Before we start: No matter how many lessons you have, you will not improve without having the right boots and this is where most skiers put their first foot wrong. Skiers often choose on comfort alone – please do not make this same mistake. Get a moulded footbed from the ski shop first as this improves fit, comfort and ski control.
1. Find the perfect knee position
Why do it? Unless knees are positioned centrally over feet, skiers can’t carve properly because the uphill ski won’t hold an edge, and snowboarders will feel less stable. The knees being out of position also causes knee pain, including problems with kneecap and tendons.
2. Find the perfect pelvis, hip and back position
Why do it? Sticking your bottom out too much or tucking it too too far under makes it hard for the muscles of hips, pelvis and spine to work properly, which is fundamental to good technique and preventing back and knee pain.
Extra pelvis, hip and back drill for skiers
Why do it? On the slopes weight should be balanced over the centre of skis, but most people bend too much at the hips and end up in a “sitting down” position. This puts too much weight on the back of the skis, which in turn causes loss of turn control as well as putting excessive strain through quad muscles, knees and back.
3. Build leg strength – quadriceps & gluteal muscles
Why do it? The quadricep (front of thigh) muscles work in two ways on the slopes, helping as you both bend and straighten the knees. The controlled lengthening of the quads from straight to bent is called eccentric training and is a fundamental and often neglected component of ski/snowboard training. Cyclists note that quads are not worked eccentrically on a bike.
Why do it? The lateral hip muscles, in particular the gluteus medius (buttocks), are important because they’re not used in the same way in any other sports so are often weak.
4. Improve propulsion
Why do it? Once you’ve built up strength, it’s time to move onto propulsive movements – being able to propel yourself into the air is particularly important for off-piste steeps and moguls.
5. Improve spacial awareness
Why do it? The body’s positional sense is called proprioception, and it’s particularly important for skiing and snowboarding in bad visibility. Improving it is also one of the best ways to prevent injury.
6. Train heart and lungs
Why do it? If alignment is correct, the body works so efficiently you can get away with a lower level of heart and lung – aka cardiovascular – fitness. However, most of us of are still on the path to perfection, so so training is still important – and interval training increases its efficiency because it puts maximum strain on the heart and lungs to make them fitter, and takes the least time.
7. Warm up before strenuous skiing
Start off gently rather than heading first for the black runs and round the day off with a good stretch.
8. Take plenty of breaks
Overexertion will ruin your holiday, so moderate the length of skiing time and listen to your body. Pain is a warning sign, don’t ignore it!
Drink plenty of water and isotonic drinks to avoid dehydration and stay clear of alcohol, tea and coffee where possible.
10. Tread carefully
A great deal of people are injured by slipping on ice at the ski resort, not just on the slopes. So wear shoes with a deep treaded sole and use strap-on studs for ski boots to help keep you upright if possible.