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8 Slalom Water Skiing Drills to Elevate Your Performance

In every sport, athletes dedicate a significant amount of time to practicing drills as an essential part of their training. Slalom water skiing is no different, skiers can benefit greatly from incorporating drills into their routine to reinforce fundamental moves and improve their skills. However, many water skiers have neglected drills in favor of other off-water training activities.

While some skiers focus on gym workouts, stretching, and similar exercises, on-water drills are often overlooked. Part of the reason might be the time and cost constraints, as skiers often have limited access to their own boats and need to pay for expensive ski site sessions.

Here are some easy drills that can help enhance your slalom water skiing abilities:

If you are serious about becoming a top slalom water skiing performer, you’re going to need more than a vague desire to outshine your buddies. What you need is a step-by-step plan that builds foundational skills and then allows you to combine those skills into a seamless, flawless slalom technique. To help you become the slalom skiing master, we’ve put together some simple exercises that I’ve been taught and used over the years, each designed to create and reinforce one or more of the fundamentals of slalom skiing.

As with most sports, the key to these exercises lies in regular practice. Devote several days a week to practicing these drills and you should see dramatic improvements in your slalom water skiing performance within a couple of weeks. Keep at it through the summer and you might just become the best skier on the lake before the leaves turn.

In every sport, athletes spend a lot of time practicing drills and techniques to improve their skills, and slalom water skiing is no exception. Incorporating drills into your routine can reinforce fundamental moves and make you a better skier. Unfortunately, many water skiers overlook on-water drills, maybe due to time and cost constraints, opting for off-water exercises like gym workouts and stretching instead.

As a water skier and waterski coach with over 20 years of experience, below are some easy step-by-step drills that can boost your slalom skiing:

Step One: Focus on developing a solid slalom foundation. Maintain the correct stance and body position: distribute your weight over the ski (50/50 on each leg), keep a slight little forward bend in your knees and ankles, shoulders back, arms down, chest up proud, and eyes focused on the horizon. Start each of your practice sessions by skiing in this position.

Slalom waterskiing stance. Watersports Warehouse, Cape Town

Step Two: Learn to generate speed by leaning to the side of the boat. This drill teaches you how to get the ski on edge and use body position to turn the boat’s forward pull into angular motion. Practice this on both sides of the boat, pulling out from the wakes and holding that position until it feels comfortable.

Slalom waterskiing lean. Watersports Warehouse, Cape Town

Step Three: Master the pull-out drill to free yourself from the boat’s pull and get into the coasting position. Start just outside the wake in a strong stance, lean over to put the ski on edge, and hold a progressively harder edge until you’re well outside the wake. This momentum will allow you to coast free from the boat’s pull.

Step Four: Next, combine the pull-out, coast, and lean-in elements and add crossing the wakes. Maintain a strong body position while crossing the wakes, with arms straight and down close to your vest. Repeat the coast-and-lean sequence after crossing the wakes to enhance your skills.

Slalom waterskiing wake crossing. Watersports Warehouse, Cape Town

Step Five: Initiate the lean-in as the ski slows to the boat’s speed. Rotate your lower body toward the wakes, staying upright with elbows at your vest, and use your lower body to generate ski angle behind the boat. This drill helps you prepare for the first cut without necessarily crossing the wakes yet.

Step Six: As you cross the wakes, the boat will try to pull the handle and your arms away from your body. Use your shoulders to maintain direction outward while keeping the handle close to your body for a smooth, controlled release.

Step Seven: Practice on land to reinforce the various elements of your slalom skiing technique. Hook the slalom handle to an immovable object and visualize each component of the slalom run. This dry-land practice helps you focus on corrections without distractions.

Slalom waterskiing on land lean drill. Watersports Warehouse, Cape Town

Step Eight: Free skiing combines all the individual slalom drills into a smooth rhythm. Aim for a series of slower, smoother turns rather than overly aggressive ones you can’t maintain. The more you ski, the better you’ll become.

With dedication and regular practice, you can dramatically improve your slalom water skiing performance and become a great slalom skier. So hit the water, enjoy the journey, and keep skiing to master the art of slalom water skiing!

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