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Private lessons: how many and when?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Bit of advice please, snowheads

Heading out in a week to La Tania, woo hoo! I think it's maybe time to treat myself to a private lesson or (!) 2, but don't know how many and when is best, or whether I should just stick with the group.

I've only ever done group lessons, which have been fine but I've never felt pushed physically; I've learned techniques/drills which is great, but with groups I find there's a lot of waiting and I don't get as much skiing done as I'd like. I'm of the first-on-the-lifts-last-off-the-pistes type, and do a lot of cycling and climbing year-round so probably happier to push myself than your average ESF punter.

I'm intermediate plus, I reckon: very happy on reds, blacks ok but style can get thrown out of the window if I start bricking it. Mostly it's a confidence thing: I've only done 4 weeks of alpine skiing due to a decade or so of cross-country skiing holidays (not very British, I know). I've also done a few days off piste, ski touring. Touring was by accident rather than choice - conditions weren't good enough for ice climbing so the guide took us ski touring which was an unexpected bonus Smile Smile Smile ...the only downside being I now want to improve my off piste and am in danger of ploughing any spare cash in the bottomless money pit of touring, uh oh.

So, questions: are private lessons really worth it over groups? And then, if I break the bank and get 2 lessons, is it better to spread those out, say have a lesson on day 2 (afternoon probably, given it's cheaper) and then nearer the end so that I can practice in between? Or frontload it? I'd be interested to hear what works for you and if you have any recommendations

Thanks! And bonus classic ski lesson video for anyone that read this far: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=163158067550202
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
@snowcurl,
I recommend private lessons for the reasons you suggest.
I'd book two with the same instructor.
I'd give yourself a day to warm up then have one on day 2 and one on day 4. As important as the lesson is the purposeful practice to implement and lock in what you learn so give yourself time for that.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
@snowcurl, it's not clear if you have other like minded people to ski with? Especially important if you want to improve your off piste.

I wouldn't go overboard. 1 on 1 privates will/should be pretty intense coaching sessions which highlights your faults and how to improve them. That improvement will come with time spent effectively practicing i.e., skiing in your "group" without the instructor. By "group" I just mean whoever you happen to ski with. Hence why you need "like minded people" - you won't be able to improver your off piste without... going off piste.

If going off piste more you will also need to have the gear (bleeper, probe, shovel), know how to use it and learn to be safe (as much as you can be) in the mountains.

If you are billy nomates (in this context) you could join a guided group.
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My advice would be:

- Suss out the good ski schools/instructors
- Book in advance, if you can
- If possible, team up with one (or max two) of anybody in your group (if you're in one) - provided they are of a similar standard/speed. This will reduce costs.
- Think about the areas where you particularly want to improve
- Have a day (or possibly two) to get your Ski Legs
- Book a lesson
- Have a day to work on what you've been taught
- Book another lesson
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
@snowcurl, I'd concur with warmup day, lesson, day without lesson, 2nd lesson.

Some friends booked over the lunch period last New Year that was quite a bit cheaper for a 2 hour private.

Also finding the right instructor you click with is also important. There are a list of ski schools in La Tania here:

https://www.latania.co.uk/skiing/lessons.htm

If I were you I'd look for a British instructor with ISTD BASI Level 4 qualifications (even better if they have been a BASI Trainer) and do some searches on here for experiences that others have had with local ski schools/specific instructors.

I've had lessons from Del and I'd recommend him at http://www.skimarmalade.com/about-us/meet-the-team/ (who do say they cover La Tania)


Last edited by Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do. on Thu 16-01-20 15:19; edited 1 time in total
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@jedster's suggestion sounds about right.

The 'when' is an interesting topic. I don't do that much prep for my one week a year ski trips so after the first day it seems to take me two days to recover before my legs have any energy again. I also find it takes me 2-3 days to just get back to the same level I was at the end of the previous year. Maybe these two factors are linked. Puzzled

So for me, I'd probably get the best out of some private lessons after the first 2-3 days when I'm starting to ski better and have some strength back in my legs again.

For you though, you sound fitter and are definitely a quick learner to get to intermediate plus after just 4 weeks of skiing. So going for your first private on the second day sounds like a good plan.

PS; Welcome to snowheads
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kitenski wrote:
If I were you I'd look for a British instructor with ISTD BASI Level 4 qualifications (even better if they have been a BASI Trainer)

Why British?
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
Choosing instructors can be a personal thing but I would also recommend Andy Parker https://www.ap-ski.com/services
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Layne wrote:
kitenski wrote:
If I were you I'd look for a British instructor with ISTD BASI Level 4 qualifications (even better if they have been a BASI Trainer)

Why British?


Personally I would want an instructor with very good english. Indeed last time I took a listen I insisted on that. But that doesn't necessarily mean British
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@jedsters approach is similar to mine, when funds and family permit Smile.
warm up day, then i go for two days with lessons ... usually aim for late morning /lunch sessions as the pistes/lifts are quieter and often cheaper than first start am.
i think that if you know what you want to achieve and can explain that to the instructor private lessions are great ... possibly even better if you have a mate/partner with similar skill level and development goals.
word of warning, if the instructor asks if you'll be skiing after the lesson (after you've just waved to your wife in a another lesson) don't say "yes, if she's got any legs left" - Mine laughed then made sure that as i finished i could barely stand Laughing
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Layne wrote:
kitenski wrote:
If I were you I'd look for a British instructor with ISTD BASI Level 4 qualifications (even better if they have been a BASI Trainer)

Why British?

The best Instructors I have had, were all British. I don't know whether this is because I click with the BASI approach; or whether it's a fellow person from the UK connecting better.

Having said that, any native English speaker would come a close second.
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And love to help out and answer questions and of course, read each other's snow reports.
I'll second the idea of only getting a lesson in your native language, so if you are english then a native english speaking instructor is best. They can convey ideas and concepts in many different ways to help one understand better what it is they are on about!

Many of my mates have had group lessons which ended up with only 1 or 2 punters after a couple of days, but I've never had this and now always go for privates, preferably with 1 or 2 mates so we can share the cost of two, 2 or 3 hour lessons.
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Old Fartbag wrote:
Layne wrote:
kitenski wrote:
If I were you I'd look for a British instructor with ISTD BASI Level 4 qualifications (even better if they have been a BASI Trainer)

Why British?

The best Instructors I have had, were all British. I don't know whether this is because I click with the BASI approach; or whether it's a fellow person from the UK connecting better.


Having said that, any native English speaker would come a close second.[/quote]
I'm all with the language thing but would be surprised if British instructors were generally superior.

But as I've not had many private lessons I am happy to be told I'm wrong.
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 You know it makes sense.
You know it makes sense.
Layne wrote:


But as I've not had many private lessons I am happy to be told I'm wrong.

I certainly can't tell you that you're wrong. I can only give my subjective experience.....but it's an experience that includes Swiss, French, Italian, Austrian, Australian, American.....and British.
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 Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
Otherwise you'll just go on seeing the one name:
have 1st day to yourself. make sure all rental stuff is ok for you. So you have the whole day to sort them out.
Then lessons next 2 days in the morning, so you can practice in the afternoon & ski with buddies last few.
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 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Layne wrote:

I'm all with the language thing but would be surprised if British instructors were generally superior.

But as I've not had many private lessons I am happy to be told I'm wrong.


you are wrong ! Having had lessons myself with all nationalities and hence my recommendation.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
As someone who used to teach skiing i would suggest the earlier in your holiday the better, that way you have the maximum amount of time to practice what you have been taught let it sink in and reap the benefits, and you don't spend to long reinforcing bad habits.

As others have said take 1/2- 1 day to warm up and get used to it again. It is also probably better to have a couple of 2 hour lessons rather than a half or full day.

It is also worth bearing in mind that on a week long ski trip you body/muscles tend to feel their most tired on days 3/4.
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 Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
kitenski wrote:
Layne wrote:

I'm all with the language thing but would be surprised if British instructors were generally superior.

But as I've not had many private lessons I am happy to be told I'm wrong.


you are wrong ! Having had lessons myself with all nationalities and hence my recommendation.


Not necessarily it depends on your skiing style and what you prefer. There is a surprising amount of difference in the way instructors from different countries ski and teach. None of them are wrong just different and its a personal preference.

Also a note on ski instructors and recommendations, I see a lot of people saying you should only look for level 4 Instructors, and yes as level 4 instructors they are top of the pile in terms of qualifications (And if you are looking for a BASI instructor in France you are only likely to find Level 4's because of french law). But qualification levels aren't everything and there are some very good instructors round that aren't level 4's not because they couldn't be but because they chose not to be.
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As has been said above it doesn't have to be a level 4 but it is good if it is someone you get on with. As well as private lessons see if the ski school do 'advanced clinics' these can be cheaper than a full private but are generally small groups being taught by the schools best instructors.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Great advice, thanks everyone!

@jedster @kitenski @OldFartBag, days 2 and 4 it is, or at least what I'll aim for when speaking to the ski schools. Will see if I can get others interested, although I lie somewhere in the middle of a fairly extreme range of skiing abilities in the group (from late-starter beginner/intermediate to someone who practically skied out of the womb) so finding someone that wants to ski hard but still needs a lot of tuition might be tricky.

@wardy89, good point about being most tired on days 3/4, so technically speaking it would probably be better to do a second lesson later. But then I suspect we'll do more fun/long days as a group on the last couple of days once everyone's full of beans and feeling more confident, and I don't want to miss out on that.

As for the British/other nationalities, I'd be interested to try a British instructor for variety's sake; I've only ever had French ones before and, it must be quicker/easier to click with someone in what is both our native language rather than muddling along in Franglais. I've no idea what the differences are in terms of BASI vs French teaching style, so I'd be interested to see, even if it does mean missing out on a golden opportunity to be told to bend ze knees and remember la flexation des chevilles. I'll give it a go and report back.
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Good luck!

The language point is really about the instructor having the fluency to describe something in three different ways if the first two don't make sense to you!
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Thanks for the luck!

I just had a look at the weather forecast (clearly getting too excited about going away) and there's snow with gusts of 40km/hr predicted for Day 2. Now I don't know how high that is, but it sounds blowy to me! Could be, um...exciting. It's over a week away so who knows how accurate the forecast will prove to be. If it doesn't change then maybe not ideal lesson conditions, but on the plus side the pistes could be nice and empty!
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
@snowcurl, I ended up in nearly whiteout conditions for the day I had booked my private lesson for, and found it advantageous as it helped me gain confidence in skiing in those lower visibility conditions. Thankfully visibility improved during lesson it meant I got more out of the lesson.
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Day 2 is Monday 27th Jan presumably. Don't think any forecasts made today for that date can be taken with any confidence.

Also La Tania has runs in the trees so will be less effected by bad weather. In a private lesson they won't take you very far either. It should be just lapping a couple of lifts with intensive coaching.
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I had a private lesson called off due to instructor not being able to see me in a white out. They rescheduled for the next day. You could always bring the day 2 lesson forward to day 1 afternoon.
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