How to Improve Your Skiing With These Specific Tactics
We all ski because it’s fun, right? Well, for the average skier, working on your technique and form can allow you to extend the fun times by being more efficient on the slopes. Unfortunately, there’s no “easy” way to improve your skiing – it takes work. But, practice these specific tips and you’ll start to see results on the ski hill.
All of these tactics are things I’ve learned over the years from ski instructors and research that have progressed my skiing. Here are seven tips on how to improve your downhill skiing.
Take a private lesson
Getting a private lesson is a great way to work on your form and find new terrain. A good ski instructor will be able to help you identify (a) what you need to work on and (b) how to fix it. They’ll be able to help you with specific skiing drills and give you advice on how to keep your technique in tip-top shape.
Also, if you’re new to a mountain, a ski instructor will be able to show you new terrain and insider lines.
Take a group clinic
Group clinics will force you to push yourself. Typically, we ski with the same folks and can get into a rut. Taking a group clinic will force you to ski with new people and individuals of varying abilities. It will also challenge you to keep up with the group and get out of old habits.
I recently took a steep skiing clinic and it gave me new confidence to breakthrough old skiing habits and insecurities. Also, if the coaches are good, you’ll come away with specific tactics to continue your improvement.
See our article about the top 10 women’s ski clinics to find a session near you.
Hit the gym (get ski fit!)
At the steep skiing clinic, one of the coaches turned to me and said, “Got a gym membership?” Well, duh. Of course, I do… Admittedly, I don’t use it as much as I should. Apparently, that’s painfully obvious in my skiing! (Or kindly my husband said it was because I expressed I was tired.)
Being fit and having better leg strength can drastically improve your skiing – it will allow you to maintain your technique in challenging or steep terrain.
Cross-training and general fitness are often overlooked in improving skiing technique. Your cardiovascular fitness, leg strength and muscle stamina has a direct correlation into how hard you can ski and how your form holds together.
Mountain Athletics (by The North Face) has a great app that allows you to select your fitness goals and sports for customized training programs, including ski specific workouts.
Practice your technique
Learning proper ski technique can be a game-changer for any skier. The trick here is to figure out what you need to work on and actively practice drills. Here are some common areas of opportunity for people to improve their ski technique:
- Keep your hands up (where you can see them)
- Stay in the front of the boot (you should feel your shin at the front of the boot)
- Maintain a better, more upright posture (keep your knees bent, but not too bent)
Break these down and work on one thing at a time. By focusing on one improvement at a time, you have a better chance for lasting progression.
To focus on one improvement, do specific drills and ski repeat runs working on this one item. Eventually, it will become a habit and you’ll be able to piece together your new (and improved) skiing technique.
Check out the Ski School on YouTube for specific skiing techniques and drills (including body technique, turning, and powder skiing).
Push your comfort zone
Confidence is crucial when skiing in control and challenging yourself. Pushing your comfort zone can be scary and intimidating, but you’ll never improve if you don’t challenge yourself. I’m not saying huck yourself off 20-foot cliffs, but pick some do-able terrain that may have intimidated you before and ski it. Take baby steps, keep challenging yourself and you’ll start to see a difference.
One thing that’s made a huge difference in my confidence has been listening to music while I ski. The key is to keep the music low enough so you can easily hear your surroundings but having a little ambient noise (or pump up music) takes my mind off any nervousness while skiing.
Get the right ski gear
Gear selection can be complicated with so many good skis and boots on the market. Choosing the right gear can make a huge difference depending on the type of terrain you want to ski and your ability level. When choosing gear, you’ll want to consider a few things:
- What type of terrain do you want to ski? (Off-piste or on-piste?)
- What’s your budget? (Psst, past season discounts can be worth waiting for!)
- What’s your ability level or how aggressive do you ski? (Gear is designed for the level of skiing, such as “intermediate” or “advanced-expert” skiers.)
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll be able to narrow down the type of ski you’re looking for (carving ski, powder ski, or all-mountain ski) and the stiffness of your boot.
Having well-fitting boots is essential for proper power transfer and control in your skis. If you’re an advanced skier, you’ll likely want a stiffer boot than someone who is a beginner.
Gear shops or online resources can usually help you find the right equipment when it comes to selecting the right flex rating for boots or ski length.
There’s nothing that can replace this. To be a better skier, you have to put in the time on the slopes. It’s hard when most of us have the weekday 9-5 job and can only get to the ski resort on the occasional weekend.
Importantly, becoming an expert at any sport requires a commitment and you’ll have to put in the time to improve your skiing. Set a goal for yourself and try to structure free time to accommodate regular trips to the ski resort or backcountry ski trips.
Updated: December 31, 2020