Ways to Build a
BY ERIC LIPTON
As a professional snowsports instructor, you might think yourjobistoteachskiingorriding. Actually, it’simperative
that we understand that our job is to create experiences, and
we use ski or snowboard teaching as a medium.
Our guests come to the mountain for an experience, and
the cool thing is that we get to spend more time with them
than any other mountain employee. So, regardless of your
students’ age or skill set, make sure you take advantage of
that extended opportunity to engage and communicate with
them. Here’s a handful of reminders for how to establish a
connection with your never-ever clients (and, well, with all
Take Them Skiing or Snowboarding
As soon as possible, move the students out
of the beginner area. Once they can keep
themselves and others safe, show them other
parts of the mountain.
Be The Professional
Be prompt. Be courteous. Be neat and clean.
Do the research, study, learn your craft,
and practice it. You should have answers to
students’ equipment questions, solutions to
their technical problems, and provide overall guidance and
suggestions for all of their on-mountain needs.
Build a Relationship
We are people first, and skiers and snowboarders
second. Build a relationship with your students based
on trust and partnership.
Give a Taste of Tomorrow
Create excitement for their next adventure
with you. Tell, show, and involve them in what
they’ll learn and what they’ll do next time when
they come back (not if they come back).
Display a sense of humor and enjoy yourself.
Be the person that you would want to hang
And smile. Of all the things you wear, your
expression is the most important.
Recommend Another Lesson
Highly recommend that they return for another
lesson. Remind them of the milestones they’ve
reached, and assure them that having you
guide their practice is much more productive
than independent practice.
Address All Types of Learners
Remember to connect via visual, auditory,
and kinesthetic (VAK) cues to help the clients
you’re working with. Explain so they can hear
it, show them so they can see it, and involve
them so they can feel it. And, where appropriate, always
introduce a movement or skill while they are standing still,
before you have them try it in motion.
Book The Lesson Today
Go with them to the booking desk
to set up your next session. Make it
convenient for them: Be available.
Teach For Transfer
Relate movements you are teaching to
interests and activities they are familiar with
outside of skiing or snowboarding.
Share The Sport
Share your excitement about the skiing and
snowboarding culture, the environment, the
outdoors, the mountains. Infect them with
your enthusiasm. It’s as much fun to share
skiing/snowboarding, as to teach it!
Eric Lipton is a member of the PSIA Alpine Team, and instructs
at Blue Mountain in Pennsylvania and Beaver Creek in Colorado.
He is also an examiner with PSIA-AASI’s Eastern Division, and a
guest coach at Montana’s Yellowstone Club.
“A Professional Touch” in The Teaching Dimension, a compilation of articles by former
PSIA-AASI Eastern Division Education Committee Chairperson Joan E. Heaton, available
at http://www.psia-e.org/ed/TeachingDimension.pdf (accessed November 3, 2011).
Do you have your own suggestions for a “Top 10”
list for connecting with beginners (or other topics,
like surviving your first day as an instructor, keeping
students engaged, covering safety tips, etc.)? Go to
The PSIA-AASI Community at TheSnowPros.org—
and get in on the “Top 10 Lists” discussion in the