Whether you’re just trying it out as a recreational activity or planning to pursue it as a serious water sport hobby, water skiing is tons of fun. But it’s also a challenge to get the hang of, so it’s important to take the time to learn proper techniques. And remember, some techniques are different for two-ski and single-ski water skiing, so be sure to figure out which you’ll be doing before you start studying.
Of course, as with any sport—and any activity on the water—there’s also considerable potential for injuries while water skiing. Get acquainted with the crucial safety tips for beginner water skiers found below, and please take them to heart.
Have a great time!
Advice for Novice Water Skiers
- Master the hand signals used to communicate between skier and boat operator in water skiing and other water tow sports; these indicate things like “speed up,” “slow down,” “I’m OK,” “let me back in the boat,” “make another loop,” and other important concepts
- Use them!
- Have a spotter in the boat who isn’t operating it to keep an eye on the skier
- Never water ski without wearing a personal flotation device
- Never water ski under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Only ski when there’s adequate daylight to see everything clearly
- Stay away from docks, rocky outcroppings, swimmers, boats, other people being towed, buoys, and other potential hazards in the water
- Don’t water ski in shallow water or areas where there may be rocks, debris, or other dangers under the surface
- Thoroughly check over your skis for any damage before use, and inspect the towropes, bridles, and handles for frays or other damage; never go out with damaged equipment
- When water skiing with a partner, make sure both sets of ropes are the same length
- Don’t ever put any part of your body through the towrope handles or wrap the ropes around any part of your body
- If you’re on two skis, grip the handle with both palms facing down; if you’re on one ski, grip the handle like a baseball bat
- Wait until you’re completely ready with ski tips up and all slack out of the towropes before giving the start signal
- Maintain the cannonball body position with knees together before popping up; use the momentum of being pulled to easily get onto your feet
- Rise to the position of being seated in a chair, with your arms straight out, knees flexible, hips beneath your shoulders, and head looking straight ahead at the boat
- Remain alert and aware of your surroundings at all times
- Stick to speeds that fit your experience and comfort level (as a general guide, skiers weighing between 100 and 150 pounds should not exceed 18 mph on two skis or 24 mph on one ski; skiers between 150 and 180 pounds should not exceed 21 mph on two skis or 27 mph on one ski; skiers weighing more than 180 pounds should not exceed 24 mph on two skis or 32 mph on one ski)
- Never ski right in front of another boat or other watercraft
- Bend your knees and keep them flexible when crossing the wake to absorb the shock
- If you’re going to fall, try to fall backwards or to the side; forward falls are the most dangerous
- If you fall and there are other boats around, raise one ski halfway out of the water to mark your presence
- When you’re getting tired, end your session; skiing when fatigued increases your chances of injury to yourself and others
- Turn the motor off whenever a skier is entering or exiting the boat
- Don’t neglect sun protection!