PSIA Alpine Team Member Brian Smith Offers Tips for Family Lessons

In this 2-part podcast series, PSIA Alpine Team member Brian Smith chats about how to manage a family lessons. Listen to get some ideas for your own group lessons.

You can also watch this video series on tips for parents from Aleks and Brian Smith, which you can use in your lessons.

Brian’s Top Tips

  1. Gather information about conditions before the lesson starts. Once you meet your group, consider the individual profiles and family dynamics and consider the impact conditions may have on the learning environment. Think safety, and how the conditions may challenge individual skill sets. Pace your activities and terrain accordingly.


  1. Engage the parents. “Tactfully” ask mom and dad about how their kids behave when participating in family activities. Ask if they do other family activities. If so, how do they go? Mom and dad can tell you which child will challenge you, which will dominate what to do, who should get coaching first, who will lose interest first, who’s competitive and who’s not.


  1. Be the facilitator of fun when introducing new activities. For example, if your outcome is simultaneous leg rotation start the session by asking, “Hey team can anyone get their skis to twist at the same time while on the top of each bump?” Bam! Your off and running a fun session without a lot of “how” instruction. After some trial and error, look for meaningful opportunities to actually coach how to do it. Keep things fun and involve everyone.


  1. Recognize and praise everyone’s successes. You can also encourage discussions about how an activity or focus helped or challenged each person. Listen carefully and use their feedback to support or steer your technical focus for the group, or individuals, as the lesson progresses.


  1. Encourage discussions about reading the terrain. Share options they may consider when using their skis or board to manage something specific about the terrain. Every situation requires a tactical adjustment. Learning to read terrain will help students recall certain situations and how they handled them.


  1. Make the day a family day. Do things outside the realm of just teaching. Take time to facilitate memorable family experiences on the mountain. You can capture a great family photo, arrange a picnic lunch, hike to a point of interest to view the scenery, have a snowball fight, or engage the family with other departments on the hill.

Remember to have fun, and encourage love for the mountains.