USA Water Ski & Wake Sports

Barefooting - Mini Tumble Turns

Note: This article first appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of The Water Skier magazine, the official publication of USA Water Ski & Wake Sports. If you are not a member of USA Water Ski & Wake Sports and you are interested in receiving the quarterly magazine, join now.


Written by Rachel Normand

Photography by Lynn Novakofski


Barefoot Instruction-Windshield WipersOnce you know how to barefoot water ski, doing windshield wipers (mini tumble turns) is a great first trick to learn. A benefit of learning this trick is increasing your core strength, control, and getting killer abs. Who does not want that?! Here are key steps to help you learn how to glide on your butt and move your legs side-to-side like windshield wipers. 

Step 1: Start in a strong front barefoot position with your head up, shoulders rolled back, chest out, hips forward, knees bent, and ankles flexed and under your knees.

Step 2: Sit down into a 3-point position. The three points are your two feet and your butt. As you sit into your 3-point position, keep your ankles flexed back, put your knees together, and move your feet slightly wider making room for your butt to go between your feet.

Step 3: One of the most important parts of transitioning from a 3-point to a butt glide is simultaneously pulling your handle into your waist while pushing your feet out in front of you. Your arms should be straight in the 3-point position and then pulled tight into your waist for the butt glide. As you pull your handle to your waist, push your feet forward, straightening your legs and putting your ankles together. Your legs should be slightly off the water, about a foot, and under the rope. Keep your head crunched forward, tucking your chin in, and looking at your waist. Yes, this requires and develops core strength and control!

Step 4: Once you are stable and controlled in your butt glide, slowly move your legs to one side around 20 degrees. As you move your legs to the side, keep your leading hip up (the one that is in front). This will keep your hip from catching on the water making you roll and fall. When your legs go to the left, keep your right hip angled up. Handle placement is key. Your handle should shift from the center of your waist to your hip while maintaining constant contact with your body. Do not let your handle out! Push your right arm straight and down your hip.

Before moving your legs to the other direction, pull your handle back to the center of your waist, moving your legs back to a controlled forward butt glide (see picture 3).

Step 5: Next, it is time to go the other direction. While going to the right, your left hip should angle up and your left arm should aim to straighten and push down on your hip. Once you have accomplished going back 20 degrees both directions, it is time to go back 30 degrees.

Step 6: After you have mastered moving your legs to the right, back to center, left, back to center at 20 and 30 degrees, it is time to take your legs back to 45 degrees. As your legs go back further, lock your forward arm straight and against your hip.

Remember: 1. Start in a controlled butt glide and come back to a basic butt glide to reset. 2. Keep your handle glued to your waist and shift the handle to your hip when wiping to the side (do not let the handle out!). 3. Keep legs straight with ankles touching and about a foot off the water. 4. Angle your leading hip up. 5. Tuck your chin in and look at your waist.

Rachel Normand is a USA Water Ski & Wake Sports Foundation Water Ski Hall of Fame inductee, five-time world individual champion, and four-time world team gold medalist. She lives, trains and coaches on Lake Wylie in Tega Cay, S.C. The World Barefoot Center and Barefoot International sponsor Rachel. You can contact her at