USA Water Ski & Wake Sports

Barefooting - The 360 Degrees Tumble Turn

Note: This article first appeared in the Fall 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 TumbleturnA fun, crowd-pleasing trick to learn is a 360 degrees tumble turn. If you want to impress your friends and family, then this is the trick for you. Having a barefoot wetsuit with padded shorts underneath is a critical component to gliding properly on your butt and successfully completing the trick. Here are four pictures with tips specifically focusing on the tumble turn. If you do not already know how to sit down and stand up (using the 3-point position), please reference my front deep water start and mini tumble turn (windshield wipers) archived articles.


Step 1: Begin by riding in a controlled and comfortable butt glide position. Do this by having your handle pulled into and touching the center of your waist with your elbows to the side and down. Your legs should be squeezed together with your knees straight, ankles touching, and feet about one foot off the water. Tuck in your chin and look forward. 


Step 2: Initiate the tumble turn by moving your legs in the direction you want to go while pushing your handle down on your hip. In picture 2, I am demonstrating this by moving my legs to the right while my left arm pushes the handle to my left hip. As your legs go from 0 to 90 degrees, keep your leading hip angled up - when your legs go to the right your left hip should be slightly higher.  


Step 3: As your legs move passed 90 degrees to 180 degrees, your hips should flatten out, similar to the beginning butt glide position. Your handle needs to transfer from one hip to the other. As you move your handle, try to push it down to the center of your waist, keeping it as close as possible to your body. Letting your handle out away from your waist or up by your head will cause you to lose momentum and requires a lot of arm and core strength to recover. Remember to keep your legs straight and together with your chin tucked in. 


Step 4: Continue the momentum of your legs by shifting your handle from the center of your waist to your other hip. As soon as you move past 180 degrees your leading (right) hip should angle up, keeping your hip from catching on the water. In picture 4 my legs are coming around my left side with my right hip higher and my right arm pushing down on my right hip. 


Step 5: It is time to finish where you started in a butt glide position. Do this by pulling the handle from your hip to the center of your waist (See Picture #1). Make sure you are in a controlled butt glide position and facing forward before standing up through a 3-point position. 


Key Things to Remember: 1) Legs should stay straight, together, and about a foot off the water throughout the tumble turn. 2) Maintain handle contact with your waist and hips. 3) Keep your leading hip angled up.  4) Have your chin tucked in and eyes looking forward.


Driver Tip: Tumble turns do not require faster speeds. In fact, once your skier goes into a butt glide position it is helpful to decrease the speed 2 to 3 mph for the trick. Once they have completed the tumble turn, and go into a 3-point position, increase to normal barefoot speed as they stand up. Depending on the skier’s weight, 30 to 35 mph is all that is usually needed for speed.

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