Skiing backward often referred to as “switch” or “switching,” looks cool and is a key skill for any skier. If you are learning how to ski, this is an important skill that you should not avoid learning. Of course, you should first know how to ski forwards with good form and practice till you get comfortable skiing forwards.
Once you know how to properly execute turns, edges, parallel skiing, small jumps, and controlled stops in forwarding skiing, you can move on to learn skiing backward.
Let’s discuss how to ski backward with proper form and help you learn this crucial skill to become a better skier.
Why Learn How to Ski Backwards?
The main reason to learn how to ski backward is that once you learn and master this skill, it will open up a world of new ski tricks and possibilities. The fundamentals of switching help you learn and perfect jump and spin tricks that you couldn’t do before.
Seamless switching from forwarding skiing to backward skiing and vice versa is cool on its own, but when you combine it with other jump tricks, it exhibits your skills and control on the snow. Moreover, skiing backward is also important to get yourself out of difficult situations.
Imagine being trapped in a tight space between trees or close to the edge of a cliff. Most often, knowing fundamental skills like how to ski backward can help you get out of such dangerous situations and back to safer terrain.
Switching is also very useful when you teach others how to ski. For example, if you are teaching a young kid how to ski, you can ski backward and face them to guide their form and actions better. It also helps you prevent them from falling face first, which may discourage them from learning.
How to Ski Backwards
As with any new ski skill, it takes patience and practice to learn and master skiing backward. But once you get the hang of skiing in reverse, it doesn’t take too long to master the fundamentals like proper form. Just remember that it can be dangerous if you are not careful, so make sure you are not practicing alone.
Ultimately, it is all worth it because it makes you a more versatile and skillful skier.
What You’ll Need
Since backward skiing can be tricky and dangerous, the first thing you need to start learning is a low-angle slope. If you start learning on steeper slopes, there is a greater risk of falling due to faster speeds. So, find a gentle, low-angle slope, preferably with minimal obstacles and skiers.
It is always better to have a skilled ski partner, so they can keep you in check.
Lastly, while you can ski backward on any ski, we recommend you learn with twin-tip skis. You learn faster with fewer risks and challenges with twin-tip skis.
· Step 1 – Start From A Controlled Stop
Once you find a safe slope, you want to start from a controlled stop at a stable position. You want to center your weight, so make sure your skis are parallel and shoulder-width apart as you ski.
· Step 2 – Maintain Proper Form
As you start moving backward, make sure to bend your knees significantly and move your torso slightly forward. Make sure your hands are not moving about but positioned firmly in front of your waist. Keep your back straight and avoid the urge to bend at the waist.
Stagger your dominant foot further back. Then, stagger the other foot, typically the right foot, so the ski goes back. This form will naturally widen your hips and make it much easier to rotate your shoulders and hips, allowing you to look over the right shoulder.
When done correctly, this stance will allow you to carve left, which is the opposite direction of the shoulder you are looking over. Make sure to keep your arms from flailing, as this can cause you to lose balance, form, or disrupt your carving.
· Step 3 – Link Your Next Turn
Allow your left ski to stagger backwards as you turn your shoulders and hips to the left and look over your left shoulder. This maneuver will allow you to turn right. Continue practicing progressive turns slowly to get the hang of your backward skiing.
· Step 4 – Controlling Speed
Carving turns is the best way to control your speed and slow down as your move backward. Do not pizza your skis backward to slow down. While it may help you slow down, it is not the safest technique when skiing backward. Always link turns and carve deeper to reduce and control your speed as you ski backward. Make sure to use both of the inside edges to help you slow down.
There are many things to consider and many to avoid when you first learn how to ski backward. Here are some helpful tips for the best experience.
- Your form and how you position your body is the most important thing.
- The position of your lower body follows the position of your upper body.
- Bring your speed as low as possible to get comfortable and maintain control.
- There is always a blind spot when skiing backward, especially when you switch shoulders, so make sure to pay attention to your surroundings.
- Avoid backseat skiing or leaning forward excessively.
- Avoid relying entirely on one shoulder and practice both directions equally.
Our Final Thoughts
With these helpful tips, our step-by-step guide, and some committed practice, you’ll be able to ski backward comfortably and master this fundamental skill relatively quickly. However, it is important not to start learning how to ski backward till you have mastered the fundamental skills for skiing forwards.
If you progress to backward skiing too soon, it may negatively impact your forward skiing progression. You must also make sure to start with the most gentle and low-angle slope you can find before you progress to skiing backward on steeper slopes.
Lastly, we highly recommend learning and practicing with a pair of twin-tip skis before you move on to other types of skis. It always helps to have a skilled ski partner to help you when learning a new skill or trick, but you must make sure that you are comfortable with this person and trust them to guide you right.