“Practice does not make the athlete. It is the quality and intensity of practice that makes the athlete, not just repeated practicing.”
Ray Meyer, College Basketball Coach
Thanks for the e-mail asking what I would personally like to have help with. As for me, I feel comfortable at my current level. I have been using your video and coming along at a good pace. I will be down for personal instruction soon. The area I would like some help is in teaching first time barefooters. I have watched your tape and studied how you use the step off method. I have been able to get my wife up on Dawg Paws holding directly on to the boom off a wakeboard.
Do you think it would be easier for her to learn on her feet doing a step off? I have a Barefoot Nautique (V Drive) and the boom on those is not located in the best position. The boom is also kind of low and there is a good deal of spray. Any help you could offer would be greatly appreciated.
As you know from the video, I used the step off method as the ideal way to teach beginners while on the boom only! The reason why I taught this method is that so many people get injured trying to tumble-up while holding directly on the the boom. The reason for these injuries is two-fold; first, they attempt too many starts and their grip gives out at the worst possible time. This leads to an untimely fall when they knew to hold on, but were unable. The second reason is that after tumbling around, they sit-up too far forward and their feet hit the water in a straight leg position causing their heels to dig in. This also causes a horrendous crash even though they know they will be safe if they do not let go of the boom. The problem is that this crash comes as such a surprise that it crushes them before getting to a safe butt glide position.
Since I published my instructional video, I have changed what I believe the best way to teach a beginner. By far the safest way to teach a beginner is to put them in a swing such as a barefoot slalom handle or even better yet, The Easy Footer (877 685-6270). The Easy Footer allows the skier the ultimate in safety as long as some guidelines are followed that are not included in the video that Mike Seiple ships with it.
#1 Boom Height: with the skier in the handle (sitting like they are on a swing with the handle on their tail-bone), the skier’s butt should be about an inch off the water while the boat is at a stand still. If it is not, adjust your boom height accordingly.
#2 Driving: The driver is responsible for the safety of the skier! As long as the skier knows not to take their hands off of the boom, the driver becomes the one responsible for the skiers safety. If the skier ever catches a toe or looses footing the driver must respond immediately by turning the boat in a direction away from the boom so the skier is lifted out of the water long enough to get back into their posture and glide. The driver may then lower the skier back into the driver using a gentle turn towards the skier until their feet are safely back in the water. A slightly arced boat path is very helpful for getting the boom height right where it is most helpful to the skier.
The worst case scenario is that the skier catches their toe, their feet get swept behind them, and the inattentive driver does not rectify the problem quickly enough by lifting the skier out of the water before the skier gets pulled into the boom. This is especially critical with smaller skiers such as children.
#3 Passengers: Many times passengers think they are helping me out by moving closer to the skier to put the boom lower. This in turn puts more weight on the skiers feet and not so much on the handle that they are sitting on. While this is a good idea in time and with attentive driving, warn the passengers to only help in a coordinated effort to keep the skier safe. The driver calls the shots and should ask for assistance when the boom should be lowered or raised. One thing that I ask of passengers is never to move quickly as this can cause too sudden of a change in the boom height for the skier. Also, I like at least one experienced passenger to carefully watch the skier with me so that if they fall, the passenger then immediately moves away from the boom in order to raise it along with my driving away from the skier to get them quickly out of a bad situation.
#4 Before first attempts: Always go over correct Posture and Glide so that the skier knows what the end position is to look like. Using the instructional video and dry-land practice, carefully go over a perfect Butt Glide and Three-point Position. It is critical that the skier has perfected this on dry-land before attempting it in the swing.
The best way to practice the butt glide is to hold a small Gatorade bottle between the legs as high above the knee as possible. This will keep the skier from opening the knees. Then have the skier extend the legs and lean back a bit until they are balanced on their butt without the use of a handle. Keep the feet and knees no more than six inches off the land (water). This balance point is the key to a great butt glide. This will take some abdominal strength so it is not a bad idea to get the sit-up program in gear. While in the Butt Glide position, practice keeping the handle next to the hips with the knuckles on the skiers’ legs.
To practice the Three-point Position on dry-land, go from handle tucked in to the handle up and out to the top of the knees while sitting forward, raising the knees and bring the heels wide and close to the outside of the hips. If this is done properly, the skier should never lose the bottle between the legs.
Once these steps have been practiced to perfection on land, have the skier sit in the swing and practice the Butt Glide and the Three-point Position in the handle BEFORE taking off.
When you feel the skiers confidence is good, have the skier lean back to a Butt Glide position holding their feet out of the water until you have accelerated enough to get the skier out of the chine spray (from the side of the boat). This speed should not exceed 20-25 mph for adults and 10-15 for small children. (Many times if I think the child is nervous, or if I am really concerned to gain some extra confidence between the skier and I, I simply put the boom high enough to allow the skier to assume a good position while the boat is at an idle. While doing this their should be a constant stream of praise and reinforcement while attending to good position and making sure the skier keeps the water line right below the ball of the foot consistently.) Then have the skier lift their knees without losing the bottle so that they can bring their heels back to their butt in a wide stance. Make sure the skiers’ ankles are fully flexed to keep the ball of the foot from pushing through.
After the skier is comfortable in the Three-point Position, and not before, have the skier squeeze their feet closer and stand to a good position as practiced on dry land.
#1 Major dry-land practice
#2 Be alert with the driving so that at any given moment you can lift the skier out of the water if they catch a toe.
#3 Constantly monitor the attitude of the skier reassuring them that they can stop at any time if they are uncomfortable or nervous. Do not push the skier at this stage! This is simply a confidence outing and the skiers good state of mind (happiness), and most importantly their safety, is quintessential.
#4 Slower is almost always better than faster, when it comes to boat speeds!
#5 A carefully planned outing that has nothing but good vibes is the key to keeping the skier interested in barefooting. Most barefooters are very tough and they try to force toughness on family members and friends who do not appreciate it or do not respond well to it. Remember, it is always better to end the set one pass too early than one pass too late. I know I have been successful when the skier does not want to stop. This is a good thing!
#6 Make sure you have a great boom because this put a tremendous amount of pressure on the boom. The safest boom out there is available for FREE Shipping for my members at our equipment page.
Good luck to you in either learning or teaching someone else to barefoot in this manner which I believe to be the safest when the proper homework is done!
Let me know how you do!! Email me your success stories!
Please help me out and forward this to as many footers or even potential footers as you can. This will help to make this newsletter a BIG success! We want everyone to have a GREAT chance to achieve their own miracles!
I am available to personally help you achieve your skiing goals by calling 877-685-6270 or visit our website @ http://www.thefootersedge.com. Feel free to email me personally with any requests that you have and I will try to make time to help you achieve your true potential!