Whether you’re still in a drysuit or hitting the water in nothing but your boardies, your early-season sets can establish the pace for your entire season. Although your first inclination is probably to bang out a few passes in the course or rip the biggest turns possible, building a strong foundation with some early-season drills can truly set you up for your best season ever. Not only will your body thank you, but you’ll also hone your skills, which will help you take your skiing to new levels later. Try these six drills to get your season rolling and make the most of your precious water time.
Start slightly outside the wake on either side and stand balanced over your feet. While looking at the boat, cut out to the side of the boat and cast your ski out into a short glide. Allow yourself to drift back into the wakes. Repeat this a few times on each side of the boat while focusing on staying balanced over your feet.
Similar to agility drills in other sports, the rhythm or swing exercise affords you ample opportunity to work on mechanics. More importantly, the drill teaches you how to link together your body movements in a flowing and efficient rhythm. Pull out about 15 to 20 feet outside either wake (like a mini-gate pullout) and begin a slow carving turn while keeping your body facing down the lake. Allow the ski to edge all the way through the wakes with low intensity. As you cross the center of the wakes, begin to drive the ski out from under you and onto the other edge very progressively. As the ski casts out onto the turning edge, allow it to carve a calm and patient turn back to the other side. The key to this drill is to keep a nice rhythm and low intensity so you can control every movement.
Wake attacks are simple wake crossings without aggressive turns. They allow you to work on your movement through the wakes without worrying about the effectiveness of your turns. This drill mimics your movement into the gate, but from both directions. After each wake crossing, glide alongside the boat until your speed is about equal to the boat’s speed.
This drill requires a patient driver and lots of deepwater starts. Pull out to one side of the boat and make a basic wake crossing out to the other side of the boat. When you make an edge change, let go of the handle completely and make a slow carving turn back toward the wakes without the handle. The key is to stay balanced on your feet and the ski so you can carry speed all the way back to the wakes. Note: It’s important for the driver to maintain speed as the skier carves the turn so the boat stays out of the way.
Up-Course All The Way
A friend of mine does these for at least a month in the preseason before he ever actually skis the course. For this drill, simply pull out for the gates about two boat lengths earlier than usual and try to maintain this location throughout the course. You should be able to watch each buoy as you turn slightly before arriving at it. This allows you to gauge where you are in relation to the course without having to chase the buoys themselves.
If you have access to a wide ride, this would be a good time to make use of it. In fact, it might even be worth buying a closeout or demo midsize ski, since they aren’t too expensive. For this drill, the only real key is to slow the boat down and let the line out so the course is ridiculous easily. You can then either run the course or free ski, but focus on slowly and progressively linking together every single turn into one fluid series of turns and wake crossings. Focus on the mechanical details, but be sure to also put them into a rhythmic sequence.
About The Author
Seth Stisher is co-owner of H2Osmosis Sports, creators of h2oproshop.com and the H2Oz Training Center. You can find him either coaching at his Charleston, South Carolina, training center or on the road at one of his traveling clinics across the country and worldwide. For more information, go to h2oztrainingcenter.com or h2oproshop.com, or call the training center at 843-793-4470.