Subject: Monday, October 18, 2004 Winter Haven, Florida: The
Front Step-off Method of Barefooting.
“You’ve got to believe deep inside yourself that you’re destinedto do great things.”
Joe Paterno, College football Coach and athletic Director.
Even though stepping off of a ski to learn to barefoot is aboutas old school as a can get, there’s still seems to be a highdemand to learn how to safely perform the front step-off method. Although I am happy to teach you how to learn this method, I cannot emphasize enough that this is not the
preferred method to learn how to barefoot waterski. The safest way to learn how to barefoot waterski can be found on my website at http://www.thefootersedge.com/traumacenter/index2.htm
under “First-time Barefooters.”
Why would anyone want to learn the front step-off method if itis not the safest way to learn? With the advent of figure 8 skiing and show skiing, there’s an increasing demand to learnthis old school method. My recommendation is to learn to barefoot water skiing in the method that I’ve described above, and then learn the front step-off method.
Having proclaimed my disclaimer, I’m going to give you some tipsthat will keep you safe and bring you success.
First of all, learn your first front step-off directly on the boom. The boom should be at head height. The boat speed should be at the slowest possible speed that you are comfortable slaloming at. (If you happen to need the best barefoot boom at the best price with free shipping, please goto my pro shop athttp://www.thefootersedge.com/equipment/index.html)
The most important thing to remember when beginning your frontstep-off is to maintain the proper upper body posture withrelaxed arms. What you definitely want to avoid is gettingbend over as you are trying to step out of the ski.
As a reminder, the proper body position should be thought of ina top–to–bottom form;
Relaxed arms and hands.
Practice skiing in this position at the slower slalom speed.The key your success, is going to be getting comfortable inthis position at the slower speed so that you are ready for thefaster bare footing speed.
One to become comfortable at this speed and with this position,it is now time to remove your back foot from the rear of theslalom ski and gently place it in the water slightly in frontof your foot in the ski.
Although it will be tempting to increase your speed at thispoint, the best way to master this step-off safely is to masteryour body position while your foot is in the water at theslower into speed.
Now that you have mastered this stage, it is now time toincrease the boat speed and step out of the ski. “But Lane,this is the hardest part. This is the part that I actuallyneed help with,” you say.
Fear not young barefooter. The answer to your problem lies inyour form, your relaxed arms, and my “scissor-step” methodof getting rid of the ski.
First of all, let’s get one thing straight. If you are lessthan 150 pounds, you should not be stepping out of the ski anyfaster than 32 mph. If you are between 150 and 200 pounds,make sure that your top speed does not exceed 35 miles an hourwhile learning this method on either the boom or the 5 foot
rope on the boom. For the long line, add no more than 2 milesan hour. If your over 200 pounds, at 2 miles an hour to theabove speeds.
Excessive boat speeds cause tremendous problems and great pain.Do not be suckered into this knuckle — head method of usingspeed to solve problems.
After you have your correct barefoot position for the foot inthe water, slowly increase the speed half way between yourslalom ski speed and your barefoot speed. At this point, donot accelerate any further. Make sure that your foot in the water is very stable with the water line slightly behind the
ball of your foot. Once this position feels stable, it is timeto learn the “scissor step” by allowing the foot in the ski to slowly move further backwards until the toes of the foot in theski are way behind the heel of the foot in the water.
Practice riding this position while maintaining the correct bodyposition, soft knees, and relaxed arms. Make sure that you donot let your feet go too wide. Once you have mastered this position, you can increase your boat speed to your barefootspeed, allowing the foot in the ski to go so far back that only
the toes are left in the binding or on the ski.
Although you will be tempted to immediately release the skihere, the wise man will practice riding this position safelywithout releasing the ski. Once you have mastered the skill, you now will possess all the skills necessary to step out ofthe ski safely.
I highly recommend using a ski without a rear binding or a heelpad on the front binding. If you’d like to purchase the
Official Figure 8 Step off Ski, go tohttp://www.thefootersedge.com/equipment/index.html
Good luck with this classic old school start and please keep meupdated of your success.