Ease on Skis: Method

Ease on Skis applies principles of the Alexander Technique to learning how to ski. Its aim is to build confidence and ease into every action of skiing, progressing step by step through:

  • ~carrying and putting on ski equipment~
  • ~trying out movements in warmth and safety indoors~
  • ~exploring ski movements on level snow~
  • ~using gravity instead of fighting it when skiing downhill~

Unlike conventional ski instruction, which focuses mainly on what to do with your legs and feet, Ease on Skis focuses mainly on how you balance on skis in response to moving downhill. Security is found in the dynamic stability of the back as it follows the head and senses, not in fixed leg positions such as snowplow. Pressure and focus lighten up off your legs, and this helps them move more freely.  Panic and stiffness gradually subside, and you learn instead how to stay calm and mobile on your way down mountain slopes.  Any skier from novice to expert can use this process to find more grace and ease and control. This dynamic ease that is learned often carries over into everyday life.

The skier drops his head forward to initiate a forward glide over flat snow.

Security Before Challenge

Learning requires balance. Between the extremes of fear and boredom, there is a sweet spot where a students feel supported and willing to explore. The Ease on Skis method makes sure students feel secure first, and then moves them step by step toward greater challenge. Each core skiing movement is introduced indoors first, then outdoors on flat snow, and finally outdoors on a slope. The goal is for students to be familiar with movements they will need before they actually ski downhill. This lets them attend more fully to their reactions to sliding downhill. Working with these reactions is a key to improving their skiing skill.

10 Core Movements

The 10 core movements illustrated below create a foundation for skiing with ease. Each one engages the whole body and requires a secure sense of balance. Ease on Skis programs generally teach them in the sequence given here. You can find more pictures by clicking on the “See More Photos” buttons.

Toppling Forward 

Toppling Forward means falling forward from the top, head first.


Stepping means shifting weight from one foot to the other.


Untwisting means releasing a rotation of the torso.

Leaning In

Leaning In means leaning to the inside of a curve.

Leaning Out and Carving

Leaning Out and Carving means counter-leaning to the outside of a curve to gain traction.

Bouncing Up

Bouncing Up means standing or jumping up from a legs-folded start.

Dropping Down 

Dropping Down means folding or falling into a legs-folded finish.

Reaching Forward

Reaching Forward engages our hands to pull us forward toward a goal.

Being Breathed

Being Breathed means letting the pressure and release of movement work our ribs and lungs.


Smiling widens us and can liberate our movement.

What is the Alexander Technique?

The Alexander Technique first evolved in the world of theater as a way to overcome performance anxiety. Why is it relevant to skiing? 

Alexander Technique offers a way to unlock the grip that habit has on our coordination. Skiing places high demands on our coordination, and requires continual freshness in how we respond. So skiers need a way to let go of habits and be open to new movement. Alexander Technique does not offer any instruction on what to do. Instead, it helps us realize what we are already doing. As we learn to refrain from clinging to our habits, it gets easier to try new things and to learn. In the process, what loosens up is not just our muscular habits, but also their accompanying beliefs. Actions we believed were impossible then become easy.

The paradoxical nature of this process makes it tricky to explain. F.M. Alexander, who discovered it, found it so tricky to put into words that he invented an entire jargon to be able to speak about it. Here is a little glossary of his jargon that might help you communicate with other fans of his work, together with examples from skiing that might help you see the connection between Alexander’s work and what you see or experience on the ski slope.

  • “Inhibition”: This means refraining from reacting to a stimulus.
    Ski example: The stimulus of speed tempts skiers to react quickly. Refraining from quick responses allows skiers to move more smoothly and safely.
  • “Direction”: This means orienting or aiming your actions.
    Ski example: A skier’s arms and hands are often either flailing or unconsciously held back. Reaching the hands clearly forward helps to unite and aim a skier’s actions.
  • “Primary Control”: This means how the head orients in relation to the rest of the body.
    Ski example: Skiers lose control when their heads grip onto their necks, and regain control when they let this go. If you don’t believe this, try it.
  • “Faulty Sensory Appreciation”: This means misinterpreting your sensations.
    Ski example: Skiers often pitch their heads forward but don’t notice how far back they are holding their hips. This makes them misjudge where their center of gravity actually is. It is usually further back than they realize.
  • “End Gaining”: This means striving to reach a goal without considering how to get there.
    Ski example: A majority of skiers ski much faster than they can actually control. Their over-eagerness to become expert blinds them to the steps they would need to take to actually build expertise.
  • “Means Whereby”: This means the preconditions needed for a goal to be reachable.
    Ski example: When skiers are overexcited, they revert to habits of movement they already know. To learn new movement, they need more calm and security. Often this requires a cumulation of incremental steps rather than an excited or frightened wild leap.

Skiing Principles:

  • Allow your head to balance freely on your spine.
  • Don’t stiffen your neck; let yourself breathe.
  • Let your head and senses lead the way.
  • Open your focus wide.
  • Let your center of gravity keep falling ahead of your feet as you ski.
  • Leave room for your elbows to move.
  • Reach your hands ahead of your feet, just as you would in crawling.
  • Let your pelvis hang quietly and independently of your legs.
  • Let your hip joints flex before your back does.
  • Don’t brace your knees; let them release to fold and unfold.
  • Allow your heels to rest on your skis.
  • Let your feet soften and spread.
  • Let gravity do the main work of skiing while you just steer.
  • Breathe. Take your time. Use your space.

Tips on Learning How to Ski:

  • Take it easy at the beginning of a ski day.
  • Enjoy what you already know.
  • Always give yourself time to stop and think.
  • Don’t concentrate.
  • Lighten up.  Look around.
  • Face what frightens you and move toward it.
  • Don’t hurry.  Don’t hesitate.
  • Play with gravity instead of fighting it.
  • Love the shape of the land.
  • Let your skis and poles connect you to the snow.
  • Don’t hold your breath.  Don’t frown.  Don’t squint.
  • Take it easy at the end of a ski day.

Ski Safety

What makes alpine skiing safe (besides good safety equipment) is the skier’s ability to respond to sliding downhill, often unpredictably, without going rigid.  This ability is the core skill taught by the Ease on Skis method.  Its mastery reduces the chances of accidents while teaching tools for recovery from accidents that have already happened.  Skiers are taught how to use gravity rather than fight it, how to fall safely and get up easily, and how to accept and handle their natural fears.  The staff of Ease on Skis cannot guarantee that students will learn what is taught or that accidents won’t happen, but they can offer one of the safest ways to learn. Ease on Skis programs teach and abide by an extended version of the safety rules of the International Skiing Federation.

helping a student get back up on his skis

Ski Safety Rules & Guidelines

The International Ski Federation’s Rules of Conduct:

  1. Respect
    1. Do not endanger others.
  2. Control
    1. Adapt the speed and technique of your skiing to your ability, and to the terrain, weather, snow conditions, and traffic density.
  3. Choice of route
    1. The skiers in front of you take priority. Choose a route that leaves space for them.
  4. Passing
    1. When passing a slower skier, leave them room enough to make any move.
  5. Entering and starting
    1. Look up and down the mountain each time before starting or entering a marked run.
  6. Stopping
    1. Only stop where you can easily be seen. If you fall where the trail is narrow or where you are out of view, move clear of it as quickly as possible.
  7. Climbing or descending on foot
    1. When climbing up or down, always keep to the edge of the slope.
  8. Signs
    1. Obey all signs and posted markings. They are there for your safety.
  9. Assistance
    1. In case of accidents, provide help and alert the rescue service.
  10. Identification
    1. All those present at an accident must offer personal identification and contact information.

Further Safety Reminders:

Skiing off marked trails:
Areas outside of marked trails are not patrolled or groomed. Do not enter them alone or without a guide who knows the terrain.

Obey all avalanche warnings. Avalanches can be deadly. Most avalanche accidents are started by a person entering an unstable snow field. Do not go near such fields without at least carrying a rescue beacon, and if you have to cross suspect slopes, do so one person at a time.

Snow grooming machines:
Steer clear of all snow grooming machines.  They can’t move out of your way.

Safety on lifts:
Learn how to use ski lifts safely.  Always practice these safety skills when using lifts.

Preventing runaway equipment:
Make sure your skis have working ski brakes to prevent them from sliding away out of control by themselves.  A loose ski can be very

Dispose of all trash properly.

Respecting nature:
Do not ski where you will disturb young trees or wildlife.

Alcohol and drugs:
Do not ski while intoxicated.

What to do at an accident site:

  1. Protect the accident site
    with crossed skis (or a snowboard) planted in the snow far enough above the injured person for oncoming skiers to see in time.
  2. Tend to the injured person:
    1. Check the injured person’s breathing and pulse.
    2. Cover any wound and apply pressure to slow bleeding.
    3. Provide warmth.
    4. Do not give food or drink.
  3. Alert the rescue service.
  4. Establish the facts of the accident.
    Gather names and contact information from witnesses and those involved.  Report to police.