Boat Driving 101 with Dave Miller

Much like being a great barefoot skier, being a great barefoot driver requires many hours of training, practice and most of all desire to do it well.  Do you have what it takes?

I’m sure you’ve all been out skiing when everything just felt perfect. The pull on the start was great, the speed was “spot on”, the boat path was straight when it needed to be and all you had to do was concentrate on your tumble turn, one foot, toe-hold  or turn….nothing else was on your mind except for the trick you were working on. On the other hand if you are always wondering if the driver is going to drown you on the start, not get your speed right or give you a bad line (not straight) maybe your driver is in need of some education so that you can stay focused on the trick you are working on, therefore advancing your barefoot skills quicker.

Ever wonder why you often ski so well at ski school? Most instructors at the best ski schools have years of experience driving all levels of skier and have become very good drivers.

How can you improve your driving so you can help your skier advance quicker? There’s no simple answer but in the same way a skier can improve their skills and understanding of a trick, technique or body position by watching other skiers (one of the biggest benefits of a ski school in my opinion) a driver can do the same thing by riding along in a ski school boat or participating as an official at a barefoot tourney and watching the drivers. It’s not easy to become an ABC Senior Driver or a WBC Level 1 driver but to get to that level we’ve all taken suggestions and constructive criticism from our peers, skiers and other officials and have the desire to do our best for every skier whether it be a training run or the finals at the World Championships.

All of the respected drivers I know are more than happy to share tips, tricks and ideas on how to provide a great pull on the start (watch the skier and give them the speed they need at the right time), how to hold speed (try using the tachometer in conjunction with the speedometer), drive a straight line (pick a spot at the far end of your run and use gentle course corrections) and being honest when you didn’t actually give a good pull.

Having an open minded and “willing to learn” attitude to become a better driver will help your skier advance quicker and safer. It doesn’t matter if they are learning a front deep for the first time, trying to get up backwards, perfect a multiple turn or beat KSO in wakes or SmallZ in jump–a good driver is key and a GREAT driver makes it even easier!

Dave Miller (who has pulled 10+ ABC or World Record runs)

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