Group Lessons What to Expect

Who would not want to take their riding to new heights? I knew I did, so after my first attempts at learning to snowboarding we were off to Alpe d'Huez, France. Although I was not ready to ride the pistes as it was very much the beginning of my snowboarding adventure, I was ready to experience afternoon group lessons. 

What we were told when we booked my lessons? 

Something along the lines: It's a fun way to learn how to snowboard and make new friends in a group of riders of similar abilities whilst being coached by an instructor who focuses and helps your progress. 

Sounds great! Doesn't it? Additionally it is a more budget friendly option too when compared to private classes. 

Group Lessons My Experience 

I was booked for 6 days of lessons with each lesson being 4 hours long and with an English speaking group and instructor. Total cost: 164 euros.

First Day 

Ready to roll, or should I say slide, I arrived five minutes early before the lesson began. Quick introductions and we were ready to... Sit around for longer. 

'Ok' I thought to myself 'Surely, we will start snowboarding rather than talking shortly'. That was not the case. We sat there for good 45 minutes and stops like is would happen at least once during every 4 hour lesson. Why would that bother me? We were supposed to be in an English speaking group. However, 10 to 15 minutes per hour would be in English, and then instructor would switch to French to speak with two French students for the rest of the time. As a result the waiting times were more than double the time it should have been. English speaking students did not receive the same support and attention, and were excluded from many conversations about technique, tips, and tricks. This continued and increased during the duration of all lessons. 

Second, Third, and Fourth Day 

During these days we worked on a few things on the nursery slope. Firstly it was our body posture, which did not really resonate with me because I was forced to practice with only one leading leg. It turned out later I was using the wrong one however my instructor insisted for a long time that it should feel right to me because that is the regular way to a board. 

With time a came to realise I actually prefer and progress more when I ride with switching leading leg. Now I am comfortable to switch between regular (left leg forward) and goofy (right leg forward). Basically I am comfortable to switch between these two mainly for mental comfort as I just do not enjoy riding with my back towards the edge and not seeing. 

We also practiced the falling leaf exercise for the whole day. This is one of the exercises that I practiced before during my taster session. 

Finally at the end of second day we moved to flat surface sliding, making turns and linking them. The worst was about to come at the end of day four... Riding lifts. If there is one thing that stressed me out it was getting off the lifts. The instructor might have suggested the best practices but since I do not understand French we were left trying to figure it out ourselves. That did not go down well but we managed! 

Fifth and Sixth Day 

We spent the last day on a green piste. What an experience it was! The difference between a nursery slope and green piste is huge; so much busier than I expected! 

I felt that I am out of my depth and that four days of riding the nursery slope did not get me ready at all. The speed unachievable on the nursery slope scared me. The change of piste and the shouting instructor really did not help anyone's confidence! I was glad when the lesson was over. 

My confidence was also influenced by the instructor's approach. Now when I look back on it I can see how poor the whole experience was and why I was put off snowboarding. 

Your Group 

Another thing to consider when booking a group lesson is the speed of progress. You are going to be affected by the progress of the slowest member. They will also get more attention which in reality means you are listening to the same thing for the third time and as a result are given less feedback about yourself. 

The snowboarding experience in my group really differed. There were people way better and confident than I was, but we also had a couple of students that after a few days moved to a group for people with a lower level of experience. I was comfortably in the middle. 

Of course everything depends from the snowboarding school and instructor you go with. I did not have the best experience and since then I have also had private lessons with a great instructor that got me up to speed in no time; you will be able to read about that experience another time. Basing my opinion on the experience I had I would say that 6 hours of private lessons helped me more than 12 hours of group lessons. 

When you are learning an activity what do you go for group or individual lessons?

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