Ski instruction - hands forward, knees bent.

Ski technique: Your hands are more important than you think.

My ski coaching sometimes surprises when I pay so much heed to skiers’ hands regarding ski technique. Surely, skiing is about your feet?  Well it is, but it’s about a lot more. Glen Plake one of the world’s greatest extreme skiers told one group that the instant he couldn’t see his hands – it was too late.   But the instruction to “Carry your hands forward”  is simply awful.  It creates poor ski technique. Here’s why .. 

Carry your hands too far forward  and you’ll create a posture like the one above.  From a skiing point of view it is hopeless.  When you are reasonably well balanced, if you stick your arms forwards, you will have to put some of your weight backwards, or you will fall flat on your face.  You see beginners looking like the picture.  It doesn’t work well at all.

To better understand this aspect of ski technique, click on this link to an older post on the subject

Good ski technique doesn’t advocate this.

Don’t reach far forward, it unbalances you.  It strains muscles in your arms and your back, and it stops you planting your ski pole in an effective manner.

So, for good ski technique where should your hands be better positioned?  John Shedden’s remarkably comprehensive and thorough skiing books “Skilful Skiing” ISBN # 0-7158-0800-1 and “Skiing” : Developing Your Skill”  ISBN # 1-85223-094-0 show this well.

These scans are fuzzy,  I hope you can see enough.


John and Dennis Edwards developed the idea of carrying an imaginary hoop. You can see that rather than carry your hands “forward”,  you are far better off to carry them “low and wide”, only just a little forward of the centre line of the imaginary hoop you carry around your body as you ski.

Look at the similarity between that last picture and this one of a different racer.  “Low and wide” – not “forward”.


Apologies for the rather fuzzy reproduction.

For better ski technique, and more comfort keep your arms relaxed.

Carry an imaginary hoop.  Your shoulder blades open up,  your neck muscles relax.  Your back will be less hollowed-out.  That will cut the strainon the muscles of your back and those controlling your pelvis.

And what is more, you will be able to respond far faster and far better to all the wobbles that inevitably occur when skiing.  After all, skiing is a form of skilfully controlled wobbling!

So every now and then, even you’re not with your skiing coach, do a run or two practicing this aspect of ski technique.  You’ll make a difference.

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