4 Steps That Will Improve Your Mogul Skiing In One Day

4 Steps That Will Improve Your Mogul Skiing In One Day

Author: Demelza Clay

If you’ve clicked on this article, I’m going to take a wild guess and assume that you are one of the millions of skiers out there who are trying to solve the riddle that is: mogul skiing. How is it possible to ski through such bumpy terrain without sacrificing a limb? Are competent bumps skiers simply made of rubber? How on earth can it be fun when I feel like I am going to die? Don’t worry, I hear you.

Who is this for?

This is for people who’ve tried skiing moguls but have arrived at that point where nothing is really working; it’s not fun and aside from the hamstring they just pulled, they are probably about to seriously injure themselves. You might know this place well. Maybe you’ve had a beginner bumps lesson, you understand the basic mogul line and you can confidently pick through a very gentle mogul field; but the second you try to increase your rhythm or ski a more direct line, you totally lose it. Game over. Or maybe you can ‘athletically’ link short radius turns through intermediate to advanced bumps; but you’re a hot mess, mostly airborne, in the back seat and one fall away from a season ending injury. It’s frustrating and scary… and let’s face it, we have all been there before. And if you teach skiing then perhaps you will pick up some tips and tactics to help your own students. 

I Was Frustrated Too

Let me take you back to a moment in my ski career when I finally realised the key ingredients that are missing in most mogul lessons. I was teaching in Telluride full time and had the opportunity to coach a lot of bump skiing to my guests. And even though I was a ski instructor, grew up skiing moguls and even skied in a few mogul competitions when I was at school, I was frustrated with my method not delivering consistent results. I needed a way to help make moguls less intimidating whilst not just side slipping through them. I needed to get these people to move more and find a step between traversing the moguls and skiing the fall line. 

Breaking it down

So fuelled by the selfish desire to improve my own bumps skiing, I ditched the manual and began breaking it all down into micro-skills; identifying those mini movements that I personally needed to do better… and most importantly… I identified WHY I was not doing them well in the first place. Then I began creating a series of drills that addressed the cause of these problems (the WHY), and at last, my mogul skiing started to shine. 

It's the same for all levels 

But shockingly, when I started using these drills with my clients, I discovered that no matter what level they were as a mogul skier, the exercises still worked. I expected them to be only effective with higher end mogul skiers, but as it turns out they helped every person I coached. They were providing some of the missing links by helping to solve ‘the WHY’.

See, the deficiencies we experience as mogul skiers exist on a spectrum; the problems I was having as an advanced mogul skier were a subtle version of the problems you are having in the bumps. I’ve been collating, adjusting and optimizing this mogul/bumps skiing series over my 20+ year coaching career. It’s been designed to isolate and train the unique micro-movements required for intermediate to advanced mogul skiing, in a confidence building on-snow environment that is safe and geared toward helping you solve the unique challenges you are experiencing no matter what your level.

#1 Problem: You're Not Using Your full range of bend and stretch movements 

#1 Problem: You're Not Using Your full range of bend and stretch movements 

Difference in range between advanced skier and expert
Difference in range between advanced skier and expert

Difference in range between advanced skier and expert

You're Brain Is tricking you on how much you move

The #1 reason we struggle to ski bumps; is we do not use enough RANGE in our bend and stretch movements. And even after practicing the movements in various ways, why do we not have enough range? Because we have no internal meter telling us how much we have shortened or lengthened our legs. In summary; the mind’s eye is playing tricks on you. You think you are retracting and extending your legs a lot, but in reality you are not. At all. In fact, video analysis of my students usually shows how little they bend their legs, even though they thought they were doing it a lot. Often what they are feeling is their head moves up and down but what you really need to move are your knees. 

STEP 1: Exaggerate the compressed feeling

The first exercise is about exaggerating the compressed low position we want to be in on top of a bump. Holding this position and getting familiar with it so it becomes a new mental reference point for how bent our legs need to be. Find a small friendly looking bump and lower into this position.

  • How do you need to flex to keep your weight over your feet?

  • Can you feel how much your knees must bend?

  • Do you notice your muscles really working hard?

  • I always feel my ski pants tighten over my glutes from bending (I don’t wear tight ski pants BTW!!!), and I can see that my head is at a similar elevation to my inside hand in the pole plant position on top of the bump.

We need to get used to feeling these new sensations and take a mental snapshot. Yes your leg muscles will be feeling it but using more range will smooth out the moguls considerably! 

Practice this stationary lowering into compression on a single bump for both sides.

STEP 2: Single Bump Extensions

Next you will practice going from this new low compressed stance on top of a mogul and add turning and extending down the back of the mogul. Start by getting as low as you can get, then push yourself forward down over the backside of the bump. Keep your head low under an imagery roof and slowly stretch out your legs at a rate that matches the relative drop down the back side of the bump. Keep extending and turning your legs until you stop completely.

The WHY: Skiers don’t get low enough, AND they don’t extend enough to maintain ski snow contact. This exercise will address both of these problems to give you the feeling of SPEED CONTROL in this type of terrain… and it will probably give you a lot of confidence! Get ready; once you have nailed this on both sides mogul skiing is about to get a whole lot more doable and fun!

Practice single bump extensions 10-15 times on each side to start programming the new mechanics of this type of turn completion.

Step 3: Retraction-extension pivot slip

We will take a momentary break away from the bumps to work on linking turns using pivot slips. The only difference with these pivot slips is you want to use your compressed on top of a bump stance in between your pivots. On a steep groomer, side slip and use RETRACTION (flexing your legs up and underneath you) to initiate the next turn - then use EXTENSION (stretching your legs away from you) to complete the last half of the pivot.

Watch the video of me doing the retraction-extension pivot slip drill.

You’re doing this now because the next most important task is to begin programming the new mechanics of retraction extension turns (bend and stretch turns) into your ‘ski turn vocabulary’. 


This next step has been designed to address one of the greatest barriers to success for new bumps skiers; your brain goes into ‘fight and flight’ when you make an attempt at skiing anywhere near or in the fall line. This means anything you had been previously learning and practicing goes out the window because your brain goes into ‘safekeeping’ mode. It immediately reverts to the convenience of those old deeply programmed and automated movement patterns. Most likely an extension or lengthening movement just like you are used to making in most of your turns on the groomed trails. These new mechanics you are learning are the opposite to this so we need to slow things down to allow yourself time to create new habits.

Truthfully, the whole progression has been designed to help the brain slowly adapt to these new surroundings and movement patterns as they are acquired. But this step is where you get to practice your new skills in a super relaxed way, using a strategy in an environment where you know you have the ability to succeed at the task at hand.

And the task? Ski through a mogul field as slowly as possible. Holding your flexion when needed. Holding your extension when needed. Being deliberately selective over which bump to turn on. You will be traversing a lot between turns but that is ok. In fact I highly recommend it. This gives you lots of time on task on terrain that might have previously had you freaking out. Not this time. The gold stars go to the skiers who keep their skis on the snow using as much bend and stretch as they can while also practicing the timing of these movements over the ever changing terrain under their feet. Try this on large moguls too, it’s actually not that hard because you’ll realize that you’re using the bump to slow you down… so the bigger the better!

For all the coaches out there, this is the best part; when your client gets to the bottom of the run after this step, they look up and realize they've just skied the gnarliest bump run they’ve ever attempted with a level of control far beyond what they thought possible. It’s empowering for them, and when you see their faces light up, it’s empowering for you as a coach because you know you’ve got tools that work.

Practice Ultra Slow Bump Skiing Using your new range of motion

Watch the video with me skiing slowly through the bumps. Notice how I use the compressed low position at every bump even if it's not the big. The goal is to feel more range and how that gives greater control.


The 3 greatest challenges to skiing moguls well (and having fun) are;

  • You do not use enough of your range

  • Automating the ‘inverse mechanics’ required to ski bumps into your turn repertoire (staying low in the transition)

  • You go into fight or flight when you attempt to ski bumps with rhythm in the fall line

This little progression of 4 steps will help you begin solving all of the above challenges, but (spoiler alert) there is more to it than this (there always is, right?). There are a few more steps and strategies in this progression that will help you blend these exercises into regular ‘fall line’ mogul skiing at a normal controlled speed:

  • Specific how-to instructions for each step

  • Coaching cues, analogies and prompts for things you need to feel when executing the tasks correctly

  • Slow motion video analysis.

  • Common problems and solutions

  • Full length videos of each drill available on the BPS App for replay on the hill when you are practicing

  • Case studies; watch other students try the same exercises and learn from them

Head to the BPS Library and check out the 90 min webinar Tom Gellie and I did where we teach you this bump progression in greater detail. We would love to help coach you to better turns in the moguls.

I hope this condensed version has given you some insight into WHY I teach moguls using this approach, and at the same time, shared with you some ideas so you can begin playing around with these new drills and concepts when you next get out on snow. Have fun out there! 

If you would like to see more of my coaching and skiing, you can find me on Instagram @demelza.clay or join me in person on one of the Big Picture Skiing Camps ->https://bigpictureskiing.com/pages/skicamps


More videos to help your mogul skiing

Big Picture Skiing memberships give you access to videos that help solve your skiing problems

The high line

Learn about the high line and a progression to help you control speed whislt still being dynamic.

Pivot Slips For Moguls

Learn how to do controlled pivot slips helping you ski slowly through any bump field. Great for intermediates.

Learn to Ski Fall Line Bumps

You will learn how to use the terrain to help give you grip and control in the bumps.

Different Lines In The Moguls

There are multiple lines to ski in the moguls. Learn about the advantages of each and when to use them. 


Demelza Clay is a level 4 Ski instructor from Australia now living in Vernon, Canada. She has worked in the ski industry as a Heli Ski guide, instructor trainer and National demonstrator. She Shreds!

Instagram @demelza.clay