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What makes a good ski instructor?
What qualities do you need?

When deciding if you want to become a ski instructor, or snowboard instructor, it’s important to consider if you’re suited to the job. Of course, we can help you improve your skills and get the best instructor qualification… but there are certain qualities that will set you apart from the rest.

In fact, there’s a million ways you can make someone’s ski trip memorable, help them feel safe, facilitate improvement or spread the love for skiing and snowboarding. All these things will turn you from a good instructor, to a great instructor. We think the following qualities are especially important.

Patience and resilience

- Teaching can be repetitive. Luckily, with ski and snowboard instructing, there is a wealth of drills and practices that you can be creative with. The best ski instructor courses will equip you with plenty of these. The ever-changing terrain will also keep things interesting!

- Holiday-makers can be hard work! Every now and again you might be teaching a group, or an individual, who tries your patience. The best instructors never let this show, and their clients leave thinking everyone’s had a great day.

- The aforementioned, ever-changing terrain is thanks to the weather that gets thrown at ski resorts. If you’re thinking of becoming a ski instructor – consider how tolerant you are of cold, windy, white-out days. You’ll probably have to be out there, at which point you’ll be craving an office job!

Calm and adaptable

- Teaching skiing and snowboarding is not without risks. A lot can go wrong, with people of all skill levels and in all conditions. One of the most important qualities in a great instructor is adaptability – you never know what will happen when you’re half way up a mountain!

- It’s also important to stay calm, think quickly and act rationally when things go wrong. If an instructor shows that they are stressed or nervous, it will rub off on the group.

Empathy and humour

- People can be afraid on the snow. This goes for beginners or even strong skiers/riders when they start trying new things or pushing their boundaries. Even if you don’t find the scenario scary, it’s key to understand the thought process of your client(s) and empathise with their feelings.

- Falls, accidents, embarrassing moments happen. The best instructors are the ones who keep everyone laughing and don’t take themselves too seriously either.

- Whether you’re teaching holiday-makers, junior ski-racers, or future instructors – everyone still wants to have fun! The best ski instructors and snowboard instructors generate a few laughs and keep the conversation flowing. Even when it feels like clients only want to talk about themselves – just keep chatting!

Fitness and skills

- It goes without saying that you need to be fit to do an active job like teaching skiing or snowboarding. However, the best instructors work on improving their fitness off snow and outside of the job too.

- The very best ski and snowboard instructors keep their skills developing and refreshed. This could be by taking advanced teaching qualifications, or diversifying their skills into other sports, guiding, park, etc.

- A top tip from us, learn a couple of simple tricks – clients love it! Even more so if you can teach them too.

Love for the sport and seeing people progress

- You’ll need to genuinely love helping people improve. The best ski instructors, and snowboard instructors, get a real buzz out of helping people get better at their sport – regardless of skill level.

- You’ll also have to genuinely love the sport itself. There are challenging elements to instructing (for example a low starting salary and working in all weather). However, if you’re happy to ski or snowboard, for work and for pleasure, then you’ll make a great instructor.

Think you’ve got what it takes to make a great ski or snowboard instructor?

Here’s more information on our ski instructor coursespaid ski instructor internships and snowboard instructor courses.

If you’re keen to discuss an instructor course with us, visit our contact page.

If you have more questions, visit our FAQ page.

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