View Full Version : How to run a course?

07-21-2010, 11:23 AM
So last weekend visited a buddy who has two courses on the river near his place. He is not a skier and never ran the course. I made maybe 5 attempts thru the course at 15 off, about 31-32 mph. Holy smokes is it hard for me to make the first buoy if I actually make a legal start through the starting gate. My weak side cut is just that still pretty weak (left foot forward). Any tips as I will visit his place again in two weeks and I'm determined to get the first three balls after a proper start through the start gate!

Also hit one of the start buoys twice. How the heck do you figure the timing?


07-21-2010, 01:05 PM
Holy Cow never run a course and are going 32 Mph with lenght off? Try Full length rope and slow down. You can even do the baby course do get the rythm. Go between the Outside of the Starboard boat bouys and the 3 bouys on the right side. Try to go in the middle and then use the boat bouys and the right side bouys as the course. This cuts the width down but still allows you to get the rythm going.

07-21-2010, 03:54 PM
hey Kurt most of the more experienced course skiers I've been around have said don't worry too much about the entrance gate until you're running all 6 buoys on a regular basis- It's OK to be early and miss the gate. in fact the grass roots tournaments I'm hoping to ski don't even count the entrance/exit gates. Once you start your first cut just go with it. If you're just starting to run the course like me the main point is having fun anyways.

07-21-2010, 04:58 PM
My recent experience with training in the course - Find a speed that you can make 6 and work that for a while. You would be surprised how slow you can ski when in the course. Much slower than you would consider in open water. It is as much a mental thing as anythign for me. Making your opening pass is important to getting your head ready for the more challenging passes.

Personally I ski 28 off @ 34 in open water, sometimes down to 38 off. But in the course my openng pass is 15 off @ 28. Open water skiing will mess with your performance in the course.

Food for thought... When you make your 28mph pass you get 48 points. That means 8 passes worth of bouys. So if you figure it back , that means the minimum speed (for all mens classes) is 14 mph. At that speed you are on 2 skis - but it can be done. I have seen one person do it at 15 on a huge ski at 15 off. If you make your opener - you get all the bouys up to that pass - so you make you 28 mph you get 48. You go out at 32 mph and make 3 - you get 3 -same as if you just ran 3 @ 14 mph. And your brain is messed up for the next round.

As far as going long line - I think there are mixed feelings on that. When I get a new rope rope the first thing I do is take of the first 15. My kids have never skied a 75 foot rope, even on 2 skis. I don't know any serious local skiers that use it any more - bt I know there are some who still advise it. I do believe that the long-line @ 36 mph is much harder than 15 off @ 36 based on everything I have heard - this is one reason why they changed a long time ago to allow you to start at 15 off at slower speeds and then your top speed pass at 15 off counts as two passes.

Regarding gates - don't sweat it yet...

But having fun is important. I recommend finding a ski school - somewhere you can spend 3-5 days of hard skiing. Not cheap but will catapult your style .. I wish I had done it 30 years ago...

07-21-2010, 05:31 PM
Think EARLY. Make your cut to the side with enough time to pull, but not too much to get slow. When the boat passes through the gates, start your pull. Don't worry about the gates. After you get all 6 bouys, then worry. Pull through both wakes and always have the ski on an edge.

Slow down and start at 26 or 28 mph. I agree with starting at 15' off.

07-21-2010, 11:21 PM
I must agree with the guys who posted above we really never ski anywhere, course or open water with the full rope. Seems like there is always 15ft sitting on the floor next to me (for those without a DD the ski pole is right next to the drivers seat in case you were wondering why the rope would be so close by).

07-22-2010, 12:49 AM
Thanks for the thoughts. My friends (husband and wife) seem to think speed is better. She always wants to pull me at 35-36 mph. I will try both slowing the speed down to like 27-28 and not worry about the start gate. Man the course seems hard!

07-22-2010, 08:38 AM
If you have never run the course and you can jump in at 35 mph and make it - that is incredible in my book. The course is as much about timing amd strategy as it is about skiing. Just being a really good skier is not enough. And as it turns out most of us 'good open water skiers' are not as good as we think, but we might be able to put up a really nice wall of water...

The course is the unforgiving b**ch. It is the same for all of us - and it just sits there looking so easy and so long for only 6 turns... And you watch the pros make 41 off look like 22 off and think - no prob...

You may find that 28 mph feels like you are crawling, and if you were to do it in open water, you might not even be able to do it without a ton of slack, but the first time you make all 6 - hard to describe...

Good luck and have fun...

07-22-2010, 10:19 AM
The course is the unforgiving b**ch. Dave

man ain't that da truth. I tried to describe to a non-skier what it is that I'm doing this summer; and their response was "why do you spend so much time doing that" I just had to answer "the same reason you keep trying to hit a tiny A$$ ball 300 yards into a cup"

can't wait to get back out there

07-22-2010, 02:13 PM
me too - but might be sidelined for a while - sitting in docs office right now - skin cancer removal... wear your sunscreen...

07-22-2010, 02:26 PM
sorry to hear that- my thoughts/prayers are with you

07-22-2010, 04:07 PM
So sorry to hear. Hope all goes well.

07-22-2010, 04:10 PM
Thanks - good news is that they got it all in the first pass so I will be back in the water within 2 weeks.

Back to topic.

1. slow it down
2. got to 15 off.
3. Don't be afraid to practice one thing at a time. When I was at The Liquid Edge in June Doug had me working on just a couple of things, with no regard to whether I made the course or not. In my case we were working on gates because I was hitting my opening pass consistently. He would power down in the middle of the course as soon as it was obvious that I was not implementing (sometimes).
4. It is all one continuous motion that starts with a good relaxed pull out and glide prior to the gates. At 28 mph you would wait until the back of the boat is through the start gate before cutting for the gate.
5. If going to a school is not in the cards, consider video coaching at http://www.proskicoach.com/, they also have a very good forum focused almost exclusive on slalom.
6. If you stare at the bouys you will end up skiing directly to them and be late on every turn.
7. Here is a good video on gates and wake crossing: http://waterskimag.com/videos/2010/03/12/video-your-best-wake-crossings-ever/

07-25-2010, 10:12 PM
To explain to a non-skier what course skiing is all about, I tell them it's like a golfer who only goes to the driving range until one day someone tells them that golf is actually played on a golf course.

07-27-2010, 12:03 AM
Nice video Dave, Congrats on the ranking.

So here is another question guys. I'm skiing double boots and I'm wondering what the set-up should be. Do you pivot the rear boot to open stance and how much? I was skiing with family/friends over the weekend that are more seasoned than I am. They ski RTP and I noticed they had better knee positions (touching all the time) in photos. It seems that the RTP allows that position easier??? My front boot is mounted in neutral position and rear boot is back a bit, both dead straight (ski is a 67 Triumph and Venoms, 5'10'' 168lbs). Any suggestions?

07-27-2010, 10:24 AM
There seem to be a lot of theories about foot position. My first recommendation is contact the ski manufacturer and ask for the stock settings for your ski. My experience indicates that you need to get your form in good shape before you try subtle changes to tweek. At the same time, if your ski settings do not match manufacturer settings yo don't really have a baseline to work from.

Personally I ski with a RTP and for decades I was set up in line. This year, as I moved to a new ski with 50 lbs less body weight I had some trouble adjusting so I played with the bindings a bit. I moved both front and back forward all the way and then rotated back foot just a bit (counter clockwise for RFF). Based on expert recommendation I moved the front foot back to stock (middle hole), but left my back foot close and rotated. Personally I think back toes should be touching front heal, but I am no expert for sure...

I am skiing much better now than in the early part of the year, but spending 5 consecutive days with a coach has had a big influence on that. For me the issue is that I am just not that consistent and self aware to actually tell if binding or fin adjustments are making a difference, or if I just had a bad/good run. That is slowly changing over the last couple years, but still would benefit from professional advice.

08-05-2010, 08:57 AM
So I had a chance to run the course at my buddies place in Eastern WA last weekend (not as much as I hoped). Could not make it to 3rd bouy, always late. First two no problems, 28mph 15 off . What to do next to make third? I know if I can get 3 I'll get 4th.

08-05-2010, 09:12 AM
I am no coach and I am not that good in the course, and recently I have come to doubt all I thought a I knew about slalom. However, if you are late to 3 at 28 mph I would say most likely you do not have your wake crossing dialed in. See if you can get a copy of 'Andy Mapple at Ski Paradise' at Barts or Overtons. I think this is better for the entry level course skier than the earlier DVD, but they are both good.

I would suspect a few of things.
1. You are leaning back when you turn
2. You are standing up when you cross the wake
3. You have bent arms as you cross the wake.
4. You are looking directly at the bouy as you ski toward it.
5. When you start your turn you are already looking across course - when you release your hand, try keeping your eyes down course until the ski has come around.

Take some video and watch it in slow-mo. Try to find video of people skiing the course at your length and speed who are successful. Here is an older video of me at 15 off at 30. I do not pretend to suggest that you should ski like this, but if you watch it you may be able to determine the differences that might help.



08-05-2010, 12:38 PM
dave don't be so modest- you're an awesome skier plus you're ranked

looking across the wake during and after the turn is one of the many bad habits I have from skiing in open water- and you're right it makes a big difference. Ironically, it was when I returned to open water and was working on this that I took a nasty spill from not seeing a roller. I think I'm going to be very limited in skiing in open water from now on.

08-05-2010, 01:58 PM
Thanks, but I know better. When you ride in the boat with guys that warm up at 28 off at 36, you get things in perspective. And good in open water does not translate to good in the course (but it helps get you there)

Here is a photo of Jamie B. (I think - on a Connelly anyhow) coming into the wake on his strong side.
1. Ski on edge
2. Eyes NOT looking at bouy
3. 'Long' arms, i.e., not bent at the elbows, no longer pulling.
4. Left foot forward, left palm down (right handed baseball grip)
5. Head up, NOT in line with rest of body
6. Butt = close to water - i.e., good angle and balanced over the ski with ski between him and boat.
7. NOT standing up flat on the ski with separation between hands and thighs (sure he is not touching thighs, but still....)
8. Monster spray without even trying..


08-05-2010, 02:39 PM
now that's an awesome picture

08-05-2010, 04:14 PM
Benson - I think you were the one several weeks ago who told me to change grip. Based on your suggestion, I now have right hand palm up, just like baseball bat grip, with left foot forward in ski. The grip change makes a difference. Shoulders are in a better position and get a stronger pull. Thanks! - Deerfield

08-05-2010, 04:33 PM

Here is a photo of Jamie B. (I think - on a Connelly anyhow) coming into the wake on his strong side.
1. Ski on edge
2. Eyes NOT looking at bouy
3. 'Long' arms, i.e., not bent at the elbows, no longer pulling.
4. Left foot forward, left palm down (right handed baseball grip)
5. Head up, NOT in line with rest of body
6. Butt = close to water - i.e., good angle and balanced over the ski with ski between him and boat.
7. NOT standing up flat on the ski with separation between hands and thighs (sure he is not touching thighs, but still....)
8. Monster spray without even trying..


1. Started skiing at age 5.
2. Skiing is his full time job.
3. People give him skis, boats, etc.
4. He is 2/3s my age.

08-05-2010, 05:55 PM
All of that is so true. I wish I had had the opportunities I have now when I was much younger and it would have been nice to have the internet for this kind of learning. Everything I learned was by trial and error, anecdotes from my Dad, Waterski mags, and early exposure to the course and some guys who skied better than me.

But despite J.B. history, still a good example of proper mechanics that we can strive for. I am learning more about this sport now than I have in the last 30 years. Going to a coach is a big part of that. Skiing with other people who are enthusiastic and competent is a big help.

I am into enough this year to drop the $$ and go to The Liquid Edge to ski with Wade in June and in two weeks I am going back there to ski with Andy Mapple. Granted this is probably more about my ego than anything, but it is nice to be able to spend time in the boat with people who really 'get it' when it comes to slalom. I hope to actually learn something while I am there. But honestly it takes a while for stuff to sink in so may be a delayed reaction - even to next year. But I actually feel like I am skiing better now than I have ever skied - or at least close to where I was a couple years ago - since I never really made it to 36mph, skiing 34mph is natural for me.

If you have to slow down to 26 - try it. I have never done it, but I know it can be done. It will force you to maintain line control.

Most important - have fun and don't get discouraged. And don't overdo it.


08-05-2010, 09:32 PM
Yeah, I know what you mean. I have a lot of friends at work who come out on the boat, but all they want to do is wakeboard. A few have tried the ski, but none have interest, let alone a passion.
I am progressing, but without a course it is hard to measure. If I weren't moving next year, I would have purchased a portable course this year.

08-06-2010, 08:14 AM
Yeah, I know what you mean. I have a lot of friends at work who come out on the boat, but all they want to do is wakeboard. A few have tried the ski, but none have interest, let alone a passion.
I am progressing, but without a course it is hard to measure. If I weren't moving next year, I would have purchased a portable course this year.

You know MrsZ and I are going to buy some new bouys for the guy that built the course in front of his house. We are lucky to have one so we need to help out and make sure it always stays there. The other "newer" course is out in alligator country! The guys that put it up went out there one day and 2 bouys were missing. Well they found out that actually an 8ft. alligator got tangled up in the lines and drug the bouys down with him where he died of suffication!

08-07-2010, 10:37 PM
Man did i get a lesson today. We went to a local lake that had a course and after waiting our turn and met the owners we were told to have at it. Well this season i Thought i was skiing decent Open water. Well Holy crap. Came blasting into the course at 21 off.
Big mistake. Rounded ball one late and tryed to hang on for 2 and Cartwheeled right outta my ski on 2.
Quickly realized ,this is way different. Slowed the boat to 30mph and shoulda lenghtened rope but was too stubborn . Did gate .missed 1 ball got 2 got 3 then missed 4 and crashed HARD. I will have a bruise ass and ego tommorrow. adjusted speed to 32 Finally settled down and pretended to ski mini course and did fine.What a wake up call,just the same. Glad i coming down south to Ski school soon as i really need some coaching. Now my ego ,ASS and mental game are all off.
Oh well it was a gorgeous day and just good to get out just the same.

08-08-2010, 12:45 AM
Drop it to 28 mph at 15 off - you might surprise yourself...
As far as open water vs. course. I ran 41 off at 32 mph in open water with a light chop today. But sitll struggling to get 15 off at 32 in course. Spending next weekend with Andy Mapple - hope to come away with something...

08-08-2010, 09:59 AM
Spending next weekend with Andy Mapple - hope to come away with something...

that's awesome Dave, is he coming to the liquid edge also? sounds like you're getting coached by some of the world's greatest skiers this summer!

08-08-2010, 11:51 AM
Yes he is coming to The Liquid Edge this coming weekend.. I would recommend that you come down but looks like the schedule is booked...

08-08-2010, 01:27 PM
yeah plus I'm still on the disabled list from this stupid sprained ankle- but I'm off the crutches and cane so hopefully won't be much longer but I'll probably take it really easy for the rest of this season.

08-08-2010, 04:47 PM
I thought about 28 but hated 30 so much as it was my stubbornness did not allow me to go slower yet although my buddy /driver did suggest it as well.
1 1/2 weeks and ski school here i come and if the Boss say 28 then 28 it is!! i guess. Hopefully i can get some pics as well and post them.

08-09-2010, 01:03 AM
Dave, again thanks for all the tips. May not get another attempt at a course this year.

I also do not have regular access to a course. How hard is it to set up a course? Mine would have to be seasonal(lake freezes over). The lake is deep, so how does that complicate set-up?

08-09-2010, 01:25 AM
Most places I know require a permit for a course that stays in overnight (permanent course), and they can be a headache in a public lake because a lot of peope resent having them in place and will vandalize them or accidentally run over them or hook them. So depending on your situation a portable is proabably a better option - unless you are the only one in the group who skis.

Check out Accufloat or Insta-slalom. You can put in a course with two people in about 30 minutes if you know what your are doing (according to Instaslalom - only 12 minutes). The first time it will take longer, but the learning curve is favorable. I have only deployed an Insta-slalom a few times. Forgot about the guys at EZ Slalom so added this link:


Good luck with your efforts.

Again want to recommend "Andy Mapple at Ski Paradise"

This has great slow-mo videos of Andy as well as a cross section of typical slalom skiiers with really great analysis in each case.

Have a great rest of season...

08-09-2010, 02:48 PM
Mikey, I know the feeling! (about trying a course for the first time). Thought I was coming along pretty good; got a 1st crack at a course and man was I humbled! Course skiing = big difference from Rec skiing. Mustered a measely two balls, 15 off @ 30 MPH.
Spent this past weekend at my buddy's place (who has the course). A fifteen year old girl took the rope and ran 15 off @ 30 MPH handily. So I'm thinking: "What's my problem?" (Though she is beginning to compete).
Two other points:
1. I concur with Benson on the Mapple video. It was very beneficial for me.
2. Get yourself on video.
The combination of those two improved me about 20% overnight.
I now pretty much know what to do; just have to do it.
Enjoy the lessons. You'll come back a changed man and will be forever hooked on slalom!

Kurt, my buddy bought Insta-slalom last year. Put it in (2nd time) this year in under 20 min.
- He's getting a bit frustrated fixing/replacing bouys, and he is not on a busy lake. The guys who take out his bouys have his permission to use the course. They just make mistakes driving, and are not newbs either.
- Everybody with a Jet Ski / Sea-Doo will run it. Get used to it. Usually not a big deal as they haven't been hard on the bouys.
- He's had complaint from the older neighbors who noticed the increase in boat noise / traffic.

08-09-2010, 09:21 PM
Moombabound i totally agree that having video to show me what i did would be totally the best way for me to learn. I'm hoping in ski school they will offer that as i know i would learn faster from that then someone saying do this ,do that etc.Unfortunetely i have no video or pics of this day,which may be a good thing . I do have a big bruise on my butt cheek to prove it though.
As for a young girl showing us up. Thats almost exactly what happened.As we were finishing a family in a MC197 showed up and first to go after us was there daughter. We gave them the go ahead saying we were done and please don't make us look bad. Well they heard at least half of what we said. GO, but not the make us look bad part. This young girl 16,17 maybe .She ripped the course doing 5balls first run then about 4 more passes 6 balls everytime. Speed ? lenght rope? Then DADS turn,guessing 34mph and about 28,31 off and SLAMMING through the course. Very hummbling to watch yet very entertaining,then as quick as they came , wave and off they went.
Maybe some day when i grow up i can be just like the young girl much less Dad.

08-11-2010, 01:01 PM
I just went back and looked at my videos from Wade Cox clinic and am convinced -

If you have ever considered taking any advice from me on this web site - you may want to reconsider.

I sure hope a weekend of skiing with Andy Mapple fixes some of my issues...

08-16-2010, 09:52 PM
Well put. I discovered this weekend a flaw that was causing me to go flat into the first wake. I was not letting the ski finish the turn. I though as soon as I get past the bouy I had to crank it, regardless of where the ski was.

I was about to go on another dissertaion here, but instead - get Andy's video and study it.


09-05-2010, 05:12 PM
I got out on the public course today, first time since March. After 5 runs, I finally got through 6 bouys at 15' off 28mph. It all happens so fast, that I only assume that my form was similar to the way I freeride. I was early to every buoy and it was by far the "best" run that I have had at the course. My wife tried the course, but on her second run a boat chopped it up and then a tuber showed up. We are heading back tomorrow. Hopefully, I will press the speed up to 30 and have good results.

09-05-2010, 06:07 PM
good for you. once you get that the 30 pass comes quick... love public courses...

09-06-2010, 05:18 PM
Well, the course was not as good today. A few tubers turning circles and the tide was up so the number 2/5 ball was underwater. I was able to run 5 buoys at 30 in bad conditions. I probably made 6, but everything is happening so fast, I had no time to search for the submerged bouy. I am happy with my progress over the last 2 days. Hopefully I can get 5 or 6 more runs this season there.