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When should a young skier start using poles?

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I understand why juniors don't ski with poles. But, what determines when they should start to use them? Also, perhaps the same answer, when you have a LTS lesson how do you determine if your student should be using poles?
Melf
post #2 of 21
Melf,

I start all my students without poles. They can have their poles when they don't need them to get around on the flats and in lift lines and they can make turns while putting on a glove or scooping up snow for a snow ball.

yd
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Ydnar,
Nothing personal, but your response to my question seems to be another example of responding without proof reading what you think you said. Please read your response and clarify it for me.
Melf [img]graemlins/angel.gif[/img]
post #4 of 21
Melf,

I think I got it right although it might read a little convoluted. Let me reword it.

I give my students their poles as soon as they demonstrate that they have no need for them. I also like to have them working their feet and legs to create turns so well that it doesn't matter what they are doing with their arms and hands. For most adults this translates to getting their poles early on the second day. At this point they are making open parallel turns on most green terrain. Children get their poles a little later if they are in group lessons and at about the same time if they are in privates or very small groups.

yd
post #5 of 21
An instructor in Quebec once mentioned that he would give poles to the kids as soon as they are old enough to hold them and use them. In one case, at the age of 3. Interestingly enough, this particular 3 year old could skate, but I don't think that was on his mind.

At an early age, they will not use them skiing at all and will just hold onto them, but they can find them helpful around the lift.
post #6 of 21
My son is 6 and an open parallel skier on all terain except moguls. He has been parallel skiing for 2 years and we have just started to let him use poles. They can be a pain for kids to put on and take off. They also tend to drop them from chair lifts. When I'm teaching adults I encorage them to use poles from the start. Unless they are delaying the learning proces and then I take them away.
post #7 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your responses.
Melf
post #8 of 21
I find that maturity is a more important indicator of a child's readiness for poles than ability is- I don't dare giving the kids in the real junior lessons poles becasue they see them as prods or a device for building speed- and hence they push themselves down the entire hill. I'd say that the standard age that I start encouraging pole use is about 10- that's when the student can really grasp what the pole is and isnt used for.
post #9 of 21
What worked for me with my own kids is letting them tell me when they were ready. My daughter was age 11. My son was age 7. My experience is that real young kids don't want them because they are not cool. Go figure. I second being carefull on chair lifts when they are my sons age. It's difficult for them to hold on them tightly when there's so much else for them to be thinking about.
post #10 of 21
Quote:
....They can be a pain for kids to put on and take off. They also tend to drop them from chair lifts....

.....I'd say that the standard age that I start encouraging pole use is about 10- that's when the student can really grasp what the pole is and isnt used for.....

....letting them tell me when they were ready. My daughter was age 11. My son was age 7. My experience is that real young kids don't want them because they are not cool.....
Yikes what a bunch of BS about poles. The real reason that ski schools in the US keep poles away from kids is that it is a hassle, not for the kids but for the INSTRUCTORS! Getting the poles on and off and loading lifts with them takes more preparation and more work by the teacher. That is the NUMBER 1 reason young kids don't get poles in the US. In Europe they laugh at this practice. At one point I bought into this nonsense also. I rememeber very vividly dropping my 4.5 year old son off at the Panda Club in Cham without poles. The instructor did everything she could to hold in the laughter. From that point on he skied with poles and my daughter started with them at 4 also.

Waiting to 10-11 is absurd and if you or an instructor can't explain to a child under 10 how and what poles are used for then they don't know what they're doing. I see kids all the time that are between 5 and 9 that not only know how to use their poles but also know how to arc a turn.

As for a cool factor, kids that are 4-6 want to emulate their parents so most of them want poles and older kids are watching McConkey and company and they want poles also. In fact NOT having poles is very uncool because it identifies you as a complete beginner.

Give young kids age 4-5 poles as soon as they have mastered wedge turns. Older kids should get them right from the start
post #11 of 21
My experience is (pretty much) to the contrary.

My daughter was in a ski school last year (I'm holding on to what's left of this season: by "last year" I mean 2002-03) that required her to use poles at age 5.

It was ridiculous. She, and the other kids, couldn't use them to do anything useful. Their only "function" was that the effort of keeping ahold of them distracted them and messed up their hand and upper body position. She's not in that ski school any more.

But I agree that waiting to 10 or 11 is absurd.
post #12 of 21
I can only speak for my experiences with my child, and it is difficult for him to get his pole straps on and off. He ski's in a seasonal group of kids and it's not fair to the other kids in his group, or the instructor if they constantly have to wait. The instuctor that skis with my son is fine if he uses poles, it's my choice to have him ski without. When I ski with him we use poles and when he has mastered them he can use them with the group. He's the best skier in his group and does not feel uncool because he does not have poles!
post #13 of 21
Of course there are exceptions to the norm, but maturity is a huge issue when I teache a lesson where the kids all have poles- give a bunch of 8 year old boys poles, and I guarantee you that the poles will become swords within 10 mintues. Not only that, but the kids push themselves down the hill with the poles, thinking that they are gaining speed by doing such- when in fact the pushing motion is putting them into the backseat and dropping their hands below and behind their hips. Man y kids also lack the coordination to think about dealing with poles and loading/unloading a lift and whatnot. I'd like to see you, sidecut, teach a lesson to a groups of 6 year olds with little or no experience with poles- it would be rather humorous, I think.
post #14 of 21
Well Well...Apparently you are "take control" in name only and a group of kids with ski poles would be too much for you to "take control" of..

In all seriousness, you are exactly the type of person that is clueless when it comes to teaching kids and that give ski instruction in general a bad name. This quote is but one of several in your post that prove my point:

Quote:
give a bunch of 8 year old boys poles, and I guarantee you that the poles will become swords within 10 mintues.
This is just BS pure and simple. The fact that you assume that this would be a likely outcome is an indicator not only of your ignorance but also your obvious lack of experience and ability to teach. Seriously with this line of thinking we wouldn't give pencils to them either.

Quote:
Not only that, but the kids push themselves down the hill with the poles, thinking that they are gaining speed -snip-
Well yes I guess if you give a group of kids poles for the first time with little or no further instruction (which must be the case in your lessons from your examples) then there's no telling what may happen. Perhaps they will actually try to put them on their feet or pick their noses with them or slide them under their goggle straps or use them as brakes or hold them upside down or..or...or..or

Quote:
Many kids also lack the coordination to think about dealing with poles and loading/unloading a lift and whatnot.
Coordination and thinking are not the same thing. But you have hit on the tired old excuse of loading and unloading lifts. There is no reason why young kids cannot be instructed in how to load and unload a chair with poles especially when you consider that many lifts these days are detachables or in a learning area run at a very slow speed. This argument is all about the hassle for the instructor. Let's not pretend it's for the kid's benefit. Now if I had a group where there were kids that were unable to deal with I would simple carry the poles up myself. I could easily take a group of 14 poles up a chair if I had to.

So what if a pole or two gets dropped along the way...so what if you need to take all of two minutes at the top and bottom helping get straps on and off.

Quote:
I'd like to see you, sidecut, teach a lesson to a groups of 6 year olds with little or no experience with poles- it would be rather humorous, I think.
Here is the final clue that you are a really inexpereinced or just plain lousy instructor. You don't listen well or in this case read with comprehension. What I said was:

Quote:
Give young kids age 4-5 poles as soon as they have mastered wedge turns.
That does not mean "little or no experience". Now I did say to give older kids poles right from the start so perhaps I wasn't clear. I was referring to the earlier posters who were referencing children older then 10. I have and will continue to have kids no matter what their age who can link wedge turns use poles in my classes. In fact, when I get kids in those kinds of groups I tell the parents to go and get them poles.

Kids are very capable. Far more capable then what most people think and way beyond the low expectations that you obviously have for them. Kids also tend to rise to where you set the bar for them.

All of the reasons you give would be things that come up whenever you introduce poles so holding them back achieves nothing.
post #15 of 21
Okay, this may be foolish ... but just to stick myself in the middle of this:

I'm not an instructor (I was one, quite a few years ago, but I never taught anyone younger than 13), but I am a parent.

I would choose "TakeControl" over "Sidecut" if I were signing my kid up for a class. This isn't just based on abstraction, either. She's been taught by a "must have poles" ski school and a "don't bother with the poles" ski school, and the latter works better. Also, I'd be worried about Sidecut's attitude. He seems more interested in how tough an instructor he is -- how many obstacles he can overcome -- than in just getting the job done.

Quote:
TakeControl:
give a bunch of 8 year old boys poles, and I guarantee you that the poles will become swords within 10 mintues.

Sidecut:
This is just BS pure and simple.
Actually, that's pretty much my experience with anything that's remotely sword-shaped. It's probably something you just have to get through, though. They'll be swords for a while until the sword thing gets boring.

But that's really beside the point.

Quote:
TakeControl:
Many kids also lack the coordination to think about dealing with poles and loading/unloading a lift and whatnot.

Sidecut:
Coordination and thinking are not the same thing.
"_____ to [even] think about _____" is a figure of speech. It's pretty common, at least in the United States. "He lacks the height to even think about about being a basketball player." "He lacks the patience to even think about teaching children."

Quote:
Sidecut:
</font><blockquote>quote:</font><hr />Give young kids age 4-5 poles as soon as they have mastered wedge turns.
That does not mean "little or no experience".</font>[/quote]Sidecut's turning on a pretty fine semantic distincition here. "Have mastered wedge turns" isn't too far off from "little experience." It all depends on what you mean by "mastered" and "little," I suppose. Okay, fine, if he really, truly means out-and-out mastered (as in "can't get any better at it"), I suppose he's right, as no 4-5 year old has ever "mastered" a wedge turn. Of course, you'd never give them poles, either.

Bottom line, for me: It's hard enough to teach little kids. There's no reason to make it harder by making them carry poles around. That doesn't make the instructor a wimp who's more interested in making his life easy than teaching. It makes him a smart tactician who's interested in removing the obstacles to teaching.

I suppose, if you were so inclined, you might teach Kindergartners to read with a TV going in the background. After all, when they're grown up they may want to read while similar (or worse) distractions are going on around them.

The other point that I think is missing from Sidecut's argument is what significant advantage there is to putting poles in the hands of 5-year-olds. "They'll need to learn to use them later," doesn't cut it as an argument. There's lots of things they'll need to learn later that we don't expect them to do at age 5. I suppose if that were the logic, we wouldn't let them ski in a wedge.
post #16 of 21
I am not sure if there should be a set age for giving kids poles...I have seen a lot of younger kids skiing down the mountain without poles and they seem to be in control. I started skiing when I was 20 and have always used poles. I feel secure with them, plus they are helpful in the lift lines. I would feel like I was missing something if I were to ski without them.
post #17 of 21
I have taught a lot of kids to ski over the years and the poles question just never seems to raise itself much at all except with parents. I teach the kids to ski with their feet and introduce poles when rhythm and timing start to emerge naturally. This way the introduction of poles becomes a strengthening and extension of the basic skills required to ski DOWN the mountain with control.

IMHO the ideal moment for pole introduction comes when awareness of what poles are all about becomes a question in the childs mind.

IMHO there is a very, very big difference between "using poles" and “two pointy sticks on a ski vacation”.
post #18 of 21
I, personaly, dont even like poles. I am 13 and i hav probably used them 3 times in my life. I think they are a hassle and I can ski just as well with out them. (just my opinion) hehehe
post #19 of 21
Did you learn with, or without poles luv2ski? I suppose it is a matter of familiarity? I learned with poles and would not feel comfortable without them. They give me a sense of security and as I said before are good to lean on every now and then.
post #20 of 21
I learned to ski without poles and i feel uncomfortable using them...I guess its like u said, a matter of familiority.
post #21 of 21
I think at Level 5 or 6 you should start to use poles. Once you can parallel turns using your pole to time the shape of your turn is essential.
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