Top 8 tips for learning to ski as an adult

Log on to social media in the winter and you’ll be sure to run into an inescapable fact: skiing is a whole lot of fun.

How can I learn to ski as an adult?

If you’re not a skier, but find yourself gazing jealously at your friends’ social media posts thinking that the gondola has left the station without you – fear not; it’s never too late to learn to ski. In fact, adult beginner ski lessons make up over a third of all ski lessons!

Check out these 8 first time skiing tips and you’ll be well on the way to making your first turns on the snow!

1 – Change your mindset

Learning something new as an adult is largely a matter of the mind – the most important factor in learning anything is your inner attitude.

If this is your first time going on a skiing holiday with friends and you are the only participant who is a complete beginner, don’t let that unsettle you. Your goals should be to have fun, to experience the beauty of the mountains, and feel the crisp wind on your face.

Keep an open mind and focus more on enjoying the journey, rather than chasing a predetermined destination.

Portrait of young female skier at ski resort smiling and showing thumbs up. Winter sports concept. Woman is wearing blue jacket and blue pants, helmet and orange goggles.

2 – Lower your expectations

While you can get to a decent level of skiing (and snowboarding) in less than a week, there’s no need to rush things and try to progress too quickly, or to be embarrassed for not being good at something right away.

Granted, a career as a professional skier is most likely (well, definitely) over for you. But that shouldn’t be what you’re aiming for. The beauty of learning to ski as an adult is that you can take your time and no longer have to compete with others.

Take a deep breath and take things slow. You don’t need to be rushing down expert slopes on day one, and you don’t have anything to prove to anyone.

The great thing is, as you’ll largely be skiing in the beginner areas, you’ll mainly be surrounded by people of a similar ability level.

When you see people zooming past you, and making this whole skiing thing look easy, remember, everyone started in the exact same place you’re in, some of them have just been lucky enough to have been going on ski trips since they learned to walk.

Don’t let yourself be rushed into anything you’re not ready for.

3 – Get your body ready

Maybe you’re already in decent shape, that will help, but keep in mind that beginner skiers will be using muscles that they never even knew existed.

Obviously, you don’t have to be in peak physical condition to enjoy your first trip to a ski resort, but a little stamina can save you from some very uncomfortably sore muscles. Doing some balance and proprioception exercises can also really help you take to winter sports.

None of this preparation needs to be overly taxing either. We partnered up with elite snowsport physiotherapist, Jo Pollard (who has worked with both the GB and New Zealand national snowsports teams), to prepare some great, quick at home ski workout routines.


4 – Keep the faith

If you’re wondering how long it takes to learn to ski, the answer is: it depends.

If you learn to ski by yourself, it will take you a lot longer to figure things out. Group lessons can speed this process up, private ski lessons can make progression even faster.

In either case, with proper tuition, you can expect to be independently cruising beginner and lower-intermediate slopes after a couple of days.

If it takes you a little longer than that, don’t worry, there will be a moment where it all ‘clicks’ and once it does, you will progress at a pace you didn’t think was possible!

5 – Make sure you have the right equipment

Let’s start by saying – resist the temptation and don’t rush out to buy a complete set of ski equipment right away.

You’ll want to make sure you have good, modern ski boots, skis and poles, that all fit you well. That said, you’ll quickly outgrow beginner ski equipment, so buying doesn’t make much sense.

Gear borrowed from a friend likely won’t fit you perfectly, and may not have the correct safety settings for you, which can be dangerous.

What you want to do is hire all of your hardgoods from a good ski hire shop.

Clothing, however, is fine to borrow.

In our guide on how to dress for skiing, you’ll find all the important tips and tricks to be optimally warm and functionally dressed.

If you get cold on the slopes, the fun will soon be over. But you can easily avoid that with the right clothing, as detailed in the article.

6- Choose a good ski area for adult beginners

You should make sure that to learn how to ski, you do not go to a ski area that’s made up primarily of red (advanced) and black (expert) runs.

Instead, look for a resort with a free “nursery slope” area where first-time skiers can learn without spending big money on a ski pass they’re not yet able to use.

You’ll also want your chosen resort to have a lot of nice, wide green (beginner) and blue (beginner/intermediate) pistes.

So, wow do you find the best ski area for adult beginners? Don’t worry, we’ve put together a list of the best beginner ski areas in the Alps for you.

7 – Take some ski lessons

If you came here wondering “Do I need ski lessons for my first time skiing?”, the simple answer is yes. Yes, you do.

Please, please, please resist the urge to let a friend or even your partner teach you to ski if the relationship is important to you. We’ve seen it happen many times, and we can pretty much guarantee you that this is an absolute killer for any friendship or partnership.

It may be that your friend is a great skier and knows their stuff. But that doesn’t mean that s/he has the patience and the knowledge to teach an adult beginner to ski. In fact, they likely have many bad habits of their own that they’ll pass on to you.

Non-professional ski instructors are also more prone to getting bored or frustrated, and pushing things ahead too quickly so they can also make the most of their precious, limited, ski time.

Avoid these potential relationship killers and book some group or private lessons. Check out our post “Can you learn to ski without lessons?” for more details.

Also, keep in mind that, at least a third of all participants in ski courses are adults who are learning to ski, so you’re by no means alone in this, and you might just make some lifelong ski friends in your ski school!

Group ski lesson adults

8 – Avoid too much après-ski

This is likely the most controversial of our tips for first time skiers, after all, one of the reasons you want to learn to ski as an adult is to have a holiday, and letting loose on holiday is par for the course for many.

We’re not here to tell you not to enjoy a mulled wine (or five), or to stop dancing on the tables, but if you’re reading this article, you want to ski, not just party.

Learning to ski is a lot easier and more enjoyable without a hangover, and being under the influence also increases the risk of injury.

Slow and steady wins the race.

If you follow these tips for learning to ski as an adult, next to nothing can go wrong. The only thing that can happen is that you don’t want to stop and are longingly waiting for your next ski vacation. Have fun!

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