Waterskiing advice

Last year, at our department outing, I got my first shot at waterskiing. Let me tell you, I have literally never been more frustrated with anything in my entire life. My co-worker’s husband was driving the boat, and it just seemed like he was accelerating way too fast for me to be able to stand up. Perhaps he was messing with me (he’s kind of a jokester), or perhaps I just didn’t have the physical ability to stand up.

He told me to keep my arms straight and let the boat pull me up. However, I either couldn’t keep my skis parallel or he would actually pull me out of the skis.

I think I’m going to give it another shot this year, and if I fail, I’m giving it up for good. Do any waterskiers here have any advice for me? I do not want to experience the same frustration and embarrassment I did last year.

Lean back.

Right. Lean way, way back especially when you are being pulled up. You have to stay leaned back some even when you are skiing or you are going to fall but you have to lean further back when the boat takes off and let the boat do the work. It does take arm and grip strength because the pull is hard when you are submerged and your skis are pointed at an angle towards the ski but it gets easier if you can get to stand (but still lean back the whole time).

Sit in the water, with your knees bent and your arms slightly bent (not straight), kind of like sitting leaned back in a rocking chair. Keep at least 2 feet of the ski tips out of the water. As the boat takes off, keep pulling against the rope and your arms slightly bent at the elbow, and push your legs against the skis, keeping the knees bent and the skis straight. You do want to increase your speed rather quickly, as you want to POP up out of the water as soon as possible, not be dragged a long time. As you feel the skis coming up out of the water straighten your legs (begin to stand up) and lean back on the skis, keeping your arms slightly bent.

Hang out directly behind the boat, in between the wake, for a while getting used to the feel of it. After you feel more confident, lean a bit towards the left or right and venture outside the wake where the water is smoother.

What was happening when you tried to ski; did the rope slip out of your grasp, did you fall over backwards, or did you get a bit sideways and then the pull of the rope turned you around?

If you’re doing it right, the flow of the water should hit the bottom of the skis and press them pretty much flat against the soles of your feet. If your feet were getting pulled out of the skis, you must have already been turned around too far (either forward or sideways) to stand up on that attempt.

Make sure you don’t end up bent over at the waist. In other words, what everyone else said: lean back.

Keep your knees slightly bent, arms mostly straight.

I have never seen a boat be able to pull a skier out of their skis without it being the skier’s fault (unless the boat driver wasn’t accelerating fast enough- and the skier just got exhausted from the effort and couldn’t hold on any longer). Boats just can’t get up and plane fast enough to do that to someone. How many people has the boat driver taught to ski previously? If it is a countable number, he’s not going to able to help you much and you should try again with a more experienced teacher- so don’t be too hard on yourself.

I would say there are two thoughts in you as the boat starts to accelerate:

  1. keep the rope between your skis (or the plane that goes between them)
  2. DON’T STAND UP- the boat will stand you up (and you will know when the right time is)- you can very easily ski while squatting even

#2 is my expression of lean back- which just means keep your center of gravity behind your feet. I am a 270 pound slalom skier and I can tell you that you can keep leaning back for a minute if you are strong enough. Once you get up once, you can get up a hundred times in a row as you will know how to feel what to do.

Good luck and have fun!

I start from a tuck position. I lean back with the tips up and the rope between the skis. It sounds like he was gunning it if he pulled you out of the skis? It is better to start off slow and then gradually accelerate. You will automatically be pulled up and keep your arms straight and lean back not forward. Too much throttle is just as bad as not enough. I have been ripped out of my skis as a joke and it’s not fun. See if anyone else can drive the boat.

See if you can find someone (local ski club, perhaps?) who has a “barefoot boom”. Here is a pic of my son learning on our boom. He’s learning to barefoot, but I’ve used it many times to teach first-time skiers. It’s a remarkably effective training tool, and I’ve trained many kids at Boy Scout camps on it (working on Waterski merit badge). Here is another picture of a boom. It would be well worth it if you could find a local group equipped like this. It has the advantage of getting you quickly past the “drinking up the lake” stage of learning. IME, most people learn to ski within 5-10 minutes this way.

PM me if you happen to live somewhere near the DFW area.

Good advice from everyone. Don’t let the boat yank you out of the water by the arms. Pull back with your arms and lean back so that you’re coming up upright (I think. It’s been a while since I skied.) Be sure the tops of your skis are out of the water when you start, and straight.

Remember this order: Skis, knees, handle, chest, butt. That is the order you should keep things as you’re being lifted out of the water. Put the handle in front of your knees and you’ll be inhaling a nice mouthful of water.

As you sit crouched in the water, stay in a tucked position, with the rope handle under your chin, held to your chest. Keep your elbows pointed down, not out, and touching your sides. Keep your wrists locked at right angles, keeping your abs tight, until your body begins to emerge from the water. Your mission is to keep that handle as close to your chest, the center of gravity at your hips, as you are being lifted. Envision a rope being tied and knotted around your lower back, while someone pulls you out of the water at a 45 degree angle. Lean slightly backward, and point your toes, which will help level out your skis.

As you sit in the water, keep your knees bent and pointed to the sky. The tops of your skis should be up out of the water, with your butt resting on them. Don’t worry about keeping your skis perfectly parallel; Slightly crossed is fine and preferable to a “V” position.

The second you feel your butt lifted out of the water, thrust upward and start unfurling your body, keeping the handle close until you feel your quadriceps take on the bulk of the work. Keep your weight back. If you don’t use upward momentum, your butt will drag in the water and you’ll know the beauty of an instant enema.

You should never try to stand completely upright on skis as you need your knees to act as shock absorbers.

That’s all I’ve got. Good luck!

Ah the power enema.