Reach your peak performance with these water ski tips from Thomas Moore, Wade Cox, Freddy Krueger, Matt Rini and Karina Nowlan.
Perfect Your Offside Turn
Most skiers can identify with a troublesome offside turn. The 2007 U.S. Open runner-up Thomas Moore says that keeping your shoulders level and your arms straight through the edge change makes it easier for the ski to travel out from underneath you into an arc instead of shooting out in front of you. Movements such as pulling your arms in off the second wake or dropping your inside shoulder put you on a narrow path and limit outbound trajectory, sacrificing width. So, instead of tensing up into your toeside turn, relax your arms and let the ski advance outbound off the second wake.
Adjust Your Alignment
A balanced stance on the ski is priority number one. Look at any of the top skiers and you’ll notice that their knees, hips and shoulders are all in line. Squatting on the ski with your lower body and tensing your arms will lead to a heavy shoulder and getting bounced over the wakes. To combat this, Wade Cox recommends a pullout drill, which teaches the skier to create maximum speed while being light on the rope. “I did the drill for years myself,” says Cox. “You basically practice a gate pullout on each side of the boat and focus on your alignment. As soon as you come up on the boat, you simply coast back to the wake and repeat.”
Grip It Right
If you don’t grip the handle the conventional way, you may want to switch it up. “You could instantly put yourself in a more balanced position on the ski,” says Cox. It’s a simple rule: With a baseball-bat grip, left-foot-forward skiers should have their right hand on top, and vice versa for right-foot-forward skiers. It may take a few passes to get comfortable, but soon after you’ll be much more symmetrical. Cox tells skiers making the grip change to hook in from the bottom of the handle on their offside turn.
Focus and Repeat the Positive
Watch men’s jump world-record holder Freddy Krueger prep for a set and you’ll quickly see why he dominates the ramp. Whether it’s a training session at his home lake in Winter Garden, Florida, or the final round of a major event, Krueger’s routine is the same. “If you want to perform your best, it’s important to have structure to your training,” says the world champion. He recommends monitoring your training sets to find the positive commonalities, both mental and technique-oriented, that can be repeated in future sets. He stresses that quality time on the water overrides quantity every time.
Ride the Slalom Swing
World-class coach Matt Rini says as the line gets shorter in the 32- to 35-off range, it’s not so much that skiers can’t get outside the buoy; the biggest thing is understanding that, like a pendulum, you want to be quickest from the bottom up to the apex in order to ski most efficiently. “The more you can get your momentum to cast you out, the less work you have to do,” says Rini. “The more level your shoulders are during the edge change, the more swing you get.”