Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

12" White Stickers
BallOfSpray $5 Donation
BallOfSpray $10 Donation

Building Balance on a Trick Ski?

DefectiveDaveDefectiveDave Posts: 479 Solid Baller
Hey Ballers,

I've been messing around a bit more with my trick ski recently and wanted to get some opinions. My trick ski is an old kidder, but it is size appropriate at around 43" (I'm 160-165 lbs).

I can get up on the ski easily enough and do both side slides, but that's about it. My main problem at this stage is that I'm not well balanced at any point and I never know when I'm going to take a dive. Anyway, I find the side slides boring but I'm not balanced enough yet to complete other tricks. When I work on new tricks I just end up spending too much time in the water and get annoyed. So I'm not past that first steep learning curve yet.

I still work on the simple, beginner tricks, but what I've been doing more often is just skiing around the lake, cutting across the wakes, and sometimes trying to get a little air for fun. I find it more entertaining, I don't spend as much time in the water, and my theory is that I'm building balance and competence on the ski which will help me with other tricks later.

So my question is, is there anything fun I can do on a trick ski (other than the simple, beginner tricks) to build basic balance and competence?


  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 6,060 Mega Baller
    If you access to a slalom course you can run the course on it. My son does that all the time. tricking is hard and takes lots of time keep at it. If you can do a side slide you should be able to do the back in to the wrap position without too much trouble.

    The key is ride the ski a lot. Try to jump the wake, if you have a friend ride doubles or your friend could be on a wakeboard. Anything that will get you more time on the ski will help.
    Mark Shaffer
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,977 Infinite Pandas
    Playing around on the trick ski (or any ski) is absolutely critical. Wake jumps, slashing cuts, snow ski cuts, slalom cuts, sitting down, pulling massive slack, twisting around to look backward, getting up one footed, holding the rope upside down, arm ballet, off foot ballet - basically anything that gets you time on the water is critical. Even better is to get a buddy (or kid) on the water with you and do spray wars or play some other game. Once you get a few tricks, add a trick can be fun. No less than half the time on the water is time that should be spent just playing around.

    Hmmm, I need to spend more time screwing around myself. It's important at any level. I should have at least tried Kirk's SLWLB...

  • gsm_petergsm_peter Posts: 804 Crazy Baller
    Hi Dave.
    I am new to trick skiing as well.
    Am just one trick ahead of you with the two SS and the onside back wrap.
    There are a few new instructual clips on Youtube for real beginers.
    I will try to dig them up.
    I have also posted a clip on Eric recently showing basics.

    I have been told that once one can ski stable backwards several tricks new will come rather easy.
    Keep up the trick skiing, it is more fun than it looks.
    Life is too short not to enjoy every day!
  • DefectiveDaveDefectiveDave Posts: 479 Solid Baller
    Hey guys,

    Those are some good ideas. Seems like the consensus so far is to screw around and have fun until I get better at the basics. Good to see that I've been doing something at least reasonably productive with my time.

    I haven't tried going through the course on a trick ski yet, but I like that idea. I was a bit worried at going through the course so slow as I wasn't sure if it could cause damage. Though I don't see how it could do any more damage than the wave-runners and pontoon boats do already.

    Also, regarding tricks, I don't know the names or the details of many tricks so some of the above was lost on me. Is there a good reference for the various types of tricks?

    What do you mean by arm ballet and off-foot ballet?

    I'll keep an eye out for those videos!
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,854 Mega Baller
    edited June 2015
    When Slalom Skiers Start Tricking...

    There needs to be a book on that subject.

    Basically, slalom skiers who are learning trick typically need to focus on the following:
    1) Get 95% of your weight on your front foot
    2) Ride on top of the ski, without leaning away from the boat
    3) bend your ankles and knees more, get hips lower

    Trick requires a lot more ankle and knee bend. There is a lot more moving up and down.
    Trick requires more pressure on your front foot. Just look at toe trick skiers, they have 100% of their weight on the front foot and the ski will rotate very well. The back foot toe hold is just a convenience for most beginner tricks.
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • gsm_petergsm_peter Posts: 804 Crazy Baller
    edited June 2015

    I have stared a new thread on Instructional Trick Ski Videos for beginners.
    All videos are from youtube

    I also got the very old book
    The complete Instructional book of Water skiing by Joel McClintoc
    Was on Amazon for 1 cent (plus 3,99 shipping)
    The trick section seems to be still valid.

    Keep us updated on your progress?

    Life is too short not to enjoy every day!
  • DefectiveDaveDefectiveDave Posts: 479 Solid Baller
    edited June 2015

    Thanks! Also, I'll try to post some progress eventually. However, I have a feeling that all of my skiing progress is about to come to an abrupt halt, lol. My wife is due with our first child in about 7 days. I'm just squeezing in as much right now as possible.
  • DaveDDaveD Posts: 946 Mega Baller
    At this point Dave, you should be getting all the sleep you can when you're not skiing and bugging @horton for diaper changing tips.
  • bbirlewbbirlew Posts: 180 Baller
    As everyone else already mentioned, just play on it as much as you can.

    Work on jumping wake to wake.

    Try skiing around on one foot and jumping wake to wake on 1 foot (really keeps you centered over your ski).

    Spray wars

    Slippery slalom

    Once you get your back position, spend as much time as you can in that position. Don't be in a rush to turn back forwards. Work on your balance in that position. Cross the wakes, etc.

    most of all, have fun!!

  • jhughesjhughes Posts: 1,089 Mega Baller
    edited June 2015
    I started tricking in the 2009 season and it's been a very slow progression. It's brutal, really. My mind and body do not "get" trick, much like they don't get slalom, I guess. I can manage a clean 500 points but my backs are still maybe 65% successful and each one takes a long time for me to mentally prepare for- I can't string anything together at all without deliberate pauses. It's hard to tell your mind/body that you're about to do something that will cause an end to the ride, deliberately. Haven't gotten over that. Just getting to this point has taken hundreds if not thousands of failures. It takes a certain mindset to fail constantly just to finally get something to click.

    I get all sorts of varying advice from ski schools and much better trickers and it's all over the place. Some will want you to squat down ridiculously which has never made sense to me, and no tricker putting up 10K points is skiing like they have a giant beachball between their legs. They just have a comfortable upright stance with knees pretty close together. Some will say my weight needs to be more on the front foot, some will say it's fine as it is. Again, it's all over the place.

    Most of the people coaching trick, I've found, have been tricking since they were ~5 years old and are very confused by the middle-aged-new-tricker. Their mind cannot even comprehend what they are seeing. When they see me fall on a basic surface trick, it probably blows their mind. These are kids who were doing B2B wraps before they were 10. I cannot even do a reverse back wrap on dry ground! I always tell them that I bet I'm the only 30-something new tricker they've ever seen. I'm always right on that one! I do truly think that Trick is something best learned at a very young age. Starting at age 30 has been really tough. Lots of un-learning.

    YET, I keep trying it. I want to be better at it. I still think it's fun. In my mind I would love to be a good tricker. It's SO slow of a progression though and it's tough when 1 mistake means an entire round of getting back up, getting to speed, getting settled in, then falling again!
  • dchristmandchristman Posts: 1,185 Mega Baller
    @jhughes tenacity is required. You have to want to do it and believe you can do it. Those seemingly super-human trickers had time and energy to spare when they first learned. You may take many falls. You may sometimes get discouraged. Keep at it! We need more trickers!
    Is it time to ski, yet?
  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 6,060 Mega Baller
    @jhughes when those trickers were young they had a more pronounced stance than they do now. Now those guys are just so comfortable on the ski they are in the right spot they have spent thousands of hours on the ski. I do think your basic stance needs to be more on the front foot than a slalom ski and sort of a ballet plea (no idea how to spell what I am looking for) with your knees out somewhat and your ankles flexed.

    It is hard and you spend way more time in the water than you do on a slalom ski. It is the perfect thing to do when it is windy or there are other boats out on public water. That is when I did my tricking as a kid but I am frankly slightly better than you I can run about 1300 points including some basic toe tricks.
    Mark Shaffer
  • ToddLToddL Posts: 2,854 Mega Baller
    Also, keep your boat crew happy. Trick practice sets are painfully boring/long/etc to slalom skiers. The driver has to stop and pick you up often because learning new tricks involve falling a lot. Thus, be overly aware of the boat crew's perception of your trick sets. It's best to be grateful, thankful, and gracious to them. Maybe even offer an additional beer or whatever at the end of the day if you had a particularly long trick set... Anyway, just something to keep in mind. Keep your slalom friends happy when you take trick sets.
    -- The future of skiing depends upon welcoming novice skiers regardless of age to our sport.
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,977 Infinite Pandas
    @jhughes I started tricking at 20, not middle aged but not 5 either. It took me over 30 years to make it to Open. The learning never has to stop. The fun certainly hasn't.

    Small tip, spin to pick up after a fall. Maybe even do show ski pickups where the boat doesn't come off a plane. Obviously make sure that you, your pin person and your driver are together on this or any expedited pickup.

    @Chef23 So wrong! Trick when it's good! And slalom on that front foot too. Plie, with the little thing above the e for the ballet move. Good skiing though.

    Regarding skiing position, try to ski as if the rope isn't there - don't lean on the rope. Instead cut and turn as if you are on a surfboard not a tug of war. While smooth pulls are important, it is surprising how much of the time the good skiers are on a slack rope - especially on landing. Learn to ride on slack and pull without leaning away.

  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 6,060 Mega Baller
    @eleeski when I was a kid there was very little calm slalom course water and I couldn't get priority. My son does trick when it is good now. Tricking is also good when you are a little tired and toes are great when my hands are torn up.

    I like the don't lean on the rope concept and I hadn't thought about much high end trickers having slack line but it seems like they do.
    Mark Shaffer
  • gsm_petergsm_peter Posts: 804 Crazy Baller

    Hmm started after 30....
    I bought my first ever trick ski late last year – at age 56! B)
    I have now almost 25 runs.

    FWIW A beginners trick experiences to other beginners

    I slalom first and then run a shorter trick run.
    Rather efficient training and I get less bored drivers.

    It took me some runs to get up on the ski.
    I gave each run 5 start attempts and then used a drop ski to get some skiing.

    Now, I maximize number of starts (falls ;0) to 10 per run not to get too tired.
    Start by doing my save tricks and do my ‘normally failed tricks’ just before I plan to rest.
    That give me more water time.

    I found out that the SS is best learned just outside the wake.
    Start with onside and when the pull is not centered the rope will pull you in and the wake will push you out.
    The off side SS just outside of the other wake.
    Go into position and back immediately if needed in order not to fall so often.
    Work on stay in the SS longer and longer until you can ski SS 30 seconds any position behind the boat.
    Also try to make them one handed.

    Skiing back is more difficult.
    I try to make many on side back wraps.
    Some folks advice is to train more on the regular back but the BW gives more time on the water standing up so I use a mix.
    Turn back immediately just before I am about to fall.
    If I bend my knees more I can get my handle more center behind my butt.
    I can now ski about 5 seconds in on side BW position.

    The next goal is to ski backwards.
    This is when I will fall so I do this before every rest and just outside the starting-pier.
    I found that it is very important to keep handle close when turning and elbows 90 degrees when riding.
    Look at a spot 10 meters behind you (the ski make a track in the water)
    I can get around but only ski a about 5 seconds.

    How about a beginner trick ski video /knowledge sharing tread?
    Life is too short not to enjoy every day!
  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 6,060 Mega Baller
    @gsm_peter you have some good thoughts in your post. One thing you mention looking at a spot 10 meters behind you. I generally believe you want to keep your eyes up on the horizon or the boat not looking down at the water. If you look down you fall down. You are also right on about keeping the handle close when you are turning the handle should be pretty much brushing your body.

    If you are working on the full back position you want to get your hands right in to the small of your back actually touching your back. When you get in that position bend your ski leg, keep your eyes up and try to hold it. Once you can hold it start trying to cross the wakes.
    Mark Shaffer
  • gsm_petergsm_peter Posts: 804 Crazy Baller
    Thanks for positive feedback.
    I fall backwards when I try to look at the horizon.
    I can try to look a bit higher but it hurts more falling towards the boat so I will do it gradually.

    Trick on
    Life is too short not to enjoy every day!
  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 6,060 Mega Baller
    @gsm_peter if you are falling toward the boat it is probably two things. First you likely have the handle too far away from your back and that is pulling you over. Your hands should be touching the small of your back in the full back position. Second your ski leg is likely too straight or you have too much weight on your back foot.
    Mark Shaffer
  • gsm_petergsm_peter Posts: 804 Crazy Baller
    Thanks again.
    Just back from a trick run (to much waves for sl)
    Tried to focus on look at the horizon and handle close to my back.
    Worked out better. Now I skied plus 100 meters. Backwards.
    I guess that I let the handle out when I get tired and then get a fall.
    Life is too short not to enjoy every day!
  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 6,060 Mega Baller
    As soon as you let the handle away from your back you will get pulled over toward the boat. Nice progress.
    Mark Shaffer
  • BroussardBroussard Posts: 482 Crazy Baller
    Try getting into the back position and skiing around. A drill I use to get beginners to weight their front foot and learn control of the ski is having them remove their back foot and ski around eventually crossing and jumping the wake with one foot.
    Andre Broussard | SkiBama Team Captain | SkiBennetts |
  • DefectiveDaveDefectiveDave Posts: 479 Solid Baller
    edited June 2015
    Great comments everyone! Taking it in a slightly different direction, anyone have any comments on handle control while connected with the boat?

    I haven't yet gone through all of the @gsm_peter video thread and maybe there is something there, but I've mostly observed that I want to keep my arms straight-ish and the handle down as low as I can get it. Obviously there probably isn't a hard and fast rule with more advanced tricks, but this seems to give me the best margin of error at my level.

    Right now my focus while playing around on the trick ski is on handle position (and I'll probably add weight distribution after having read through this thread) while working on balance.
  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 6,060 Mega Baller
    Generally I like to have the handle low with my elbows in somewhat. All this tricking talk made me fish my trick out last night and go for a ride for the first time in a year and a half. My shoulder was bad last season and I wasn't sure it could survive tricking. It was good to be on it again.
    Mark Shaffer
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,977 Infinite Pandas
    Fun discussion!

    Regarding handle position, it is not static. Like knees, your hands have to be very dynamic. You don't force a knee bend and you don't force the handle in or down. (With that said, never let your hands get away from you and go way out - or lock your knees.) I ride with my arms comfortably relaxed to resist the boat's pull. To start a trick, I pull my arms in a bit to accelerate into the boat. Often this involves a bit of a lean away from the boat so before I start a turn I have to level myself back up (come towards the boat by pressure on the front foot (if facing forward)). Once the ski is weighted flat, I start the turn. When the advantage of the little bit of light rope I have tugged for runs out I need to either turn back to front or absorb the shock with my hands (and knees - the whole body dynamic).

    Too many words. PULL, LEVEL, TURN. Then turn out when the rope starts to get too tight.

    In the full back, hands should be fairly high on the back and as close to the back as possible. Lots of elbow bend will make this happen. Don't force the hands low on the back as this will straighten the elbows and make it difficult to absorb any hits from the rope. Bent elbows damp the rope pulls. If you are solid enough in full back, practice pulling and absorbing with the arms while around back. Do it on dry land to get the feel first.

    Sticking reverse backwrap involves some weird hand positions. Popping elbows out or holding the handle down by the knees are tricks to figure out the reverse backwrap. But that is a fairly advanced trick. I do teach a lot of basic kids BB, R without being able to hold the position so do work on the trick regardless of your level. Play with the hand position and you'll find something that works to stick it.

    @Broussard 's idea of one footed skiing is great. If it is too difficult at first, just take your foot out of the back binding and rest it on top. Jump with a two footed take off and land on one. Progress to pulling your foot all the way off in back and turning to front one footed. FWIW, TB is much easier than riding in back with one foot.

    Last, practice everything on dry land. Tie a rope off to a tree or doorknob and figure out the movements. Practicing on a trampoline is even more fun. Have fun building tricks and runs.

  • SBFLSBFL Posts: 36 Baller
    i know this is a bit contradictory, but i got on a trick ski last summer and started learning a flip straight away, i feel like "eating it" alot really takes away any fear, and takes away hesitation, so you can focus 100% on your goal
    Ski hard or ski home.
  • eleeskieleeski Posts: 3,977 Infinite Pandas
    @SBFL I bet you're not an old guy. Still, I agree with you. Flips are an entirely different class of trick. They don't have a lot of crossover to other tricks. To learn them you just need to do them. Edge and recovery skills are critical so you will need some tricking ability. But a back doesn't help much.

    Still, learn the basics.

  • Chef23Chef23 Posts: 6,060 Mega Baller
    @SBFL I am 49 years old. I don't see flipping in my future.
    Mark Shaffer
  • gsm_petergsm_peter Posts: 804 Crazy Baller
    When I can trick type 1000 points I will give it a try.....
    ok I plan to use every help I can get and choose easiest flip.
    I have seen eric do the flip and he is older than me. B)
    Life is too short not to enjoy every day!
  • bbirlewbbirlew Posts: 180 Baller
    Like Eric said, not much in the way of prerequisites for a flip. Just work on a progressive edge into the wake to build line tension.
    And give it a try! Turns out falling on them doesn't hurt any more than any other trick.
Sign In or Register to comment.