Learning to ski is one of the most daunting, yet exciting experiences anyone can undertake. It’s a blend of the fear that comes with attempting something totally new in a totally new environment, mixed with the thrill and excitement of learning a new skill in an amazing place surrounded by awesome people.
Skiing is definitely not for the faint of heart, and there can be a lot of confusion among beginner skiers, especially around how best to actually learn to ski and make progress as fast and efficiently as possible.
A lot of people believe that you can teach yourself to ski, or simply learn from friends, however, this isn’t necessarily the best way to start skiing, especially as a total beginner.
There are a lot of different techniques to learn, and it can be easy to pick up bad habits or lose confidence as a beginner which can totally hamper your skiing experience and slow down how well you progress.
In this guide we’re going to look at the best way to learn to ski, how important getting quality skiing lessons can be, and other important beginner tips to ensure you get off on the right… ski, and become a confident and capable skier as quickly as possible.
Do You Really Need Skiing Lessons?
Many people who start out skiing are told that skiing lessons are essential and that trying to learn to ski solo is incredibly difficult, if not impossible.
The truth is that learning to ski alone is incredibly challenging as a total beginner, and while it is possible to learn through trial and error, it is by no means optimal, and you risk many different issues, from hurting yourself to learning bad habits and wasting a lot of time fumbling to find the right technique, instead of learning it correctly the first time.
Quite often, bad habits are harder to unlearn than simply learning correctly in the first instance, and as such, learning alone is generally not recommended. Even learning with some experienced friends is better than skiing solo as a beginner, however, there are some benefits to skiing solo too.
While skiing solo as a beginner has certain downsides, it can be a good way to build confidence and introduce you to the rudiments of skiing. After all, getting a handle for how the skis feel to wear, as well as using all the other equipment skiing requires takes time, so acclimating to this new equipment is definitely useful.
It’s best to not try anything too fancy, however, without someone to watch you and help you start learning the correct techniques right away.
Why You Need A Ski Lesson – Pros
The pros of skiing lessons are very compelling, and if you have any doubts about whether they are worth it, this is the section for you.
The great thing about getting proper skiing lessons from a real, qualified ski instructor is that they are able to massively improve your technique and progress in a fraction of the time it would take for you alone, or your friends.
These are professional tutors who are able to spot the tiniest issues in your technique and help you address them, which is truly invaluable as it will get you off the bunny slopes faster and doing real skiing on real slopes, which will help you extract more fun and adventure out of your trip.
There are other benefits too.
Ski instructors will be able to give you advice about routes and equipment, and will also give you a huge sense of achievement and reward when you get told that you’re nailing a particular technique.
There’s nothing quite like getting moved up to the parallel skiing class and starting the process of learning how to ski with style and confidence, after just a few hours of learning the basics.
This is another key benefit of skiing lessons with a real instructor.
They are able to see your natural ability and how quickly you are progressing and can help set you up and progress you onto more difficult lessons or more advanced classes very efficiently, which will lead to even faster progression.
It’s quite possible for a relatively athletic beginner skier on their first ski trip to go from a total rookie unable to stop or turn, into a confident parallel skier in only a day or two of tuition.
While lessons may seem expensive, they will increase your overall enjoyment of the ski trip and when taken as part of a group lesson, things actually get much more reasonable in terms of price.
Overall, ski lessons provide immense value and are the optimum way to learn to ski, regardless of what anyone else advises you.
Cons Of Ski Lessons
The main downside of ski lessons is that they can be a little expensive, particularly if you want one on one classes.
Group sessions are a little cheaper but may mean your progress isn’t as quick, however, group sessions are a great way to meet people.
Another downside is that skiing lessons can separate you from your main group of friends if they aren’t doing lessons, which may mean you miss out on some of the fun they have while you’re getting taught the basics.
On the plus side, however, you’ll be much more likely to be able to keep up with them once your lessons are finished, so it’s short term pain for long term gain.
Learning To Ski From Friends
Learning to ski from friends is great if you have someone who has already mastered the art of skiing, but it’s not ideal for those just starting out. It’s also important to remember that you don’t want to copy what they do, rather try to understand why they do things the way they do them.
If your friend happens to be a qualified ski instructor, then that’s obviously a different story, but even masterful skiers who aren’t instructors may find it hard to actually help you to learn and progress as a skier.
This is because it can be really hard to articulate what you need a new skier to do, and how to understand where a new skier is going wrong.
Essentially, understanding how to ski doesn’t mean you’ll be able to help someone else understand, and instructors pay hefty fees and go through demanding courses or study to learn the techniques needed to help skiers of all levels progress effectively.
If your friends are simply mediocre, trying to learn from them will likely be an exercise in futility, and while you may learn some useful tidbits, you’re also likely to pick up many bad habits.
This is why learning from a real skiing instructor is the preferred method, even for fairly confident skiers.
Learning To Ski On Your Own
There are many different ways to learn to ski, but they all come down to two things; firstly, getting out onto the slopes and practising, and secondly, being patient. The main thing to remember here is that if you want to learn to ski properly, then you should take it slow and steady.
Learning on your own is far and away the most difficult way to learn to ski, as there’s no one to point out your mistakes or how to improve on them.
But if you can’t afford to pay for lessons and find yourself solo on the slopes, getting used to skiing and trying your best to improve is still better than not skiing at all.
Ultimately the more time you spend on the slopes the more comfortable you will be there, which is why even though it’s not the most efficient, solo practice can still be useful.
It’s also a good thing to do if you’ve had some lessons and want to practice the techniques you’ve already been shown, and this is arguably the best use for solo practice – going over drills and techniques you’ve been shown by actual instructors.
How Many Ski Lessons Do You Need?
To become a competent skier, it’s recommended that you take between 10-20 ski lessons at a minimum. This will give you enough confidence to enjoy skiing, but also allow you to progress safely.
Of course, these numbers can vary a lot, and some naturally gifted skiers may only require 4 or 5 lessons to start getting the hang of more advanced techniques, while some skiers may need more than 20 lessons to get the confidence to try something new.
It’s all about you and how well you progress as a skier.
So How Long Does It Take To Ski?
The first thing you should know is that it takes a lot longer than you might think. It’s easy to assume that if you’ve never tried skiing before then you’ll pick it up quickly. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
The average beginner will spend anywhere between 6 months and 2 years before they feel confident enough to ski at an advanced level, and some skiers will feel fairly comfortable after a single ski trip filled with quality lessons, it will often take many subsequent trips to become a truly confident skier.
How Much Do Ski Lessons Cost?
The cost of lessons varies depending on where you live, what type of lesson you take, and whether you take private lessons or group lessons. Private lessons tend to be more expensive than group lessons, but they allow you to tailor your experience to suit your needs.
Lessons are also more expensive at busier and more popular resorts and peak times of the year, which is worth considering when you plan your trip out.
Is Skiing Hard To Learn?
The first thing you should know about skiing is that it’s a sport that requires a great deal of physical strength and coordination. It’s not just about being able to turn well, but also balance, control, and having the ability to push off on both feet and deal with the demands of immensely challenging conditions and weather.
With a good instructor, however, skiing isn’t that hard to learn and it’s possible to become quite effective at the basics very quickly if you listen well and put in the effort.
Learning to ski is a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s important to remember that it’s no walk in the park. If you don’t have someone who knows what they’re doing guiding you through your first few days and weeks on the slopes, you could end up making mistakes that could result in injury, or worse, bad skiing.
If you want to learn to ski properly, consider taking lessons from a qualified and experienced instructor. They will help you avoid common pitfalls and ensure you stay safe throughout your journey into the wonderful world of skiing.