©istockphoto/microgenTeach­ing a boyfriend, girl­friend, hus­band or wife to ski (par­tic­u­lar­ly if you’re an expert) can be chal­leng­ing and can require a lot of patience.

The first thing you should do if you’re gonna dive head­first into teach­ing your part­ner is to ask your­self if you believe you have the abil­i­ty and the lev­el-head to be a teacher on the slopes. If the answer is “yes”, then here are some oth­er tips to ensure that the learn­ing expe­ri­ence is pos­i­tive and lov­ing for both of you.

Be Encour­ag­ing Always
There are going to be times when you get frus­trat­ed with your part­ner. That’s ok. What’s not ok is say­ing neg­a­tive or belit­tling things like, “Why aren’t you get­ting this?” or “You’re being a baby. Just do it.” 

Keep it pos­i­tive and hon­est. Give them real feed­back that is free of emo­tion such as:

“That was a real­ly flu­id turn.”

“Try to keep your knees bent a bit more and loosen up your body.”

“Make sure to look down­hill instead of just at your skis.” 

“Great effort today. You’re catch­ing on.” 

Don’t Com­pare Their Learn­ing Expe­ri­ence to Yours
Chances are, you learned to ski when you were young or in your teens. Some­thing to under­stand before teach­ing an adult is that grown-ups often learn very dif­fer­ent­ly than chil­dren and teenagers.

For chil­dren and teens, the ele­ment of fun typ­i­cal­ly trumps any fear they might have.

How­ev­er, for adults, fun is often sec­ondary to the fear and self-con­scious­ness that they will expe­ri­ence when learn­ing this new (and very phys­i­cal­ly demand­ing) sport.

As such, don’t say things like:

“This was so easy for me when I learned. I don’t under­stand why you’re not pick­ing it up.” 

In fact, don’t tell them that any­thing is “easy” or that they will “catch on quick­ly” because you have no idea what their learn­ing curve will be. They may catch on and start rip­ping groomers the first few days, while pow­der ski­ing or trees might throw them for a loop.

Let them learn at their own pace and don’t com­pare, encourage.

Take Time-Outs
If you’re both get­ting frus­trat­ed, take a break. Imme­di­ate­ly. Go eat. Go drink. Even call it a day if need be. Ski­ing is sup­posed to be fun and is meant to bring you clos­er togeth­er. If the oppo­site is occur­ring, press pause.

Buy Them a Lesson
Once they’ve got­ten to the point where they need more direct and pro­fes­sion­al instruc­tion, maybe con­sid­er buy­ing them a les­son. Ski instruc­tors can often make a mediocre ski­er a damn good ski­er in one or two lessons sim­ply by com­ment­ing on form and by being a neu­tral observer.

Be able to rec­og­nize when it’s time to let the true experts take over and your sig­nif­i­cant oth­er will thank you. Not to men­tion, the entire goal is for your part­ner to be able to ski WITH you, so a les­son or two is one step clos­er to that goal.