subject: Barefooting’s Coolest Looking Start-
The Back Toe-Up!

“Before I get in the ring, I have already won or lost it outon the road. The real part is won or lost somewhere faraway from the witnesses-behind the lines, in the gym andout there on the road long before I dance under thoselights.”
–Muhammad Ali

“Happiness is the full use of your powers along lines ofexcellence in a life affording scope.”
–John F. Kennedy

Virtual Ski School Members are getting an unfair advantage by seeing this lesson on video at

I can remember watching some of the great barefootersof my time, and I specifically remember the first time I sawa back toe-up start. It was incredible. The skier was under water being dragged by his foot in the strap. Then he emerged from the water, planted one foot which created abeautiful plume of water which cleared to show he was skiingwith no hands and on one foot! Amazing! It seemed so

I am here to tell you that it is not impossible. It is simply a matter of baby steps which if you choose to follow, you willbe the one performing this incredible start!

I originally learned this start because I was not able to performa backwards toe-hold. I thought if I learned the start then I would already have my foot in the strap which had to be easier,right? Please do not follow my youthful ignorance. The correctbaby steps are; learn to go backwards, learn back one-foots,learn your backwards toe-holds, learn to ski “Bouncy Trouncy”like Tigger the Tiger, and THEN learn your backwards toe-up start!

The good news is that the back toe-up takes very little strength. Unlike the front toe-up which takes really good abdominal strengthas well as explosive leg strength, the back toe-up is much moretechnique.

The bad news is that it can be a little abusive. But if you are even close to being qualified to learn this start, you will be pumped whenI demystify this start for you!

Here we go. I definitely recommend using a good front toe hold likethe one I use (Front-Toe Handle – B219) which you can get in myPro Shop at This start as well as all other starts are much easier in a dry suit

Keep your boom very high. I recommend learning with the boom higher than your head would be if you were barefooting forwards! This allows for an easier foot plant!

There are two ways to perform this start. One is to start on your stomach, and the second method is to start on your back like a front toe-up and then roll over. I will concentrate on the easier method, but I show both as well as the long line method on this weeks Virtual Ski School video.

First, make sure that you place your ankle as deep in the strap aspossible to prevent slippage. As the boat idles, relax your upperbody and then take a deep breath. Next, roll onto your stomach as the boat accelerates at a medium acceleration to a speed that is a little slower than your back one-foot speed.

I highly recommend planting your foot around 20mph. To plant your foot properly, you must have it straight up and down (heelover toes) with your ankle flexed into the correct Ultra Mega Glide position which I talk about on my positions page at (see picture #10).

Bring your foot down slowly, but deliberately directly beneath the rope by setting your toes in first. The key to getting your foot in the water correctly is a two part motion with your hands and hips.As soon as you are ready to plant your foot, push down on your hands as you push your butt up in the air exactly how we do when we are getting into the Power Band Position for the backwards deepwater start!

This is critical to getting enough clearance between the water and your hips. The higher you can get your hips, the easier your foot will go into the water. As soon as your foot touches, you must keep
your hips moving up, you hands pressing down, and your knee relaxed in order to keep your foot from skipping out.

Once you feel you foot starting to settle into the Ultra Mega GlidePosition, continue to let your knee compress as your hips align over your foot.

The next really big tip is not to raise your hands off the water until you are very comfortable in your glide. When you feel ready, start to create the proper “angle” necessary (see my article, “Angles
and Ankles
” at my Trauma Center (

Continue to arch up by pulling your shoulders back over your footwhile arching into perfect upper body posture. It will be helpful to keep your “thumbs by your armpits” as we do in our normal back toe position! If you keep reaching down with your hands for too long, you will not be able to align your balance into theproper back toe position!

I am expecting a miracle for you! Please let me know about your success!