Instructor showing how to ski

If you're ready to learn to ski, can you get by with just one ski lesson?

Ski lessons are an important way for anyone to learn to ski, but as an adult, could you take one lesson to learn the basics and then practice the basics on your own from that point forward.

While ski lessons are very helpful, they are not cheap. So taking a lesson to get expert advice to get you started makes sense.

Ski school class

But taking a number of lessons would add up quickly in costs, especially if you go for private lessons.

Plus adults can get pointers and advice from their friends along the way.

So is it a good idea to book just one lesson and then start skiing from that point?

Everyone learns differently, so it depends on you

View from top of Stowe

In the grand scheme of learning to ski, there's a pretty wide range of outcomes. 

Some folks pick it up really quickly, especially if they're athletic and have easily transferrable experience from leg-focused sports (like rollerblading, ice skating, soccer, and dance).  Some people need a lot more time to get used to the new sensations. 

Some of the athletic folks rely on their athleticism and never master the fundamentals. And some of the folks slower to progress really nail the technique and it takes them longer to gain the confidence.

Blue Beginner Zone

But generally speaking, the majority of adults need a full day or two of coaching to really become confident controlling their speed and direction on green terrain.

After that, there's a lot you can learn on your own. That includes good and bad habits, so be mindful.

Then of course there's the issue of teaching a loved one or friend how to ski can be difficult given the intricacies of being able to tell someone else "what to do". Some people manage to pull it off, but others get frustrated and it can end up in a fight on the slope.

Your first lesson can be exhausting

Group of skiers and snowboarders

If you think you're going to go big on one lesson and spend all day skiing to get the basics in, you might be over estimating your body's ability to handle skiing for the first time.

Most new skiers tend to get really exhausted after the first day because they use so many muscles that they don't need in every day life. 

This leads to them getting fatigued pretty quickly, which can often limit how much you can really learn in a day.

Lessons are a long term investment

Skier ready to go

There's no denying that ski lessons aren't cheap, but skiing can become a lifelong hobby.

All new skiers get frustrated being relegated to the bunny hill on the boring slopes and struggle with the basics.

If you're serious about learning to ski, taking the time (and money) to get ski lessons early on can be really worthwhile down the line as you ski year over year.

Group lessons may not offer enough in one lesson

Adults taking a group lesson

Most people book group lessons because they're significantly cheaper than a private lesson, but the amount of instruction you can get in group lessons can vary wildly.

In a perfect world with unlimited money, a private lesson would provide the perfect individual guidance, but the price tag is too much for many.

The good news is most of the top mountains have great instructors that are held to high standards to ensure group lessons can provide everyone in the class a proper level of instruction.

Friends may not be the best teacher

Friends with hands up on skiing

Another possible issue with taking one lesson and then relying on someone you know to figure out the rest is friends, lovers, or family may not be the best teachers.

Usually both people get frustrated and it's usually because you (as the instructor) think your explaining something really clearly and they just need to do it already (and get on to the blues). And they think you are being really confusing and not letting them express their fears.

Bottom line

Woman learning to ski

Skiing is a skill based sport, and one lesson will be a definite challenge to rely on as the only sense of guidance.

It's certainly possible to be able to take one lesson and then be able to rely on it to learn to ski on your own and figure out the rest, but most ski instructors seem to think it's unlikely.

There are lots of factors that can affect how (un)likely a one lesson approach could be including athleticism, natural learning ability, transferable skills from another sport, confidence/bravery, perseverance if it something doesn’t work immediately, how happy they are potentially getting a bit cold or wet while learning, etc.

You need to think about what you actually want in the end. Although additional lessons will cost more, it would be a worthwhile investment if the person actually wants to get into the sport and if you want that person to be able to ride with you some day. 

It’s hard to teach yourself if you don’t know what you don’t know, and they could plateau quickly once she they hit a certain level. 

If at all possible, I would recommend a few additional lessons to get more comfortable and going it alone. It will benefit you in the end as you'll be safer and be able to ski sooner, making trips fun rather than potentially having to do your own thing once you get onto the mountain.