Breaking in a new driver?

jwroblewjwroblew Posts: 143 Baller
edited June 2012 in Technique & Theory
How do you guys break in a new driver? We have a couple of members at our club and only two what I would consider good drivers capable of pulling shorter line skiing. I have talked to and road with a couple of other members and tried talking to them and they're better but not great. Do some people just have a natural talent while others no matter how much instruction wont get it? We had a new guy join last week and we decided to give him a shot driving, he skies 22' off and has been driving at other locations for about 5 years. I had one of the good drivers ride while he drove. I planned on just running back to backs of my opener and my next pass, while the passenger checked out his path and gave him some tips. He was so far away from me at 32' it was way harder than my 35's. So do you guys make new drivers pull long line skiers only, or what?


  • Razorskier1Razorskier1 Posts: 3,425 Mega Baller
    Takes patience. At least you have someone in the boat with them. My wife learned to drive by herself in the drivers seat with me yanking her all over the course. We've been married 23 years. She turned into one of the best drivers I know, and has pulled me through 38 off on multiple sites.

    My son is 19. He started driving at 15 with my wife in the boat to help him. He turned into a good driver quickly. He has also now pulled me through -38 at multiple sites.

    IMO, you just need a coach in the boat and someone willing to be the test skier. They will only get better with repetition.
    Jim Ross
  • skibugskibug Posts: 1,978
    Time behind the wheel (preferably with an experience driver in the boat) is the key. There is something to be said for having "talent" or a natural feel for driving; but, time behind the wheel will make up for most of the difference. Agreed that driving the course w/o a skier will help you get centered and your reference points aligned. Starting with longer line skiers is a good approach.

    The one thing I realized over the years is that I have a harder time pulling a 28 - 32 mph skier rather than a 34 - 36 mph skier. The boat doesn't repond as well at the slower speeds and it is harder to "place" the boat where you need it based on the skiers pending load (i.e. feeling the skier and getting in sync).
    Bob Grizzi
  • Jody_SealJody_Seal Posts: 2,434 Mega Baller
    First thing is to turn the mirror up so as he cant watch the skier. many up and coming drivers tend to want to watch a short line skier especially if he or she is real short.
    Time in the boat is crucial, the driver needs confidence that he or she can pull the shorter line skiers and that will only come with time at the wheel. Don't discourage but yet be honest as to his or her driving skills. Also their are those that have aspirations but as hard as they try they just don't get it, find them other things to do in the boat sometimes they make pretty good ski partners they just cant drive a boat well.
    Pulling a broad range skiers as well as speeds and line lengths will over time help get a driver in the in the groove also try and get your driver with a established driver from time to time. And remember their are no stupid questions! The only stupid question is the one that is not asked!
    Hobby Boats can be expensive when the hobbyist is limited on their own skill and expertise.

  • KlundellKlundell Posts: 432 Open or 55K Rated Skier
    My wife has turned into a really good driver. I have a training partner and we usually drive for each other. We had my wife pull us through 28 & 32 while the passenger watched and coached and then we would switch drivers for 35 when it really started to matter. We did this for probably at least a 100 sets before she started pulling 35. I thought this was a great way for her to get the feeling of driving without anyone getting frustrated. She is now pulling me through 38.
  • ralral Posts: 1,693 Mega Baller
    The most important thing for a new driver is to be able to listen and change what is wrong. That, in my view, is where many fail. They do not accept positive criticism, as they either do not like or are not ready to take it.

    Make them aware of the need to listen and incorporate feedback in their driving. Having said that, new drivers should avoid pulling shortline high maintenance (read a#$hole) skiers that will throw the handle and curse if they feel the boat is not aligned at the pre-gates....
    Rodrigo Andai
    [Deleted User]
  • rodltg2rodltg2 Posts: 1,051 Crazy Baller
    In my limited experience it seems easier to drive good shortline skiers than longer line skiers. I fall into the latter! Am I wrong?
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,660 MM Trick Skier / Eccentric Person
    With ZO it's not a factor. Push the throttle and aim at the other end. I try to have as many people pull me as I can so they get the experience and confidence to drive me regularly.

    16.95 in the middle of the course. What else is there?

  • BoneHeadBoneHead Posts: 5,920
    With ZO, we're no longer drivers. We're aimers.
    Shane "Crash" Hill

  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 5,658 Mega Baller
    I think it is all about time on the water. Experience is huge when it comes to driving shortline. @ral and @jody_seal raised good points. First the drivers need to listen and take coaching when it comes to driving just like they would when it comes to skiing. Second particularly for short line you can't be looking in the mirror. Once the rope hits 35 I only use the mirror for when they get up and I don't look in it again until after the exit gates.
    Mark Shaffer
  • webbdawg99webbdawg99 Posts: 1,067 Mega Baller
    I think a big part of being a good driver is not only being responsive to whats happening with the skier, but also being able to ANTICIPATE what is going to happen. For example, knowing at 1-3-5 you're going to want to steer a little left to compensate.....and a little right at 2-4-6. I like the phrase, "give the skier the ass end of the boat". I think getting this technique down and being able to time it appropriately, with the right amount of correction, is a big part of being a good driver. And as already mentioned before, this can only come with time behind the wheel!
  • Jody_SealJody_Seal Posts: 2,434 Mega Baller
    I don't think that Anticipate is a good word for this situation. Asking a new driver or any driver to anticipate a tug or pull from a skier is not quite what a diver should do. Again it goes back to seat time and having an innate feel for driving short line slalom, Anticipating what A skier will do can cause a short short line skier problems and has a propensity to get out of sink with the skier. I think more of a heads up feel and reaction is a better description of what a driver should try and accomplish for their skier, However over reaction also has a propensity to cause a problem. Relax and get your swerve on, try not to over react and just get some seat time. Pay attention and remember that the person on the end of the string is your main concern.
    Hobby Boats can be expensive when the hobbyist is limited on their own skill and expertise.

  • ScarletArrowScarletArrow Posts: 767 Crazy Baller
    I think there is some natural talent to it.

    Some guys just don't get it no matter how much instruction you give.

    Either they don't care or just not focused enough.

    I think what the driver does out of the course is just as important and ultimately a reflection of what they will do in the course.

    I think a long(er) line skier can drive well.

    I regularly pull guys 32, 35 and 38...I think the shortest I've pulled someone is 4 at 39.

    At our lake, most of the drivers are pretty much interchangeable.

    Sure, some are better than others - but the difference is nominal and all are capable of pulling someone shortline.
    Anthony Warren
  • jwroblewjwroblew Posts: 143 Baller
    @rodltg2 I think it is easier to drive a short line skier, the pulls and timing always seem to come in the right spot, plus the boat tracks better at 34 and 36, were as long line skiers tend to be all over the map on pulls and timing plus the boat drives like a tank at slower speeds.

    @webbdawg99 and @jody seal, I think anticipate may not be a good word either, I think a good driver is more of a proactive one, rather than a reactive one. If a driver is ready for the hit the correction will be softer and when its needed, not hard and late.

    At my club it's interesting to see who is willing to let the new guy drive for them. It's usually the short line skiers that are willing to have the newbie pull them. After my set last I got back to the dock and the guy who skies at 32mph said "I will never let that guy drive for me" I'm always going to let new people drive for me for a couple of reasons, 1) they're never going to get better if they don't drive, 2) you never know what you're going to get at a tournament, 3) skiing behind a bad driver is better than not skiing at all.
  • lakeaustinskierlakeaustinskier Posts: 336 Solid Baller
    Give the skier 100% of your mental attention by actively engaging your mind during the pass (no daydreaming, turn off the cell phone etc.) Get senior drivers in the boat with you to give you feedback on your driving. Funny how if you can't be coached in driving you can't be coached in the course.
    Ted Thomson, Austin Texas, Aquaplex
  • GAJ0004GAJ0004 Posts: 1,054 Baller
    My brother and I taught my sister-in-law to drive the boat for the course before I had perfect pass installed. It takes a few times out for someone to catch on. The best way to break in a new driver is to get a skier who pulls the boat all over the place. I am the only one on my lake who is willing to ski behind a new driver. But I give them pointers before I get behind the boat. Most people I teach catch on quick.
    Gary Janzig Streetsboro Ohio, skis at Lake Latonka, Mercer Pennsylvania slalom,trick,kneeboard,barefoot
  • webbdawg99webbdawg99 Posts: 1,067 Mega Baller
    edited June 2012
    @OB Makes perfect sense to me. However, according to some others on the thread, "anticipate" is not a good word.....although I still can't figure out why....
  • WishWish Posts: 7,335 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    @lakeaustinskier said

    Funny how if you can't be coached in driving you can't be coached in the course.

    Amen brother!! I ski with one of those. You give specific feedback and they respond with...ya but if I just do/work on...fill in the blank...that will help.

    @OB never thought of it that way. Cool.
    >>> 11.25..a different kettle of fish. <<<
  • skibugskibug Posts: 1,978
    @OB, that hits the nail on the head, both from the skiers perspective and the driver. I pull my ski partner through 38 at least twice a day and then into 39, deep on some days. It is the only way I can get better as the "driver" part of the team.

    @ScarletArrow said:

    "I think what the driver does out of the course is just as important and ultimately a reflection of what they will do in the course."....that is dead nuts on as well.

    The pull up, the drop, the speed and path around the island, the set up leading to the all make a difference. What I have also found is that those aspects of driving outside of the course can vary skier to skier. I believe in asking the skier about the way they want to be pulled up, do they ride the inside or outside of the wake around the turn, do they need a little more or less "whip" in the drop, etc.
    Bob Grizzi
  • T-fromTOT-fromTO Posts: 110 Baller
    I don't have tons of experience with driving so I have dumb question. What would you do differently when swinging out a very short line skier at the end of the course to drop? I am worried that I would get the amount of swing wrong or not slow down the boat fast enough and the rope would get pulled out of the skier's hands. I imagine one would have to be more precise with the boat's movements when the rope is so short, no?
    Teresa Wiwchar, Skiin' on my own damn lake!
  • RichardDoaneRichardDoane Posts: 3,981 Mega Baller
    shorter line skiers need less "whip", just remember to always keep the skier in your sights during drops, and don't be afraid to ask for feedback from the skiers you pull
    BallOfSpray Pacific Northwest Vice President of Event Management, aka "Zappy"
  • jwroblewjwroblew Posts: 143 Baller
    edited June 2012
    @webbdawg99 & @OB, I think we are splitting hairs when we talk about anticipate. I think anticipation is good as long as your not anticipating a hit from the skier and when it doesn't come, your away from the skier so much that they can't finish their turn properly.

    I wish I was a better skier so it doesn't matter, but I still need a descent driver to run 35' and a good one to run 38'
  • auskierauskier Posts: 448 Baller
    there is a difference in anticipating and being proactive. I say being proactive as a negative thing - thinking you know what the skier will do and acting before you should or want to.
    Ive towed skiers through through 38 and 39 @ 36 and its a different league from most of my driving at 32mph up to -35. EVERY movement you make is critical and being 'in sinc' is a must to not hurt the skier. If you are not aware about where the skier is, when they are loaded with the boat etc etc then you will likely be doing a lot of things wrong.
    Toby Daff
  • jwroblewjwroblew Posts: 143 Baller
    I've pulled some pretty short line stuff too and your right it's a whole different ball game the level of concentration is unreal. I don't know how the guys pulling pro events can sit in the boat all day and drive and not be exhausted at the end of the day. All though if you do it enough I guess it becomes second nature.
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,660 MM Trick Skier / Eccentric Person
    I've pulled a lot of deep shortline skiers. Hand driving made it a huge challenge. PP Classic made things a bit easier but more technical to get the right times. ZO is a no brainer. Steering straight with any of the boats of the last 15 years is straightforward. Driving in practice is overrated.

    Tournament driving is a different game. The attention to details, the differences in the lakes and the boat nuances offer unique challenges. Plus, powering so many different skiers through the list to keep the tournament running smoothly is a challenge in itself. I have huge respect for the rated drivers. Thanks.

  • Razorskier1Razorskier1 Posts: 3,425 Mega Baller
    Great thread. I feel like I've become a decent driver, but I only pull about 3-4 different people most of the time, and I know exactly how they ski. Pulling any of them I feel like a rock star. That's the easy part. I agree with @eleeski that the tournament driver faces a whole different challenge. You have to pull every speed and rope length under the sun, and a combination of people who barely move the boat all the way up to those who yank it all over the place.

    Also, if a skier is in trouble, then it can get tough. Like I told @richarddoane when I was skiing (like crap) at Radar Lake -- if you feel like I'm late out of a buoy, be ready for me at the next one, cuz I'm going to hit you! Drivers that understand these nuances and respond appropriately are the difference between running a tough pass and splashing down.
    Jim Ross
  • h2oskih2oski Posts: 176 Baller
    Drive lots, get feedback from the skiers. When your skier falls, think about where the boat was and what you were doing at that time, did you do anything to cause the fall. If you can video your boatpath pulling skiers, that can be a big help. In tournaments, the skiers first pass will usually tell you quite a bit, although there are a fair number of skiers who are easier on the driver at 35 and shorter than they are at 28 & 32
    Terry Bandel AWSA Regular Judge & Driver
  • @jwroblew we are getting a young kid you may know all trained up for when he gets back home. Because you did such a great job training him on the weedeater I will work on his boat driving for you. :)
  • DustyDusty Posts: 315 Baller
    I think seat time and knowing where the skier is all the time is paramount. To paraphrase- 'smooth is best and best is smooth'. Small corrections, early- It is NOT like jump driving! Avoid a "nervous hand" on the wheel. Ask for skier and observer input. Sooner or later, a skier will crank something hard to correct a mistake or whatever and the boat will not be on the centerline. I may not be able to get it all centered before the next boat guide- so I drive the boat to center as it were, and I try very hard to NEVER countersteer if the skier does not have both hands ion the handle. The boats all drive pretty well these days but they do drive and handle a bit different. The visuals through the windshield are different too. It may take a pass or so with someone yanking around to see how the steering is loaded, and how th eboat responds, etc. Hopefully the skier isn't going off the dock at -35 or so... ;-)
  • BoneHeadBoneHead Posts: 5,920
    @jwroblew There you go! One of the top drivers in waterski sending you back a kid with some wheel training. I know a few we need to send to the Ellers! ;)

    For what it's worth, we had to break in a new driver at our lake this year. I went out and let him pull me as soon as he was comfortable. If you don't let them drive you, they'll never figure it out. The skier and the new driver have to work together. One(the driver) has to be able to take instruction. And the other(the skier and any observer) have to be able to give instruction without getting worked up or condescending. That could have never happened with one of our skiers who will throw the handle at the end of the lake if you don't put him in about a 6x6 box on the water. The big thing was telling the new driver how and where to put the skier in the pullout and setdown. It's amazing how much easier the skier is on the driver if the driver pulls him out right and sets him down right. Now, 3 months later he's doing a great job and drives a pretty darn good path. I wouldn't put him out there with our Open 41off skier. But he's pulling 35s like a champ. And now our 38 and 39 off guys are starting to be ok with him pulling them. Progress at it's finest.
    Shane "Crash" Hill

  • DustyDusty Posts: 315 Baller
    Hmmm... I thought a 'tantrum' was a wakeboard trick. Stuff happens- wind, debris, loose buoys...- tossing the handle means you're done right? I saw a guy's wife drive away and leave him once- was pretty funny really.
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