Skiing Without Poles – Is it Worth It?

Skiing Without Poles 

When you picture a serious skier in your mind, their look probably includes warm clothes, goggles, and a helmet. Then, of course, they have ski poles held in their hands. 

Ski poles are crucial when turning as they let you quickly spread off your weight. This way, you don’t put your weight entirely on the skis, which may result in a terrible fall. 

Along with turning, ski poles can also be very useful when you lose speed on flat ground, and you need to push yourself forward. 

And as any snowboarder will tell you, traverses can be a pain if you don’t have poles. 

I also use my ski poles to capture the attention of someone or point toward something when skiing with my friends. 

But are ski poles always important when skiing? Are there times when you don’t need ski poles?

One thing you might have noticed about most skiers is that many of them are ditching the poles. And this may have ignited your urge to ski without poles, but you aren’t quite sure when to do it.  

If you are wondering whether you can ski without ski poles, you have come to the right page. 

Here, you’ll learn all you need to know about skiing without poles. Keep reading to discover more!

When Should You Ski Without Ski Poles?

When Should You Ski Without Ski Poles

Well, there are many factors that influence the answer to this question, from your skiing ability and riding style to the type of terrain you are going to be skiing on. 

For example, if you are a new skier, you’ll tend to put a lot of weight on the poles and depend too much on them. 

In such cases, beginners and kids learning how to ski can struggleto sharpen not just their skisbut their focus and other skiing fundamentals. 

Even so, experienced skiers prefer to ski without poles to hone their skills and achieve better control, especially in trick and freestyle skiing. 

Here are several situations when you should consider passing on the poles when skiing:

You Are Teaching a Kid to Ski

If you want to teach your kid how to ski, you should consider training them without the poles, especially if they are below five years. 

Children can easily learn how to focus on changing directions with their feet when they are able to rely on the lower body. 

When kids use poles, they rely more on them instead of letting the lower body do all the work. 

In addition, children find it easy to get up after a fall without the poles. Otherwise, the ski poles will demand more coordination, which may feel unnatural to them. 

Your kid may find ski poles fascinating, but trust me, poles can be a hindrance for the start. So, let them learn to focus on the position of the feet and gain balance without the poles. 

Then you will introduce the poles later to help with rhythm and timing when the kid can control the skis and turn correctly. 

You Put Too Much Weight on the Ski Pole

If you are used to skiing with poles, you may unknowingly over-depend on them more often than not for control and balance.

Luckily, you can easily break this habit by passing on the poles. It may feel scary at first, but this will push you forward to enhance your skills. 

Without the ski poles, your lower body does the work and helps you find your mass center. As you train yourself to rely on your hips and legs, you’ll gain better control and balance. 

And once you start using your ski poles again, you’ll realize that your skiing posture has also improved. 

You Can’t Stop Properly

Do you normally use your ski poles to cut speed or stop completely? If yes, you are doing it incorrectly, and this can damage your gear or even hurt your knees. 

In a ski school, instructors usually take away the poles from students who use them to stop or reduce speed.

When you ditch the poles, you will be forced to learn how to safely slow down and stop properly. This will not only boost your skiing confidence but will also protect you and other skiers. 

You Want to Make the Most of the Steep Terrain 

Are you looking for an efficient way to make the most out of the steep terrain park? You can easily leverage slopes by ditching the poles.

Skiing without poles will not only improve your freestyle skiing but will also make the downhill skiing moves feel smoother and perfect. 

It allows more control for tricks since you will have fewer items to worry about when making a move in the terrain park.

Your Hand Position is Bothering You

When practicing how to ski, you may find yourself focusing too much on the way your hands hold the poles.

For this reason, you might end up squeezing the poles too tight or even holding your hands too high. Sometimes your hands and elbows may fall behind, causing you to struggle to find better control. 

Another common mistake among skiers using poles is looking down to see the ski pole hitting the ground. 

This is a risky habit as it puts too much pressure on the neck, shoulders, and back. It also leads to uncontrolled movements, and you might end up falling. 

If the ski poles make you constantly think about your hands, you should consider skiing without them for better focus and controlled movements. 

Once you master your comfortable position with your hands, you will become a better skier since your poles and hands will not distract you. 

When to Start Using Poles 

When to Start Using Poles 

You can start using poles as soon as you are old enough to use them correctly. About 6 to 7 years is okay as this is when most skiers start to develop turning habits. 

For new skiers, you can start using poles once you gain the most relevant experience or achieve a good balance.

When skiing on the mountain terrain, poles are essential as they act as an extension of your hands. They also come in handy when you need to make short radius and parallel turns. 



Q: Can You Ski Without Poles?

A: Yes, you can ski without poles. Skiing without poles is actually an excellent way to work your body out and master your focus on essential movements. 

There are several times when it is necessary to ski without poles. These include teaching a kid to ski, trying to make the most of the terrain park, learning to stop properly, and gaining better control. 

You can also ski without poles if you keep thinking about your hand location, which may distract you and make you lose balance. 

As mentioned earlier, most ski instructors recommend skiing without ski poles for beginner skiers to avoid over-dependency and break bad habits. 

Q: Is Skiing Without Poles Good?

A: Yes, skiing pole-less is good. New skiers can greatly benefit from skiing without poles. They can gain better control without depending on the poles to slow down or stop. 

Children learning to ski should not use poles until they are able to use them correctly. Otherwise, poles planted wrongly can be dangerous. 

Nonetheless, there are some cases where poles are necessary. For example, when you want to move forward on a narrow flat part or maintain momentum in deep powder snow. 

Q: Why Do Some Olympic Skiers Not Use Poles?

A: Some Olympic skiers forgo their poles to enhance their aerodynamics and make it easier to make grabs in the air. 

Freestyle skiers with hand injuries don’t have to miss the competition just because they can’t hold ski poles. Some skiers also feel that it simply looks cooler to ski pole-less. 

Q: How Do You Get Out of Skis without Poles? 

A: To get out of skis without poles, you need to find a flat and secure place where you cannot collide with other skiers. 

Then squat down and remove the skis by lowering the rear binding to free your foot. Once you finish removing the first ski, repeat the process on the other foot to release the binding. 

When removing the skis, do not use one ski to release the binding, as this could ruin the ski base. 

Wrap Up

Wrap Up

While using ski poles is important for mastering proper technique, skiing without poles can be more beneficial when it comes to refining your focus and balance. 

Many skiers are actually enjoying skiing pole-less in the terrain park to make jumps and hit rails. 

If you want to fine-tune your skiing skills, take a break from the poles and refocus your legs through the turns to gain perfect balance. 

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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