Subject: Winter Haven, Florida October 10, 2004-
The Different Types of Barefooting
What Does ‘Posture and Glide’ have to do with Show Skiing,
Figure 8 Barefooting, and 3 Event Barefooting?
“A winner does not become despondent over a loss, nor doeshe believe that winning is an outcome reserved for a select few.Rather, he gives his opponent the credit due him, picks himself up,and gets ready to go again.”
–Tom Cousineau, NFL Linebacker
I have had a great fortune of meeting and teaching so manygreat people who enjoy barefooting for many different reasonsand I thought it would be helpful if I explained the difference between the different disciplines of barefooting.
What I have spent the vast majority of my time teaching and promoting is traditional barefooting which is also known as “tournament” or “3 Event” barefooting. My articles have concentrated on teaching others to learn to barefoot in the mostcontrolled conditions available.
Down here in Winter Haven Florida at The Footer’s Edge Training Center, there is a tremendous amount of effort to makesure that I get my students extremely calm water which is freefrom wind chop and the presence of any other boat rollers. The goal is to eliminate any other difficulties or distractions that can slow down the learning process. This type of environmentprovides the ideal water conditions to learn new skills such as those principles I have published on Posture, Glide, and The PowerBand. (See my Trauma Center for these articles and more at
It is in this kind of “Paradise” that the greatest accomplishments aremade in a safe environment that will allow you to become the bestbarefoot water skier on your lake. This is why I tell my students to “Expect a Miracle!” When you combine the power of great information and instruction, a highly motivated student, and great conditions, youcan expect to make tremendous strides.
In the learning environment, we also concentrate on teaching greatdriving skills such as those I have published in previous articles availablein my Free Barefooting Tips E-book at http://www.thefootersedge.com The skills differ for the skill being learned, but the idea is to give the skier every possible advantage by avoiding any conditions which could cause the student to become defensive or fearful. Such conditions include rough water, rollers, excessive boat speed (any speed higher than the minimum speed required for learning that specific skill).
But did you know that there are actually other disciplines in barefooting where the goal is to ski through conditions that would beconsidered far from ideal? Believe it or not there are two recognizeddisciplines within barefoot water skiing where extremely rough conditions are not only the norm, but that are actually sought after in order to test the barefooter’s ability to handleboth rough water and boat rollers of the very worst type.
What type of barefoot water skier would actually want to ski in both wind chop and rough water? There are actually two typesof barefoot water skiing disciplines that train for these most challenging types of conditions;
Show Ski Barefooting and Figure 8 Barefooting
In Show Ski Barefooting, although it would be nice to have glass calm water for the barefooting act, it is normally hampered by the challenge of several boats occupying the water at the same time
which creates an abundance of boat rollers as well as “roll-back” off of any surrounding sea walls, ski jumps, or other various objects surrounding the show circle. And because of the time limitations of the show, it is not possible to wait for the water to calm down.
This usually creates a great challenge to barefooters who pride themselves in being able to perform their barefooting skills in unpredictable conditions without falling. The good news is that the same skills that are learned in perfect conditions (such as those I teach at The Footer’s Edge Training Center) can be applied to these more difficult environments with practice.
A great example of this is with backwards barefooting. When you first learn to backwards barefoot, I would make sure that you do so in perfectconditions making sure you do not have to ski over rough water and rollers.As you perfect your position and your understanding of my “Resistance Theory of Barefooting” (http://www.thefootersedge.com/equipment/definitions_and_theories.html),
you will become more confident in your ability to ski longer without falling in calm water conditions.
If your goal was to be able to perform in a Ski Show, I would then have to help prepare you for the type of driving and conditions which you can expect at when you leave paradise (The Footer’s Edge Training Center).
We would start by introducing you to backwards barefooting in rougher water than is ideal. The idea is to become progressively more comfortable in rougher water until you can handle water that is
quite rougher than would be ideal.
The next progressive step is to practice your backwards barefooting in water that is “rolly polly” (i.e. boat rollers “peppered in”) but not with wind chop. As you get more comfortable with those conditions, you now need to learn to ski in a circle which is commonin show skiing. Learn to barefoot in a circle first with calm conditions and then progress to rougher water and then finally rough water with boat rollers.
In the learning stages I would give the greatest possible advantageby helping you with boat driving. I would help you find the best possible speed that would make you feel the most secure while
performing this skill.
Major Secret: The great part about learning backwards properly is thatonce you have mastered Posture, Glide, and The PowerBand along with my “Resistance Theory of Barefooting”, it is actually easier to go backwards through rough water than itis forwards!
“Why is this,” you ask? When barefooting backwards, you have more of your foot in the water than forwards. In addition, it is easierto get your hips to the handle (Power Band) which makes you feel
more stable..but you do not have to tell your friends this!!!
If you do not believe me, just ask the petite Heller girls, Elaine (13 yrs old) and Shannon (12 yrs old), of Wisconsin who are probably out practicing as I write this! Seeing a young girl performthese skills drives home the point of how these techniques can work for you! You do not have to be some studly guy. You justneed to be trained properly!
The last stage of getting ready for show skiing can be challenging.You will now need to learn to combine the above skills while allowing another boat driver (such as a show ski driver, or dad) to
drive you. This can be frustrating after I have driven you with perfectdriving, but by this time you will be ready.
The key here is to remember to pick a speed that you are very comfortable with since you will not be receiving the ideal pull.Remember, no matter how good your driver thinks he is, you will not be getting the kind of driving you might be most comfortable with while in a show. The main concern of the driver will be his path and speed. You are going to have to be prepared to encounterrollers, rough water, and a curved boat path. If the conditions look more difficult than you have trained, remember to chose a slightlyslower speed so that you can drive through the water instead ofbouncing off the rollers. If you are comfortable with 36mph inyour practices, take one to two mph off of your speed in more
HUGE TIP!!!: Try to prepare for the water conditions that youcannot see (because you are looking backwards) by feeling any surge in the boat (you can feel it through the rope) that may be caused by rollers that the boat is going over. Adjust your resistance,and hip and knee flex as I have taught extensively in my Tigger the Tiger Bouncy Trouncy Skiing approach which you can
read in my Trauma Center at http://www.thefootersedge.com/equipment/definitions_and_theories.html
In Show Ski Barefooting, your goal is to complete your barefooting act so you will need to practice conditions that are equal to or worse than what you expect to have in the show. This way you
will feel like a barefooting machine that can barefoot through anything by the time you have to perform!
Understand that the boat driver’s job is to pull you through the designated path that you should have practiced at a designated speedthat you have requested. He must make sure that you do not hit any skis, floating objects, or anything solid. Your job is to make sure you can handle your routine in the show conditions which you can expect to be difficult.
Of all the show ski clubs that I have helped with their barefooting skills, I have never seen any conditions which would come close to being calm. Therefore, train for rough and rolly water by building up to it as I have described above. But let me also make clear that this is not the place to learn new tricks. Switchback to the learning mode where you have a great barefoot driver who can help you though the process as I have described and incalm conditions where you are not going to be so defensive!
Could there be an even more challenging environment for barefooting conditions? Yes! Welcome to the world of Figure 8 Barefooting where the conditions can even be worse. Although it is not a recognized sport by our governing body(USA Ski Association), it has a huge cult following and a National Championship which is a lot like the “Tough Man”competitions that you see on cable channels.
In this type of barefooting, the skier’s challenge is to barefoot without falling or touching his or her butt to the water while the boat driver literally drives a figure 8 path with the boat.With one skier on each side of the wake in head-to-head heats,the driver hits his own wake by hitting at a 90 degree angle
and at a constant speed (usually 42mph) without any consideration for the well being of the skier (other than to not hit a ski or other object). The last guy standing wins. It is simple to understand but
is a skill that requires practicing..
In order to get good at this type of barefooting, it is now time to throwout everything I have taught you about Posture and Glide and time to practice the Slouch and Plow Method that I describe in my TraumaCenter at http://www.thefootersedge.com/equipment/definitions_and_theories.html
If you like to complain about conditions not being fair or that thewater was too rough or that the boat driver ran you over boat rollersthen do not expect to get any sympathy at this tournament. What you
will get is a kindred respect among fellow barefooters whoknow that it is extremely difficult to barefoot in these most difficultof conditions. If you stand one second longer than the guy or girl
on the other side of the wake, then you will be the winner!
The only way that I know to get better at Figure 8 Barefooting is tosimulate Figure 8 Barefooting conditions. I would start by having your driver drive a figure 8 boat path in calm conditions and at a slowerspeed and then work up to 42mph in variable conditions of bothwind chop and boat rollers. Each person will develop their own unique style for accomplishing this from sitting extremely low to the water with your elbows almost resting on your knees to standing high with wide and stiff legs. Whatever works best is what you should use.
If you can build up to where you can make a figure 8 path withoutfalling, then try learning to do this on either side of the wake. Onceyou have accomplished these skills, you will be ready.
It should also be noted that in Show Ski Barefooting and Figure 8Barefooting, you must be able to perform the “step-off” method of barefooting which I go ever extensively in my 2 hour instructional videowhich you can see a free sample at http://www.thefootersedge.com/videos/index.htm
You can also by the official National Figure 8 Step-off ski in my Pro Shop at http://www.thefootersedge.com/equipment/trainingaids.htm