Are you looking for a kitesurf school but you don’t know how to chose it?
I hear you. I’ve been there before. And the more time goes by, the more complex the choice gets because there are more schools and places where the service is offered.
But before choosing I suggest you to read these considerations to get a better idea of the school that best suits your needs.
Let’s start with the following simple questions: how would you feel if you go to a school and find yourself learning directly on the open sea, with underperforming equipment or with a large number of other students? Maybe that’s what you’re looking for, maybe not. The important thing is that your choice is rational and motivated.
And I remind you that these are just some of the questions you have to ask yourself and pay attention to.
Keep in mind that teaching systems are often different from school to school because they are influenced by local conditions, as kiting is a outdoor sport.
Which are the best? There is no answer to this question. The point is what is best for you.
But let’s get down to business!
Before making a decision, I encourage you to consider the following elements:
Are you looking for autonomy or just the thrill of the first sensations?
Be clear with yourself. From my experience I know for sure that not everyone starts kitesurfing because they want to make it a regular activity. Many are just attracted by the aesthetics of the sport and want to feel the thrill of it (there’s nothing wrong with that if it is your). In this hypothesis, if you have the chance, the best thing is to choose a place where the conditions are easier (stable wind, flat water, maybe in groups to increase the fun), in order to facilitate the success of your first ride. If it’s sunny, even better.
On the other hand, if you are looking for autonomy, it is important to have lessons in schools located in more challenging places, with unstable winds and a bit more extreme conditions. Heterogeneity increases your knowledge, your perception of dangers and consequently will make you more autonomous.
You will understand from yourself that the second option is slower and the results may not be immediate, but this is the one I recommend.
Remember that everything takes time to learn. Forget the modern thinking of “everything and now”. Being able to jump on your board fast doesn’t make you autonomous, just be patient.
What’s your availability?
Budgetary and time. According to these two variables you will have to choose when to take your lessons and how many.
Let’s start from the fact that not everyone has the opportunity to go to paradisiacal places to learn kiting. And this is not necessarily a bad thing. Assuming you have the chance, it won’t be long before you have to deal with the reality of the conditions you wil face on your country or home spot. Just think about who learns kiting in Martinique and then finds himself practicing in Leucate!
In any case, looking for a trusted school or club close to your home is very important to achieve a safely the autonomy.
But what happens if miss money or time? Here are the three possible scenarios:
- If you have more money and less time, the goal is to take as much lesson as possible whenever you are available and the situation is suitable. Keep in mind that students often complain about light wind lessons as they are frustrating or unhelpful.They are wrong!
Those are the lessons where you learn the most and where you really understand how a to control a kite. So go out, give trust to your instructor, and you will see that later on you will realize the beneficial effects of the “frustrating” lessons.
- If you have more time and less money, the goal is to maximize your teaching time. So I warn you against those schools that do not take your needs and resources into account.
During the lesson I advise you to be focused and listen carefully to the safety measures and give priority to how to fly a kite. It is much more important to control it in any situation than to know how to ride with the board.
But how to maximise teaching hours?
Once you have understood how to fly a kite properly and have experienced the safety systems (don’t be cocky), you will have to find a place to practice without too many dangers (light wind, not buildings or downwind obstacles, etc.). Obviously let someone accompany you, better if he/she is experienced.
At the same time, I also recommend that you make an agreement with the school to book some lessons when the conditions are more favourable. This will not always be possible, that’s why I advise you to prefer the low season or the week. The schools will be more willing to satisfy your requests and fill the vacancies.
- If you’re short on time and money, I made no secret that you’ re in the worst situation.
But not all is lost.
The choice of the school becomes even more important in order not to waste the few resources at your disposal.
First, start with self-study and go ahead with the theory. If you’re reading this blog, it means you’re getting off on the right foot. Keep reading, watch tutorials, try to understand as much as you can how the sport works to minimize learning time once with your instructor.
Second, You need to run away from those schools that lead you to take courses on courses with poor conditions that are not adapted to your needs.
Inoltre, per ottimizzare le tue risorse economiche, e di apprendimento, devi tenere in considerazioni alcuni elementi importanti, propri ad ogni scuola.
Number of students
The number of students depends on the mindset, but especially on the geographical area of the school. When the transfers to get to the spot are long (you need a boat, a van, etc.), it becomes impossible to offer private/semiprivate courses. The courses will therefore be in groups and will last 4-5 hours. On the contrary, if the school overlooks the spot, it is conceivable to take one person at a time and offer a service per hour.
Both methods have pros and cons, it always depends on what you are looking for and where you live.
- The higher the number of students, the more you will place the outcome of your course in the hands of the other participants. It seems trivial to me, since it is reflected in any activity you undertake in a group (travel, sport, work, etc.). If everyone follows the teacher’s instructions and everyone is able to perform the exercises, everything will be fine. Otherwise, the instructor must prioritise safety, to the detriment of pedagogy.
On the other hand, a group is beneficial in many ways: it helps you to overcome your limits, you laugh and joke, you have an exchange of ideas and an analysis of problems that probably would not have been discussed, etc.
- If you attend a private course, the instructor is all yours. On the pedagogical level you will be able to have a lot of information necessary for your growth, and therefore the progression will be faster.
On the other hand, you will only be confronted with your own difficulties. In addition, in a private course you risk the paradox of having a too invasive presence of the instructor. This leads to a substantial decrease in reference points when the student has to practice alone.
In conclusion, if you are an enterprising and reckless person, you can take courses with several students without any problems. On the contrary, if you have fears and need to feel more confident (an instructor that has an eye on you at all times), a course with 4 or more people will not fully satisfy you and you risk emphasizing your phobias.
Learning with other students is fun and stimulating, learning in private is reassuring and faster.
By the way, I’ve been working with both systems, and I’ve got positive feedback. If you’re curious, have a look at the schools where I worked to better understand how they operate. It is the best way to get an idea.
Weather conditions differ from school to school, or rather from spot to spot. There are many variables that need to be taken into account that influence the ease and completeness of the information that will be transmitted to you. In particular I focus on the wind, and the water conditions.
Weather is not an exact science, and making sure you have the right conditions is not always easy.
There are some geographical areas known to stable wind during certain seasons, and others where you are confronted with more complex and less predictable winds. In the second case don’t be surprised if the courses are scheduled even with uncertain conditions. In fact, you will find yourself fighting with gusty and very violent winds, or on the contrary, with such light winds where the kite can barely fly. It’s part of the game.
- WATER CONDITIONS
The sea, the lagoon, or any other place where you practice, will significantly influence the water conditions and therefore your progression.
Learning with flat water is certainly easier than in rough seas, or worse in waves. In the latter case, not only the balance on the board, or the bodydrag will be more complicated, but in some cases the shore break will make certain exercises almost impossible.
Finally, remember that in real life you will experience all kinds of situations. So, once again, I would like to repeat that some lessons with such conditions are interesting, if not essential, to really understand how to control a kite and be truly independent in every situation.
Shallow water vs Open sea
Two different ways of teaching that fit different profiles. Let me briefly point out some pros and cons of the two methods:
- First of all, in shallow water the trainee has emotional security, due to the fact that the instructor is close by and is able to feel the bottom of the sea in almost all circumstances. For many students this is important. Second, relaunching a kite as well as getitng the board on the feet is easier and requires less energy. Thirdly, you will have the opportunity to ask for a break, or rest yourself by leaving the wing on the edge of the window, to recover if you need to. Lastly, you’ll have plenty of time to approach the theory and the preparation of the equipment.
On the other hand, you will have higher risk (albeit minimal) of minor injuries, caused by the presence of sea urchins, corals, boats or other dangers on the spot. In addition, in shallow water you will be led to walk much more because at first, you’ll fail to return to the same point from which you started, and you’ll lose a lot of ground every time you try. Your instructor has to set some limits for you, so you’ll be more restricted in the distance of your mouvements. Although it can be tiring in some situations, you will learn a lot of space perception while practicing.
- In deep water the student will have a great freedom of movement, therefore a greater possibility to work the balance on the board. Even during body dragging you will be able to feel more the kite power and run longer distances because of the fewer obstacles (just pay attention to the buoys). Also, in deep water you will hardly ever worry about where you are, but you will be able to focus more on what you are doing.
However, not everyone is comfortable in the deep blue, especially if you consider that you are going to spend most of the time in the water. Another element is the difficulty to put the board on your feet. In this case there is an important distinction due to the leash of the board. If the school doesn’t use it, you may find yourself doing a lot of body dragging (if you don’t do it correctly you will spend the whole lesson on it), if they use it you will always have the board attached, but you will have to be careful to don’t get wrapped with it. In any case it requires a lot of energy if you don’t understand the technique right away. After that, it’s important to speak about the breaks. They are necessarily dictated by your instructor. In fact, if you let your kite on the edge of the wind window you will continue to drift and you will be annoyed by the waves (it is still a solution if you are really tired). Finally, it is difficult to approach, from a boat, the subject of equipment preparation, take-off and landing, very important issues that cause most accidents.
Most people like to criticize other person’s actions, but this is wrong. There are certainly some approaches that are not very constructive, but generally speaking, each instructor has his or her own way of thinking and teaching which may go more or less handy according to the student’s profile.
I believe that if safety is respected, and if the instructor is reasonably qualified, the most important thing is the bond that is established between the student and the instructor. As long as the message is conveyed, there must be trust. In fact, there are excellent instructors who have mediocre returns because of their poor interpersonal skills or lack of empathy.
Kite learning remains a business in the tourism industry, and so it follows a simple law: most customers come to learn, but equally to have a good time. And this is not possible if your instructor doesn’t feel like being there, or does the bare minimum. If you don’t feel that I advice you to changes immediately (would you stay in a restaurant if the waiter treats you badly or takes 2 hours to serve you?).
Finally, from a technical and pedagogical point of view, an instructor should not be afraid to let you experience particular or new exercises, especially if you are stuck in your progression. It is important to define your goal (achievable, don’t be cocky) for the lesson and see if your instructor has any clear ideas to take you through your learning process.
In a sport like kiteboarding, safety is primordial. But how can you, as a beginner, verify the skills of the instructor or the school?
Some things are obvious, especially nowadays thanks to the internet.
Let me ask you some questions that will guide you:
Is the equipment new or old fashioned? Is the boat in good condition? Are the security systems working properly? What are the reviews about the school (pay attention to truthfulness, even if it is not always easy)?
Other factors can only be discovered if you try:
did the instructor take the time to explain the safety guidelines to you? Before you do an exercise, have you been given a briefing explaining the potential risks and how to avoid them, drawing the area to be respected and describing how you should perform the exercise? If you have a radio, does the instructor guide you so that you do not leave the designated area?
The instructor lets you fly your kite with potential dangers downwind: boats, rocks, trees, other kites close to you or on hard ground, etc… if yes it is not the best, unless he/she is close to you.
These are just a few things to check. If you keep them in mind, everything will be clearer to you especially after the first lesson. Always remember that in an outdoor sport not everything is predictable, so a minimum risk will always be there. So if you have any particular concerns don’t hesitate to talk to your instructor.
May be useful to change school?
It is always helpful to see a different approach, to talk to a different instructor, to try different conditions.
However, I feel like telling you that it is a good idea to change only in case you want to compare one or more of the above-mentioned elements. To understand what’s best for you.
That doesn’t mean changing all the time. Trying is good, but then it is important to be able to create a bond with your instructor/school and grow with him/her. This will prevent you from repeating the same exercises over and over again, he/she knows your level, and what to do to make your progress.
I would like to emphasise that these reflections are important but not exhaustive.
Complete in the comments if you have interesting observations, or ask questions if you need to discuss more specific topics.