5 signs of a good Kiteboarding Instructor
When you decide to learn an extreme sport like kiteboarding, you have decided to take on a certain amount of risk. Extreme power from the kite combined with the high speeds over water makes it exciting but potentially harmful as well. So if you want to learn the right way it is vital that you find a professional instructor who will show you how to manage the equipment and conditions with maximum safety.
Real kiteboarders are risk managers. And to become a successful kiteboarder you need to learn these risk management skills. The safest way to do this is with a professional kiteboarding instructor. The riskiest way is to try to teach yourself, so this is definitely not recommended. Almost every kiteboarder will tell you not to teach yourself. Kiteboarding is not like other sports. It is essentially a form of flying. We control a powerful wing, that has the power to lift you and dump you at any time. And as such, we need to respect its power and know exactly how to control it.
So you need some instruction, but from whom? There are many people who will try to help you, your buddy, or some guys at the beach, but you shouldn’t leave your training to chance. The skills that you learn in the first hours of kiteboarding will be with you for life. The skillset that you learn will be your protection and will determine your level of safety for the rest of your kiting career.
You only get a first impression once. So the information you receive in the beginning will become your core programming. Whether it is good information or bad.
We recommend that you seek out the good. Your life may depend on it.
Good training in the first stages of kiting makes surviving the sport much easier and increases your level of safety for years to come. Bad training, unfortunately, has the opposite effect. Bad technique can actually become a “ticking time-bomb” that can compromise your safety now or at a future date.
We have seen people teaching unprofessionally doing fundamental mistakes and passing along flawed information that has a direct effect on the safety of the student.
So when you are risking your life every time you kite, it makes sense to get professional instruction from the beginning, and not take any chances with your safety, now or in the future. So how do you know if an instructor is professional or not?
Here is a list of five signs that your instructor is a professional; This guide will help you find the right instructor and hopefully avoid the bad ones.
1) A Certified Instructor:
There are training and certifications for instructors. There are several large international training organizations that train and certify instructors. The IKO is the largest one, but also BKSA in UK and VDWS in Germany. These large well-known organizations provide comprehensive training, proven teaching systems, and will certify their instructors according to rigid standards, they have thousands of members and have an infrastructure, for quality control and accountability. But beware there are now a few copycat “wannabe labels” trying to impersonate the large professional certifications. These are usually not widely recognized and have no standards or quality control, so beware of these. Don’t pay good money to get a fake instructor.
2) In Good Standing:
Instructors can get trained but they also need to stay current. The large institutions ensure that their instructors stay up to date, with training updates and ongoing instructor evaluations. If the instructor is in good standing with their organization they will be on the organization’s “current” members list.
3) Active Instructor:
An active instructor is teaching a lot, not just a few times per year. You can see them at your local spot teaching every day, probably working for a local kite school. Beware if you have never seen them before. Ask yourself are they experienced at their local spot? do they know the area? do other local kiteboarders know them? If they do not know the spot, or they are not known at the spot, then they are probably not the best person to teach you. Bad local instructors will also get a bad reputation, so asking around might also help you avoid the bad ones too.
4) Check their feedback:
Professional instructors are reviewed by their Students: The students give regular feedback on their instructors, this is sometimes available on the certifying organization’s website. For example; IKO Instructors have a 5star rating system, as well as feedback from their students. You can review these by looking up the instructor’s profile on the website.
5) Believe your own eyes:
It is a good idea to watch a lesson from your intended instructor. Professional instructors usually don’t mind if you watch a lesson from a respectful distance, just ask first. This is not the same as trying to get a free lesson, by “listening in” (that is very annoying for instructors). But you can watch a lesson from a reasonable distance, you should see the progression, the level of control, and the results of the lesson. How did the student do? Also you can ask the student how their lesson was.
So when you are about to literally “put your life on the line” and learn to kiteboard, take control of your destiny and make sure that you only get training from a professional.
You will be safer, have more fun, and probably learn faster too. And your local kite community will all feel a little bit safer around you too.