Ski Lessons

Online Ski Lessons – 7 Fundamental Drills to Improve Your Skiing

The following fundamental drills are foundational to learn to ski well. While there are a variety of ski techniques, all use these 7 basics in one form or another. This is by no means an exhaustive list of exercises or drills, but they are the roots to learning to ski. Downhill skiing must of course be learned on the ski slopes. The following text will give you context; descriptions, metaphors and some visuals to give you a better understanding both before and after you actually ski. Each photo is relevant to each technique. Click on the photos to enlarge the image if needed.

ONE: Skiing On One Ski

If you’ve seen the Karate Kid, you’ll remember how Mr. Miyagi tells Daniel that he “must first learn balance!” Now, you won’t need to stand at the bow of a row boat or get pummeled by ocean waves (you can if you wish). You will, however, need to practice skiing on one ski. Start on easy terrain such as the beginner’s area, and slowly traverse across the hill lifting up one leg. Do this until you are comfortable with either leg raised. Practice both legs equally. Simply cross the hill back and forth, gently descending. Next, when you’re comfortable, start straightening out your turns more directly downhill.beginner_skiing_one_ski.jpg

Skiing on one skiPractice this drill in small increments. It may be awkward at first, but you’ll improve rapidly. Notice how the skier in the photo to the right is clearly working on his balance while holding his left leg up.

Now, notice what this exercise can do for your skiing, if mastered, in the photo to the left. This skier is in perfect control (on 1 ski) and moving very fast. He can do this, because he’s balanced. Must learn balance Daniel son!

TWO: Skating

speed_skater.jpg This drill is exactly what it sounds like – skating. Just as in ice skating, you push off one inside edge of your skate to the other to move forward. You’ll just do this with skis on. On gentle terrain, push off the inside edges of your skis to propel/push yourself forward. You’ll notice that your skies with naturally form a V allowing you to push from the back (somewhat) to create the forward momentum.

ski_skating.jpgWhy do this? It will help your body position, which is critical in order to Ski Great! It will also help you feel the pressure and edge of your skis. You want your skis to become an extension of your body. Just as a tennis racket is an extension of Andre Agassi or a golf club of Tiger Woods, you need to feel, know, and trust your skis. Note the similarities between the professional skater on the left and and the two skiers pictured to the right.

THREE: Side Slipping
side_slipping.jpg This drill is also just as it sounds. You’ll be slipping down the hill sideways. Don’t worry – it’s not as scary as it sounds. Simply stand perpendicular on the hill (so you’re facing the woods or the side of the hill). The edges of your skis, which you can feel really well because you’ve practiced “Skating,” will hold you in place. While on gentle terrain, slowly flatten your skis by relaxing your ankles to the point where you start “slipping” sideways downhill. Let yourself slip side away. Tighten your ankles to stop. Then start again. Practice this exercise facing both ways. Next – have a little fun and try slipping slightly forward by pressing your toes down while you flatten your skis. To slip backwards, lift your toes up. Once comfortable with this, try it all on a little steeper terrain.

FOUR: Stepping
We do this every day when we walk down the street. We put one foot in front of the other. We don’t lean tooski_stepping.jpg far forward or tilt backward – we walk in perfect balance. With this drill, you’ll just be walking with skis on. On gentle terrain, try stepping through a turn. Traverse slowly across the slope and prepare to step through another turn. What you’re doing in this exercise in training your body to lean forward (just like you do when you take a step). Just as you lean forward to begin walking stepping_graphic.gifdown the street in perfect balance, you need to lean forward to get your body down the hill, while maintaining balance. Not an easy exercise to illustrate with a photo, but imagine taking baby steps at each point on the diagram on the left. Notice how the skis are “always” parallel – never in a “snow plow.” Also, notice the skier in the photo on the right. You can see how he’s slightly lifting his right leg just as if he were stepping to walk around a corner. NOTE – while the slow plow turn (also known as the wedge) may be helpful to brand new, or nervous skiers, stepping is “just as easy to learn.” The stepping exercise has the added benefits of not encouraging bad habits and learning to ski better faster.

FIVE: Shuffling Skis
shuffling_skis.jpg This lesson is similar to “Stepping,” except your skis are kept on the snow. Start by sliding one ski forward and the other back. It will be similar to Cross-Country skiing or using a NordicTrack Skier. On gentle terrain, shuffle your skis back and forth as you traverse the slope. You want to train your body (your hips specifically) to stay directly above your feet. When your hips are positioned above your feet, you have optimum control of your body and skis.

SIX: Rail Road Tracksski_rail_road_tracks.jpg
This is a bit more of an advanced drill that will take your skiing to new heights. Essentially you want to ski on the edges of your skis (by shifting your ankles) so you leave rail-road-track-like marks in the snow. Start with wide a parallel stance tipping both ankles and knees while simultaneously engaging your ski edges. This should be done on gentle terrain.

SEVEN: Pivot Flat Ski
This is the most difficult exercise, but has the greatest rewards for you. Master this and your skiing will skyrocket! Start perpendicular on the hill (like you do with the “Side Slipping” drill), but release the edge of your skis by leaning your upper body across and over your skis – rather than relaxing your ankles. This body positioning will force your skis to flatten naturally. Once you feel your skis start to move, steer your feet so you swivel and face the opposite direction. Repeat and turn in the other direction. Try doing this with as little forward momentum as possible. It takes practice, but will give you the skills to ski virtually any terrain – trees, bumps, powder…etc. Own it!

Disclaimer: the above drills are to be practiced at your own risk. recommends practicing these exercises with a certified, professional ski instructor and assumes no responsibility for any accidents, injuries, or death.