Top Instruction Tips for Beginners

by Wagner Skis / Feb 23, 2024

Learning how to ski is not easy. It takes courage, determination, and a lot of practice.

We strongly encourage lessons for anyone at most stages of their ski journey, but we also know they can be cost-prohibitive. With that in mind, we’ve compiled what we think are the best instruction tips for beginners and intermediates alike.

These tips are meant to be progressive: Don’t try to do all of them at once. Start in order and master one at a time. Then, when you’ve nailed it, move to the next. Good luck, and keep at it! You’ll be having more fun out there in no time. 

If you need the best skis to help you through it, make an appointment with our ski designers today. Wagner Customs aren’t just for experts—we will make you the perfect learning tool that you won’t outgrow as you learn.

Wagner's Graphics Guru teaches a bit of skiing
Wagner's Graphics Guru demonstrates keeping your shoulders facing downhill.

Athletic stance

The single most important tip to learning how to ski is having an athletic stance. This means knees bent, elbows up, chest up, eyes forward—kind of like a football player bracing for tackle. This will give you the flexibility to react to bumps or people or whatever comes your way, and will also help prevent injury, too. Not sure what your stance should be? Jump forward in ski boots. How you land is exactly the stance you need.

Schedule a Call

Lean forward

Pressing your shins into your boots and standing on the ball of your foot is paramount to being able to control your skis. That gets you in a forward position to maintain downward pressure on them. To get the feeling for where your weight should be, have a friend kneel in front of you while standing still in your skis and boots and lift up your tips off the snow. This simulates the feeling of being forward where you should be, and how you’re better able to bend your skis.

Press the front of your ski boot
Yellow pants has calves pressed against the back of the ski boot, and grey pants has shins pressed against the tongue of the boot.

Roll your pinky toe

When you’re starting to link turns after graduating from the pizza, initiate with your downhill ski’s pinky toe. If you’re taking a right turn, roll your right pinky toe to the outside, following with each subsequent toe, until you finish with your left pinky toe rolling to the inside. 

Hands up

As you turn, keep your hands up where you can see them at all times. When you pole plant, keep the motion quick, like a jab, and do not let your hand fall out of your field of vision. This will help keep your upper body solid. If you let your arm fall, your body will twist, and you’ll be off balance and poorly positioned for the next turn.

Skier has her hands up.
Wagner's Graphics Guru again, this time with her hands up (not dropped below her waist).

Shoulders downhill

Once you’ve mastered linking your turns together, try to stay in the fall line, using your turns to manage your speed, instead of traveling across it. The key to this is to keep your shoulders facing downhill. Imagine your shoulders are flashlights, and keep their beams always facing the bottom of the hill. (The previous drill about keeping your hands up will help you.) Plant each pole down the hill and turn around it, always keeping your hands in sight.

Ski as often as you can

Get out there, regardless of the conditions. There are days when conditions are good skiing, and days when they’re good for your skiing. Breakable crust, frozen ocean, mashed potatoes, bullet-proof ice, mank, whatever the snow may be, skiing a variety of conditions will help you improve. You may have great technique on perfect groomers, but if you want to learn to ski the whole mountain, you’ll have to learn to adapt. 

Enjoy the ride
Ski as often as you can and enjoy the ride.

Be nice to yourself

This is something you should do all the time—both on and off the hill. Don’t beat yourself up, regardless of how long it takes for you to learn. Remember, skiing isn’t easy, and the end goal is to have more fun. Push yourself slowly so you don’t get frustrated, and celebrate the little wins along the way. 


Article by Kimberly Beekman

Kimberly Beekman is the former editor-in-chief of the late, great Skiing Magazine (RIP), and a longtime editor of SKI Magazine before that. She currently uses the title of “freelancer” as a beard to ski powder all over the world. She lives in Steamboat, Colorado, with her wonderful daughter and terrible cat.

Schedule a Call