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When to introduce the 'poles' to kids?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
My 1st post here. [img]smile.gif[/img]

My son (turning 6 in May) started taking lessons this winter (his first season), and he's moved up to ~level 6. He's comfortable gong down blues and on easy blacks (only when not crowded, just to boost his confidence). He's got good control of his skis, can turn and stop when he wants/needs to. He's just starting to make parallel turns. Is that level 6, btw? 5?

I don't think he'll need the poles till later, maybe next season at the earliest. I was curious when kids start using poles. I'd think that the poles are distraction and actually can be dangerous till he's older and/or better.

When is it safe for them to have poles, and when do the kids, or any beginner in general, benefit from using the poles on the slopes?

Thanks.
post #2 of 19
My personal opinion is when they are old enough or have the muscle coordination to actually start learning pole plants correctly. Until then, what's the use?

This could be at age 6 or age 10 or 16. It all depends on the student. Try letting him use them, if he just carries them at his sides b/c pole plants don't click, take them back...no need for them yet.
post #3 of 19
Brick, My son started skiing younger than yours, but he was using poles at 6. Not exactly using pole plants in his skiing, but using them properly to get on the lift and also on other situations on the hill. I agree they get in the way at first, but once the kid gets comfortable on skis poles are no problem. I thought level 6 was skiing parallel using pole plants?
post #4 of 19
I gave my son poles when he was 7, when he was old enough not to poke somebody with them. He is 8 now and only starting to learn to use them in pole plants. Before then, I let him have poles so he can use them to scoot across the flats and to assist in pushing himself in the lift line.
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
I agree with what everyone is saying. He heard that one of his friends, who's been skiing for a few seasons already, is using poles, and asked me when he can get his own. I've been avoiding using the poles myself because as soon as he sees me with poles, he'll want his own. They 'covet' at such an early age...

Quote:
Originally posted by crank:
...I thought level 6 was skiing parallel using pole plants?
You might be right about level 6. My son is in what's called 'Young Learner's program' and that program's level 5 seems to bore him, so I figured he at level 6 in 'young learner' program. I thought there was a direct translation.
post #6 of 19
I've been thinking the same question as well. I had my daughter on skis at 5 1/2 and she is 7 1/2 now. She can ski all of the hills that we ski on here in Wisconsin. She is always asking me about polls. She's about at the stage where she's doing parallel turns pretty decently. She can ski a lot more aggressive when she wants to, especially if another little one about her age and size is on the hill at the same time. Her and I can't go to the ski shop without a battle about her getting the poles. She mostly wants them for getting on the lift easier but she's handling that well enough for me right now.

I think when it's all said and done she'll be getting some next year!
post #7 of 19
More on poles: I mentioned earlier that my son started skiing with poles and using them to get on lifts and pole on flats etc. when he was 6. I feel that this was helpful in just getting him used to the things. I let him just have them for a season before teaching him pole plants. He now plants them pretty well but is sitting back a bit so I'm going to have him do the drill where you hold you poles together, horizontaly in front.

I think that once kids are comfortable on skis it's safe and helpful to introduce poles. Having said that though, I do not think that poles are necessary for anyone although most of us would feel pretty funny without them.

Still more on poles: When the kid was 4 and 5 and I skied with him I skied without poles. I found they just got in the way when I needed my hands free to help him onto the lift or pretty much anything else.

OK I'll stop now.
post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally posted by crank:
More on poles: I mentioned earlier that my son started skiing with poles and using them to get on lifts and pole on flats etc. when he was 6. I feel that this was helpful in just getting him used to the things. I let him just have them for a season before teaching him pole plants. He now plants them pretty well but is sitting back a bit so I'm going to have him do the drill where you hold you poles together, horizontaly in front.

I think that once kids are comfortable on skis it's safe and helpful to introduce poles. Having said that though, I do not think that poles are necessary for anyone although most of us would feel pretty funny without them.

Still more on poles: When the kid was 4 and 5 and I skied with him I skied without poles. I found they just got in the way when I needed my hands free to help him onto the lift or pretty much anything else.

OK I'll stop now.
Crank,

You can try drills to get him forward, but with most kids that age they won't go forward until a growth spurt hits them and it becomes uncomfortable to ski from the back seat. It's a muscular development thing and there's not a lot we can do about it at such a young age. You can certainly try and sometimes it works, but don't get frustrated if it doesn't.
post #9 of 19
Taylormatt, Thanks for the advice I will follow it. Mainly I want tio keep it fun for him. He's got an earlier start than I had and much better equipment so I have no doubt that soon he will be easily outskiing his old man.
post #10 of 19
Thread Starter 
crank - I hear you about the kids outskiing parents. I quickly decided to take some lessons because otherwise he'll whip my butt in a couple of seasons.

IL_skier - Your daughter is 7.5 now, which means 8+ by next season, so I think she can handle them by then? I don't think I can hold my son off till 8...

My line of defense is this - 'when the instructor says you need poles'. If his intructor says he needs poles, I'll just switch to a different one! Kidding... about switching, I mean.

My son could be using the poles at the lift line, especially when there is that subtle up-slope leading to the chair (what's up with that?). If he keeps sliding backward, I have to push him with one hand, and hold on to the post/rail on the other side. We managed well so far with no embarrassing moments.

I'm more weary of his handling of poles on the lift. He's pretty uptight about not dropping anything, but he can space out at times if I don't keep watchful eyes on him. Once we both got spacey after lunch, he forgot to push off the chair at the top, I forgot to give him the initial nudge, and he was semi-dangling on the chair edge as it was starting to turn. I ended up pushing him off and making him fall maybe ~1 ft. Otherwise the attendant would've pushed the button, the chair would've stopped suddenly, and he would've fallen from even higher chair. Whenever I think about that, it makes me shudder. I don't want to think about what would've happened with the poles. Luckily, that was the closest to having any accident on the slopes. For him that is. I, on the other hand, had... well, I'll save that for another post.

Also, he's wearing mittens on his small hands, so it might not be easy to hold both poles in one hand.

All in all, I'm very glad that my son is enjoying skiing. It got me back into skiing after years of hiatus, and I'm enjoying it much more than I can remember.
post #11 of 19
Even if a kid can't plant poles routinely, they certainly can be a help, especially in getting the kids to keep their hands up in front. That is a necessary step to planting.

The horizontal pole drill helps there, and it also helps them keep from overturning, which happens a lot at that age. It doesn't seem to help much with getting their butts up and forward, as was pointed out, that is a development issue.

Another issue with chairlifts is constantly reminding them to remove their straps. Conversely, you can teach them not use their straps at all, but then you get the added pleasure of going uphill to get dropped poles.

My son got poles at 6, his third season.
post #12 of 19
Brick,

You made mention of using poles in the lift lines. Without poles, the child must learn to use his EDGES to get up the hill. That is a good thing. IMO, too many parents give kids poles too soon. Let them learn to use their feet before concentrating on what's in their hands.
post #13 of 19
Agreed, they need to learn to use their edges first but I really wanted my kid to learn to pole out to the loading area. It's much faster and safer than walking. I used to play a lot of games on the flats on skis with my son chasing and throwing snow etc. The goal was just to get him comfortable on his skis. We also would strap 'em on and go up and down the little hill in our yard at home. The end result is that he is totally comfortable on his skis and that helps a lot.
post #14 of 19
My son started at seven. By the end of the season he was matched and was carving without difficulty. I bought him a lesson and told them that poles were the object.

I watched him trundle out with a bunch of other kids (no poles) .... twenty minutes later he returned, placed with another instructor and off they went with the poles. They "recruited" him for Jr. Race.

Every kid (and adults too), are different. When they are smooth and ready poles are fine. But be very clear that they understand the object of the lesson and don't lump him with a group by age. Many areas don't allow poles in the kids classes so you may have to do a private.

Make sure that you do not over rate your kids ability!!!!
post #15 of 19
I teach Tiny Tots ski school at 7 Springs ages 4-7. Parents are in general way to quick to force poles on their kids. Not having poles gives them one less thing to worry about while they gain edging skills. Unless they ski more than 10 or 15 times a year or plan to race I say a great time for poles is 8-11. If your kid is a skiing prodigy then of course strap those sticks to his wrists as soon as the daily fall count goes down to few or none.
post #16 of 19
Had my kids w poles from day one ( they were 3 y.o now the older is 9 and the younger is 8). I reckon it may have been useless at first. Probably I was too lazy to carry their poles myself all day
Now, usually at the end ofthe day, I let them ski w/o so they can appreciate the differencies and have a bit of fun.
post #17 of 19
The last season my son gopt less than 15 days was when he was 4. Last year he got 41, and he was beaten by several of his team mates.

Age is certainly less a factor than ability and days on the snow. And I agree, I wouldn't recommend poles to any kid under 8 until they have 40 or 50 days in.

I'm not sure that a daily fall count is a fair factor in determining how well a kid is skiing, though. More agressive kids will fall more than more timid kids.
post #18 of 19
Don't confuse "using" poles versus "carrying" poles. I'd have them carry them as soon as possible. It will help in lift lines, on flats, etc. As soon as you think it's safe would be fine.
post #19 of 19
Quote:
Originally posted by WVSkier:
Don't confuse "using" poles versus "carrying" poles. I'd have them carry them as soon as possible. It will help in lift lines, on flats, etc. As soon as you think it's safe would be fine.
I once asked an instructor at Mont-ste-anne (MSA) that very question. His answer was similar to WVSkier's, but definately as soon as possible. Our daughter was 29 months old at the time. He would have given her poles at 3 years old. She is 3 now, and really wants them to help move around -- she can already skate, but uphill starts are hard. She will have them next year at 4.

My eldest daughter got them last year at 6, simply because she did not want them. She could ski all blues, and some blacks at MSA without them. They confused her a bit at first, but with good instruction, they work great. They will just carry them around at first.

Poles can help them ski because they can be used to ensure that the kids are far enough forwards -- drag backets infront of heel pieces. That was the first thing they taught her at race camp -- she's a Nancy Greene league racer.

If a forwards arm position is stressed, the kids will strive to do it. The now 7 year old tried very hard to use the poles to ensure she is forwards enough. Lo and behold, after enough trips to the hill trying to keep poles forwards flexion is beginning to happen in the ankles!

Poles are good. [img]graemlins/thumbsup.gif[/img]

I'd give them ASAP.
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