Imagine the feeling of gliding effortlessly on top of the water with the feeling of total confidence knowing you have the best form in the world. All your friends who have failed or got discouraged would be looking at you like you are the new resident pro! What would that feel like?
There an an unlimited line of nay sayers who would love to tell you that they already tried to learn to water ski. If you will listen, you will hear about how hard it was or how they took a serious beating in the process. Avoid them altogether knowing that you not only will avoid every mistake they made, but you will also have the information to teach others without ever having a single fall.
The biggest step to avoiding the pitfalls of your friends is knowing that before you ever get on the water, you are going to learn four lessons that will take you from junior varsity to pro before ever getting on the water. By simply understanding the correct sitting and standing forms, you will already be light years ahead of anyone you know that has learned to water ski.
Lesson number one.
Where ever you are right now, practice rolling your shoulders from front to back and then keep them in the back position so that your shoulder blades are pinched together. Now expand your chest and arch your back. This upper body position is what I will refer to when I talk about "Posture".
Try to hold a ski handle while adding the correct hip position to your upper body "Posture". Now pull back with your shoulders until your upper body is close to a 45 degree angle away from perpendicular. As you do this, drive your hips upward without pulling in on your arms or losing your "Posture". If you have done this correctly, you should feel the pull of the rope coming through your hips like tug-of-war. This hip position is called the "Power Band Position".
Now that you have the upper and middle body position figured out, you need to adjust your knees by getting your ankles slightly behind the front edge of your knees. If you have ever snow skied then imagine how it feels to be in ski boots which force your shins to be angled forward. This lower body position is called "Glide".
Here is lesson number two.
The next skill that must be accomplished off the water is the "Three Point Position". This is the sitting position that gives you total control while the boat is in gear before it ever accelerates. To practice this on dry land, keep the handle in front of your knees, your knees together, and your feet wider than your hips. This is the position that you will need to learn to relax in while the boat is in gear.
Lesson number three. A major breakthrough in technology. The only safe way to learn to water ski without falling is to take advantage of a barefoot boom. While everyone of your friend's horror stories came from trying to water ski behind the boat for their first time, you will not be making this same mistake. Simply knowing this will make you safe as well as a great teacher.
The tremendous stability of the barefoot boom is obvious when you understand that it is a solid aircraft aluminum pole that connects to the front of the boat by two stainless steel cables. Although it was originally designed for the rigors of barefoot water skiing, it is the water ski industry's best kept secret. It makes any water skier's first attempts sure and is a natural step on the way to learning on an additional 5 foot rope and then behind the boat. By taking the time to build your water skiers confidence, you are ensuring safety and fun that will last a lifetime.
Get ready for the water!
Now that you know what a good "Three Point Position" and the correct standing position (Posture, Power Band, and Glide) are, you are ready to take to the water. While you are holding onto the barefoot boom, practice your "Three Point Position" while the driver puts the boat in the slowest possible forward speed which is also known as putting the boat "in gear." While the boat is barely moving, master your control while keeping the ski tip out of the water, your arms relaxed, and stay sitting on the ski.
If you are learning with only one foot on the slalom ski (what I recommend), simply let your free foot drag in the water while trying to sit on the ski. If you can hold this idling position in total control for at least 5 seconds, then it is time to move to the acceleration stage where you will stand up.
After showing you are relaxed for at least 5 seconds, simply have the driver accelerate moderately to the slowest possible speed that you can hold your Posture, Glide, and Power Band. For children, it might be as slow as 10-12mph. For mid sized adults, 15-20mph. For larger adults, 20-25mph will suffice.
Now that the skiers exudes the confidence of having the correct standing form, it is time to practice slowing down to the sitting form again. If the skier can move smoothly from sitting to standing and then back to the sitting position fluidly, then you can move with confidence onto the five foot rope. Following these same rules will take you to behind the boat without falling.
The driver's role in learning without falling is to be vigilant in watching the skier's form. If the skier breaks from the correct form in even the slightest amount, it is critical that the driver slow down to a stop. By adhering to critical form in conjunction with boat acceleration, the skier will always be able to learn without falling. Although this can frustrate an aggressive skier, it is critical to mastering world class form and to avoid completely unnecessary falls.