By Luke Gillet 2015.

Ever gone through the motions or just pulled out a stock standard lesson locked in your head? I’m sure we all have but is it fair and is it good for our industry?

No is quite blatantly the answer. So here are some tools and ideas on giving a higher quality lesson and creating a unique experience tailored to an individual’s needs.

By mixing proven teaching models along with our own experience and skills, we can begin to achieve exceptional lessons, encouraging people to keep coming back. Especially the higher level 4-6 riders who are likely to be put off when they are not inspired by a lesson with no thought put into it.

Models/theories touched on;

  • Dreyfus’ Model of skill acquisition (Fig.1)
  • Abraham Maslow’s 4 stages of learning/competence (Fig.2)
  • Gerald Grow’s Staged Self-Directed Learning (SSDL) Model (Fig.3)


  • CAP Model (Fig.4)
  • Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of need (Fig.5)
  • Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences (Fig.6)


  • Muska Mosstons Spectrum of teaching styles*. (Fig.7)

Breaking down these models and relating them to snowboarding, it is clear the first 3 can be used to recognise which stage the rider is at. It is usually pretty easy to work out from a simple conversation whether they are a complete novice or a seasoned expert. The time people spend at each level may differ and some will never achieve ‘expert’ status, but by us acknowledging their learning stage it gives us the perfect opportunity to highlight, demonstrate and ultimately inspire the student to where they can go next with their riding.

As a riders skill level increases our role as an Instructor or Coach should change. Looking at Gerald Grows SSDL Model, as a student develops they move towards becoming a self-directed learner and we should adapt our role and style to suit that. Matching our style to their stage of learning is key in empowering them to progress toward greater self-direction. For example there is no point having a non-direct, ‘free’ style of teaching to a complete novice as they need clear instructions and direction because they have little to no knowledge. Likewise giving a very direct and autocratic lesson to more advanced riders may not capture their imagination and put them off taking further lessons. Instead, finding out the knowledge they already have and building on that by discussing possibilities along with suggesting options may not only make them feel more involved in their learning but achieve what they wanted to get out of the lesson(s). This will help them to progress to a more self-directed learner, build a good relationship between yourselves and probably increase the likelihood of them taking more lessons.


The next 3 models you may be more familiar with as they are covered in the SBINZ manual. These are focussed on how the student is physically, mentally, emotionally and also how their brain processes and understands information. Sometimes it can take time to really understand what makes a person ‘tick’ but as we improve our ability to find out these traits in people and get to know our students better we can present information and design customised tasks they can really relate to. Doing this will make the information sink in far better and not only help them get the result they desired but also give them an amazing experience whilst building a relationship bond which is likely to result in return business.

Some questions to ask yourself,

  • Are they mentally in a good place to learn? (Think Masslow’s hierarchy of needs)
  • What will make it fun for them? Learning a new trick, recognition (from you or a peer), a fun game or just feeling good and more confident in whatever they are doing.
  • What type of person are they? Which blend of multiple intelligences will empower them to learn?
  • How physically capable are they? Do they play other sports which have similar movements?
  • How knowledgeable are they on snowboarding? Do they want extensive knowledge? Do they need to be told the answer or can you help them find it?


The final model – Muska Mosstons spectrum of teaching styles is a great tool to use when lesson planning and presenting information. Once we have ‘profiled’ the students as described above we can now pick some appropriate teaching styles from this spectrum which will suit their learning needs, creating a fun environment in which to achieve.


By ticking these boxes and tailoring to their individual needs you will give an exceptional experience encouraging return business, especially at the higher standard level 4-6 riders where they may not think a lesson is worthwhile. By helping these riders become more self-directed learners and involved in their learning, we can give them a thirst for more. Letting them know how much more they can achieve in their riding through educating them about different styles, turns, tricks and techniques they can master. As instructors we know this but do they know there is more to snowboarding than just heel and toe turns?


These are by no means definitive steps but some tools and ideas of how to work out your students’ needs, then fitting them into the teaching cycle. They can also be adapted to suit their personalities. Obviously we will click better with certain people but by being a well-rounded, versatile instructor/coach you will ultimately be able to give a far better product to a wider market. It may sometimes take some trial and error but being able to have a flexible lesson plan that you can change to go with what works or gets a positive reaction, will help when you are still working people out.