Tips and Exercises for Improving Cross Country Skiing Technique

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One of the most important aspects of cross country skiing technique for advancing and building your skills is to relax. This is the most important skill when learning to cross country ski and when you are building new skills. If you are tense, or worried about falling, this takes away from your focus on the technique and can actually cause you to fall. This is commonly referred to as a “self fulfilling prophecy.”

Steps to Improving your Technique

The following are some steps and exercises to work on for improving your cross country skiing technique.

  • Step 1 is to find a trail that you are familiar with. One with a mild downhill slope and a quality track is the best for learning new skills.
  • Work toward developing a solid rhythm with the kick and glide movements down the hill. Pace your strides so they match your pole plants. Cross country skiing is not about speed or racing but it’s about enjoying the outdoors and skiing at a pace that provides you the best view of some great scenery.
  • Extend the pole plants as though you were throwing your poles behind you. Let go of the pole so that only the strap connects you with the pole.
  • Try kicking one foot back and then matching your feet as you give a strong double pole plant.
  • Repeat this kick with the same foot several times and then you can alternate to the other foot. This motion increases glide distance and saves energy. Get into the rhythm and you will find that, even though your speed will increase, the motion will be relaxing and enjoyable.
  • As you feel yourself picking up speed, bend slightly at the knees and keep the skis parallel. This will help with balance. Another stance that helps with balance is to lean forward by bending forward at the hips knees and ankles.
  • As you transition from a hill to flat ground, you can maintain your speed by using a double poling technique.

Double Poling Technique Explained

  • Your skis should be parallel and about shoulder-width apart.
  • Keep your body limber, bent at the knees and waist.
  • Leaning forward at the waist, plant your poles into the snow where your feet clip into the bindings of the skis.
  • Push off with both poles, using the strength in your arms first and then the core.
  • At the end of the motion, you should be bent forward with your poles in the air pointing behind you. Before repeating this maneuver, ride out the momentum for a second or two.


  • Choose a safe terrain to begin with whenever you are learning a new technique.
  • Remember to breathe throughout the motions to keep from getting tired too quickly.
  • Practice the movements first and the speed will come. Do not force the speed and fluidity.


Cross-country skiing : building skills for fun and fitness , Hindman, Steve, 1957-, Mountaineers Books, 2005

Fitness cross-country skiing , Gaskill, Steven E., 1952-, Human Kinetics, 1998