Most of the internationally recognised ski instructing bodies have separate instructing and coaching pathways and qualifications. But what’s the difference and what should you do?
Well, the lines between the two are a little blurry, essentially in both you are developing the skills of the person you are working with, improving the ability of the skier. However, there are subtle differences in the ways that you do this and the skills that you pass on.
This is probably the term that you’re most familiar with, and general holiday-makers will book an instructor for a lesson. Instructing is generally a formal teaching of skills to someone, and in the ski world, this tends to look like a demonstration of a specific skill and getting students to copy it, command-style teaching.
Generically, instructing tends to be associated with early skill development when the skill is totally new to the student. This also tends to be set on short-term goals (shorter than coaching) and achieving a set standard or level.
Coaching is often the term used to define the longer-term process of developing athletes’ skills, whether that be in swimming, athletics, basketball or skiing. You’ll hear the word ‘coach’ bandied around a lot within competitive sports, and this is where the coaching strand sits most comfortably, when the sport becomes competitive rather than for fun.
Coaching is less about rigid lesson structure and skill development through a fixed pathway, but more about the style of giving feedback to athletes in order for them to develop their skill set to become more flexible, jump higher, ski faster. Rather than a copy-cat style of teaching, coaching is designed to be more of an athlete-led development process whereby you assign tasks and encourage athlete-led internal and external feedback on the success of the task, as well as providing some feedback yourself. The relationship between a coach and an athlete tends to be more long-term than that of an instructor and a student with long-term skill development and aims at the heart of the training.
Not all of the professional bodies have separate coaching and instructing qualifications, but you’ll find that the bigger organisations will.
BASI; the UK Coaching Pathway (UKCP) which is a combined project between BASI, Snowsport England, Snowsport Scotland and Snowsport Wales.
NZSIA; the Coach Development Programme (CDP) run through Snow Sports New Zealand (SSNZ), Sport New Zealand and the NZSIA/SBINZ.
APSI; APSI are endorsed to deliver Ski and Snowboard Australia (SSA) coaching courses.
PSIA; there are coaching courses and qualifications run through PSIA, check your area’s page for more details.
CSIA; the coaching programme is run through the Canadian Ski Coaches Federation.
Insert links to each of the articles on the qualifications ie/ BASI, CSIA…
However, in reality, these are merely names given to certain types of teachers, and in all walks of ski teaching, you will likely use a mix of both techniques, it’s a bit of tomato, tomayto. At the beginning of learning of new skill, you will always tend to use more of an instruction-based manner and as the skill develops you’ll naturally turn to a coaching style, and this could be a snowplough turn or a carved GS turn.
Everyone has their own style of teaching, but in terms of formal qualifications, check with your registered body to see what their take is on instructing and coaching qualifications and what they allow you to do. For example, BASI are quite clear that as a qualified coach, you are not qualified to instruct beginners in the sport, and would need to obtain your teaching qualifications for this.