USA Water Ski & Wake Sports

Slalom - Beware Of The Coach Who Does Not Give You A Chance

Note: This article first appeared in the Winter 2022 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 Seth Stisher

Photography by David Crowder/IWWF

Before I give you too much control of your coaching, the disclaimer for this entire article is that you should always remember, you paid for coaching, give the way to the methods and plan of the coach. I am not giving you the right to tell the coach how to coach you.

Seth Stisher slalom skiingHowever, I would like to warn you about a few red flags you will find whether your lake hero is coaching you or the high-end coach you booked on your water ski vacation. In full disclosure I would also like to point out that as a coach, I am sure I have made the very same coaching mistakes I address in this article.

Here are three red flags and how you can comfortably manage them to get the most out of your coaching experience.

Too Soon Bro!

Whether it is your first set with a coach, or you have skied together for years, beware the coach who is digging into you at the end of the lake after pass number one or two in your first set. Good coaching requires a few important things that take time:

  • Giving the skier time to get settled
  • Seeing the skier ski through the easy passes and the tough ones.
  • Studying the skier and taking mental notes or even written notes about what you see.

If you find yourself in this position with your coach, casually mention that you would like them to watch for a moment longer and see if you are doing the same thing on all passes after a few warm-ups. Sometimes the real stress test is seeing what happens on your tougher passes.

The Answer is ABSOLUTE!

Science, athleticism, strength, poetry, and experience are all aspects of technique. We are all different and we all vary in each of these categories and more. That being the case, there cannot be one simple and absolute answer to your skiing woes. An effective coach should recognize this and be able to produce a plan that takes all things into consideration, but more importantly, a good coach should notice if the coaching is not effective and find another way to approach your skier needs.

If you find yourself in this situation, do not be afraid to speak with your coach dockside and ask the coach if there is another way to approach the same thing (whether the words are different, or the actual mechanics are different).

Gotta Run! No Time For You!

If your coaching session is 100 percent limited to the boat with no post-dockside discussion, beware! Now, do not take that to mean that after each coaching session it is your right to take another 45 minutes of your coach’s time, but it is fair to ask for explanations every few sets or so. A quick question and answer session can really go a long way for your understanding and retention, and it is fair to expect your coach to offer this up.

If you find yourself in this scenario, ask the coach if you could take a few minutes on the dock when they are free and make sure you solidify the understanding for what he or she is trying to teach you.


Luckily, most coaches will not read this, or they would accuse me of making their job harder, but the fact is that coaches (like any professional) sometimes get in a rut and have no idea it is happening. If you want to get the most out of your coaching, find creative ways to ensure you get what you really need.

Seth Stisher can be found coaching at his SkiSeth Training Center at Oz, in Charleston, South Carolina, or at any number of locations around the world through his traveling waterski clinics. Check out, or email to arrange ski sessions with him. He is sponsored by Connelly Skis, MasterCraft Boat Company, Eagle Wetsuits, PureFood and