Ski lessons for intermediate skiers – what to look for

Ski lessons for intermediate skiers are in plentiful supply, but very few seem to achieve much.

Skier demonstrating skilfull skiing on piste

Clean, economical, skilfull skiing

Many skiers don’t care how they ski, they just want to ski about and have fun that way.  But a significant number do care, and would like to be much more skilful.  Why is ski teaching that achieves this so hard to find?

My personal view is that the vast majority of skiing teachers come up through systems – in all countries – that claim to teach the instructors how to teach, but don’t.  They go through the motions, but the ski schools demand they do “demonstrations” and convey outdated and no longer applicable ideas of what to do.

So after giving up on ski school skiers try to develop their own skiing, but don’t have a sound basis of understanding to help them do it. 

That is because most ski instructors palpably don’t have enough understanding themselves.  Just because they can do it, doesn’t mean they properly understand it.  They’re not being paid to do it, they’re being paid to teach it.  Other than from the viewpoint of giving their pupils some confidence in them, they don’t even need to be better skiers than their pupils.  Roger Federer has numerous coaches none of whom can play tennis like he can.

Ski lessons for intermediate skiers

The first requirement should be to establish what unhelpful beliefs the skiing pupil has carried forward with them from their first ski instruction encounters.  And help change those beliefs.  Only then can you begin to introduce the series of simple actions that will lead to expertise.

Back in ( I think ) the 70’s the English Ski Council – now Snowsport England – chose the following for its definition of skill – “Skill is the learned ability to bring about predetermined outcomes with maximum certainty; often with minimum effort”.

The implications of that are profound – “learned” means the ability is not innate; “predetermined” means it is planned and goal oriented;  and “maximum certainty” implies that the activity is habituated.  This is like the mind’s “System 1” as defined by Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman.  You can find out more here

What do you need to develop skiing skill?

Kahneman suggests – not just in skiing – that you need –

  • A regular environment ( in our case a relatively smooth, gentle, uniform slope)
  • an adequate opportunity to practice
  • and rapid, unequivocal feedback…..

He writes that when these conditions are met, skill slowly develops.  A marker of skilled performance is the ability to deal with vast amounts of information swiftly and efficiently, and is the job of the mind’s “System 1” as he calls it.

Ski lessons for intermediate skiers therefore need to concentrate on the simple things to DO, that make skiing work.  And furthermore they need to be given in appropriate ski learning environments.  Skiers should not be moved on to more complex, more challenging slopes until they decide they are ready.  Adding an element of apprehension or even fear will inhibit skill development.

Good ski coaching

You can develop a very high level of skiing skill.  Neither your age – no matter what it is – nor your gender need make any difference.  You can start off lacking self confidence, and build it;  be relatively unfit and develop enough to ski as you want.  Skilful elegant skiing is within your capabilities – if you go about learning it in an organised and skilful way.

Of course more practice is needed the more difficult the slopes are, but they are all entirely possible with sufficient application.  How long it will take you is impossible to say, but once you have found a source of good quality ski lessons for intermediate skiers, you can do it.

There is more information here.

And I highly recommend Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow” even though it doesn’t mention skiing!

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