Can You Ski Without Poles?

Published by Courtney M on

Most ski instructors will insist you have a set of poles in your arsenal of ski equipment. That’s because ski poles can help you maintain balance, shift weight quickly, and skate through flat sections more easily. However, there are several instances on the mountain where you and your kids can benefit from skiing without poles.

Beginners may find that skiing without poles helps improve form and break bad habits. Some advanced terrain park skiers state that skiing without poles is more comfortable, safer, and looks cooler. This guide is designed to help you understand when skiing without poles may actually help improve your skiing. 

Skiing Without Poles As a Drill

Some beginner skiers start to rely heavily on their poles. This can create dependency and bad habits that slow progression. A ski instructor may suggest leaving your poles behind for several runs to break these habits of over-dependency.

Correcting Your Body Position

Skiing without poles can help correct your body position while skiing. This is because you no longer have the poles to help you balance yourself. Your legs, hips, and core will have to take on the work of keeping you balanced and executing turns. 

Learning to Stop Without Poles

Beginners also have a tendency to use their poles to stop themselves. This is an obvious sign that the skier isn’t using poles correctly, and it can cause serious injuries or damage to your equipment. Skiing without poles can help break the habit and teach you to slow down and stop correctly.

Adjusting Your Hand Position

Another bad habit many beginners adopt is a tendency to pay too much attention to their hands and poles while skiing. Some will look down at their poles while making turns, putting pressure on the back and shoulders. Similarly, holding the poles too high or too low can shift the center of mass, disrupting balance. Leaving the poles behind helps readjust the hand and arm positions to where they naturally need to be to help balance.

Beginners tend to squeeze the poles too tight, which can cause unnecessary soreness and cold hands. Ski instructors suggest removing the poles, shaking the hands, and taking a few runs without poles to help break the habit.

Poles can help improve your skiing, but they need to be used correctly to do so. Your hands should be holding your poles downward in front of your body slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. The correct arm position is similar to the position you use when riding a bicycle. 

Helping Young Kids Develop Good Habits

It’s no secret that some kids become advanced skiers at young ages. However, ski poles are not typically recommended for children under the age of 6. Ski school instructors prefer to teach lessons to young kids without poles, so they think about their feet instead of focusing on their hands.

Ski poles require additional coordination that can be too difficult for many kids under the age of 5 or 6. It’s also easier for kids to stand up after a fall without fumbling with ski poles. It isn’t until kids have learned to control their skis, turn, and stop that ski poles are recommended. 

Hitting the Terrain Park 

no poles skiing

Skiing no poles isn’t solely a teaching mechanism for beginners. Skiers who spend a lot of time in the terrain park may leave their poles behind when learning new tricks or hitting rails.

Skiing the park without poles gives you more control over your maneuvers. It also eliminates the dangers associated with landing incorrectly with the poles in a poor position. Some park skiers believe maneuvers look cleaner without the addition of poles in the air. We all know that park skiing is all about style. 

Can You Ski Without Poles?

Poles are generally recommended for any kind of skiing. Kids under the age of 5 or 6 are the exception. Poles help you maintain a consistent rhythm, keep you balanced, and allow you to skate more easily. 

Although, it’s not frowned upon to leave your poles in the car or on the rack while you attempt to correct some of the bad habits listed above. Reintroduce your poles after practicing superior positioning and habits, and you’ll likely notice great improvements.

Categories: How toSki

Courtney M

Courtney first tackled the bunny hill at age 3, and she has been skiing and snowboarding ever since. She competed in terrain park and halfpipe snowboarding competitions from the age of 10 to 18. Now, she travels the world in search of deep powder and perfect waves. Courtney enjoys sharing her years of knowledge with those looking to learn more about skiing, snowboarding, and other action sports.