Choosing a Ski Instructor Training Course

Top 5 keys to success when choosing a ski instructor training course

When looking to train as a ski instructor, you don’t necessarily want to jump onto the first course you come across in your google search, or the first company to accept you onto their training programme. Finding the right people to spend your season with is the best way to guarantee your success and fulfil your goals. Having completed instructor Levels 1 and 2 through a gap programme, and just finishing a season of Level 3 training, I feel I can offer some real advice on how to infiltrate the ski industry. Here I offer you my top 5 keys to success when choosing a ski instructor training course… and definitely before putting your name down and handing over your hard-earned money.

choosing a ski instructor training course or gap year skiing

1. Pre-season Prep

It should all start before you arrive. First of all with the application process. It’s all well and good having a well-designed website. But nothing beats being able to talk to people in person, whether that be over Skype or phone call. If the company cares about who they are accepting on their course, they will want to speak to you to find out what you’re all about. This may seem daunting, having to ‘present’ yourself. But having a good interview process can guarantee that you and everyone else accepted for training are right for the course. It works both ways, don’t take the website at face value. Arrange a chat and give yourself a great opportunity to get the information you really want. Being able to talk to new people is also an essential skill for an instructor so why not start practising now.

Guaranteed help and advice before you arrive for training is important. Turning up with the right equipment can set you up for a positive start to training. Your coaches should be proactive about this and recognise the importance of the correct setup. Help choosing ski equipment can be invaluable and will save you time and money searching through the mountains of equipment on offer. Even better, they might be able to help you out with deals, discounts or direct you to the best places to buy!

Your training provider should be able to offer you support with accommodation and travel if needed. Travel advice can be handy when you arrive in your country of choice, as transfers to ski resorts can sometimes be tricky. Your coaches will know the best ways to get around and should attempt to make this part of your trip uneventful. Equally knowing you’ve got a comfy bed to sleep in when you arrive, can make your journey stress free. Finding affordable accommodation in ski resorts can be tough, so help to find something suitable for your budget is helpful. Even better, being offered housing as part of your training package is the easiest way to settle into your new surroundings.

2. Prime Location

When moving to the mountains, location becomes very important. Picking somewhere with guaranteed snow is a must. My gap programme in Japan started with a week of theory indoors waiting for the snow to fall, not ideal! Choose a high altitude resort with a glacier and set yourself up with great snow conditions throughout your training.

Picking a prestigious and highly regarded resort will infinitely improve your experience.
Despite possibly higher living costs, the overall experience will be worth more, as the reputation of the resort will have a positive impact on you, your CV and future employment chances. It should also guarantee the reputability of your trainer and ski school you may work with. Consequently if following your training with employment, you will be working with a good variety of international clients and enjoyable working conditions.

Ski instructor training Zermatt

A well-known resort with glacier skiing should also be easily accessible, preferably by train and road. Rail travel can be easiest, especially with ski luggage, and is generally consistent and running 24/7. Being in a resort that’s easy to travel to and from gives you the flexibility to visit other mountains and local towns to experience more of your new surroundings on free days.

A well-established resort will ensure an enjoyable living environment. Having a variety of facilities, services and a friendly social scene will make you a happy skier. Resorts with famous peaks and a strong history of mountain culture are a plus and locations that hold renowned snow-sports events are fun to experience.

3. In-Resort Help

Settling into a new home, no matter how long you’re staying, involves a bit of organisation especially if it’s your first time living outside of your home country.
A company that recognises this challenge and that’s willing to spend a little extra time helping you out is a huge bonus.

Having a good orientation and introductions to helpful people around town, such as boot fitters, kick starts getting to know your resort. General local knowledge will save you time and confusion and make essential tasks such as buying a lift pass quicker. Knowing the best place in resort for a slick ski service is always invaluable information. Quickly being given advice on setting up a bank account and local mobile number is very helpful when staying for the season.

Health and well-being when training is extremely important for you and your progress.
Find a coach that cares about the team’s wellness and that can offer a well-rounded training plan that includes fitness and recovery. Training that includes additional stretching or strength and conditioning sessions in resort will promote success. Being able to go to someone for medical advice and being supported with injuries and illness is crucial. Basically, just know that someone will be there to cover your back if all doesn’t go to plan.

4. Knowledgeable coaches

Above all, your choice of coach is arguably the most important. If you’re serious about training for success you should look for someone who is lucky enough to have the following glowing qualities. First of all, a coach who cares about their work and the success of their trainees should be grabbed with both hands. These are arguably hard to find, but its worth your research. Talking to people who have trained with them before can be an easy way to find out the truth.

Coaches who have a broader knowledge of sport and sports coaching could guarantee this level of care and attention. If they have been successful in other areas of the industry they will offer a more rounded approach to training, and will often go all out to promote yours (and their) success. Coaches with a wider understanding of sport may even hold additional qualifications and will be able to hold the extra recovery and fitness session (mentioned earlier) themselves. This is great as they will directly see your progress as well as your struggles, on and off the snow.

In-depth understanding and knowledge of the ski industry is very important. There is more to the industry that just completing instructor qualifications, you may as well explore as much as possible. Finding a coach who has held multiple roles in the industry or that’s involved in larger organisations such as Interski International, will guarantee an experience that can be shared with you. Find someone who’s got some interesting credentials, then use them! (not as harsh as it sounds).

4b. Socializing

If you haven’t grown up in the mountains, skiing can still be your jam, but you’re probably not what I’d describe as a ‘ski-head’. If you have more than one interest in life, talking about skiing all day every day can grow old.
Having a sociable coach and training team, with multiple interests and skills will make for unbelievable more enjoyable chairlift rides. Remember, what’s said on the chairlift, stays on the chairlift. You might even want to socialise after training and become friends! And at the end of the day, you’re paying to spend time with these people, you may as well enjoy their company!

For the second part of “choosing a ski instructor training course” article click here!

Katherine Dunn

Writer’s profile

Katherine is a dual qualified ski instructor (APSI and IASI) as well as snowboard instructor (APSI). She trained and worked in Japan, Australia and Switzerland.
Today she is taking a degee in Sport Physiotherapy. She still works as snowsport instructor during the winter holidays in Europe.

Choosing a Ski Instructor Training Course – Diamonds Training Centre – Zermatt, Switzerland

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