How to become a ski instructor: The 70 hours shadowing

You have completed the other BASI 1 modules and passed the BASI Level 1 exam and now the only thing that is standing in between you and your desire to become a ski instructor is 35 hours of shadowing. So how should you go about arranging this? Why should you do it? What are the benefits of shadowing and why is it part of the qualification?


I want to become a ski instructor but why do I need to shadow?

Shadowing plays a key role in the first two BASI Ski Levels and is where most trainee ski instructors really master their craft. The BASI 1 exam gives you a huge library of knowledge regarding different teaching styles and techniques as well as a sound understanding of the technical side of skiing. The scenarios set in the exam are not realistic despite BASI’s best efforts – your pupils can already ski well and if things go wrong, the consequences simply aren’t the same as a real teaching session. In the real world you might have a split of ability in your class, and the ability to deal with this and other unexpected situations is crucial to becoming a great instructor. Shadowing is without a doubt the best way to prepare yourself for the random situations you’ll find yourself in!

As well as learning to deal with the weird and wacky you will pick up a huge number of new drills, exercises and fun things to do with your clients. If you are lucky enough to be able to shadow people from different ski instructors systems you should also find yourself coming across completely new ways of describing or thinking about skills that have become second nature to you.

Following another instructor around for at least 35 hours while they get paid may seem frustrating but if you pay attention you will become a much better ski instructor and learn from the best. It is part of the qualification for the above reasons.

How do I arrange my shadowing?

Arranging your shadowing can be a tripping point for those looking to become a ski instructor. For all those on a residential BASI 1 and 2 ski instructor course it is included in the programme, but what about those who are going down the independant route?

If you want to get your shadowing done in the UK, start by approaching any local dry slopes or snowdomes. Having an extra helper in the group to help people up if they fall over or need some reassurance is a great help. If you are trying to get your hours done during the summer though expect it to take a little longer as dry slopes especially see are real drop in business at this time of year.

The slope want me to pay to shadow, is this normal?

Yes and no – it’s a grey area really. If the slope is running their own instructor training programme which includes shadowing then they have to give those guys priority. As their own students will have paid a course fee they will likely ask you to pay for the shadowing alone. If there is no one at the slope who has paid for a course then you are helping them out to a degree, and they are unlikely to charge.

We run our own ski school experience course which includes 35 hours of shadowing – we charge for this because we also include 15 hours of personal performance coaching which will start you on the path to Level 2.

If you are already in the Alps – getting your shadowing done should be easy. If you contact any of the ski schools in the resort they will do their best to help you.