CairnGorm Mountain © Steven McKenna/Ski-Scotland
The best way to learn to ski or snowboard is to take lessons. Whether you are a complete beginner or want to improve your technique, professional instruction will develop your skills quickly and safely, while also learning the rules of the hill.

Lessons advice and tips

A group of children learning to ski at CairnGorm MountainCairnGorm Mountain

  • All of Scotland's ski centres have snowsports schools which operate on-site with friendly and highly qualified instructors.
  • Some centres offer backcountry and freestyle tuition for more advanced skiers and boarders.
  • Lessons can be booked on a private basis (for individuals and for families/friends who wish to learn together) or you can join a group lesson with other individuals of the same age and ability. School and youth groups and clubs/associations can also be catered for.
  • The minimum age for group lessons is generally 7 years old, but many snowsports schools offer private or 'kids' club' ski instruction from age 3 and upwards. This can vary from centre to centre, so check before booking.
  • CairnGorm Mountain, The Lecht and Snow Factor also offer Burton Riglet Park boarding sessions for age 3 upwards which involves gently pulling kids along on a snowboard with a cord - great fun!
  • Lessons and equipment hire (skis, board, boots and even clothing) packages are also available.
  • Remember to email or call the school to book and let them know your skill level, as they can then ensure you attend the right class for your ability. The guide below may be helpful with this.
  • Remember to arrive at least one hour before your lesson is due to start.
  • Need more info? Check out our FAQs page for more on skiing and boarding in Scotland with details on what to wear, safety info and snow alerts.

Skiing lesson levels

Learning to ski at The Lecht ski centreThe Lecht © Lecht 2090

  • Level 1 - Beginner - Never skied before.
  • Level 2 - Snowplough Glide - Can hold a snow plough and snowplough stop. May be starting to turn a little. Can use a beginners' lift.
  • Level 3 - Snowplough Turn - Can make strong snowplough turns in both directions and use beginner lifts confidently. Can ski green runs and easy blue runs.
  • Level 4 - Plough Parallel - Can make strong snowplough turns with the skis becoming parallel towards the end of the turn. Can ski blue runs confidently and use most lifts on the mountain.
  • Level 5 - Basic Parallel - Skis remaining parallel through most of the turn on blue and easy red runs. Looking to improve technique on steeper slopes.
  • Level 6 - Good Parallel - Parallel skiing all the time on all main runs. Developing carving skills and skiing off-piste.

Snowboarding lesson levels

Learning to snowboard at Nevis RangeNevis Range © Steven McKenna/Ski-Scotland

  • Level 1 - Beginner - Never been on a snowboard before.
  • Level 2 - Sideslip Traverse - Can control speed and direction on one or both edges but not yet turn from edge to edge. Can use a chairlift.
  • Level 3 - Turning - Can turn to one side most of the time and to both sides on easy terrain and green runs. Can use a chairlift and easy drag lifts.
  • Level 4 - Linked Turns - Can link turns on blue and easy red runs. Confident on drag lifts, T-bars and chairlifts.
  • Level 5 - Rhythmic Linked Turns - Can link turns on red runs. Can ride in variable snow conditions and terrain.
  • Level 6 - All Snow, All Terrain - Learning to carve the board and comfortable at higher speeds on all types of snow and terrain.

Equipment hire

Checking equipment hire fit at CairnGorm MountainCairnGorm Mountain © Natural Retreats CairnGorm Mountain

All of the Scottish centres offer equipment hire on-site. Before booking, please remember to have all your details to hand including your height, weight and shoe size.

Equipment hire is best booked in advance, particularly during busy periods - weekends and school holidays. Most centres offer equipment booking online. Alternatively, hire equipment locally before travelling or pick up on your way to the slopes.

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