The web is full of content that will teach you how to ski. You can learn everything from snow plough to parallel without ever getting off the sofa.
But reading is often very different from doing. And there are still a bunch of reasons why you should take ski lessons. Here we have laid out the reasons why ski lessons are essential.
Let’s get to it.
1) Skiing is a feeling-based sport
I have worked as qualified a ski instructor for over a decade. In that time, I have seen many self-taught beginners try to ski. It does not work.
Skiing sounds easy in theory. The technique is very simple. And you can visualise the movements at home. But all bets are off once you’re on the snow. This is because skiing is a physical sport. You need to get a feel for the snow. There is no alternative.
You need to learn by doing. And a good ski instructor will teach you how to apply your knowledge on the snow.
Transitioning from watching YouTube videos to actually being on snow is massive. You simply cannot do it alone.
2) Skiing is dangerous
Skiing comes with risk. Especially if you don’t take a lesson. The main role of a ski instructor is to keep you safe. That’s even more important than helping you learn.
Nobody has fun when they get injured. And that’s a fact.
One of the biggest reasons why you should take ski lessons is to learn about mountain safety. This is about more than just ‘not falling over’. You need to learn the basics about where to stand on the slope. How to traverse safely, and what to do when you see an accident. These are essential mountain skills that new skiers rarely learn if they don’t take a lesson.
Don’t ruin your holiday by getting injured on the first day. Hire a ski instructor instead.
3) Self-taught skiers pick up bad habits
Skiing is a very habitual sport. Muscle memory lasts a lifetime. Building a solid technical foundation is essential. Skipping over the basics can cost you in the long run.
Skiers who teach themselves tend to make basic mistakes like leaning back too much. Once you train yourself to ski this way it’s hard to break the habit. Foundational errors like this put ceiling on your ability. You will reach a ceiling and need to go back to basics again before you progress.
The best way to avoid bad habits is to not develop them in the first place. Taking ski lessons will set you up with a good foundational technique. Master the basics and your skiing will be awesome for years to come.
4) A ski instructor will see your faults
The keen eye of a ski instructor should not be underestimated. Even a couple of hours with a good instructor can improve your technique immensely. The problem is that it’s really difficult to analyse your own skiing. Even if you are a seasoned professional. But having an outsider take a look at your skiing will immediately give you areas of improvement. You can then take these pointers and apply them during your ‘free skiing’ time.
With zero guidance – you will never improve. Periodic lessons are a great idea. Even for experts.
5) Ski lessons build confidence
I often like to joke that a ski instructor is almost like a psychologist. Fear plays a huge part in ski performance. And scared skiers do not produce their best skiing. That feeling of nervousness can spell disaster. It causes people to completely abandon proper technique and revert to beginner mistakes. This does not bode well for anyone trying their hand at a new slope.
Instructors are there to encourage and instil confidence. Just knowing you have a professional alongside you will give you a boost of confidence. You will find it within yourself to reach new levels.
I always recommend taking a lesson if you are attempting a new type of terrain. Learning how to ski moguls or powder for the first time should always be done with an instructor. These are terrains that require specific skills and a lot of safety advice.
6) You will learn faster
Here’s a secret: Skiing becomes more enjoyable as your ability improves. Taking lessons is the best way to see fast progress. You will get tailored advice on exactly which areas to improve. This will propel your progress.
Ski instructors have taught countless lessons. They know how to get you going, fast. No instructor wants to see you hanging around on the beginner slope for days on end.
They are motivated to get you up the mountain. And they will make sure you learn quickly.
7) You will meet other skiers
Ski lessons are more than just learning. Group lessons are a great place to meet new people.
You will be with skiers who match your ability. Everybody is looking to improve their technique. You are all in the same boat.
Ski schools work hard to make sure the whole group has similar goals and abilities. That way it creates a positive learning environment. You will be encouraged and motivated by your fellow students.
Your new friends will be there to help pick you up when you fall. And laugh when you do something silly.
8) Learn about ski equipment
Ski instructors are knowledgeable people to ask about equipment. They will give you advice on how well your ski boots fit. And show you how to buckle them more efficiently. Having skis that match your skiing style and ability is also vital. And a good instructor will be happy to talk about which brand is best for you.
Don’t hold back from asking questions about ski clothing during your lesson. You can get great information about the best ski jackets, gloves, helmets and more.
Keep in mind that you can only learn so much online. Reviews are great. But the real-world advice you can get during a lesson is invaluable.
9) Learn how to navigate the mountain
Ski instructors know the mountain like the back of their hand. The best European ski resorts are huge. World-renowned areas like Zermatt and Verbier cover hundreds of kilometres of skiable terrain. You will be guided around the mountain during your lesson. Discovering your favourite slopes along the way.
You will learn more than any piste map could ever show you. Instructors know all the secret spots and quiet slopes.
Getting advice on where to head for après ski is another reason why you should take ski lessons. Don’t forget to buy your instructor a drink at the end of the week.
10) Ski lessons are fun
Some of the best times I had growing up on the mountain were during ski lessons. Every aspect of a lesson is enjoyable. From meeting fellow skiers to joking with your instructor. You are there to have fun.
Many of us take skiing far too seriously. Me included. Remember that lessons are supposed to be fun. You are on holiday!
A great ski instructor will provide an exciting lesson. Engaging chats on the chairlift and enjoyable exercises on the slopes. You will be skiing with a smile during your lesson.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are ski lessons worth it?
Ski lessons are worth it for skiers of all abilities. Learning from an instructor makes every aspect of skiing more enjoyable. Better technique means you get less tired. Your ability will advance quickly so you can enjoy more of the mountain. Skiing is a sport that gets more enjoyable as your skills improve. Taking lessons will speed up that process.
Do I need ski lessons for my first time skiing?
Ski lessons are essential for first time skiers. YouTube videos and blog posts are great. But you simply cannot get around taking a lesson. Being on snow is totally different from sitting in your living room. You can learn, read and watch all you want at home. But there is no substitute for sliding down the slope while an instructor gives you advice.
How many ski lessons does a beginner need?
Beginners need at least 10 full-day lessons to be proficient on the mountain. This means you should be in lessons for the entirety of your first couple of ski holidays. By the end of the two weeks, you should know how to turn and stop safely on blue slopes. With your skis starting to become parallel. You will have a solid understanding of ski safety and be confident enough to explore the mountain. After this initial period, you should still take lessons to keep improving your skills. But you could reduce it to half-day lessons or intermittent day lessons. This gives you more free skiing time.
Can you ski without lessons?
You should not ski without lessons. Skiing is a dangerous sport. You can injure yourself and others if you are not in control. Beginners must take lessons until they learn to control their speed, stop and turn. You can start to reduce the number of lessons you take once you are confident on blue slopes. I recommend even advanced skiers take some lessons. There are always areas that you can improve and even a short one or two-hour private lesson can advance your technique.
Taking lessons with a good ski school makes all aspects of your trip more enjoyable. You will learn new skills, find the best slopes and have a laugh with your instructor. Great ski schools get booked well in advance so I recommend organising your lessons before you arrive in the resort. Remember that you cannot learn everything online. There is some great information out there – but you really need a professional to provide tailored advice if you want to improve. Now the only thing left to do is book your ski lessons and get your lift pass. Have a great ski trip.
James is a certified ski instructor and the founder of SnowSunSee. He started skiing when he was five years old and has been a qualified ski instructor for 11 years. He has taught skiing in many countries, including UK, Europe, Japan, China and Canada. When he’s not on the slopes, James spends his time travelling the world and dreaming about snowsports.