USA Water Ski & Wake Sports

Slalom - Precision Prior To Power

Landon Stisher slalom skiing


Note: This article first appeared in the Spring 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 Todd Ristorcelli

Sunshine! Heat! Trips down south! Whatever jump-starts your season should not derail you at the same time. I get it. I know we are all excited to see the signs of hope that come with spring temperatures or trips to your favorite southern ski spot. Hey, go get ‘em…I am with you, but before you start chasing PBs and pushing your limits, start by refining your skills and building new and better methods. Think “precision over power” to be sure you move into those steamy months healthy and productive.

Here are a few keys to ensure you get the most out of your water ski season!

Drill it!

For those of you who have read my articles in the past or skied with me at some point, you are most likely telling yourself…” OK, OK, another lecture on doing drills and refining your skills.” You are right, but if you did not need to hear it again, I would not repeat myself. Call it what you will, but you need to crawl before you walk and walk before you run. Try the following:

  • Pull Out Drills: Simply stand outside the wakes in an upright balanced stance and while maintaining that stance, tip your body off the edge of the ski ever-so-slightly to get the ski moving while simultaneously keeping yourself connected with the rope and the boat so you are not doing all of the work.
  • Free Ski…light and easy: Please do not be the person who says, “But I don’t know how to free ski…I need the course.” If that is the case your problems run deeper than you think. Truly learn to swing back and forth behind the boat with light and easy, carving turns and smooth but light wake crossings.

Get Some Help!

Get uncomfortable in order to learn more. I have been coaching for 28 years and I am the first to admit that I do not have it all figured out. I have even spent some time this winter getting some help from a friend of mine who is pushing the envelope and paving a new path as far as water ski technology and technique. It is not easy to ask for help and most people say things like “I want to wait until I am in ski shape” or “I want to wait until I’m skiing like my old self”, but the reality is, you need a clear path and need to work on refining what you do before you power into the season. 

Stay In Your Lane!

This is the toughest one, but beginning your season trying to ski outside of your skill level (in other words pushing yourself too soon) is a recipe for disaster. This is the time to ski passes you know and at a level where you are confident. Do not speed up, and do not shorten the rope until you are a precisely dialed machine. Repetition of good habits is the key to success. We all know that you need to have experience with more difficult passes, but if you do not build a powerful base in the spring, you are setting yourself up for injury and a lack of long-term success.

Get To Work!

Regardless of your philosophy or that of your favorite and most-trusted coach, “buy-in” and train instead of chase. Get the details right then once you have created a sleek and dialed-in new you, power ahead and go conquer new goals and set new PBs!

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