Water skiing is a great way to spend family time on weekends and holidays, however getting young kids started can be a challenge, particularly if they lack confidence in the water.

Teaching kids to water ski is mostly about getting them comfortable and confident with the idea of being behind the boat and learning that falling off is part of the fun of being out on the water.

Depending on the age and willingness of the child, there are a few steps you can take in order to help raise their comfort level before sending them out on a pair of skis.

The more time a child can spend behind the boat will help them become accustomed to being towed along and being on the water. This is where a ski tube is a great way to help build up their confidence and learn the feeling of being behind a boat.

If the child has a bit more confidence, you can also try them on a kneeboard. This is a great second step, as they can start to learn how to control their own movement and also build up some strength before trying some skis.

It can be a good idea to start these activities with a shorter rope, so that the child is closer to you in the boat and allows for easier communication. Don’t overdo it with the instruction though, as this often just confuses them. Give them time to get the feel for it, and they will soon learn what works for them.

When the child is ready to try some water skis, take some time to get them familiar with the skis on land before hitting the water. Get them try on the skis and make sure the bindings are snug and comfortable. Show them how to hold the rope, and even pull them by hand in the grass to help them get the feel of being pulled up and standing on skis.

The two most important points to teach on land are to keep the arms straight and knees bent. Have the child practice this by pulling them up while standing on shore and show them what happens if they pull with their arms or if they push with their legs.

Both of these will result in either sliding under the handle and falling back or toppling over the front, which is great to learn before hitting the water and again will help build confidence.

The great thing about this practice is that you maintain more control, and the child can see and talk to you as you practice.

When you are ready to try out on the water, one of the most crucial things to keep in mind when teaching anyone to water ski is to keep the speed slow. You may have to go a little slower or faster depending on the size and weight of the child, but slower is always better to start with.

Once they are up, have them stay directly behind the boat to begin with. After they have had a few runs, you can slowly have them start to move from side to side and cross over the wake. Don’t have them start doing fast wake crossings or big turns at first, just focus on moving out on one the side of the wake and maintaining a lean. Have them practice this on both sides of the boat.

When they have spent time combo water skis, and they have gained some confidence, it’s time to try out some slalom skis.

You can teach them to drop a ski to begin with but, ultimately, we want to have them learn the deep-water start, which isn’t that different than getting up on a pair of combo skis. There is just more balance involved when doing this on a single ski.

So, just like starting on combo skis, teach them to keep the knees bent and arms straight. Then the balance comes from engaging the core, which helps to keep the body in a ball and allows the skier to rock up on the water.

You also want to show them to keep the ski pointed to the side. So, if they are right-foot forward, point it to the right, and vice versa.

When the boat starts to pull, it will always pull the ski in toward the rope, so the more you angle the ski will help.

To sum up, here are 5 tips for getting up on skis for the first time.

1. Use a ski rope, which has a bit more stretch, of 75 feet in length to keep the skier in cleaner water behind the boat. The skier should sit in a cannonball position, with their knees squeezed together close to their chest and their arms straight. The rope should sit between the skis, with the ski tips pointing up and out of the water.

2. The boat’s driver should idle forward until the towrope is taut behind the boat, then accelerate at a slow and steady pace to pull the young skier out of the water without jerking them forward. With young skiers on two skis, the driver should keep the boat at low-planing speeds.

3. The skier should let the boat pull them out of the water, remaining in the crouched position until the skis are planning in the water underneath them. Then they should slowly straighten their legs while keeping their arms straight in front of them.

4. Once the skier is comfortable, they should align their hips under their shoulders and concentrate on aiming the skis to crisscross inside the wake. Once comfortable with changing direction, it’s time to head outside the wake.

5. If the skier falls, remember to let go of the handle. The spotter should immediately alert the boat driver to circle back to help the skier restart or climb back inside the boat.