Take a lesson early in your trip. Whether you are spending a day, weekend, or week-long vacation, if you take a lesson, take it early. You will be learning things that will make your experience easier and more enjoyable, so it makes sense to be able to use your new skills for the majority of your time at the mountain.
Warm up before your lesson. Take a few easy runs to let yourself ‘remember how’ to ski. Your instructor will be assessing your abilities in the early part of the lesson, and you want him to be judging you accurately. Everyone skis better after they have been sliding around on the snow for a while.
Let your instructor know what you want to get out of the lesson. Regardless of whether you are taking a group or a private lesson, this clinic belongs to you. I generally ask guests what they would like to be able to do at the end of the season, the end of their visit, and during the lesson. I also ask them what will make them consider the time we spend together successful. Even if your instructor does not ask in this fashion, by spending a little time before your trip considering your answers, you will be more likely to get what you really want. Some goals are very broad, such as ‘I want to keep up with my family’ or ‘I want to ski better.’ The most popular thing that people want is ‘control.’
Practice. Practice. Practice. It takes the average person between 1000 and 1500 correct repetitions to get muscle memory of a move. If there is already something he does in a certain situation, it takes the average person between 2500 and 3500 correct repetitions to make the new method the go-to move. You do not forget the original thing you did. The longer you did it the more ingrained it is, and the more your body will want to revert to it.
Once you leave the lesson, you will have to force yourself to do what you learned until you have those thousands of correct repetitions under your belt, and your body is doing it naturally. You will have a lot of stimuli driving you to the known movement patterns, including starting up after you have paused for lunch or the night. The next time you put on your skis the old moves will be ready to take over. Skiing with your usual companions or on trails other than those you used during your lesson will all conspire to reinforce the old.
Luckily, we are blessed with free will and can decide that every first run we will concentrate on what we learned at our last coaching session. If we slip and do our old stuff, it is not the end of the world. All those correct repetitions do not need to be consecutive. We do not need to go back to square one.
Group or Private Lesson? The obvious advantage to a group lesson is the cost, and the obvious advantage to a private lesson is that you do not have to share the attention of the instructor. For some people a group lesson provides possible companions with whom to ski. For some it allows time to work on new manuevers without feeling someone is constantly watching. Private lessons allow a closer relationship with the coach allowing a better understanding of what you need and how you best learn.