Teaching Kids How To Stop On Skis

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If you’re planning on teaching your own kids how to ski, we’re here to CHEER YOU ON!!!  We’ve done it over and over again and know that you can too.

While ski school can be really useful at certain times, you don’t need to send your child to ski school to teach them how to stop on skis.  In fact, teaching kids to stop in a ski wedge is one of the easiest skills that they’ll learn.
Not sure if your child is ready to ski? Read our best tips to figure out the best time to start kids skiing!

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What order should my kids learn ski skills?

Want to figure out the right progression of skills when they’re learning how to ski?  Here’s what they need to know to learn to ski well, and the order that they need to learn the top ski skills.

 Learn how to put on their own skis

This doesn’t need to be complicated, but show kids how to put the toe of their boot in first, and to push down on their heel so that their binding clicks into place.  This can be taught at home or at the ski hill.

How to move around on skis

Before kids ever go down a hill, teach them how to move around on the snow on flat terrain.  This doesn’t need to be complex or complicated, but showing them how to shuffle their feet around and glide a little bit will really help them once they learn to go down the ski hill.

How to get up when they fall down

Your back will thank you for teaching your kids to do this early on.  When kids fall down, teach them to point their skis sideways across the hill, put both hands right in front of their ski boots (It won’t work as easily if both hands aren’t there), and then push up.  This is a skill that can easily be taught in the backyard, or even practiced inside on carpet!

ski crash kid

How to stop on skis in a wedge

As soon as your kids are ready to start going down the ski hill, they need to learn how to turn on their skis.  Keep reading below for more details on how to teach kids to stop on their skis.

How to turn on skis

Once your kids know how to stop, it’s time to teach them how to turn on their skis.  Not only does turing help kids learn to navigate where they are going better, but it also helps them to control their speed.  Whenever you’re skiing down the mountain, it should always be in a constant turning motion, like a snake slithering.  

little girl learning how to ski

Progressing to more difficult terrain

Once kids have learned to stop and turn well on the easiest slope, it’s time to move them onto more difficult terrain.  Pick an easy green run, that’s just a little bit longer than the beginning slope for their first big run.  Plan on staying on green terrain until they’re REALLY GOOD AT IT!  One of the biggest mistakes that parents make when skiing with their kids is to move them onto harder terrain too soon.  If kids ski terrain that’s too hard for them, they won’t use proper technique, and can be a danger to themselves and others as well.

toddler learning how to ski

Start learning parallel turns

After your kids have mastered green terrain and are getting some confidence on blues, it’s time to teach them how to ski with their skis parallel instead of just in a wedge, and to learn how to hockey stop.  These skills can be much harder to teach, so this is the point where I encourage most parents to enlist the help of a good ski instructor.  

What is the best way for beginners to learn to stop on skis?

The best way to teach a beginner how to stop on skis is in a wedge shape. The wedge is an easy shape for even young kids to make and it’s a skill that can be quickly mastered. A ski wedge is also referred to as a snowplow stop on skis, though both are the same thing.

How to teach kids to stop in a wedge

The wedge is the easiest way to get kids to stop on skis.  We’ve taught our kids to stop in a wedge as young as one-year-old, so it’s really a technique that anyone can learn.

boy wedge stopping on skis

The basic idea of stopping in a wedge is that with pressure on the inside edges of the ski, and with a wide shape on the outside, for greater surface area, the skis will stop.  Sound confusing, it’s actually REALLY SIMPLE.

When we’re teaching kids how to stop on skis, we first start out by talking to them about pizza, since that’s a shape that all kids are familiar with.  When they stop on skis, their skis should look just like a pizza shape.  If their skis are in a little pizza, they’ll slow down just a little bit, but if they make a big pizza with their skis, they’ll stop.

With kids who are a bit older (typically age 5 and up), you can explain this to them and model what you’re talking about, and often they’ll figure out what to do.  Kids who are a little bit older like this have better muscle control, so it’s not as difficult for them.  

Make sure that their ski tips don’t cross, and that their knees stay a comfortable distance apart.  If your child appears to be bowlegged, or knock kneed when they’re trying to stop on skis, help them to find a more comfortable position with their knees in a more relaxed position.  

How to teach young kids to stop with an edgie wedgie

If you’re trying to teach really young kids to stop on skis (or have an older kid who just needs a bit more help), use an edgie wedgie to teach them how to stop. (Read all about edgie wedgies HERE)

An edgie wedgie is a little bungee clamp that attaches to kids’ ski tips and helps keep them together so that they can make a wedge shape.  It’s HANDS DOWN the best ski training tool that you can buy for kids and it’s ridiculously affordable.

stoppping with an edgie wedgie

All you need to do with little kids is to put their edgie wedgie on and tell them to spread their legs apart.  With an edgie wedgie on, their skis will instantly move into a wedge shape.  It’s incredibly easy AND really effective.  

We keep our kids’ edgie wedgie on until they have the muscle memory well ingrained so they can make the wedge shape all on their own.  With really little kids, this might be for a couple of years (our kids start skiing at age one, and usually wear an edgie wedgie until they are 3 or close to 4), while other kids may only need to wear an edgie wedgie for a couple of days, or even a few hours.  

As soon as you think your child can make a wedge shape on their own, remove the edgie wedgie.  

What equipment do I need to teach kids to stop on skis?

While you may not need any equipment to teach kids how to stop while skiing, there are a lot of helpful ski instruction tools available. When you’re teaching kids to ski, our favorite pieces of equipment are edgie wedgies and ski harnesses.

Both of these tools are really helpful with younger kids, and we keep our kids in a ski harness until they can get on and off the chairlift alone (around age 5-6). Read all about how to use a ski harness before you buy one.

toddler ski harness and edgie wedgie

How do you go slower on skis?

The wedge shape that kids learn to help them stop on skis, is also just what they need to know to be able to slow down while skiing. When you make a big wedge with your skis, you stop. When you make a smaller wedge with your skis, you slow down.

You can also control your speed on skis by turning. As you ski down the mountain, you should be constantly turning, which helps to control your speed on skis, and also keeps you more in control!

What is the best way to teach kids to stop on skis?

The easiest way to teach kids to stop on skis is by using a wedge shape. This will help them to stop easily and can even be made by very young kids.

Do my kids need an edgie wedgie to learn how to stop on skis?

An edgie wedgie is a very useful tool for teaching kids how to stop on skis, but not everyone will need one. We recommend edgie wedgies for young kids, under the age of 5, or for older kids who are struggling to make a wedge shape on their own.

What is the difference between a snowplow and a wedge on skis?

A snowplow and a wedge or a “pizza” are all the same thing on skis. It’s a giant triangle that you make with your skis by putting the tips close together and pushing the back of the skis out. This shape is used to help you control your speed on skis and to stop.

What is the youngest that kids can learn to stop on skis?

Kids as young as one can learn to stop on skis. We started 4 of our kids skiing at the age of one, and all of them learned to stop, and most of them could turn at that age. It takes lots of repetition and practice to teach young kids to ski since they don’t have the same coordination, strength, or ease of muscle memory that older kids and adults have. Learn all about what age to teach your kids here.

What if your child is afraid to stop or falls a lot?

Just remember that kids will fall a lot when they are learning. You can remind them that everyone falls down. Even grown ups. Keep practicing and if your kids are afraid to stop keep the skiing sessions short and fun. Shorter, fun teaching sessions are going to be a lot more successful than long, tiring ones.

Written by Jessica Averett

Hi, I'm Jessica! After meeting my husband on a chairlift, we now live in the mountains of Utah with our 5 kids. As a former ski instructor and mom, I'm here to help you make your family ski trips as easy, and FUN, as possible!