In Praise of the Athletic Position [Video]


Update: January 2017. The athletic position remains the foundations of all nordic ski techniques but we no longer teach “rounded shoulders”. We teach neutral spine and set shoulder blades. Basically, whatever is considered best practices in posture and movement you should apply to your nordic ski technique.

If you have questions about your own posture or movement patterns we strongly recommend you consult with a professional such as a physical therapist or strength and conditioning coach.

If I could travel back in time and give my newbie coaching self one tip, it would be this:

“Be fanatical about getting your athletes to get into the athletic position. Remind them constantly to stay loose, relaxed and to have fun.”

In this video you’ll learn:

  1. What is the athletic position
  2. How it forms the basis of all cross-country ski techniques
  3. Why it’s hard for beginners and intermediate skiers to maintain when they’re skiing
  4. A tip for using the power of the athletic position to ‘reset’ your ski technique

Transcript provided below the video



I want to talk about the athletic position. I want to cover what it is, how it relates to cross-country ski techniques, why it’s hard to maintain when you’re skiing, and then leave you with a tip for how you can use the athletic position to improve your skiing.

Let’s start by going over what the athletic position is.


All you do to get into the athletic position is put your feet about shoulder width apart. Then drop your hips straight down towards your feet so that your knees flex forward and you’ve got flexion at your ankles. And then, with your upper body, just kind of round out your shoulders and keep yourself really loose.

I feel all the weight going through the balls of my feet. You don’t want to be sitting back at all. You’re just slightly tipped forwards. You should feel relaxed everywhere in your body.

Once you get into that position you can just start to kind of bounce in it and feel how you can be quite springy but still stable.


If I’m in the athletic position, I can diagonal stride from that stance. I can kick double pole from the athletes position. I can double pole from this position. If I’m skate skiing, I can one skate from this position and so on.


So the athletic position forms the basis of all ski techniques, but it’s not naturally your default position. Your natural default body position is to stand upright. When you go out skiing, if you’re a novice or even an intermediate skier, you’re going to have a tendency to go into that standing upright position. That will make you kind of tippy, if you’re trying to skate ski. You won’t be able to get an effective stride if you’re classic skiing.


So what I recommend you do is you get used to being in that position and especially moving in it. Don’t just go into that position but kind of get used to letting the movement flow through ur body when you’re in that position. Let your arms swing. Just let the movement flow in a way that feels natural. When you’re out skiing, periodically stop and reset yourself by getting into that position.

You can use it like a reset button for your computer or something, but it’s a reset button for your body. Just hunch over, relax, look for places where you might be holding tension, then head out and ski some more. I think it will really help you.

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