How to ski | What to expect of your first lesson with ski instructor

If your about to learn skiing this year with a ski instructor you might already feel a bit nervous underneath. Finally, your holiday comes around and you’ll pick up your pair of skis in the morning, wondering how odd things they are. You might even struggle to carry them at first – this possibly gets you anxious about making yourself a fool in front of a professional you’re ought to see more often the following days. Suddenly, all you dreamed of the former weeks in the office makes you shivering. We as ski instructors may calm you and ensure that there is absolutely no reason to be scared. In this article, we will show you exactly what to expect of your first ski lesson with ski instructor. This will help you to mentally prepare for it and avoid nervousness.

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Never forget to pack motivation for your first ski lesson

What to expect of your first lesson with ski instructor

Goal of the first ski lesson

Moving on skis is a completely new feeling and strange experience only enabled by equipment that is entirely new to beginners. Undoubtedly, that oftentimes feels a lot to skiing newbies. And honestly, it is a lot. Therefore, the first skiing lesson is dedicated to familiarize you with the basic movements, range of motion and the ski equipment in general.

What to expect of your first lesson with ski instructor


Surprisingly, the very first ski lesson starts directly after exchanging the first words with your ski instructor. There is not even a need to even meetup on the piste. The lesson might start anywhere, as the ski instructor scans you and your ski equipment. They check whether you have got everything got together. Whether you chose right ski clothing, wear ski goggles, ski helmet, gloves and sunscreen etc. Do not worry, it will not feel like an assessment or anything, they will just check so that you can grab something if missing. They are responsible for you having the most fun experience on-piste. When ready you will learn how to carry your skis and poles properly on the way to the piste.

The piste you will learn skiing on

If you are very nervous about skiing than arriving at the piste will most likely release you. Beginner students ideally start in a very flat terrain that has a flat start with an easy run-out and a counter slope. This will avoid becoming too fast even if you wouldn’t grasp how to break in the beginning.

What to expect of your first lesson with ski instructor


Arriving at the piste your ski instructor will teach you the very basics that are the uttermost important:

  • How to put on your skis on and off
  • How to put on and carry your poles

This will be the very first moment you wear skis! Do not forget to memorize and celebrate this little victory in your heart.

Step by Step

Slowly progressing from there you will familiarize yourself with the range of movement. You’ll start by several exercises stepping and walking on the spot. Then you’ll move on to walking in a straight line and making slight changes of direction. When feeling safe walking you’ll start skating on the gentle terrain.

As soon as you are confidently moving in those ways you’ll learn important methods of walking up the slope. Walking is probably one of the things nobody expects of their first lesson with ski instructor. Surprisingly, those techniques are important for skiers of all levels. The methods are called side-stepping and herringbone (also called duck-walk).

  • Side-stepping: You turn sidewards to the piste and pick up one leg after the other. You basically do small steps up the piste. You’ll probably need this technique when walking up the piste because you lost something such as a glove or pole. However, it is rather important to check up on skiing mates who fell on-piste (we need to help each other in our skiers family).
  • Herringbone or duck-walk: This method is called the way it is because of the pattern that the skis leave in the snow (or at least we believe that’s the reason – it just seems so obvious). Anyhow, for walking up the piste this way you bring your heels closer together and move the tips of your feet apart. Then you take steps up the piste through lifting one leg after the other. This motion can be extended to a sliding motion. Skiers need this stepping technique to move forward on flat terrain that can be part of the pistes sometimes.


Depending on how long the lesson and how fast you are accustoming to the new kind of movements, you’ll be able to start learning to schuss. For schussing, you position your skis hip-width apart parallel. All joints of your lower body – ankles, knees and hips – are slightly flexed to enable movement. In several balance exercises, you’ll practise sliding and gliding over the gentle terrain. Believe me, those exercises are very fun and challenging your coordination.

What to expect of your first lesson with ski instructor. Skier lifting up skis.
Having fun exploring motions with skis

What to expect of your first lesson with ski instructor

From there on

Most of the time this is how far you’ll come in the first lesson with your ski instructor. So you see it is mostly about familiarizing yourself with the new motions of skiing in general and your equipment. Anyhow, we want to give you a sneak-peak about what’s to come afterwards.

In the following lessons, you will learn how to ski in the plough. After plough gliding and doing your first turns in the plough position you will be able to ski gentle slopes. You’ll work yourself up to new terrain and see a bit more of the skiing area you chose for skiing.

Finally, you will learn how to ski in the basic alpine position and from that on you will be able to ski more and more. The lesson program will change to mostly exercises about technique. There are so many fun exercises in that stage by the way – you will love the challenge.

What to expect of your first lesson with ski instructor

To sum up

The first ski lessons is a wonderful celebration of how humane every single one of us is – no matter the life situation or background. Nobody, not even the most motivated, ever came to their first ski lesson without shivering a bit. We as ski instructors understand where this nervousness about the first ski lesson comes from, but we are here to calm you. The first lesson is all about getting to know your equipment and experiencing how this new motion feels like. So do not worry too much and get nervous – there’s no reason to believe you could make yourself a fool or that you get thrown into cold water skiing steep pistes from day one. No one was born a perfect skier.

Share this article with friends that might be nervous learning how to ski. We believe that showing exactly what to expect of your first ski lesson with ski instructor helps to mentally prepare for it, and shows that there’s no reason to be nervous at all.

These articles might interest you:

5 reasons why you should book a ski instructor

Tips to build confidence on skis

3 advice for ski beginner learning how to ski

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