Best Tips for the Perfect Ski Stance

by Frank V. Persall

The ground rule of skiing is maintaining the proper ski stance; this is the most important thing to remember while having a fun and adventurous time on the snowy slopes. The speed with which you're moving down the slopes and the direction of where you are heading keep on changing while skiing. Thus, maintaining the correct body position is crucial to adapt the technique swiftly and carefully to current conditions.

Adapting and then maintaining the right stance for skiing takes a lot of time and practice. Even professional and skilled skiers constantly make amends to improve their body stance to beat their old fastest record time and again. This article will explain the finest tips for proper body stance and skiing techniques that you should remember and which common mistakes to avoid on the slope.

Best Tips for the Perfect Ski Stance
Best Tips for the Perfect Ski Stance

Why a Need for for the Perfect Ski Stance

Skiing is undoubtedly a really fun activity. It does require some level of skill to do. One of the basic things you need to learn as a skier is skiing stance.

A proper and perfect ski stance makes you the most versatile and affords you the most flexibility. Some even refer to it as the athletic stance. Nearly every athletic activity starts with a stance irrespective of the equipment or gear used for it.

With that in mind, all athletic stances share some similarities. The knees and ankles are always bent in one manner or the other. There are also specific angles for the arms to move out to. The same is true for the perfect ski stance.

Keeping the right body posture and stance while skiing is one of the most reiterated rules of skiing. This is especially true since it can be the difference between enjoying a glide down a snowy slope or crashing which can lead to injuries. Hence, having the perfect ski stance and posture is important since it helps keep you safe while also improving your technique. That is why professional skiers are often seen improving their stance and body posture to beat their records.

The Proper Ski Posture

A right ski stance stems from an 'athletic stance,' which is pretty universal in most sports. This athletic stance comprises a wide posture, with the knees, hips, and ankles slightly bent. The position of the arms is slightly forward and moved out of the side.

The correct posture for skiing ensures flexibility and liberty of movement required for smooth and right turns. It becomes effortless to adapt skiing techniques quickly on the terrain when you are in the proper position. Maintaining the correct posture also helps to alter your body posture in any condition, for instance, while changing the speed or direction.

The Proper Ski Posture
The Proper Ski Posture

How to get the perfect skiing stance

Skiing involves frequent and fluid changes in direction and speed. In other words, even though you start at one stance, you have to go through a series of stances to get variable positions depending on the angle, speed, and direction you are going.

The importance of this is that you get to ski safely and each maneuver you carry out is done without any issues.

Without further ado, here is an explanation of the perfect skiing stance from when you start the run to when you end it.

Basic Starting Position

Basic Starting Position
Basic Starting Position

The basic starting stance is best done by keeping your legs slightly bent. Other joints such as your arm also have to be in slightly bent positions.

The reason for this is to ensure that your body can smoothly absorb all the bumps through your legs. This allows you to maintain control of the ability to flex any part of your body if you want to even during bumps.

Hence, avoid leaving any of your joints straight since this can cause them to move in different directions.

Have your Skis properly positioned

In this case, the correct position to have your skis is the direction you intend to travel or the direction the maneuvers you want to carry out will be performed. As shown in the picture describing the basic starting position or stance, match your body so that it aligns with the skis.

The importance of this is to allow for flexibility and absorption which is key to helping you avoid crashing or falls.

Good view

Good view
Good view

By properly positioning your body to your skis, you should already have a good view of the slope and where you are going. However, if you find yourself not having a full view of the direction you are going down the slope, it is best to realign yourself.

For beginners, it is best and safest to go down the slope in a straight line. This prevents the skis from getting stuck which can easily happen due to bumps or a number of different reasons possibly beyond your control.

Keep your hands in front of you (at all times)

Keep your hands in front of you (at all times)
Keep your hands in front of you (at all times)

And before you start going down the slope, ensure your hands are directly in front of you. This is very important because you have to keep your body weight in the right position. The easiest way to do this is by leaning your body forward from the waist up. Because of this, your hand placement is really important to prevent you from potentially falling over during sharp maneuvers and absorption.

That said, the main aim should always be to make yourself as comfortable as you can be. Usually, the most comfortable ski stances and body postures offer your body the most flexibility.

Switch stances as you change direction and speed

Switch stances as you change direction and speed
Switch stances as you change direction and speed

And lastly, switch your body posture as you change speed and direction. While switching your stances, ensure that you still maintain some of the basic starting stances you started with. That is, you have your knees still slightly bent and one or both of your hands is in front of your body.

Remember, all ski stances have the same basic starting position on which they are based. Hence, while switching from one stance to the other, allowing it to happen naturally is important for overall safety.

In summary, here are the basic rules to follow to get the perfect ski stance

  • Ensure the skis are in a parallel position and only a few meters apart without you stretching your hip.
  • Make sure your ankles, knees, and hips are slightly bent
  • Assume a position in which your body weight is transferred forward i.e. slightly move your body forward.
  • Ensure your arms are slightly bent and that they are positioned at your sides. Your arms also have to be kept in front of your body at all times.
  • Lastly, keep your body tense just rights. While skiing, having a taut body is comfortable very easy to maintain compared to a stiff one.

The Most Basic Rules for Alpine Skiing

The Most Basic Rules for Alpine Skiing
The Most Basic Rules for Alpine Skiing

Here are the standard rules you should follow and keep in mind when you are skiing down the slopes:

  • The skis should be in parallel positions with a hip-width away.
  • The knees, hips, and ankles are slightly bent equally.
  • The weight of the body should be transferred upon downward skis.
  • The upper part of the body is slightly leaning towards the slopes.
  • The arms should be bent and placed at the front sides of your body.
  • The body must be flexible and not stiff like a robot.
  • The body tension should help to react to new conditions or situations quickly.
  • The body should be in a comfortable and easy enough posture to hold.
The Most Basic Rules for Alpine Skiing
The Most Basic Rules for Alpine Skiing

The Proper Body Position for Carving

Carving involves the fun of skiing downward or downhill with great speed with smooth and easy long turns. A Proper technique ensures not only thrill but also well-being on the snowy slopes.

An extra inclined body posture is required for carving turn, and this more bent position makes this turn different from a classic parallel turn. The skis don't slide; instead, they support the skier and keep the skier on track across the trail in carving.

The important thing is to shove the ski edges deep in the snow, and the traces you left in the wake will stipulate if you carved better or if your skis glided downwards. The upper part of the body recompenses for the descending force or pressure on the hips and knees during uphill movement. Hence in this way, the balance remains maintained.

Short Turns

Well-practiced easy and short turn technique is undoubtedly an advantage on any busy or narrow pistes. The radius of short turns is smaller, and it can be achieved consecutively at quick intervals. The arches or turns are specifically short, so it's essential for the legs and mainly knees and ankles to commence the maneuver.

The upper part of the body stays steady facing the slopes while your legs do all the work and take small and short turns. While short turn skiing, the skis quickly must abandon the fall line. A lot of practice is required to master the short turn technique.

Steep Skiing

Steep skiing is a challenging and exhilarating experience, but one needs a high degree of control and confidence to master this technique. Skiers with less experience can slide sideways to move down a steep slope; this requires the weight transfer on the downhill ski while the upper part of the body is towards the descent direction.

Experienced and skilled skiers tend to utilize downward and upward movements to assist the ski between the turns; this is done like a jump with little to no pressure upon the skis and bodyweight thrown upwards. This technique is adopted with patience and practice, and it can be an outstanding addition to your ski tricks. The valuable and suitable exercises include hockey stop and slide slipping for beginners.

The Common Mistakes

The most repeated common mistakes are mentioned here with a guide to evading them.

The legs

While skiing, the right lower body position is significant, the hip joint, knees, and ankles being specifically essential. The common mistake regarding the legs joints is that they are held very stiffly, and because of that, the joints can't cushion jumps and bumps. This stiffness of joints results in skiers losing their balance and tripping over the skis. When the leg joints are flexible and bent, they can react to any irregularities fastly on the snowy slopes.

There should be a hip-width distance between the legs, and the ski should be parallel to one another. The whole activity of skiing gets onerous if the posture is too wide or too narrow. If the distance between the legs is too little, maintaining the body's equilibrium and gliding of the ski becomes challenging. In the same way, if the legs are too spacious, it becomes hard to maneuver or move the skis.

The Head and Upper Body

The proper upper body position is simply as essential as keeping the lower part of the body in a correct posture. Some mistakes are natural, but they can be evaded. For instance, if the head and upper body lean more inside the turn, then this results in the skier losing control and pressure while steering. The turn while skiing should be commenced by the legs, not by turning the upper part of the body. By both these mistakes, the control during turns gets lost along with bodyweight shift to the inside ski.

The best condition is that the upper part of the body and head are upright and steady. The correct stance is slightly leaning of head and upper body towards slopes while skiing downhill, which reimburses the maneuver of hips and knees towards the slopes.

A better way to utilize the flexible and bent stance is to clasp both of the ski poles ahead of your body, and while skiing, keep the ski rods parallel with the slopes. This results in pressure in the upper part of the body. It's essential to keep the arms steady, and the upper body is slightly leaning in the direction of the slopes and not allowing any rotation. It could be attained by practicing keeping the hands on the hips, and this exercise will ensure the movement with legs and maintain the posture of the upper part of the body steady.

It would be best to keep in mind the correct position of arms; that is, both arms are required to be on the side and front with the ski rods in the proper place with endpoints facing backward.

The Head and Upper Body
The Head and Upper Body

Transfer of Bodyweight

If bodyweight shifting is not followed through accurately, specific navigation is unattainable. The often-made mistake regarding bodyweight is that some skiers tilt back very much, resulting in losing control because the pressure is reduced on outer skis; this might occur because of fear of sped or slopes and inexperience of skiing.

If you cannot sense your heels sometimes and feel any burning feeling in your legs or thighs, this is the sign of the wrong stance, and to shun this error, you should lean to your front and press shins against your ski boots. Initially, this posture might feel weird, but it is essential for smoother descents. The main exercise to counteract the wrong position is to hold the ski poles together on the front of your body or criss-cross your arms to exert pressure for forwarding motion.

Tips to avoid common mistakes

While poor ski stances can cause crashes while skiing, there are a lot more mistakes that skiers make that undoubtedly affect their overall skiing experience. To explain, we will be going over some important tips to avoid common mistakes while skiing,

1. Always conserve your energy. This is why you need to have a good stance. A good ski stance is mostly natural which makes it very energy efficient. As you perform your maneuver such as jumps, sharp turns, etc. being able to transition smoothly is important since it means you do not expend too much energy with your legs which means you can ski even longer.,

2. Avoid holding your joints too stiffly. This is a common mistake skiers make and can sometimes be costly. Your leg and lower body placement are very important. When you hold your joints too stiffly, cushioning bumps become increasingly hard which can lead to you losing your balance. However, with flexible and bent joints, you can maintain quick reactions as you go down the slopes.

3. Make sure you do not keep your legs too close or wide. The more narrow or wide your stance is, the more difficult it is to ski properly and maintains your balance. The perfect stance is to keep your legs hip-width apart (natural width) so that you can easily perform maneuvers.

4. Avoid keeping your skis too flat on the snow. This is a common mistake and it makes steering your skis a lot more difficult.

A good way to get a better feel for the edges of your skis is to stand slightly sideways on the slope and push your skis' edges into the snow. All you have to do next is gradually release the pressure until you start to slide down the hill. Repeating the same procedure will stop the slide.

We recommend practicing this maneuver several times while slightly facing both your left and right.

5. Avoid leaning your head too much while assuming the basic starting stance. This causes you to lose pressure on your outer ski while inside of a turn. The implication is that you consequently lose control of your skis while steering.

Also, avoid forcing a turn by rotating your upper body just because you are slightly leaning forward. Instead, always initiate turns with your legs. Forcing a turn would result in losing full control of your skis. By initiating the turn with your legs, your upper body already leaning towards the valley/slope compensates for the movement so that you are not unbalanced.

6. Ensure you keep them poles together and in front of your body while skiing. The poles must remain parallel to the direction you are going so that the right upper body tension is created. This is important because skiers, especially beginners, sometimes tend to focus on one arm placement that they forget there is also a pole on the other arm. The result is that you might get your arms in slightly unnatural positions if you do lose your balance.

7. Ensure your body weight is transferred correctly. This ensures precise navigation is possible. One mistake skiers often make is that they sometimes lean back too far due to fear of going too fast or inexperience.

A good way to know if your body weight is incorrectly transferred is that you start to feel a burning sensation on your thighs.


It goes without saying that there are other stances for performing other skiing maneuvers such as mogul skiing. However, the golden rule to keep in mind is that conserving energy is very important for your overall balance and safety.

With the tips highlighted above, you can now learn the right way to ski, or at the very least, the right way to start skiing

Infographic for 10 safety Rules on the Ski Slopes

10 safety Rules on the Ski Slopes
10 safety Rules on the Ski Slopes

About Frank V. Persall

Frank is originally from the UK, but he has a passion for skiing that knows no bounds. He has made it his life's mission to visit the best ski resorts across the USA and the World. Frank loves spending time with his wife and three children on ski slopes, as they all share his love for the activity.

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