How to start waterskiing


25 years ago there was no way you could become the best water skier around, but most people wakeboard now. Meaning, if you’re just starting, there is a chance you could be the hottest water skier on your lake. Of course, you’ll have to get started first. How do you do that? Below, we’ve outlined everything a beginner needs to know.


The essentials are a boat, a tow-rope, a PFD, a wakeboard, a driver, and a spotter. The The type of skis you choose will influence how quickly you learn as well. Skis that are appropriate for your height, weight, and skill level are recommended. Your local water ski retailer will be able to point you in the right direction. There are skis specifically designed for children as well.


Do you need to take lessons to learn to water ski? Well if you, the driver, or anyone else with you has never done it before, than the answer is probably yes. A trained instructor will help you avoid any dangerous situations and have you skiing with proper technique and form.

Hand signals

Before you get on the water, establishing hand signals with the driver and spotter is essential. The signals should be clear—especially for stopping. While you can come up with your own unique set of signals, here are a few universal ones, so you can be sure everyone is on the same page.

The spotter will communicate your directions to the driver, so the driver can keep his eyes on the water ahead.

Getting up

While dock starting is a great way to avoid cold water, generally, deep water starts are easier for beginners.

Once you’re in the water with your skis and lifejacket on and the tow rope in your hands, it’s time to get serious. Start with the handle between your knees. Keep your knees bent up to your chest with the skis about shoulder width apart and parallel to each other. Signal the driver to start once you’re ready. Keep your arms straight, and as the boat picks up speed, the skis will begin to plane on the surface of the water. Keep your knees bent through the entire process. Once your skis are on top of the water and are horizontal you can stand up, but maintain your straight arms and slightly bent knees.

Try to look at the boat or the horizon to maintain balance, not down at your skis.

Keep your weight as balanced as possible between your two skis. As you get more comfortable you can try small turns. Do this by putting a bit more weight on your right ski to turn right and your left ski to turn left. Doing so slowly and gradually will build your confidence and skill.


Instructors of just about any sport will tell you that if you aren’t falling, you aren’t learning. Falling while waterskiing is inevitable. The key is to let go of the rope when you do and have faith that your PFD will keep you afloat. The next step is to make sure you get up and try again!