If you’re eager to hit the slopes and master the art of skiing, then this article is for you. As a beginner skier or someone who wants to improve their skills on the mountain, ski poles are a must-have accessory in your arsenal. Ski poles not only help with balance but also assist in initiating turns, maintaining rhythm, and keeping your upper body engaged.
Knowing how to use ski poles might seem like common sense, but there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to utilizing them efficiently. In this guide, we’ll give you some actionable tips that will help you learn how to effectively use your ski poles to enhance your skiing performance. Whether you prefer downhill skiing or cross-country skiing, this comprehensive guide has got you covered.
“Remember that learning how to use ski poles is just as important as mastering other essential techniques. It can make all the difference between an average run and a perfect one.”
In this post, we’ll walk you through the different components of ski poles, explain how to properly size them, show you how to use them during turns, discuss different types of grips, and share some general tips to help you get started. By the end of this article, you’ll have a much better understanding of how to use ski poles like a pro, giving you that extra edge over others on the mountain.
So grab your ski poles, put on your boots, and let’s get started!
Choose The Right Size
Measure Your Height and Weight
Choosing the appropriate size of ski poles is crucial when it comes to having a comfortable and enjoyable skiing experience. The first step in selecting your ski pole size is by measuring your height and weight correctly.
To determine which length you need, stand up straight while wearing your ski boots. Place the ski pole upside down with the grip touching the ground and hold onto just beneath the basket. At this position, your elbow must be at a 90-degree angle. If not, try another pole until you find the one that matches your measurements.
Keep in mind that, for general guidance, shorter people will require lower ski poles, whereas taller individuals usually benefit from longer ones. Try out different models from trusted brands like Salomon, Rossignol, or Atomic – who all have charts on their respective websites – before making any purchase decisions.
Consider Your Skill Level
Your skill level should also influence your choice of pole size. In most cases, experienced skiers will opt for prolonged poles because they provide superior balance control, essential during off-piste terrain use. On the other hand, novice skiers tend to prefer more economical choices, such as shorter and less rigid poles, that allow them to gain confidence through improved maneuverability and ease-of-use.
Ski poles are essential equipment pieces requiring careful consideration in both length and material composition. Choosing the perfect fit according to your body build and personal preferences can make a massive difference in your descent performance and safety throughout your skiing journey.
Learn The Correct Grip
Wrap Your Fingers Around the Pole
If you want to know how to use ski poles effectively, the first thing that you need to learn is the correct grip. To hold your ski poles correctly, wrap your fingers around them in a natural way from underneath while ensuring that your palms face each other.
“The pole should come out of your hand almost effortlessly when you open your fingers.” -Harald Harb
You will find straps on most ski poles that can be adjusted to fit your hands properly. Slip your gloves or mittens through these straps and adjust it so that your wrists are straight and relaxed when holding the pole.
Keep Your Thumb on Top
Your thumbs play an essential role in helping you maintain proper control and balance on the slopes. As such, it’s crucial to keep your thumb pointing up and over the top of the pole rather than wrapping it around the pole.
“One trick skiers forget: Keep the hand/wrist strong position (don’t let the wrist drop) by maintaining slight pressure with the tips of all five fingers against the triggering part of strap above pole handle point–thumb remains opposite fingers.” -Ron LeMaster
By doing so, you’ll ensure that your thumb acts as a support for your pole instead of applying any side force that may destabilize your grip during turns or jumps. Keeping your thumb on top also prevents you from pressing too hard downwards into the snow, which can make turning more challenging.
Avoid Clenching Your Hands Too Tightly
Another important tip you must remember when using ski poles is to avoid clenching your hands too tightly around the pole. A tight fist creates unnecessary tension throughout your arms, shoulders, and back, which can wear you out quickly.
“Pay attention to how much effort you’re putting into it. Even having the poles grip too tight reduces the effectiveness of what they do for you… Relaxing your grip allows you to get better feedback from the snow.” -Eric Lipton
Instead, keep a relaxed and comfortable grip on the pole that ensures enough control while lessening shoulder fatigue. A light touch provides enough contact with the pole to help guide and stabilize your turns without creating extra tension in your muscles.
Practice Proper Planting
Plant the Pole Firmly
Ski poles are an essential part of skiing gear, and their correct use can make a massive difference in your performance. One common mistake beginners make while using ski poles is to plant them softly or not firmly enough. You must push your pole aggressively into the snow so that it supports you when skiing downhill.
According to experts, planting your pole and clearing it from the snow correctly takes a little bit of effort. Put yourself up for a challenge by taking on steeper terrain to provide yourself with opportunities to get better acquainted with proper pole planting technique. Over time, this will become second nature, allowing you to enjoy skiing better than ever before.
Use Your Whole Body for Momentum
Pole planting is not just pushing a stick into the snow; instead, it is a crucial aspect of building momentum and maintaining balance as you ski down a slope. While pole planting, try not to rely solely on your arms as they will tire out quickly and could lead to fatigue or risk injury.
You must put your entire body’s weight behind your pole plants, synchronizing both arm and leg movements – this creates rhythm and helps build momentum. Once again, professionals suggest practicing this skill first on slightly steeper slopes until it becomes muscle memory.
“Proper pole usage allows skiers to maintain good posture and keep a steady tempo even if their legs are wobbly.”- Tara Llanes (Pro Skier)
This technique can take some time to master but once developed, you would feel confident enough to tackle challenging terrains without losing balance.
- Stay upright while keeping your shoulders over your hips.
- Your elbows should be at 90-degree angles with wrists straight.
- Plant your pole next to the foot opposite of your turn.
- Press the inside edge of the bold and engage in a poling motion, then release and switch sides.
Mastered ski pole technique will help you glide effortlessly down hills even at faster speeds, while remaining balanced and retain better control over your trajectory as you execute turns.”If you hold on too tightly or plant improperly, you lose traction with your skis and, more importantly, risk jarring your wrists Shoulders, legs, hips, skiing becomes dance if there is proper pole usage”- Tara Lanes (Pro Skier).
Understand The Timing
If you are learning to ski, one of the most important skills you need to master is using ski poles. Ski poles can help you maintain balance and control on the slopes, but only if they are used correctly. One of the key things to understand about ski pole use is timing.
Timing is crucial when it comes to planting your poles and releasing them. If you plant your poles too soon or release them too late, it could throw off your balance and make skiing more difficult. Here’s what you need to know:
Plant the Pole Before Your Foot
The first thing to remember is that you should always plant your ski pole before you place your foot down. This will help you maintain better balance as you transition from turn to turn. As you approach a turn, begin to plant your pole just before your inside ski. As this happens, allow your body to follow through with the motion so that your outside ski flows smoothly into the turn.
- To plant your pole properly, hold it in such a way that your hand is resting at hip level when standing straight. You should also be gripping your pole below the basket with your palm facing forward and thumb pointing behind you.
- Gently press the pole tip into the snow, angling it slightly downhill to create an anchor point for your pole.
- As you start your turn, transfer your weight onto your outside ski while pushing off your planted pole.
Release the Pole at the Right Moment
Knowing when to release your pole is equally important. Releasing too early or holding onto it too long can negatively impact your overall balance and rhythm out on the mountain. Keep the following tips in mind for optimal performance:
- As you exit a turn, allow your arm to extend naturally out in front of you while gripping the pole. This will help keep your body stable as you prepare for the next move.
- The right moment to release your pole will vary depending on factors like slope angle and skiing speed. Generally speaking, you should aim to let go of the pole when your hand is passing over your knee on the opposite leg from the direction you are turning. This ensures that you have plenty of time to plant the pole before making your next move.
“Timing is everything in skiing. Properly using your ski poles can make all the difference.” -Lindsey Vonn, Olympic Skier
Practicing proper timing with your ski poles takes practice but it’s worth mastering. Remember to plan the pole before your foot and release it at the right moment for optimal results. With time and patience, you’ll be able to improve your balance and control out on the slopes.
Use Poles For Balance
Plant the Poles at the Start of the Run
When you are about to start skiing, plant your ski poles firmly in the snow beside you before pushing off. This will help you control your balance and your speed as you begin your run.
As you push off, use the force created by the poles being planted to initiate your movements down the slope. Keeping your poles stationary gives you something to focus on while your feet get moving.
Keep Your Arms Relaxed and Close to Your Body
Your arms play a crucial role when it comes to using ski poles for balance, so take care to keep them relaxed throughout your run. Holding your arms too stiffly can cause unnecessary tension, which could impact your stability in a negative way.
Try to keep your arms close to your body, with your elbows bent and near your hips. Keep your hands loosely gripped around the pole handles, not too tight or too loose. This allows for better mobility and flexibility, giving you more room to adjust in case of an unexpected bump in the terrain ahead.
Use the Poles to Adjust Your Balance on Turns
Making turns is an essential part of skiing, but it can also be a tricky maneuver that requires good balance and quick reflexes. Fortunately, amazing tools such as ski poles make this much easier!
As you approach a turn, lean slightly into the direction of that turn and plant one of your ski poles hard into the snow away from your body. Use the other pole to establish your grip upon the ground and remain stable as you move through the turn.
If you feel like you’re about to lose your balance, try planting both poles to either side of your body for increased stability as you navigate the turn.
Use the Poles to Regain Your Balance After a Fall
No matter how good of a skier you are, falls can happen to anyone. While it’s always best to try to avoid falling entirely, knowing how to recover from one is also important. This is where your ski poles come in handy!
If you fall while skiing, you’ll likely end up on your side with your legs and arms flailing about. In this scenario, use your ski poles to help you stand back up. Place them beside you into the snow at an angle so that they form a base of support for your hands to push against, then push off and leverage yourself upright using their length.
“Skiing is not just a sport, it’s a way of life.”
Mastering ski pole technique can do wonders for your balance and control when skiing down a slope. From planting your poles before takeoff, to adjusting your balance during turns, to recovering after a fall, these simple tools can be valuable assets throughout your skiing experience. Keep your arms relaxed and stay alert for opportunities to plant your poles strategically, all while keeping your eyes peeled for any sudden obstacles or bumps that may suddenly appear along the way. Remember, as long as you have your trusty ski poles by your side, you’re ready to conquer any run ahead.
Master The Turn With Poles
Plant the Poles at the Start of the Turn
Ski poles can be a great tool to help you turn effectively and efficiently while skiing. To start using your ski poles for turns, begin by planting them at the beginning of each turn.
As you approach the start of a turn, swing your hands and poles in front of you, with the tips of the poles pointing towards each other. Plant both poles on the snow simultaneously, slightly ahead of your body position.
This motion will force you to shift your weight onto the outside ski and increase pressure on its edge. As a result, this action initiates the turn and guides you smoothly through it.
Use the Poles to Guide Your Turn
In addition to initiating the turn, ski poles can help guide you through the entire curve of the turn as well.
To use the poles to guide your turn, focus on creating a continuous circle or “arc” down the slope, starting from where you planted your poles at the beginning of the turn.
As you move through the turn, move your hands and poles along this arc, keeping them perpendicular to the slope at all times. This action helps you maintain balance, control your speed, and carve more cleanly through the snow.
- It’s important not to rely too heavily on your ski poles when skiing – instead, they should be used as an aid to help you fine-tune your technique.
- Keep your arms relaxed and angled downwards when holding your poles, making sure that they don’t extend behind your body or cross over your chest.
- If you’re struggling with pole planting and maintaining proper turn form, consider taking lessons from an experienced ski instructor who can help you improve your technique.
“Skiing is the only sport where you spend an arm and a leg to break an arm and a leg.” -Author Unknown
By mastering the art of pole planting and using them effectively during turns, skiers of all levels can take their skills to new heights and enjoy the slopes with more confidence. So grab those poles and hit the mountain!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the different types of ski poles and how do I choose the right one?
There are three main types of ski poles: alpine, freestyle, and touring. Alpine poles are the most common and are used for downhill skiing. Freestyle poles are shorter and more flexible, making them ideal for terrain parks and tricks. Touring poles are longer and have adjustable straps for backcountry skiing. When choosing a ski pole, consider your height and skiing style. For alpine skiing, the pole should reach your armpit, while for freestyle skiing it should come up to your chest. Touring poles should be adjustable to fit the terrain.
How do I adjust the length of my ski poles?
To adjust the length of your ski poles, loosen the locking mechanism and pull the pole apart or push it together to your desired length. The pole should be adjusted so that your elbow is at a 90-degree angle when holding the pole with the tip on the ground. Make sure the locking mechanism is secure before skiing.
What is the proper way to hold my ski poles?
The proper way to hold ski poles is to grip them with your hand wrapped around the pole grip and your thumb on top. The strap should go around your wrist and be adjusted so that you can easily release the pole if needed. Keep your elbows close to your sides and use your wrist to control the pole.
How do I use my ski poles for turning and stopping?
To turn, plant the pole on the opposite side of the direction you want to turn and use it as a pivot. For example, to turn left, plant the pole on the right side of your body. To stop, plant both poles in front of you perpendicular to the direction you are skiing. This will create resistance and slow you down.
What are some common mistakes to avoid when using ski poles?
Common mistakes when using ski poles include holding them too tightly, using them as a crutch, and planting them too far in front of your body. Holding the poles too tightly can cause fatigue and make it difficult to control them. Using them as a crutch can throw off your balance and cause falls. Planting them too far in front of your body can cause you to lose momentum and control.
Do I need to use ski poles for cross-country skiing?
While ski poles are not required for cross-country skiing, they are highly recommended. Poles provide balance and help increase speed and endurance. They also allow you to use more of your upper body muscles, making skiing more efficient. When choosing cross-country ski poles, consider the terrain and your height. Poles should reach your armpit for classic skiing and be slightly longer for skate skiing.