Your kite surf lessons, they were great right? You went from not being able to fly a kite, to being a kickass, totally awesome kiter doing huge 20m jumps in about 3 days……Oooooor probably not. For most of us mere mortals (all you super humans who did what I just described can stop reading at this point, this isn’t for you) getting that good is going to take a LOT of work. However there is a good way we can get better, and in general it’s going to be much quicker than trying to figure it out for yourself. You might have guessed what it is from the title.
Over those first few days of lessons you learnt a lot, but becoming a pro takes longer than your instructor has time for. Their priority is getting you to a level where you’re safe on the beach/in the water; where you’re not going to injure yourself or others around you with your inexperience, and that’s what you’re paying them for. However there is a definite theme in kitesurfing that when you’ve finished your beginner lessons, you never need an instructor again. After all, they were just there to get me onto the board and that’s that…..But why is that?
Being a good instructor means you understand the mistakes people make in a split second. I see that you’re not putting enough weight on your back leg as you come out of the water, meaning the board nose dives and you take yet another face plant. When you come up, I wait for you to stop coughing/spluttering/swearing, tell you what went wrong, you try again and Lo and behold you’re up and riding. That one little tip got you from drinking half the lagoon to cruising away into the sunset.
So my question to all you aspiring Aaron Hadlow’s or (insert favourite kite surfers name)’s is, why stop there?? Why is it that you don’t think it’s worth your time and money to pay for advanced kitesurf lessons or clinics? What makes me a great beginner instructor is my ability to spot problems and explain how to fix them, a skill which works just as well for a back roll, a carve gybe, or an s bend to blind as it does for a board start.
Maybe you’re struggling with back rolls and have been for 6 months, come to me for a lesson, even just an hour, I promise you it will make a world of difference. Usually I can tell you your major mistake within an attempt or two, and can then spend the rest of the time helping you correct it and any other little problems. It’s hard to know what’s going wrong when everything is happening around you, but from the outside looking in, it’s actually fairly easy to assess the problem and come up with a few tips to make it work. I personally like to ride with my students, so we can stop and chat any time for me to give tips, or I can demonstrate a technique, or I can just ride with you while you try it. It’s the perfect setup and the progression I’ve seen in my students is amazing, because you see me do it, I tell you what you’re doing wrong, and you have no choice but to keep trying it, you’re paying for it after all!
People will often say to me the best thing about having an instructor for advanced lessons is it actually forces them to try the trick. It may sound stupid, but how many times have you been really psyched to try a trick before the session, gone out, crashed really hard and got what feels like a billion gallons of water flushed through your nose, thought “you know what screw it” and then stopped trying after one or two attempts? I know it’s happened to me, and I know almost every other kitesurfer has done the same at one time or another. When you’ve paid for a lesson, you’re damn well going to keep trying!
Maybe you are just a glutton for punishment and you love wiping out, I mean it takes all sorts, but if you want to progress at any level, in any sport, an instructor or a coach is the best way to go about it. You don’t see self taught olympic athletes, they all have coaches, so why do we as kite surfers insist on beating ourselves and our equipment to death rather than pay for a professional to guide us? Some people will point out lessons can be expensive, so let me put it this way: you spent €3000 on 2 kites, €600 on a board, €150 on a harness, €200 on a wetsuit. Now you’re complaining over €50 for an hour, to learn something from a professional, which will avoid you trashing all that nice shiny new equipment.
I understand it’s not for everyone, but for those that take them, advanced lessons are a lot of fun, you’ll learn something, and you’ll probably end up enjoying your time on the water more, so think about it.