can be hard to let go of these elements of control when you put on your ski boots for a lesson.
Be intentional about listening to your instructor during your lesson and trust that there’s a reason why they are asking you to do a particular drill. Try not to get annoyed if their advice feels uncomfortable for your skiing at first and trust that they have your best interests at heart. You’ve paid for an instructor’s expertise, so it is worth succumbing to the instructor’s authority. Put all of your energy into practising and let your instructor do the rest.
Note : lots of people feel confident enough to give advice but ski instruction is a profession for a reason. Sometimes experienced skiers in your party will feel able to give you tips, but beware - they may be passing on bad habits (albeit with the best of intentions). Your friend or spouse may be giving you valid advice, however it could be too advanced for you or inappropriate for one reason or another.
Practise On Your Own
It’s important to think back to your instructor’s advice while you are skiing on your own. Even if you meet with your coach regularly, it’s important to try to put into practise all the tips you’ve learned from your instructor outside of lesson time. Remember, your learning doesn’t stop when your lesson ends.
More Practical Advice
Jump onto the ZigZag website to find answers to a whole host of common questions that will help with the organisation of your next ski lesson in Samoens.
You can also contact the ever-helpful office team at ZigZag Ski School with any questions you may have in the lead up to your next ski holiday here in Samoëns. No question is too small or silly - they’re very happy to help!