How to Teach Your Kids to Ski

by Greg Colquitt | March 22, 2017


Okay, pal. Chill.

These are the kinds of things I hear on a daily basis. I’m sorry that I insulted your favorite animal by trying to make our team the Purple Megalodons. I happen to know approximately nothing about this creature, but I’m trying, okay?

Teaching kids how to ski comes with its unique challenges, but I’m a third party. What about teaching your own kids?

For many of you reading this you probably have kids and you would like them to ski. The question is, how? Chances are by the time they can think for themselves the last person they want to listen to is mom & dad so you need to find away around their stubbornness. For the most part, a kid’s primary concern has a lot more to do with Megalodon than skiing. Here’s a few tips to try to get your kid on the hill. (By the way, if you want them to ski I hope you’re paying attention to the climate change that’s affecting our sport. I just read this article that told me that most american’s believe climate change will affect future generations. Snowpack is at risk and the future ain’t too far away.)

My first recommendation, of course, is ski school. The sticker price can be a turn off for a lot of parents, but for what you get out of it, it’s worth the cost. Number one, you’re free. Go ski.Drink a beer or nine. Who cares? From the moment you drop your kid(s) off at school around 8:45 until 3:15, it’s time to sprint to relive your glory days from back in your 20s when kids were a figment of the imagination and tomorrow was a myth.

At ski school, things like this happen.

Number two, they’ll listen to the instructor a heck of a lot better than they will listen to you. A child will learn a lot more from a random third party instructor that can become a friend, not a parent, and who also is skilled at coming up with games to keep the kids interested in skiing, which is by far the most important part of teaching. For reference, an 8-year-old’s average attention span hovers right around 30 minutes. Once that clock has ticked by, they’re gone.

Number three, which has nothing to do with teaching kids, make sure you tip your ski instructor. They don’t make a percentage of the cost of that lesson. We just make a pretty normal wage like everyone else on the mountain. Tips = food, rent, new skis, travel money, and beer.

My second recommendation is, if you’re bypassing the ski school route, take it easy.

You don’t want to end up like this guy who got partially buried in the backcountry with his 4-year-old. That’s full send, but it might be a bit much. On that note, you may wonder, “What age is too early for my kids to start skiing?” That is entirely up to you, of course, but just bear in mind that a three year old’s body does not communicate well with his or her brain. The simple act of learning to “pizza” may take an entire week to learn. If it were my kid, I would wait until about age 5 or 6. That’s when they’ll start to make real progress so be patient, and not just with their age. Be patient with their progress, too.

For most kids, their biggest dream is to “ski like mom” or “ski like dad”, which, unknown to them, takes many many years (a concept they also don’t understand). While giving them direct instructions might be pathetically fruitless, once you teach them how to stop with a pizza having them follow behind might be beneficial. Kids learn by doing and by watching. If you give them the space to see what you’re doing and attempt to copy it, you might be happily surprised.

Here, a kids smokes adults

And as far as what you’re teaching, make it short and simple. Introduce one skill at a time and maybe even only one in a whole day. An 8-year-old’s whole being can only take so much, and a 4-year-old is about half of that. Oh, that also means ditch the poles. Talk about having too much to think about.

Also, don’t use those freakin’ leashes. My eyes have seen too many nasty wipeouts involving son and father on those. Not only that, but the leash also teaches your kid that leaning back while skiing is the bees knees. This isn’t highway driving. Don’t put your kids in the backseat.

Finally, if you want to take your kid out, you have to make it interesting.

Games are one of the best ways to capture a kids attention so use them. The ultimate goal when teaching your kid to ski is to make them feel as if they haven’t learned anything at all, but instead spent the whole day playing games and laughing. Very rarely does a kid come along that’s down to listen to what you have to say, digest it, and then practice, especially when it’s coming from the dreaded mom and dad. That’s just boring. Unless there is some very tangible goal, nothing is going to happen. A goal could be as simple as to keep the train on it’s tracks all the way down the mountain as your child follows in your line, or it could be something as complex as to win a competition involving magical distant lands and points for stops, turns, etc.

Most importantly though, if you find out his or her motivation for skiing, why they want to do it (if they want to do it at all), then you’ll be most successful.

The moment you can light the fire from within, a true passion for our sport, is the moment you’ve created a new skier. In so many ways they’re just the same as us. Unless we really want to ski, your progress will move along as smoothly as that old Chevy in the garage you’ve been meaning to work on for 10 years.

Here’s our game plan.

  1. Ski school
  2. Take it easy and simplify, simplify, simplify. Introduce one skill at a time, don’t push your kid too much, and ditch the devices! (Poles, leashes, edgie wedgies, etc.)
  3. Make it fun. Play games with your kid and try not to get frustrated. They have spidey senses that will detect your frustration and it will take them down a notch. Remember, their brain doesn’t work like ours.

So get to work! Those kids could end up teaching you a thing or two.

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