Are You Ready for a Private Ski Lesson?

Beginners usually take lessons to start. The best skiers take lessons all the time. In between is what I call the "no-lesson zone" where intermediate and advanced skiers who could benefit hugely from a lesson don't understand the benefits and get stuck at a skill plateau.

Are you ready for a private ski lesson? What kind of question is that? Of course you are. Maybe the better question is whether or not now is the time. For most beginners, you can still get good value out of a group lesson. As you progress, though, a private lesson can be a great way to bump up your ski level.

The No-Lesson Zone: Intermediate and Advanced Skiers

So often, intermediate and advanced skiers are held back by a few bad habits. Every instructor I know watches from the lift and thinks "I wish I could give that person a lesson." The profile of those skiers is roughly as follows:

  • Come down blue or black runs competently, but struggle on moguls, ice and other difficult conditions.
  • Have a fair bit of ski experience, possibly many years.
  • Have a handful of habits that are really holding them back.

Unfortunately, these skiers also seem least likely to take lessons. Beginners and novices are the bread and butter of ski schools. Competitive skiers have daily coaching. Professional ski instructors have frequent "clinics". In the middle, it's often a desert. My guess is

  • These skiers often feel like they know how to ski, but just need practice (thus don't have the same incentives as beginners).
  • There don't have a compelling need to ski better (thus don't have the same incentives as competitors and instructors).
  • They balk at the idea of spending money and precious ski time in a group lesson that ends up being at the wrong level.

Does any of that sound familiar? If so you're probably a good candidate for a private lesson. In a relatively short time, a professional instructor can troubleshoot your skiing and point you in a new direction, helping you to drop old habits, set new ones, and take your skiing up a notch. And just for the record, skiing better is purely a functional thing. That is to say, it has nothing to do with looking good, but with skiing more terrain, with more comfort and safety, and typically less fatigue. In short, better means more fun, which is the only reason you should care.

I'm a pretty good skier and I've taken more ski lessons than I can count and I've learned something from every one. I've had coaching from an Olympic gold medalist and two World Cup winners. I've also had lessons where I learned plenty from instructors who actually don't ski as strong as I do, but who have a keen eye for technical corrections. No matter what your level, a couple of lessons a season are always a good investment. If you're in that typical "no-lesson zone" between novice and expert, you should really treat yourself to a couple of lessons and see how they go. It may take a couple of tries to find an instructor with whom you really click, but once you do, you'll get a huge boost in the pleasure you get from skiing.

Ready for a lesson? Okay, let's look at what to expect from your instructor and how to get the most from your private lesson.