Top 5 reasons to take a ski lesson


Whatever level you ski and snowboard at, taking a professional lesson by a reputable company will pay off in dividends, and make you wonder why you have not been taking lessons all along. In case you need convincing, here are 5 reasons to take a ski or snowboard lesson.

1. Safety

Running the risk of stating the obvious, snow-sports do come with a certain degree of associated risk, and in order to mitigate that risk – we must be in control. From a beginner skier who is unable to stop on a green run, to an advanced rider struggling to find their line through the trees, control over our movements is paramount for the safety of us and those around us. The skills involved for skiing and snowboarding are finite, and the consequences for errors in judgement can be significant. Therefore, tackling the sport by foregoing professional direction simply makes life not only harder for ourselves, but at times outright dangerous. Though we may have a giggle at the flailing beginner on the bunny slope that is unable to stop, these are also the people that could hit a child, an elderly person or fixed object. Simply put, if we do not know how to remain in control whilst on the slopes – we need to remedy that.

2. Protect against injury

On that same thread, it is an unfortunate reality that skiing can be a cause for bodily injuries – though fortunately the odds are well in our favour with this being an extremely low percentage. One way to avoid injury, aside from being in control, is by making sure that we are moving our bodies in ways that they should be moved, and are biomechancially sound. So often bad habits and instinctively defensive movements make us vulnerable to injury, as supportive muscles and tissues that should protect us are not engaged and ready to respond. For example, if our core is not engaged and hands dragging by our sides, it is all too easy for our weight to shift backwards when we gain speed, hit some turbulence or feel nervous. Once our mass shifts backwards, it can be incredibly hard to bring ourselves back on to the front of our boots, and our skis are harder to manoeuvre and control. This shift is almost always the cause of beginner skiers falling backwards, risking a head bump as they fall to the tails of their skis. Fortunately, a basic understanding of some fundamental principles can avoid this entirely, even as a beginner.

3. Avoid the stress

Not surprisingly, when we are in control and feel comfortable on our skis – we can have a good time (which incidentally is the idea behind a ski holiday!) So often people skip the lesson and end up in stressful situations, intimated by terrain and frustrated at the sport and those around them! Unfortunately, a bad experience can have rippling effects for future ski trips, and instil phobias and fears that need not have been created in the first place. People will often have a clear memory of a stressful experience on the slopes, and carry that with them into their ski future. It is not uncommon to come across very accomplished skiers that will still swear off cat tracks and narrows trails because they had a negative experience on one as a beginner. Those negative associations can be avoided all together, so that you can enjoy the sport without any `baggage`.

4. Maximum efficiency

Simply put – technique provides us with the most efficient way to ski. When you think of skiing from a physics perspective – involving forces, angels, energy and weight distribution and – it does stand to reason that there would be efficient and inefficient ways of skiing. The most efficient is kinder on our body and requires the least wasted energy. This means that good technique will have you tiring less, skiing longer days and feel more comfortable as you do so. Many adult skiers that have skied for years take their first lesson and realise that they didn’t have to have achy calves or burning quads every day, or feel unnerved when presented with icy slopes. Just a few hours to tweak and refine one`s technique – at any level- can revolutionise their enjoyment of skiing.

5. Don’t limit yourself

Though there are plenty of `get by` skiers out there, in the absence of strong technique there is a limit to what can be achieved. A higher level of skiing can only be reached with a solid foundation of those basic principles, and without those a skier will never be able to carve or load a ski in a way that they may want to. When a practised skier feels bored or unchallenged, it is often because they have reached their limit in what can be reached without the knowledge and understanding to push to the next level. For example, when someone has a very narrow stance, they can only achieve so much edge before the weight transfers to the uphill ski (where we don’t want it to be). Until the stance in corrected, that will be their limitation – unable to effectively use their edges or remain stable at a faster pace. All the time we are not on the podium at the olympics, there is work to be done on our skiing to continually challenge that next level of performance. The only way that we can do that is by being firmly rooted in excellent technique.

Ski lessons are rarely cheap, and a reluctance to further spend on an already expensive holiday is understandable. That said, a lesson is very often the difference between a poor or average experience and an excellent one – and after so much time and expense has gone into making a holiday successful, we don’t want to cut corners on the very thing that we have come to enjoy. If you do opt for a lesson, it is so important that you do your research and choose a reputable company with a high number of long term and experienced instructors.

Nadine Robb is Owner and Instructor at Hakuba Ski Concierge. Hakuba Ski Concierge is a boutique ski school in Hakuba, Japan.

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Comments (13)

  1. Luke Ashton says:

    We did ski lessons in high school, quite a few people signed up as it was such a rarity to do anything so exciting. Definitely a good investment to get to grips with it properly and be instructed by a professional. Refresher lessons are helpful too, especially if you’re hitting new slopes as the guides will probably be able to give you insider knowledge on that particular terrain. As you say, it’s so important for safety and prevent injuries because even seemingly small things you do when skiing or kitting up could cause problems. I’d agree with that last point too, you get more out of it because you’ll (hopefully) be more confident after lessons.

    • Nadine Robb says:

      Thank you for your comment Luke, it is great that skiing was something you were able to do in school! As ski areas are increasingly threatened by warmer temperatures, it is so important that skiing remains accessible to young people. As an industry, it is important that school trips are supported as much as possible.

  2. James says:

    Not having ski lessons is a false economy. In my experience ski instructors are really good at working with individuals. They work with your physique, your injuries and your mindset too. Everyone’s different and they’ll put together a style that works for you.

    • Nadine Robb says:

      Thank you for your comment James – I am pleased that you have enjoyed ski lessons before. I fully agree with it being a false economy not to take lessons, as we can end up making mistakes without an instructor that can end up costing us more than a lesson may have. This can be particularly true when it comes to recommendations for gear purchase, what resorts to focus on and rebuilding damaged confidence.

  3. Ivor Hunter says:

    Most people ski so infrequently, usually once or twice a year, that they’ve often forgotten a lot of what they ever knew. Taking to the slopes without a refresher lesson is simply foolhardy. Take it from me, he says from painful experience.

    • Nadine Robb says:

      Thank you for your comment Ivor – it unfortunately sounds as if you may have learnt the hard way! I couldn`t agree more, even a simply half day lesson at the beginning of the your trip re-focus you can prove to be invaluable.

  4. Ed says:

    There are times when I like to think that I am a reasonably competent skier. Most years I get to ski between 2 to 3 weeks: I’m lucky that a good friend owns a ski chalet. I still think it’s a good idea to have a lesson every now and again. Most instructors can sense when you are ready to move on to the next level and push you to be the best you can.

    • Nadine Robb says:

      Agreed! A great instructor will move at your pace whilst giving you a taste of what the next level is that you are working towards, and the benefits that come with that progression. Keeping us motivated to improve can sometimes be the hardest battle, as it is all too easy to plateau. Be sure to always give an accurate description of your ability level and goals when booking a lesson, so that an experienced and well suited instructor will be assigned.

  5. Danny says:

    This is really useful information especially for somebody who might just be starting out when hitting the slopes. While reading this, I also felt like there were some lessons that could be carried to other parts of life and being good at something. There’s a lot of discipline involved with being safe and making sure you don’t hurt yourself. Great information.

    • Nadine Robb says:

      Thank you so much for your comment Danny, I am really happy that this has proven useful! As an instructor, I am constantly asking guests why they have chosen to book lessons and what their goals are. I also see a lot of people who book lessons as damage control, after a bad experience that they have had on their own, which often involves a lot of back tracking and confidence building. At those time, I wish they had only know to book a lesson to begin with, which motivates me to blog on topics such as this. Thanks again for commenting!

  6. Sophie says:

    I learnt my lesson pretty early when I had that hard fall on my face. I am glad it was a minor injury that recovered fast. After that, I invested in a good instructor and every penny paid off. So, having an instructor is a must!

    • Nadine Robb says:

      I am so thrilled to hear that you had such a positive experience through taking a lesson, though sorry about the fall! Even after mastering the basics, a brush up every now and then can also re-focus us on our areas of improvement. Happy skiing!

  7. C. Huff says:

    Oh I’d never go on anything for the first time without any kind of lesson, especially if it has a high learning curve like skiing. It’s always good to learn the right way to do things and what to do in case you fall or lose your balance. It lessens the chances of lasting injuries.

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