Teaching Beginner skiers balance, weight transfer and timing in the first lesson

Steve is a longtime Trakkers member and a dedicated ski instructor for many years. He shares his advices based on observing and teaching beginner skiers. Cross-country skiing is an accessible winter sport and a few tricks makes a big difference to enjoy the glide.

When I teach beginner skiers the diagonal stride with poles, a common problem is that students tend to be too upright such that there is little balance over the glide ski, and the timing of the pole action with the skis is off. Many isolated exercises can be used to try to correct this, but the best method I find that makes a big difference early on is to emphasize putting the poles on correctly and gripping the pole handle between the thumb and forefinger. Then it is possible to fully extend the pole backward in a straight line with the arm by opening the hand and pushing on the strap. The action can be demonstrated statically with the student by grasping the student’s pole and moving it through the extension and recovery cycle. The straight back extension does these things:

  1. The opposing force on the upper body naturally projects it forward over the glide ski.
  2. Weight transfer is more complete.
  3. Timing of the pole action with the skis is smoother and rhythmic.
  4. Correct poling action, timing, balance and posture are learned at the beginning and committed to motor muscle memory. It is much more difficult to modify motor muscle memory later if the student develops bad habits.