Guide: Waterskiing hand signals

By Pat LynchPat Lynch


Photo by iStockphoto/Thinkstock

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No matter what you use for hand signals, the spotter, the skier, and the driver need to be able to visually communicate with each other. And while your family may have its own unique set of gestures, a number of universal hand signs are out there to help all the players stay on the same page once the boat is in motion.


HandSignals10 1

Thumbs up

“Faster, please. I’m ready to skip like a stone across the water.”



Thumbs down

“Whoa, Nellie! This is way too fast, even for me and my amazing ski skills. Slow down!”



Point right

“Um, can you turn the boat right to avoid that oncoming steamship? Thanks.”



Point left

“Did I say right? I mean turn left, turn left!” 



Driver’s arm up, making circles with hand and forearm

“We’re going to be turning around. Get ready for the keyhole, and get back in the wake, cool guy.”



Circular motion with upraised hand

“There’s a party goin’ on ’round here! Take me for another loop, please.”



Patting head (while skiing)

“Take me home, I’m toast. Back to the dock, please.”



Bent arms, forming a circle over the head (after a wipeout)

“I’m okay. Just had an unexpected enema, but I’m not hurt.”



Okay signal

“As Buckwheat once said, ‘O-tay!‘ This is just right. Keep on cruising at the same speed, Daddy-O.”


Illustrated by Michael Cho

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