Summer is just a few months away. What better time to prepare for a long and relaxing vacation? Water-skiing is one of the best ways to have fun for you and your family. If you have engaged in this activity, you know the thrill and excitement it provides. You may also want to share this with your kids or younger siblings. Many other sports exist to look forward to, but water skiing beats them all. Coming to the topic at hand, how do we teach kids or any beginner to water ski?
Simple, follow the steps given below:
Introduce different water sports
For a person to learn something, introducing them to related activities will help them learn faster. To make the person familiar with the water, we should teach them different water sports. Then we can present the notion of water skiing to the student IF they are interested.
The student must show interest in being on the water, then and then only can the training start. The teacher/trainer will teach them different techniques. The trainer will introduce them to hold their breath, stay calm underwater, etc. This technique can make them confident and will help them when skiing on water.
The best way to learn something is through imitation. Thus, the trainer or parents can first show them a demo. Make them copy the standing positions and balancing technique. The student will learn faster with a smaller audience. So you must not force them to practice if they do not wish to do it in front of other people. Do not push them to their extremities.
A demonstration will allow the student to understand why being careful and learning techniques is essential.
Teach skiing positions
After the demo, teach the person the right way to position themselves. Teach them the various skiing positions and techniques needed. Angle plays a vital role in water skiing. If the student does not stand at a proper angle, they have a chance of falling off their boards.
Teach them how to lean and also bend wherever necessary.
The student is in full control
Make sure the student knows that they are in full control of whatever they do. Whether they want to stop the practice or go to shore, etc., they can do it at their own time. They need only send signals with their hands for the trainer to take action, which brings us to the next point.
the teacher can teach hand gestures to them; some are thumbs up, which means going faster. Thumbs down, to slow down; patting their head means to go to shore. They should know that the trainer or the adult is always there if any complications arise. Make them trust the trainer for them to perform their best.
Emphasize the Basics
The student must be taught the basics of water skiing. The trainer must emphasize the basics before teaching any other technique.
Keep emphasizing the following positions: knees bent together, heads up, weight back, and arm straight. Give the student one piece of advice at a time. Too much advices at once may confuse the student, which may lead to accidents. Eventually, with practice, they will be able to put all the techniques together and ski better.
At this juncture, your child is now ready to go out for their first actual skiing lesson! Hand the skiing rope to the student and tie or let the trainer hold the other end tight. Make sure that the line is straight between the boat, the trainer, and the student. The student should bend their knees at the beginning and stand up once when the boat speeds up. Keep an emphasis on keeping the front of the skis out of the water.
The driver should start slowly. He/she must maintain a comfortable speed and watch for the signs that the student gives. Ask the student to tell the trainer when they want a break. Here the trainer can let go of the line and then pick the student up.
Standing up position
The next step involves learning the skiing stance or standing straight. The teacher should tell the student to keep his knees bent at the correct angle. The body must remain in the right position. Arms must rest outside his knees, reaching forward to hold the rope attached to the boat. Keeping the arms straight at all times must be emphasized.
Start training on land first
Before starting anything, we need a trial period. Water skiing also needs practice. Practice on land before going into the water. Especially for kids, as it requires adult supervision. So, parents can ask their kids to ride a surfing board on land. The parents or trainers can pull the board. This practice will help them keep balanced.
An adult should instruct the student while they become accustomed to the positioning of the knees. Also, holding the ski ropes at a parallel angle and above water. Holding the rope handle and making sure the cord is between the skis is essential.
They will learn how to stand and position themselves correctly while being pulled by force on the water. Their positions will be monitored and corrected. Safety First!
Now, the teacher can introduce the skis: but just skis, no water. This is done so that the student can try it out first. It is like a test or another trial period. For children, it is better always to use shorter and lighter skis. The shorter skis will allow the kids to gain control quickly. The shorter skis will provide more area for improvement. Adults, on the other hand, will need larger skis.
Find a quiet area for your first session.
It is scary to see boats speeding up the area you might have your first time trying to ski. For avoiding accidents, the trainer must look for a quiet space where there are not many boats on the water. Doing this will also reduce the number of waves for your beginner skiers. A clear mind will ensure excellent performance.
It will keep them focused on balancing themselves rather than on the boats. By focusing their mind on the task at hand, they will be able to perform better. Please encourage them to focus on skiing and balancing rather than the boats.
Getting up on skis
Finally, it is showtime! The students must bring all they have practiced and put it to action. Practical skiing is very crucial for beginner water skiers. A wrong move would result in injury, and so the teacher must focus on the student.
The teacher should not drive the boat unless a second driver is there to assist the driver. There have to be at least two people helping the skier. It will again ensure safety and security for the student.
If a second driver is available, the teacher can be a spotter. A spotter, as mentioned, is a person who observes the scene behind. Doing this will help the driver focus on what’s ahead of him other than what’s behind.
Here is a summary of key points to remember-
· The most important is to keep the student safe. Ensure there are safety measures taken. Keep medical help at bay.
· The sessions should be short and repeated. Repetition will allow them to remember the techniques better.
· Try to teach without water. It always better to be safe than sorry.
· A student burns more energy when learning, so we must not push the students to their limits. Always keep in mind the intake of the student’s capacity to learn.
· The trainer should show a positive attitude towards the beginner; otherwise, negative remarks will only block learning. Encouragement is key to an outstanding performance.
· Keep the student comfortable. Please do not force them to do anything they do not wish to do. They will learn to trust you and come to you if they face any problems.
Always be patient in all that you want for the student or trainee. The students are only humans, and so the trainers and the adults must be patient while dealing with them at all times. Patience is vital when perfecting any activity or learning something.
Lastly, make sure you tell them that they did a great job! Praise them for the efforts they made and for not giving up. Let them know that there’s always a next time for them to do better. Ask the student if they would like to take photos to remember the day they first skied. Keep up the encouragement and support them in their decisions as well.
Use platform trainers to begin
Platform Trainers are fantastic floats for teaching novice skiers how to ski. It is always better to start at the minimum, so these are the best option. They are available on various online shopping platforms and stores. Doing this will allow the skiers to learn more comfortably and faster.
After trying the platform trainer and making sure the child is entirely comfortable, we can introduce them to trainer skis. The trainer skis are equal to a kid’s weight. It has a crossbar that holds the legs together while skiing and avoids unbalanced stances. The crossbar will give additional support. Remove the crossbar when your kid has improved their sense of balance.
Use a boom
A boom is the best equipment for those still at the beginner level- learning positions. It adds additional stability for kids to find the right balance. The boom will further help in learning the correct position for when the students go into the water.
The place for the boom is always adjacent to the boat. The position of the boom will help the student be more confident. Seeing the adult or trainer close by will boost their confidence. Also, by doing this, the adult can instruct the trainee without needing to shout.
A good ski rope can ensure the safety of the learner. Make sure to give kids these ropes but the ones with soft handles.
In the beginning, make the ropes shorter. Short ropes will make your skier more confident. After the skier is comfortable with the short ropes, upgrade to longer ones.
Life jackets and helmets
The appropriately-sized life jackets and helmets are essential. They should be snug enough that there’s no wiggle room. But not so tight that they’re uncomfortable to wear!
The wrong-sized life jackets and helmets will hamper the performance of the learner. When they are uncomfortable with what they wear, their account will also be affected.
Goggles and nose-plugs
Something everyone would hate would be water in the eyes. Goggles would be of much help in situations like these. They can even prevent the learners from being blinded by the sun! So, it is killing two birds with one stone.
Water getting up the nose is another hindrance; nose plugs are the best gears to prevent such an occurrence.
Here is some more information on equipment needed in water skiing:
- Bevel: The round edge at the side of the ski that meets the ski’s base is the bevel. The curves affect the ability to turn. The more round it is, the more control you’ll need to achieve.
- Bindings: These boots look alike, help to keep the skier’s feet fixed to the skis. The bindings are usually made of rubber. Laces are added to fit the student or skier’s feet.
- Harness: The rope that connects the handle that the skiers hold to the boat is the harness. It allows maximum flexibility for the skier.
- Buoy: They are floating designation markers. They show us the place from where to turn or transverse.
- Cut: In water-skiing, the rope is made short at some lengths. This is called a cut.
- Fin: A fixed fin-shaped add-on is placed at the ski base. These help in controlling turns.
- Flex: The flexibility of a ski makes it easier to make turns, but it becomes hard to control.
- P.F.D.: The acronym for personal floatation device. This is the lifejacket.
- Pylon: A triangle-shaped metal structure that connects the rope to the back of the boat is a pylon.
- Rocker: The curvature of the base of a ski is the rocker. The more curvy the rocker, the better the turn.
- Shock tube: A cylindrical device that is used to reduce the retraction of the ski rope is called a shock tube.
- Towboat: The boat that is used to pull the skier on the water.
- Tow rope: The rope that conjoins the skier to the boat is the tow rope.
- Wing: A wing is an adjustable connection present on the side of a ski. It is used to make the skier master any turns.
Water skiing Techniques
- Deepwater start: When the skier starts skiing by rising and standing in a straight position as the boat moves faster.
- Dock start: Dock start is when the skier starts skiing by standing on a dock or a raised platform.
- Hot-dogging: The term used for showing off skiing skills to the other skiers.
- Kite-boarding: A form of skiing using a kite, not a boat, to maneuver the skier on the water.
- Knee-boarding: A form of skiing that makes use of only a single board rather than the usual skis. Here, the skier kneels instead of standing straight on the said board.
- Late: A slightly late lean to a turn; this makes the turn hard to be put into action. This technique is used mostly in competitions.
- Off-side turn: When a skier shifts to the opposite side of their foot position, it is called an off-side turn. For example, when a skier is leading with the right foot but turns to the left.
- On-side turn: When a skier shifts to the same side as their footing, it is called an on-side turn. For example, when a skier is leading with his right foot and also turns to his right.
- Pass: The successfully completed course without mistakes.
- Slalom: A water-skiing method where the skier is required to navigate through a series of buoys laid out in a course.
- Spotter: This person is positioned behind the driver and keeps an eye on the skier. Their job is to make sure they are skiing safely. The spotter is a communication bridge between the skier and the driver.
- Transition: Switching or jumping from one edge to the other edge of the ski. A technique for expert skiers only. Beginner skiers would end up injuring themselves if they try this.
Skiing on water can be a hazardous sport. Here are a few things to take into notice:
- The skier ‘must’ know how to swim. Swimming is crucial for all skiers.
- A life jacket or vest is a necessity for the skier. It allows for free movements and serves as a floating device if the skier is at the risk of getting injured.
- Calm waters are best for water skiing, and there should be enough space for the skier to assume the skiing positions safely.
- Sufficient skiing space is required. Enough space for the boat is needed, as well as the water should be at least five feet deep. Your boat should at least be a few feet away from swimming areas and the shore.
- There must be enough space for the driver and skier to avoid any accidents.
- The driver and a spotter must be present in the boat all the time. It takes two people to tow a water skier. The driver keeps a steady course while the spotter observes the skier. This also gives room for them to monitor the positions of the skiers.
- Before the start of the skiing session, the student or skier and spotter should know hand signals to tell when to stop, slow down, move to shore, etc.
- Always make the student or skier wear a good life jacket. This will allow them to rest in the water comfortably while waiting for the boat to come to pick them up. The bright color of the life jacket will make it easier to spot them in the water, too. It also protects the ribs and acts as a cushion when or if they fall.
- Someone should act as the students’ spotter or observer. The spotter can look out for hand signals to stop, slow down, etc. The driver must keep their eyes on the water and nowhere else.
- Always check the ski rope before the student goes out to ski. Ensure the rope is good and strong and shows no signs of wear and tear. If this is not checked, it could cause the rope to snap in two leading to injury or mishap.
- Maintain a safe speeding meter on the water and be aware of other boats, swimmers, and skiers in the area. The trainer must remember to maintain the speed limit at all costs. Make sure to keep a safe distance so that the skiers feel comfortable.
- Stay away from boats or places where people have set up nets. This can prove to be dangerous, as lines and nets can end up tangling the legs, causing injury.
The key to mastering any art is practice. Keep practicing whenever the skier has time to spare. The trainer should teach the student that we can learn nothing overnight. As practice makes perfect, help them understand that nothing can happen without repeatedly practicing. Let them know that it is okay to make mistakes. No matter how many mistakes they make, don’t discourage them.
When they fall, please pick them up and encourage them. Tell the students that even if they fall, you will be there to pick them up. When they don’t get everything right on the first try, encourage them and help them get up. Appreciate their courage to try something new and challenging. Keep boosting their confidence.
With encouragement and due practice, they will be putting more effort to learn. The student will break all barriers to fulfil their desire to master the art of skiing. And in no time, they will be begging you to take them out on the water again. They are now just a step away from becoming the skier they want to be.