No matter if you’re in a circle of a half-dozen other beginners facing an instructor, learning with a buddy, or by yourself, the first requirement of skiing is the proper stance proper for the nervous novice and the skilled expert alike. Stand with the skis slightly separated about 6 inches apart, so that each foot is directly under a shoulder. Lean slightly forward, knees bent, until your shins are pressed against the front of your boots. Keep your center of gravity directly over your boots.

The most common error in stance is leaning the upper body too far forward with the butt sticking out over the back of the boots a problem more common among women, because of their body shape, than among men.

Gliding Along
Next, using the poles only to help navigate with your skis flat on the snow shuffle forward, sliding one foot at a time.

1) Slide. Slide. Slide.
2) Skis flat on the snow.
3) Relax.
4) Slide. Slide. Slide.
5) Skis flat on the snow.
6) Stop. Relax. Smile.

When you’re doing this properly each ski is driven straight forward in a short, gliding step. If you’re stiff-legged your tips may lift and cross. Take easy glides. Don’t hurry. Don’t reach forward with your poles. Use them only if you need to help push yourself forward.

Glide around for a few more minutes to gain familiarity with how it feels to actually be whipping, ah, well, inching across the snow.

Teaching Your Feet
Once you’ve begun to learn how to glide along, stop and teach the bottom of your feet about how to position themselves for skiing.

With your eyes closed and poles held in front of you in both hands, parallel to the ground, sense when your feet are in perfect balance, equal pressure from toe to heel and from side to side. Keeping your eyes closed, lean slightly forward until your weight is on the balls of your feet and your heels are slightly elevated. Next, lean back so your weight is on your heels with your toes slightly elevated.

Repeat this several times, always with your eyes closed, until the bottoms of your feet have fully learned when you’re in perfect fore-and-aft balance, weight distributed equally from toe to heel, and when the weight is on the balls of your feet, or the heels.

Next, still with your eyes closed, tilt your perfectly balanced feet slightly to the right, then to the left. In this way the bottoms of your feet will learn the feel of edging, or standing with the weight on one edge of the boots, then the other.

Now return to perfect balance. Voila! Your feet have learned how to help you maintain the balance crucial to all skiing. Open those eyes. Run through the whole set of foot exercises with your eyes open.

Many experienced skiers practice the technique of reminding their feet how to know when they’re in perfect balance before starting their first run of the day.

Okay, doing fine. Glide slowly forward a few more times. Ski a few steps with your weight on the balls of your feet, on the backs of your feet, tilted to one side, then the other. You’ll grasp almost instantly what shifting the balance on your newly trained feet will do to your skis.