Poles: When and why we use them.

Quite often I’m asked, ‘When is my child ready for poles?’

As a general rule, they are ready for poles once they can ski Parallel on Blue terrain. In ski school Level 4. The four conditions of getting poles are in a developmental, technical and safety sense, as well as sanity for you!

Developmentally, if we give them poles too soon, we short circuit the messages to their feet (cephalocaudal development, from the head down) and their skiing may regress. Once they have autonomy of movement being parallel on blue terrain, they won’t regress as much in the learning process.

In a technical sense, poles are used when the skis are flat to the snow as they are simultaneously changing corresponding edges (the skis change from one set of edges to the other at the same time). It is easier to stand on the edges of the skis, so when we have a moment of instability (when they are flat to the snow), we touch the pole to the ground to help stabilise us, or balance, as we start the new turn. If your child still has a wedge (or opposing edges) at the start of the turn, there is no moment of instability, thus not necessary to have poles.

As a safety rule, once they can get on and off the chair lift by themselves will help prevent a wayward pole in the crotch, eye or anywhere else it shouldn’t be! It can be a lot easier

Then, think about the gear you will need to be remembering and then carrying if you give them poles. Once they can be responsible for their own equipment, ie carry it all from your accommodation and the car park, poles may be a consideration.

So when you’re asked, ‘Can I have poles yet?’ These are the conditions.

Let’s go Skiing!