Becoming a better skier requires dedication, perseverance and the desire. It is a sport of constant learning, with most of us striving to improve our skiing year after year.
As your skill level increases, it’s easy to find yourself hitting a plateau that is hard to overcome. Marginal gains become more difficult to achieve, but remain undoubtedly satisfying.
Whether you’re an expert, intermediate or beginner; learning how to be a better skier poses a significant challenge. That’s why we’ve created this article, giving you 10 useful tips that will improve your skiing.
#1 Get the Right Equipment
The path to becoming a better skier starts away from the snow.
Using the right equipment is fundamental for ski performance. It will provide you with the platform required to improve your skills and learn with confidence.
Ski equipment is extremely specialized. Skis, bindings, boots and poles are all designed for a specific type of skiing or level of skier.
Equipment Choices For Beginners
If you’re brand new to the slopes, your equipment will have a significant impact on your learning experience. Beginner specific ski gear is designed to be comfortable, forgiving and easy to handle.
- Beginners’ skis are usually lightweight, flexible, mid-length and use a fairly short turn radius. They are designed to be manoeuvrable and easy to control.
- Beginners’ ski boots are often flexible, wide and well insulated. The main aim here is comfort, hoping to make your day on the slopes enjoyable.
Equipment Choices For Intermediates
As your ability improves, you will require equipment that can handle steeper terrain at higher speeds. You will start to notice how your equipment impacts performance on a greater scale.
- Intermediate skis use a stiffer flex that improves stability at speed. Continuing to use a fairly short turn radius, you will find the skis are able to obtain better edge grip.
- Intermediate ski boots have a stiffer flex and a tighter fit. Designed with performance in mind, they sacrifice an element of comfort to improve control.
Equipment Choices For Advanced/Expert
Once you become an accomplished skier, you will be skiing a wide variety of terrain types at high speed. The need for specialised equipment will become more evident, as will the need for skis that are stable at speed.
- Expert skis are solely dependant on the type of skiing. In general, piste skis will be slightly longer and stiffer to accommodate higher speeds. However, it’s advisable to have a range of skis that are adept in any snow conditions.
- Expert ski boots generally use a stiffer flex with a tight fit, promoting control at speed. However, applications like park, powder or touring are best performed using a specific type of boot.
#2 Get The Right Clothing
When discussing how to be a better skier, clothing probably isn’t at the forefront of your mind. However, it’s often wildly underrated in its affects on performance.
Staying warm and dry on the mountain is paramount. Cold hands, frozen toes and wet skin are all distractions from what’s actually happening on the snow.
The way your clothing fits will also change the way you ski. Poor quality ski jackets can often feel restrictive, stopping you from performing the range of movement that is vital for proper technique.
Another key factor is the quality of your ski goggles. By giving you a clear vision of the slopes, they can aid your performance by improving confidence.
Whether you’re a beginner or expert, our advice is to invest in quality ski gear. It will not only improve your overall performance, but will also make sure your ski experience is enjoyable.
#3 Improve Your Fitness
With mountain views and a festive feeling in the resort, it’s often easy to forget that skiing is a sport.
It’s a sport that requires a great level of physical fitness if you want to perform at your best. Muscular strength and cardiovascular fitness are key to improving your skiing.
Balance and coordination are also both important assets on the slopes. Although they are often viewed as more ‘natural’ talents, the most committed skiers are able to improve these performance elements and achieve results.
In order to perform at your best on the slopes, skiing should be viewed as a year-round sport. Training away from the slopes is hugely beneficial to your performance and should not be underestimated.
Look to maintain your fitness by participating in other sports that promote fitness away from the slopes. It’s also beneficial to work on core strength and conditioning in the gym, which will help to improve your balance.
Arriving in resort with a high level of fitness will allow you to work on your technique with strength and precision. It will also help you to enjoy your time on the slopes without feeling out of breath.
#4 Get The Right Mentality
Skiing is a sport that brings significant mental challenges. Fear, excitement and adrenaline are all rolled into one; making it one of the most exhilarating sports on the planet.
If you want to improve your skiing, you need to control these emotions. This is especially true when it comes to fear, which is one of the main causes of slow progression.
Improve your confidence through practice, perseverance and knowledge. As you spend more time on skis, you will feel more at ease on the slope.
Patience is another key attribute. Skiing can be a challenging sport, using an unnatural technique to navigate a hostile environment. It can take time to become a competent skier.
Remain patient and open to making mistakes during the learning process. Have the confidence to try new techniques and don’t get frustrated if they’re not effective at first.Learning to ski is a marathon, not a sprint. Click To Tweet
The mental attitude that you take onto the slopes will go a long way to helping you become a better skier. Each time you head to the mountain, you should look to demonstrate these key mental attributes:
If you’re interested in learning about the effect skiing has on your mind, we have also written an article detailing the mental benefits of skiing.
#5 Correct Your Posture
When you arrive at the beginner slope for your first morning on the snow, you will probably be taught how to stand on your skis. However, the importance of posture is often forgotten once you head up the mountain.
Skiing with incorrect posture can have devastating consequences on your ski performance. Without the proper stance, you are destined to plateau at an intermediate level.
Leaning too far back is the most common issue. In fact, it’s so common that we’ve written an instructional article detailing how to lean forward when skiing.
If you’re skiing with incorrect posture, learning new skills is always a challenge. Your legs will also get tired quicker, which is not ideal when you want to enjoy your time on the slopes.
The correct posture is athletic, stable and balanced. It requires you to stand over the middle of the skis, which we have outlined here:
- Feet should be hip width apart.
- Pressure should be felt on the forefoot.
- Ankles are slightly bent forward.
- Shins are resting on the front of your boots.
- Knees are slightly bent with your kneecap in line with your toes.
- Hips are slightly bent with your buttocks in line with your heels.
- Back is slightly arched with your shoulders in line with your toes.
- Head should always be looking forwards.
If you’re regularly finding yourself in the wrong position, it’s vital that you fix this issue before learning any new skills. In this case, getting back to basics is the key to becoming a better skier.
#6 Choose The Right Terrain
It’s a common sight to see skiers struggling down slopes that are too steep for their ability level. Not only is this incredibly dangerous, but it does very little to benefit your technique and can damage your confidence.
Stepping up to steeper terrain is a gradual process that should not be rushed. Before you attempt a new slope, you should have already acquired the skills required to navigate down safely.
If you want to build confidence and improve your technique, stick to slopes that you feel comfortable skiing. It’s great to push yourself to perform on challenging terrain, but not at the expense of using proper technique.
#7 Master A Variety Of Turning Techniques
There are many different types of ski turns. Each one has its own benefits and is best suited to a specific situation.
If you want to enjoy the entire mountain, you need to master each turn and understand when it’s best used. Some are best suited to specific terrain, while others can be used to affect speed or turn shape.
- Short turn – used to control speed on steep terrain.
- Carving turn – used to gain speed on shallower terrain.
- Skidded turn – used to control speed on any terrain.
- Jump turn – used to turn in tight spaces or on challenging snow.
Once you are proficient in every turn type, you will have the tools required to tackle any piste. If you are still trying to progress your tuning technique, we have an article that will teach you how to turn on skis.
#8 Ski With Flow
If you want to look stylish on the slopes, you need to ski with flow. Anyone trying to be a better skier should look to demonstrate a flowing performance.
The term ‘flow’ refers to carrying your momentum from one turn to the next. It looks smooth and rhythmical when performed correctly. It’s also one of the best feelings you can have on skis.
Flow is often achieved naturally through consistent practice and improved skill. However, there are some key skills and practice points that you can work towards.
- Use your pole plant to set the rhythm. The key to a flowing performance is symmetry, with a consistent time and distance between each pole plant being key.
- Counting in your head is a great way to set the pace. If you can practice this simple exercise regularly, you will see your natural flow improve.
- Keep facing down the slope in order to plot your next turn. Being able to visualize your path is a vital for a flowing performance.
- Just keep turning, no matter how challenging the terrain underfoot might be. Great skiers maintain a consistent rhythm, even with the snow conditions changing underfoot.
Flow should be a constant focus when you’re skiing around the mountain. If you can consciously practice by using these techniques, you will see your subconscious skiing improve as a result.
#9 Take Some Lessons
It’s easy to think that you no longer need lessons once you leave the beginner slopes. However, learning how to be a better skier is a long-term process that should be aided by an instructor.
The amount of time you spend with an instructor will depend on a number of factors. Time, budget and ability all play a part.
- Beginners should continue intensive ski lessons until they can complete parallel turns. Learning how to go from snow plough to parallel is a tricky task, so the keen eye of an instructor is valuable.
- Intermediate skiers should spend time with an instructor at least a few days during a 1-week ski trip. Some prefer to ski just the morning with an instructor, giving you the tools required to practice by yourself in the afternoon.
- Advanced skiers might just need a few hours per season, or a couple of hours per week. Getting a trained eye to look for any bad habits and recurring mistakes is important for constant progress.
- Expert skiers should always seek an instructor if they plan on doing a specialized activity. Heading off-piste is a great example, with the mountain safety knowledge of a good instructor being important for your safety.
These guidelines are by no means ‘concrete’, but they do give you an idea of what’s necessary to progress. The more time you spend with an instructor, the faster your skiing will improve.
Another great way to improve your skiing is by making the most of online resources. Although they should not be viewed as a replacement for an instructor, they are a great way to supplement your learning.
The amount of free resources online is seemingly endless, so be sure to follow reliable advice from trusted sources. Look for information that is produced by a certified ski instructor if you’re serious about becoming a better skier.
#10 Practice Makes Perfect
Skiing can be a hard sport to master. It has a unique skillset that is wide and varied.
Learning how to ski in different snow conditions on slopes of varying levels of steepness is a challenge. When you factor in the hostile climate and mental challenges, it’s no wonder that this is a sport of lifelong learning.Like any skill, the key to ski slope competency is repetition. Practice makes perfect. Click To Tweet
Take solid technical advice from trusted sources. Then, practice the skills you have been taught until you are proficient. That’s the big secret to becoming a better skier.
Far too many skiers follow instructions during their ski lesson, but instantly go back to the same bad habits once they leave the instructor. Any new technique must be consciously practiced until it becomes instinctive.
Although it can sometimes seem like a slow and painful process, it’s worth it. The more you practice, the more your technique will improve, the more you will enjoy the mountain.
If you love skiing, it’s the most enjoyable sport in the world to practice. So get out and spend as much time on the slopes as possible, you won’t regret it.
Thoughts From The Author
Learning how to be a better skier is not an easy process. Skiing is a complex sport, with so many aspects to consider and areas that can be improved.
Whether you’re just starting out, or have been skiing for many years, there is always something new to learn.
Take it from me. I have been skiing since I could walk and I am a certified ski instructor, yet I am still learning something new every time I step onto the slopes.
Whether it’s physical, mental or technical; look to challenge yourself when you step onto the snow. Part of what makes skiing awesome is the constant opportunity to learn new skills.Skiing is a fantastic sport to learn and practice. Focus on the goal, but enjoy the ride. Click To Tweet
Do you have any advice on how to be a better skier? If you do, we’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment and let us know.
James is the founder of SnowSunSee. He started skiing when he was five years old and has been a qualified ski instructor for 8 years. He has taught skiing in many countries, including UK, Europe, Japan, China and Malaysia. When he’s not on the slopes, James spends his time travelling the world one trail at a time.