Skiing Without Poles: How, Why, & When?

Skiing Without Poles How, Why, & When

Learning to ski takes practice and dedication. The key is to master the basics before adding accessories. If you’re looking to learn more about skiing without poles, you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, I will explore some key information about skiing without poles, including how, why, and when you would ski without them.

Let’s get into it.

What Are Ski Poles For?

Before we get started, you might be thinking about what the purpose of ski poles is in the first place.

Ski poles are designed to allow you to distribute your weight more evenly when making turns as you are skiing. When you plant your ski pole into the ground, there is something to lean on as you shift your weight quickly.

That being said, placing too much weight on your ski poles can be detrimental to the equipment, and can also lead to you relying on your ski poles far too much.

While ski poles can aid your skiing, it is your technique that you need to make sure is solid. Learning the foundations of skiing is essential before you can move on to more complicated techniques, so it’s important that you do this properly without the need to rely on your ski poles.

How Can You Ski Without Poles?

There’s no getting away from the fact that learning to ski can be a challenging feat for many.

To make the process slightly easier, you might consider learning to ski without ski poles in the first instance.

Generally speaking, when you are first learning to ski as a beginner, you will need to start by getting used to moving around on the skis as it can be quite an unfamiliar experience if you’ve never done it before. Learning the basics of steering as well as how to stop is the first step.

Some ski instructors might ask children to put their hands on their knees as they learn to ski without the support of poles. This action puts your body in the ideal position to remain in control, meaning that they are learning to not exclusively rely on an external object to help steer them in the right direction.

On the other hand, other instructors might recommend that you hold one ski pole in front of you horizontally with both hands. This can help you to balance, and also makes you focus on your position more and your poles less, which can be hugely beneficial to someone who’s just starting out.

It’s not just beginners that can benefit from leaving the ski poles behind. If you already know how to ski, then skiing without poles could do the world of good in helping you to improve your form.

If you’ve noticed that you heavily rely on your ski poles, or aren’t even sure how you’d go about skiing without them, then why not give it a try? 

Removing the poles could help you expose some areas that you’re less skilled in, and highlighting this can help you improve overall as a skier.

Why Would You Ski Without Poles?

There are a variety of reasons why you might decide to ski without poles. These reasons include but are not limited to:

Can Help Cement The Basics

Although skiing with poles eventually is necessary to develop proper techniques, putting your ski poles down can be hugely beneficial to you cementing the basics.

Learning the basics is absolutely essential to ensure that you’re safe whilst out on the slopes, and so that you have a foundation to build upon when it comes to learning harder techniques and tricks.

Can Help Improve Your Balance

When you first begin skiing, many people can end up focusing on their hands far too much which can offset their balance.

Skiing without poles removes this issue, allowing you to focus on the position of your lower body and helping you to improve your balance.

Poles Can Lead To Bad Habits

Unfortunately, for many people, ski poles can lead to bad habits.

For instance, many people can rely too heavily on their poles for balance or even for helping them to stop on the slopes. 

As a result, they can significantly hinder a skier’s progress if you’re not mindful of beating these bad habits before they become cemented in your technique.

When Should You Consider Skiing Without Poles?

When Should You Consider Skiing Without Poles 

There are a variety of different circumstances when it’s useful to ski without poles.

To Learn Control As A Beginner

If you’re just starting out or learning to ski, you might develop bad habits using poles from the get-go. For instance, many ski instructors often notice that many skiers rely on their poles for balance. 

When you rely solely on the bottom half of your body, you can break the bad habits you’ve developed by over-relying on your ski poles.

As you learn to rely on your lower body for balance and control, you will become a much better skier once you pick your poles back up again.

Teaching Children To Ski

The majority of ski schools won’t give children that are under five years old ski poles. This comes down to the fact that small children need to be able to focus on how they are using their skis to change direction.

It is much easier for children to get up once they have fallen over if they’re not holding poles.

Once a child has learned the proper turning techniques that only come with practice and can control their skis, poles can be introduced.

To Stop Thinking About Your Hand Position 

Many people who use poles tend to focus too much on where their hands should go while skiing.

In addition to this, poles can make it easier to lose your balance whilst you are learning to ski as they can cause your hands and elbows to fall behind.

If you notice that you’re doing this, this could be why you struggle to stay in control or keep your balance when you’re out on the slopes.

Letting go of the poles whilst you are still learning your turns will take your mind off what your hands are doing, and they will naturally fall into place as you concentrate on your overall form.

Only when you’re confident on your feet should you incorporate your poles back into the equation.

To Get The Most Out Of The Slopes 

Beginners aren’t the only people that can benefit from leaving their ski poles at home.

In fact, when it comes to freestyle and trick skiing, many people decide to hit the slopes without their ski poles.

Freestyle skiing can be improved if you aren’t carrying ski poles. This comes down to the fact that this allows more control for tricks as skiers have less to worry about whilst they execute a trick. 

However, if you’re into freestyle or trick skiing, then it is likely that you already have a preference when it comes to using ski poles or leaving them at home. For those still learning, it’s good to give both a go to see what you prefer.

When Learning To Stop 

Another situation that your poles could be prohibiting is when learning to stop.

If you are using your poles to slow down or to completely stop means you do not know how to use them correctly. 

Relying on your poles to stop is not only incredibly dangerous but can also damage the equipment.

Learning how to stop correctly without poles is essential to your progress and safety. Not only will it make you more confident, but it will also keep you and other skiers safe when you’re out on the slopes. After all, you never know when you might need to come to a stop suddenly!

Should You Use Ski Poles?

For most people experienced in skiing, skiing without poles isn’t something they would consider. Although, it’s also important to note that everyone is different, and you might not see the benefit of ditching your ski poles, whether you’ve already got the basics of skiing down or are a skiing pro.

However, if you are just learning to ski, you have taken your child skiing for the first time, or you wish to improve your abilities, then you might decide to leave your ski poles at home to see whether this will help your progress.

As I’ve already discussed, skiing without ski poles can help you to improve your form while also helping you to ditch bad habits. 

Once you have removed the crutch, or in this case, the ski poles, you can reintroduce them into your skiing and see just how much you’ve improved.


You don’t have to use poles to enjoy skiing, and there are times when you may find yourself struggling to maintain good form and control if you are relying on them.

This is why it’s important to understand why and when it might be beneficial to consider skiing without ski poles.

I hope you found this article helpful! Have fun and be safe out on the slopes!

About the author

Jesse Blaine

Jesse is the owner of, contributes to a lot of the material, and directs day-to-day operations. He lives in Colorado with his wife and kids and loves the outdoors. He’s an avid skier, hiker, kiteboarder, and adventure sports explorer. Jesse has also traveled the world and lived in five different countries. He speaks several languages and loves communicating with people

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