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Teaching kids to ski doesn’t have to be horribly difficult. In fact, there are lots of ski training tools and ski tips that can help parents take over a lot of the responsibility of teaching their own kids to ski.
In the last 17 years of teaching kids to ski, we’ve seen it all when it comes to ski teaching tools. We’ve seen ski training tools that are invaluable, others that work some of the time, and still some that we just scratch our heads wondering who in the world would use them.
Below we are listing some of the best ski teaching tools, as well as the worst ski training tools to avoid.
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Best tools to teach kids to ski
Edgie Wedgies are great ski teaching tools that work well for younger kids. Edgie Wedgies help them to easily make a wedge shape to stop, simply by spreading their legs apart. They are incredibly simple to use, help them to control speed, and we’ve never met a kid that they didn’t help to learn to stop on skis better.
The best part is that they only cost about $10-15. If you’re going to teach your own kids to ski, do yourself a favor and get an edgie wedgie before you teach your child to ski. It’s likely the best investment you’ll ever make in your child’s future as a skier.
A Ski Harness (used without the leash)
While there is a lot of controversy surrounding the correct use of ski harnesses to teach kids to ski, I personally have a special place in my heart for them. Actually, it’s really in my back, because we are constantly using our kids ski harness handle to pick our kids up when they fall down and to boost our little ones onto the chairlift.
If you’re going to get a kis ski harness, the first step is to learn how to properly use the harness. The leashes honestly create more problems than good, so for the most part, we recommend not using the leash.
A ski harness without a leash is basically just a small harness that kids wear on their torso, with a handle on the back. That handle is great for picking little kids up, boosting them onto the lift, and ESPECIALLY for holding onto squirmy little kids on the chairlift. For this reason, we have our kids wear a ski harness until they are about 5-years-old since it makes skiing with young kids so much easier.
NOTE: Our favorite ski harness without leashes is not being made anymore, so just use this harness, but leave the leashes stashed in the backpack.
When I was working as a professional ski instructor, the only tool we used to teach kids to ski, beside an edgie wedgie, was a hula hoop.
To use a hula hoop to teach kids to ski, put the hula hoop around the child’s waist, and gently hold onto the back of it while they ski down. The goal is to put as little pressure as possible on the hula hoop, but still keeping it in place for controlling speed and helping to boost kids confidence while skiing.
The advantage of using a hula hoop is that it’s easy for an adult to regulate the amount of pressure on a kid’s torso as they ski. The biggest downside to skiing with a hula hoop is that it can be a bit of a pain to carry up the chairlift, especially if you have more than one child on the chairlift with you. They weigh practically nothing, so once you figure out how to hold it, you should be just fine.
Ski Poles (but just for mom and dad).
While we recommend waiting until kids are solid intermediate skiers before introducing ski poles to them, they can be a great tool for parents to use to teach their kids how to ski. The ski pole approach is similar to using a hula hoop to teach kids to ski.
Here’s how to use ski poles to teach kids to ski:
- Put both of your poles out in front of you, held horizontally, with two hands.
- Hold your ski poles outstretched to one side at your knee length so that they’re sticking out far to one side.
- Ski side by side with your child, letting them hold onto your ski poles when they need help.
While the ski pole trick can work great in some situations, its best for temporary help, not the full day. First of all, it can be killer on a parent’s back to hold their poles horizontally at knee height for more than a couple of runs.
Secondly, to use this method properly, you have to ski REALLY CLOSE to your kids. THis means that they’ll often grab for the poles more than they really need to just because they’re in close proximity. However, if you have a child who’s really nervous and wants you right by their side, using your ski poles is a great ski training tool.
Ski training tools that can work well, but are usually misused
We use a ski harness without leashes EVERY SINGLE TIME that we take our little kids skiing. It’s a lifesaver. In fact, the harness that we use has leashes that tuck into the backpack, but we rarely ever take them out to use them. For us, we prefer to have a harness that has leashes for those rare runs that we need leashes when we are skiing with a toddler.
Truthfully, most people who use children’s ski harnesses, use them incorrectly. If you aren’t 100% sure on how to use a kids ski harness with leashes, don’t use it at all or just leave the leashed tucked inside. If you do want to use the leashes on a kids ski harness, I’ll teach you how to use your harness properly.
Imagine a kid out walking their dog and the dog is basically pulling the kid down the street, completely out of control. That’s how most parents use a ski harness, and it’s completely wrong.
The proper way to use a kids ski harness with the leash is with the leashes loose most of the time and at slow speeds.
One of the most important aspects of teaching kids how to ski, is teaching them how to balance correctly. If they are using a ski harness that’s constantly applying pressure to their back, there is no way that they can balance correctly. Read this if you want to learn how to use a ski harness the right way. We’ve written an entire article about ski harnesses, and the best ski harnesses you can buy, so make sure to check it out.
Ski Tools that we don’t care for (but that might work for you)
When we first heard about the LaunchPad Hookease, we were absolutely thrilled with the idea. However, after using it for a full day, we found it to be rather exhausting.
What is the Launchpad Hook Ease? It’s a system that attaches to the back of your child’s skis and connects your ski poles to the back of their skis. We love that it doesn’t impact a child’s balance and is a great way to guide their turns. The only problem is that your poles need to stay connected to the kids skis for the entire run (or until you stop and remove them). Unlike using a harness where you can just guide them as needed, with the hookease, you need to be following and guiding them the whole time.
This can become problematic since we find that most kids learn to turn best when they’re following someone else. When you’re using the hookease, the kids are just guessing where to turn, or you realistically will need 2 adults.
While the Hook Ease may be a good tool for a child who is really really struggling to learn how to turn, for most kids, it’s overkill.
Slope ropes uses the concept of a ski leash and just eliminates the harness. They’re great for controlling speed and getting kids to turn, but they’re not great for balance. Slope ropesalways have to have a little bit of tension in them or to have a child holding it up, so they don’t slip down. If your slope ropes go slack (the way that we think a ski leash should be used), it can slip down and cause your child to trip over there rope, or for it to get wrapped around their ankle. While we like the idea behind Slope Ropes for teaching kids howt o ski, the actual execution is something that we don’t love.
The market for tools to teach kids to ski is ever changing. Do you have a favorite tool to teach kids to ski that we missed? I’d love to hear your favorite tools to teach kids to ski!