“Poise. Concentration. No indecision. No wasted motion. No strong-arm tactics. Only an easy, fluid motion. That’s the secret of my game.”
This is a great quote for what we are about to launch into.and actually.for all the skills in barefooting. I have received a number of requests for an article on learning to start forwards without the use of a ski or kneeboard; the forwards deep water start.
Many years ago this was considered and incredible stunt, but with the technology I will impart unto you, you can confidently acquire this skill. You will be proud to be able to walk down to the boat without carrying a ski!
Let me start by covering equipment. The very best scenario which will make this easy, fun, and safe will be for you to have a pair of padded shorts designed especially for barefooting, a properly fitted barefoot wetsuit, a 5 foot handle, two foot extension for that handle, a boom, and a good driver. If you do not have this gear, and you can afford to get it, visit our Pro Shop online at (http:www.thefootersedge.com/equipment) or call us directly at 877 685-6270 (863 268-0111 out of country).
By the way, did you know that we guarantee that you will barefoot better in our wetsuit or your money back? Check out why we guarantee it!
Why the padded shorts? I have found that there is a much better success rate for my students when they use the padded shorts because they glide more effortlessly across the water which makes them comfortable and more able to concentrate on the three point position( I will explain in a couple of paragraphs). These will also be a must when you do your tumble turns or long-line starts.
Why the 2 foot extension? I like to keep the boom quite high for this and find that the extra length allows the boat driver to go slower speeds (i.e. safer) without making the skier wobbly from the high pull of the boom. I like to have the boom set to where the end of the boom is at the top of the skiers head when in a standing position.
The handle should be a barefoot “slalom” handle which has no toe strap or teeth strap on it. This handle is better to use for this start than the toe-hold handle because its width between the handle and the yoke is narrower and stays more out of the way of the skiers knees when taking the feet off of the rope and planting them on the water!
This start can be broken down into three separate stages; “planing-off,” the “three point position,” and “standing up.”
After hooking up the handle, the best way to learn the first step is to float your whole body to the top of the water holding the handle into your hip bone. Do not move it higher or lower throughout this first step. Then, cross the arch of one of your feet over the rope keeping your entire body at the surface of the water, and keep your knees completely straight. Cross the second foot’s arch over the first foot without hooking your heel over the rope or your foot as this could cause injury to the ankle if the rope pops out of your hand on some of your first attempts.
As the boat gets ready to accelerate, keep your entire body floating until the boat takes off. As the boat first accelerates, straighten out your entire body keeping your knees very straight, pushing your hips higher than your head, and keeping the handle next to your hips. You will need to hold this position for only three seconds before sitting onto your tail bone. You will find it helpful to take a deep breath BEFORE the boat takes off.
After the three seconds, sit directly onto your tail bone without stopping to rest on your back. Make sure you have kept the handle in with your knuckles pressed into your hips.
TIP: If you do not like the feeling of hundreds of gallons of water rushing towards your face, keep your knees straight and tightly together. If you really enjoy a major face washing, simply bend your knees and separate them slightly. This will allow a tremendous sinus blast that will keep on giving you lake water in small amounts the rest of the day and most of the night. This is usually when some people will decide to leverage their barefoot gear for a wakeboard! (“we never said it was easy.we just said it was kool!”)
Seriously, if you are one of those people who are prone to sinus problems, you will be happy to learn that Duct Tape or a water proof band aid works wonders when used to cover a nose that is pinched into the closed position.
Once you are able to sit forward and ride in this position with your feet still on the rope and the handle tucked properly, you will be ready for the next stage.the Three Point Position!
For the purposes of this article, you will be well advised NEVER NEVER NEVER separate your knees this entire time.even in the standing position!!!
The Three Point Position (TPP) is simply skiing on your butt and feet at the same time. How is this possible (you ask me)? It is achieved by having your feet wide with your calves squeezed into your hamstrings, your knees completely touching, and your ankles flexed upwards so that the front of your foot is as high as possible ( see tip below). The handle should be out in front of your knees with your arms relaxed and your grip relaxed. Allow the boat to pull your upper body forward until your gut or chest (which ever sticks out the furthest) is compressed into your knees. This is the most difficult part so practice it on land until you have it perfect and then you will know you have it perfect on the water when there is almost no spray in your face and you can ride comfortably with your eyes open!
In all your barefooting, it is best not to crank your toes up. Simply concentrate on keeping the front edge of your foot as high as possible. This should make your shin muscles burn after awhile. This foot position is only possible if your ankles are behind your knees (i.e. “GLIDE”)
To go from stage one to stage two, make sure that when your feet come off the rope you change from pointing your toes to flexing your ankles (above tip). Make sure you establish some balance on your tail bone so that your feet do not crash into the water before you want them to. The handle will need to go up and over your knees so that you can keep your knees together. As you are bringing your feet back towards your butt, lift your knees into your chest as the handle is going above and in front of them. The feet should not touch the water until they are wide, flexed, and next to your butt. You will find it very helpful to start sitting forward as you make this transition. Make sure not to let the handle out until your feet are almost all the way in position. This transition should be slow and methodical. If you have difficulty getting your feet into position without bouncing, catching, or causing too much spray, try this with shoe skis (Dawg Paws are the best).
The biggest mistake you can do here is to stand up as soon as your feet touch the water. Most people do this because they want to get the spray out of their face, but this is a safety hazard and should be avoided at all costs! The biggest help you could give to your barefoot career at this stage is to perfect the TPP until you can ride around the lake comfortably and relaxed.
Driving tip: Medium acceleration to not more than 25 for any skier under 200 lbs. Just under 30 for lager folks. Why not more speed? Most larger folks come equipped with ultra helpful added surface area in the derrière department! This makes this start actually easier for them on the long-line also! Do not be tempted to jam the speed when their feet get on the water. You are not helping them by this. Keep the speed down until the skier becomes ‘poised’ and comfortable. Let them learn to relax in the position until they have released unnecessary tension in their body!
After you are the king of the TPP, lift your rib cage up, arch you back, squeeze your feet together and stand up without using your arms. If you get spray off of your feet when you are standing, you are probably pushing your ankles forward and thus getting out of your glide. Again. If you like this constant precipitation in your face, dig in on your heels, pull in on your arms with all your might, and assume the “Weekend at Burnies” position until your boom cables brake or you run out of air!
As soon as the boat driver sees you starting to stand, he should accelerate carefully to your barefoot speed (weight divided by ten.add 15 mph) with the boom at the top of the skiers head!
Email me and let me know how you do!
Also, please do me a huge favor and refer someone to my newsletter. I work really hard on these articles and I need your help to help the sport we love so much grow! Just cut and paste the following into an email to your friends!
Hi (Insert their name here)
Do you subscribe to Lane “Dawg” Bowers Free Barefoot Tips Newsletter?
I do, and I think it’s great because….(insert your own reasons here)
Subscriptions are FREE and you get a copy of Lane’s 200-page
“Be the Best Barefooter on Your Lake” Ebook with 80 articles covering everything from The Easiest Way to Learn to Barefoot Water Ski to Learning to Backwards Barefoot to Jumping Inverted…
Just go to http://www.thefootersedge.com and you can get all the details.
Talk to you soon!
(Your Name Here)
Thanks for helping out! I appreciate it…
I am available to personally help you achieve your skiing goals by calling 1-877-685-6270 or visit our website @ www.thefootersedge.com.