Posts Tagged ‘RC Gerstad’

R.C. Gerstad: A Barefooting Lesson I Learned

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

I remember the first time my dad took me out to barefoot. He had my neighbor drive the boat for him so he could show me how to start. He had the driver speed the boat up to about 35 mph and then he climbed out of the boat and landed on his feet. Then he got back in the boat and asked me if I had any questions. Now, at this time I was a scrawny little 7 year old boy who had never skied faster then maybe 18 mph. I looked at my dad and asked if there was any other way…

To this day, I still look back at that time. That was the day that I found a sport that could be very rewarding. However, like any other reward, there are risks involved. These risks are what drive us to become better.

It is amazing how those little risks and rebound that we take in barefooting can transfer into our day to day lives. Especially, when you are faced with a new situation. Often I find myself thinking, “This will be nothing in comparison to the time that I…” It some how always relates to barefooting and it really is nice to know that barefooting has taught me this:

“It’s not about the number of times you fall trying to do something, but the decision to get back up and try again.”

By:  R.C. Gerstad

RC Gerstad: The Miracle in the Madness

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

When I grew up we always had the lake right in our back yard. It was the first place I learned to swim, it was where I first learned how to ski, it was where I first learned how to ice skate and I could go on and on like a nostalgic old man reliving his “Good ol’ Days”, it wasn’t until recently that I really understood how much being around water skiing has developed me as an individual.

It wasn’t always fun and games though when I was little my parents had a rule that we weren’t allowed to tube unless we each had taken a turn working on our skills in water skiing. Well as a kid tubing was probably one of the greatest things known to man, so it was only natural that we did our very best skiing to make sure we got the best tubing experience my parents could throw at us. As I grew older I started to become wearisome of tubing and it wasn’t long before our tube was only coming out when my sister or I had company over. The next thing I knew I was the one waking my parents up to take me skiing… not the other way around like it use to be. Every morning last summer I was up at sunrise make my morning work out a nice half hour barefoot training session.

Recently, did I come across this realization that the mind set that my parents put me in, the mind set of work first and play second, is the same mind set that I have used in almost every aspect of my life. It really is amazing how many life lessons an individual can learn from the sport of water skiing in general. Here are just a few that I really feel have made huge impacts on my life:

When you fall you should get back up and try again.

The boat is bigger than you so don’t try to pull it.

The more you up the stakes the higher the reward but risk also increases.

Always make sure mom knows that you weren’t the one being taken away in the ambulance.

Just because you can show off doesn’t mean you should.

There are so many more lessons that I have learned and that I appreciate but to truly understand stand all the lessons that water skiing has to offer I would recommend just going out and skiing. Oh and the most important lesson of all everything is more enjoyable with friends.

Barefoot Water Ski TOE-UPS in the Gym

Friday, April 12th, 2013

RC Gerstad

One of the highest scoring starts in barefooting is the toehold deep-water start. I recently just started learning these and often times I found myself exhausted after only a few. I start to wonder if there was a way that I could dry land the start because that my core was sore after attempting toe ups. One day when I was at the gym I looked around at all the different machines and finally found a machine that would work perfectly to help me with my toe ups.

First you need a machine such as either of the machines above. Next, figure out the appropriate height for the adjusting pulley, typically I Place mine 3 feet off the ground. After, you have an appropriate height, determine how much weight to add to the line (it may take a little experimentation but keep in mind that the more weight you add the easier the exercise will be). Then, sit down on the ground put your foot that normally goes in the toe strap into the handle (Similar to the one in the below picture.)

After your foot is in the handle, slide back on the ground about 1.5 to 2 feet depending on tall you are. From here, you imitate the toe up start. (The picture sequence below)

As you make more and more of the stand ups, start to decrease the weight that is pulling.  A little heads up: every time I have done this at the gym some one has offered to help me up, so it may be wise to do this exercise with a partner as to avoid those kind of encounters.

RC Gerstad

Keep Calm and Foot On

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013


We all know that there are a lot of different aspects when it comes to the challenges of barefooting. Would it surprise you that the hardest part of barefooting is overcoming the mental obstacles?

It came as a bit of a shock the first time I heard Swampy say, “Barefooting is 90% mental toughness and 10% physical strength.” But it wasn’t long before I started to see just how much of an obstacle your brain could be in barefooting. For most of my life, no matter what sport I’ve been a part of, I almost always over think something or mentally tense up. It came as no surprise to me when I started to advance in Barefooting that I found a similar problem occurring and one I wasn’t aware of.

Often times, people can complicate the simplest things. Barefooting is no exception to the rule. Between all of the different concepts you think about on the water it is no surprise that someone could over-complicate a situation or think about something too much. I found myself faced with this problem this year. “You need to relax and smile while you’re out there. You look like your just forcing it,” KSO told me one morning after I was having trouble getting my basic toe hold, a trick that I was able to do quite comfortably at the end of the previous season. Sure enough as soon as I relaxed and cleared my head, my toe holds came back with ease like I had never lost them.

At first glance, barefooting is a pretty fast-paced sport, but when you dig deeper into the sport you see that inside the fast exterior, you have a networking or slow-controlled movements. However, from time to time our brain has trouble seeing the slow inside of the fast and we feel like our brain is racing or as I like to call it “tensing up”. I recall an afternoon set working on slalom with Smallz. After my first pass, the first thing he told me was to calm down and to try not to muscle it so much. Once again, I was mentally tense. I was thinking so much about trying to get so many crosses that I was hurting myself more than I was helping. As soon as I relaxed and just thought about the key points of slalom, my crosses sped up, my form was cleaner, and I felt more confident with my slalom.


Fear. Fear is probably one of the biggest mental obstacles we face. Whether we are aware of the fear or not, to succeed in Barefooting you have to learn to face that fear so you can get pass it. Most of those fears are somehow related to falling. Now, It’s only natural that in interest of self-preservation to not to want to fall. After all, water at 42 MPH is not the most enjoyable feeling in the world. Once again, I find myself hearing Swampy’s voice saying, “If you’re not falling, you’re not trying. I would rather see you fall trying to do something right then watch you do something the wrong way.” Now our fears are normally pretty understandable, the other day I was out in the boat watching Ben Groen ski and he was working on his toe hold back to front and he kept falling out the back and then finally he took a hard fall out the front and did the splits so well that an Olympic Gymnast would have been jealous. At the end of his set he got in the boat and said he was glad that he took that fall because on the same trick previously he had pulled his groin and now that he had done a similar fall and survived unscathed he might be able to stay more forward. The next day he succeeded.

When you ski with the WBC crew, they give the instruction you need to succeed on and off the water. From overcoming your fears, to learning how to relax when the word “chill” isn’t exactly the first word on mind, they help you figure out what you need to do to succeed. If you apply your mentality on the water to your work, school, or whatever endeavor you embark on, you will find that your potential to succeed will be exponentially higher. Thank you to Swampy, Keith, Smallz, Ben, Ash, and the entire WBC Team for such great memories and coaching, and for all fun still to come.

Robert C. Gerstad