What Does A Snowboard Lesson Offer You?

Why would you want to get a snowboarding lesson? The obvious answer is to improve. But what do you get from a lesson on the hill that you can’t get elsewhere?

I recently explored the idea of learning to snowboard without taking expensive lessons. In this article, we’ll look at the things that a lesson does offer, and compare that with cheaper forms of tuition. The discussion applies to different levels of instruction: learning to snowboard, freestyle snowboarding, advanced riding and off-piste/freeriding.

On-hill snowboard lessons

Technique. Your snowboard instructor will prime you with the technique you need to improve your snowboarding, whether it be the first steps taken by a beginner, or more advanced techniques. They can show, demonstrate and explain how to snowboard. Correctly.

Structure. In addition to the technique required, your snowboard instructor will provide with a structure in which to learn. What to start with, what order to progress in. Some exercises to re-enforce the learning. If you get stuck, maybe they’ve got back-up methods to help out in certain areas. A lesson should structure your progression.

Guidance on the mountain. How to use a lift, which runs to use and what areas to avoid. The instructor works at the mountain. They know the terrain and they know the facilities. They may show you the perfect slope to practice on, a jump that’s great for trying what you want to learn, or good, introductory off-piste. They’ve got local knowledge – they can provide you with guidance on the mountain.

A two-way lesson. One of the main advantages of taking an on-hill lesson is that the information flows in both directions. First the instructor will give you something to try. The instructor then gets to watch you try it. That’s an important distinction. They may see something instantly that’s holding you back. Having the correct instruction is one thing, but getting feedback on your own technique is sometimes just as important – and sometimes more so. On the hill, you can ask the instructor questions and they can watch your progress. Important.

Confidence that you’re doing it right. Your snowboard instructor is a professional, teaching snowboarding is their job. That concept is often enough for people to stop questioning things, and just do what the instructor is telling them. That confidence in “doing the right thing” is useful for just getting on with it. For progressing.

Confidence in being safe. Again, learning in the care of a professional snowboard instructor gives you confidence that you’re in a safe environment. Left to your own devices, you have to make the safety calls yourself. This applies to the beginner snowboarder, unsure of the mountain; the freestyler, who follows the suggestion of their instructor to try a jump in the park; or the freerider who’s being guided off-piste. With an instructor, they make the assessment of what’s safe, which can make you more confident.

Encouragement. Sometimes you just need a push. A little encouragement. An instructor should provide this when needed. “You’re on the right track, just keep doing what you’re doing, it will come.” “A lot of people struggle with this part, don’t give up.” There can be legitimate information in that, e.g. the knowledge of how everyone learns, and sometimes it’s just motivational. Either way, there are times when you need encouragement.

How unique are these benefits? On-hill vs. video coaching

I’ve been recommending the Snowboard Addiction video instruction for a while now; they have lessons for both beginners and freestylers. They’re very good: they do the best possible in removing the need to ask questions back. They’re much cheaper than on-hill lessons. All-in-all, they’re a valid alternative for learning to snowboard.

So, when would it be better to take an on-hill lesson? What are the unique benefits of learning with an instructor?

Well, some elements of instruction are only possible in person. There are others that are much better delivered in person. But which ones? And importantly, do you need them now, at this stage of your snowboarding?

  • You want the encouragement, you want to be pushed, you’re nervous about something. A lesson may provide the presence you need!
  • You’ve tried it on your own, and it’s not happening. you’re stuck with something. You already know how it should be done, but it’s just not happening. You need someone to watch you, and tell you what you’re doing wrong. You need feedback.
  • You don’t have a clue – all your friends are new to snowboarding too, and you haven’t seen any instructional material
  • The safety element is high, or beyond your experience level. For example, you’re venturing into the off-piste, you’re learning avalanche safety
  • You’ve been given some tips, watched some videos, but you’re not confident trying them yourself.

Any double-edged swords? Yes. Beware, the quality of a snowboard instructor isn’t guaranteed. Not all lessons are great. That’s not specific to snowboarding; paying for an instructor in all different walks of life doesn’t mean you’re going to get someone good! Some instructors are awesome! Worth every penny and more. Others are good, some OK, and some should probably have a different job.

That’s one of the reliable things about the SA instruction, you can buy that knowing that many people have rated it highly, including me.

On this note, stay tuned for an article on “what to look for when booking a snowboard lesson”. If you’ve got any ideas on what to look for, or on the subject of what on-hill lessons offer, add them with a comment below.

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Comments
12 Responses to “What Does A Snowboard Lesson Offer You?”
  1. Reneator says:

    Asking people about the quality of the snowboard school.
    Only one from my side. the other one would be, experience it :D höhö

    Greetings Reneator

  2. Gavin says:

    Hey Ren,

    as simple as that sounds, I bet there aren’t many people who do it. I think it’s natural to assume that the snowboard school is going to be good… I’ve seen examples counter to that! But you’re right, asking around for people who have used them, is the simplest and probably best approach.

  3. Reneator says:

    Hey Gavin, :D

    So yeah this winter im going to get some freestyle lessons (2 day lesson) from my local shops snowboard school (where my sister works at :D !fuck yeah!).
    I learned snowboarding there, bought my first board and im driving often with their bus to their favourite Resort (Oberjoch – Bad Hindelang). I can give you a Sitrep and i owe you some rail pictures :D

    And now i got some questions to you:
    How’s your leg doing? Any progressions? New X-Ray pictures!?
    Do you usually have snow in England in winter? or is it rare? (because you got so many snowdome and Snowflex pisten!?)

    Cheers Reneator

  4. Gavin says:

    Hey Ren, it’s cool that your sis is a snowboard instructor and it’s cool that you’re getting some freestyle lessons. Anything particular in mind, to learn? What you working on?

    I’ll definitely take a sitrep, get some pics of the park :) And I’m waiting for the rail pictures too, I’d like to see how you made it up!

    As for me: leg is getting better each day. I’ve been given new exercises to eliminate some scar tissue, and to increase the flexibility at the knee. I did have some x-rays last week, but they weren’t very exciting, and I’ve got to write off to the hospital to request them. I get my last set in 3 months time. I’ll get hold of them :)

    We get snow in England, but it’s rarely enough for snowboarding. That said, there are some slopes in the hills that can score well if it dumps a lot – I’ve never been to one yet though. I think it’s Yad Moss or something like that.

    But you’re right, we do have a lot of domes and snowflex slopes to make up for it. Just none of them are near where I live!

    Cheers

  5. Reneator says:

    Hey Gavin,

    That must be nasty(“uncool”) not to live near snowflexes! How long do you need to get to a good one?
    Really Amazing, how you got some days on snow, with the fact you were never been on one slope in england… might be amazing for me! :D

    I’m really looking forward to your x-ray’s good luck(big success (more important than luck but lucks still important :D )) and good progression! 3 months might be in february :D maybe you get some day’s on snow on a sled ;) *höhö*

    You will get a Sitrep, will be there with a friend of mine (my Parkour buddy :D ) but he actually doesnt live here anymore… We went to the same school in munich, i dont live in Munich and he also, Distance about 200 km atm^^

    I wanna get some basics with the lessons, last year i got a feeling of progression, but had the feeling my board began to limit me (Burton Bullet 07/08 164 and Burton custom08/09) So i bought me a new one this year (Rome Manual 09/10 and Rome 390 09/10 (a bit cheaper with last season off!)) So i could do some dry practice with that board, but feels pretty good already, have to figure out my Binding setup anew (before 15+/15-/highbacks unrotated, and now i will have to experiment a bit)

    Back to the lesson: I want to get a better feeling for freestyle elements, and get some Basics on rail riding and Kicker. Getting the Vision, to see some fun spots on snow is a Basic in that Freestyle lesson.
    I can already do some Ground tricks (Nose roll, presses, maybe 180th (that was what i could do last year, let me see what i can do then with my new board, binding, boots (boots were one number to big (13 (some big ones^^)) now i got 12 boots (Us size) which are 11 to the outside (thanks to burton shrinkage tech :D ) , awesome when having bigger Boot size numbers like me!

    Ok, ok, back to the freestyle lesson again!
    So i wanna get some basics for the Park doing kickers and really set some progression cause my sister made that lesson, and she said it really helped her progressing at a point she thought about cancelling snowboarding (no progression, only stagnation)
    And at the lesson, a teacher asked her because of her good basic riding skills, she could become a Instructor if she would like to.
    But thats another story again! :D

    The Park in Oberjoch is not really a favorable one, small, got not really much, its a bigger Resort for Skiers and so good for Freeriding and getting some Pow, for better Pow and Park i have to get more south (Austria) Fellhorn etc. do have some good parks, also the “basic” glaciers like Kaunertal, Hintertux (got some big park but was never there before)

    So that Winter will be (i really really hope so) a Winter full of progression and i hope i can get some good riding and some good snow!

    Greetings

  6. Reneator says:

    I think that was much :D might take you some time to read/response ;)
    good luck with that!

    Cheers

  7. Gavin says:

    Hey Ren, yeah that one took a while to read!

    1) yeah it’s annoying being so far away from a decent slope. “So far” is relative to the quality of the slope at the other end and the cost to use it. The closest snowdome is around 1.5 hours, and snowflex around 2 hours.

    2) your lessons. Seems like you’ve made a good choice with that board, I’ve heard good things about the Rome Manual. Kicker action, nice. Any specific tricks, or just getting straight airs/grabs and such. Have you got your 180s down on kickers yet?

    Good luck with the lessons, and as always, I hope you score some good pow!

    Cheers, Gavin

  8. Reneator says:

    To second: Nah i cant even make a good Jump on a kicker, i not really jumped one in a park (just one selfbuild with friends half a meter high to powder). Until now i just used some natural Jump possibilities on the slope, I didnt feel courious enough for those Kickers in the Park, so i just wanna get the basics to start the thing with Kickers and rails, so i got a Basic i can build on it (easier to progress on Rails, when you were already on one, then getting on a really if never been on one before (atm the second one!)). so doing a 180 in front of me and my friends over a kicker, or maybe an 360, might be awesome also because my sister doesnt like riding park, not curious enough for Just some nice flat boxes, but most riding slope. Man im writing a lot here again :D I’m really sorry for you reading all this! ;)

    To first: 1,5 HOURS? I just need 1 to some easy slopes… Is the Quality really in a good average to the cost and time used for getting to it? So you’ve been to some Snowflexes and Snow domes in Britain, but never before to any Snow slope in winter in your country?(Only on vacation in Europe?) And where you been everywhere in Europe?? (Really interests me, because i would get the possibility to get to Chamonix next year when i begin to study. You were already in France? Famous for its big big mountain freeride possibilities!)

    “Good luck with the lessons, and as always, i hope you score some good pow!” Thank you, just thank you :D and for you too for sure!

    Cheers, and i hope for good progression for you, and thats it^^ :P

  9. Reneator says:

    Peace and love! and just ignore that comment^^
    Like ya!^^

    Cheers!

  10. Gavin says:

    Hey Ren.

    Yeah, it’s 1.5 hours to an indoor snowslope, that’s 150m long and you pay £35 to ride for four hours. Add in the fuel and you’re looking at around £60 for the night, and you have to leave immediately after work to get there for the 7pm start. It’s good, but not the best situation to be in.

    Europe: I’ve been to Chamonix, Tignes, Morzine/Avoriaz, Meribel, Laax/Flims, Les Diablerets and Zermatt & Les Deux Alpes, both in the summer.

    Outside of Europe, I’ve only been to Fernie <– Awesome.

    Sounds like you’re ready to get into your freestyle. You should check out some of the SA vids if you haven’t seen them. Definitely go to Chamonix if you get the chance, it’s great there. I think I’ve been 4 or 5 times.

    Take it easy, Gav

  11. Reneator says:

    35 Pounds? oh my gosh… the ilft ticket to the normal lift here costs 24 € without the fuel costs (21 Pounds). and only 4 hours? xD quiek

    Nice! O.o How many years did it take you to achieve this many visits?? So how long you’re riding already (if its not on your profile page).

    Fernie is in Canada? how long have you been there? i saw some of your films from that travel. But would like to hear something from you personally!

    thanks for the Clue, i saw some, but 55$ is lot of money, but maybe im thinking about getting them (really good vids though)

    Cheers, Reneator

  12. Gavin says:

    Hey Reneator,

    yeah £35 is steep, when you compare it with real mountain lift tickets! I started snowboarding in 2003, seems like a long time ago. I’ll post something up with all the places that I’ve been and the time I’ve spent at each – might be interesting to see what others have done.

    Yeah – Fernie is in Canada – BC. I’ve got a bunch of posts from that trip. Actually, it’s probably my best-reported trip, have you read those posts? If not, I’ll drop a link to the category. Since moving to wordpress is probably needs a little tidying up :)

    SA vids aren’t cheap but compare well with the price of a lift ticket… the way I looked at it was, if they’re good, I’ll get the money back in time that I don’t waste doing the wrong thing. But like all tuition, I think you’ve got to ask if you need it at this stage. If you’re progressing, and things are happening, you can hold off. And you’ve got that lesson booked and you sis is a pro now :)

    Take it easy, Gav