Children And Boats: Teach Them How To Water-Ski

Another crash, more tears; we’ve all seen people trying vailiantly to teach their kids how to waterski. They crash and burn everytime they try to stand up. Meanwhile the parents in the boat get more and more frustrated.
When we see this, we think to ourselves “no way” if one of our kids asks us to teach him how to water-ski. Believe it or not, teaching your kids to ski is a good way to get them more interested in the family boat. Our dad used the following steps to teach my brother and I how to ski, so I used these steps to teach my son how to ski.

The first thing to look at is the boat. You have to put yourself in the child’s place. A 200 hp boat can be very intimidating to the child. I learned behind a 14′ boat that had a 50 hp outboard and to me that seemed huge. A 12′ boat with a 35 hp engine is probably big enough. I’ve even seen pictures of people skiing behind a jet-ski.

The actual procedure for teaching a child can be broken down into two parts with several steps in each part

Part I Training

1.) The first step of my course eliminates the boat altogether and therefore the intimidation factor. The child should be in shallow water, close to shore. Ski ropes are usually around 200 ft. long, so at least two adults (more is even better) should hold one end on the shore while the rest of the rope is stretched out into the water to the child.

2.) For the child, one of the hardest parts of skiing is learning to control the skis while sitting in the water. For this step, an adult should get in the water to help the child get the skis on and help hold the skis up until the launch takes place.

The adult helping the child should probably wear a life jacket too, even if he is a good swimmer. He will be busy helping the child, so he shouldn’t have to worry about keeping his head above the water.

3.) Once the child has his skis ready, then the adults on the shore should pull the rope taunt and get ready to run. At this point, it is important to impress upon the child that he is in control. The pullers don’t go until the child screams for them to run.

4.) Once he is stable, the child should yell at the adults onshore to run! The adult in the water should tell the child to pull the tails of his skis up towards his rear end. Then, he should be told that after he pulls up the tails of his skis, he should stand up. At this point, it should be easy to stand up because of the pull on the rope. This pull will tend to make the child lean forward, which should make it easy to stand.

5.) The child should be pulled ashore several times. There is no substitute for experience . I remember being pulled into shore as being a lot of fun!

6.) On the last few pulls, the child should be instructed in making simple turns away from the centerline of the pull. The child should be told that if he puts more of his weight on the left ski, he’ll turn to the right. Conversely. if he puts more of his weight on the right ski, he will turn toward the left. These turning skills will be necessary when being pulled behind the boat.

Part II The Moment of Truth

Before the first tow with the boat, the child and the boat driver should talk about what is going to happen. At this time, the child will be very nervous, so it is important that he feels like he is in complete control of the situation. The main source of his nervousness will be the fear that he doesn’t have control over the boat.

1.) The first tow behind the boat should start with the child once again in shallow water with an adult helping him to get set. This first trip behind the boat should be planned out extensively by the child and the driver. For the first time, the boat should make a small circle and slow down to a stop where it started. This will allow the child to slowly sink back into the water while still holding onto the rope. I’ve seen a lot of people crash after letting go of the rope.

2.) The child and the driver should have a pre-arranged signal in case the child wants to keep going. This signal could be as simple as pointing one thumb up while holding on to the rope.

A few other tips for the first tow:

a) Tell the child to stay inside the boat’s wake, so the boat can cut a path through the waves. The boat doesn’t really cut down the waves very much, but if you tell the child that it does, it will help him relax.

b) The driver and the observer should be the only ones in the boat so it makes the smallest waves possible.

c) Ski in the morning when the water is at its smoothest.

The above techniques could be used with a small adult also, but you may need more bodies for pulling on the rope. If you use these techniques with children, you and your children will have far less frustration and far fewer tears on the part of the kids. The best part is; once you teach them to ski they will be anxious to go on family boat trips. They might even wash the boat!