How to Drop a Water Ski

Eight beginner steps for slalom skiing.

How to Drop a Water Ski
Dropping a ski is a great way for kids to learn to transition from two skis to one, or to start behind an underpowered boat.Bill Doster

I learned to water-ski behind the family’s old lapstrake Lyman with a 40 hp Evinrude. It proved more than capable of hoisting 8-year-old me out of the water on two skis. But as I grew older and wanted to slalom, it didn’t have the juice to pull me up. So I learned to get up on two skis and drop one. Here’s how.

Step 1
Choose a slalom ski with an open ­binding — also called a rear toe plate — for the back foot. Many recreational-level skis not designed for competition will have this feature. Put your dominant foot in the front binding as this will be your lead leg while slaloming.

Step 2
Put the second ski on your other foot with the binding set as loose as possible so your foot can slide in and out of it with ease.

Step 3
In the water, execute a traditional two-ski start: arms straight, knees bent, let the boat pull you out of the water.

Step 4
Once you're up on the skis behind the boat, remain in the smooth water in the center of the wake until your driver circles back to your designated drop point.

Step 5
When it's time to drop the designated ski, lift your heel and push down with your toes to free your foot from the loose binding. Do not lift the ski out of the water; instead, work your foot free as smoothly as possible and let the ski drop behind you as the boat pulls you forward.

Quick Tip: If you start to lose your balance after you’ve dropped the ski, a good trick is to drag your free toes in the water to steady yourself.

Step 6
When you are ready, carefully place your free foot on the back of the slalom ski and apply pressure with your toes.

Step 7
Once you are able to maintain your balance, slide your back foot into the open binding — try not to look down, but keep your focus forward on the boat's transom.

Step 8
Once your back foot is secure, you're ready to start carving in and out of the wake and developing that oh-so-impressive rooster tail.

Driver Tips
If you're behind the wheel while a skier attempts to drop a ski, work out a plan with the skier beforehand. Once the skier is up, execute a short loop back to the skier's starting point, preferably close to shore, where the skier can drop the second ski. You want him or her to drop the ski as close to the shore as possible, out of the way of most boat traffic. Try to approach the drop point on a straight line so the skier can remain centered and comfortable behind the boat. Since you need one spotter always keeping eyes on the skier, recruit a second spotter just to keep eyes on the dropped ski so that it's easier to recover after the skier is done.