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How to Teach a Kid to Snow Ski Using a Harness

Paul is an avid skier and outdoor enthusiast. He has three daughters nationally ranked in junior Ski Cross.

Three-year-old on ski harness.

Three-year-old on ski harness.

Teaching Kids to Ski on a Ski Harness

I've taught a three-year-old and a four-year-old to ski by starting on a harness.

There are several pros and cons to teaching a kid to ski on a harness.


  • The harness allows the child to be controlled so they don't race out of control down the slope.
  • The reins of the harness can be used to keep the child upright.
  • If the child falls, the reins make it easy to pull the child up while on skis.
  • The child gains confidence because of the security the harness offers.


  • The child develops a dependency on the harness and won't ski without it.
  • The harness creates a false sense of security, and once it's taken, off the child races out of control.
  • The child learns to ski straight but doesn't learn how to turn and stop.

My recommendation is to use the harness for a few days before taking it off and having the child ski on their own.

Child in ski helmet, bibs and jacket

Child in ski helmet, bibs and jacket

Things You'll Need for the Child

The kid should have the following gear to learn to ski.

  • Kid's ski helmet
  • Kid's ski pants or bibs
  • Kid's ski jacket
  • Waterproof gloves or mittens
  • Kid's skis that are the proper length
  • Optional wedgie for keeping ski tips together

The instructor needs to have their own ski gear and a kids harness.

Putting on child skis

Putting on child skis

Day One on the Harness

The first day, start with the child in the ski harness, but don't let out the reins of the harness much. Just ski with them between your legs.

The two most important things on the first day are building the kid's confidence on skis and keeping them excited about skiing.

While on the harness introduce them to these two concepts:

  • "Pizza": tips of skis together
  • "Toothpicks": skis straight

It's a lot of work to ski with a child on a harness between your legs. As the instructor, you'll get as tired as the child. Take frequent breaks and make sure the child gets plenty to eat and drink. Three or four hours is about as long as a small child can hold up. Don't overdo it on the first day.

Hold the Kid Between Your Legs and Do Big Turns

Getting on and off the Lift With the Harness on the Child

Before kids are comfortable skiing on a harness, you'll need to carry them off the lift. Make sure to bundle up the reigns so they don't get caught on the skis or lift. Lift the child up and carry them off the lift facing forward between your legs.

Hold the Kid Getting off the Ski Lift

Day Two on the Harness

As the child gets more comfortable standing on the skis, have them work on doing big turns in a pizza position. Use the harness to slow them down when they get going too fast, but try to use the reins as little as possible. By the end of day two, a three and four-year-old can be standing and skiing with little assistance on very mellow green runs.

Day Three: Take the Harness off and Move to the Magic Carpet

After two days on the harness, take it off and move the child to the magic carpet. The magic carpet is a belt that pulls the kids up a very small slope. Have one person stand at the top of the magic carpet and another at the bottom. Let the child ski on their own from one person to the other. They will likely fall over several times.

Before going to the next step, the child should be able to ski down the magic carpet run and stop at the bottom.

Graduating to the Green Slope

Once the child can stop on the magic carpet slope, it's time to go to the beginner run. Go to the easiest beginner run as possible.

This time the child is going to ski behind the instructor. Doing large turns in the "pizza" snowplow, do one large turn at a time and have the child follow in the tracks right behind. Small children have low centers of gravity and learn to ski very quickly.

Spend several hours on the easy green slopes without the harness. It's important to not go back to the harness. If the child isn't ready for the green slopes have them go back to the magic carpet slope.

I've successfully taught my three and four-year-old daughters to ski with this technique and highly recommend it.


Paul Edmondson (author) from Burlingame, CA on July 09, 2012:

Just completely redid this hub. Hoping it's useful to folks.

chasemillis on March 28, 2011:

Haha me too, you have it covered pretty well though Paul Edmondson. Great Hub!!

Btw - this is a side note but how did you manage to become a part of the Hubpages staff? That must be an awesome job!!

TahoeDoc from Lake Tahoe, California on February 08, 2011:

Nice hub. I was going to write how to teach you kids to ski hub, but you covered it pretty well, LOL

I live in South Lake and have a 5 year old and 3 year old. The 5 year old is in ski school on Sundays at Heavenly and I take the 3 year old out from time to time, just to give him the idea. The harness is absolutely necessary for me.

I won't force it because living here, I want them to enjoy it for a long time.

Earth Angel on January 27, 2011:

What a wonderful and inspiration Hub Paul!

I lived in Lake Tahoe for years and LOVE to ski, both alpine and nordic! You and Robin are wonderful for introducing the girls to this fun sport of a lifetime!

Blessings always, EarthAngel!

Hello, hello, from London, UK on January 26, 2011:

I have done the samething with our son. It is a lovely sport.

agusfanani from Indonesia on January 26, 2011:

I don't play ski but I like this hub including those cute pictures.

sherrylou57 from Riverside on January 26, 2011:

Beautiful child. Blessings to you and may you abundantly be blessed to be a blessing to others.