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Champion skier gives advice to water skiers and wakeboarders

Although water skiers and wakeboarders are long on ambition and die-hard in their resolve, amateurs and pros often train haphazardly. Those observations come from 25-year water ski veteran and author Ben Favret. In his book, Water Skiing and Wakeboarding (Human Kinetics, 2010), Favret breaks down the equipment, training, and techniques of the two disciplines to help readers improve performance on the water. 

“Often, people improve rapidly at first, but as the moves, tricks, and techniques get more difficult, fundamental weaknesses prevent them from getting better,” claims Favret. “In many cases, skill development plateaus and frustration set in, sometimes reducing the fun, too. The good news is that you can improve and perform better.”

In Water Skiing and Wakeboarding, Favret introduces the 25 percent rule to help water skiers and wakeboarders improve. The rule states that one's potential is equal to the sum of his or her ability in each of the four components of skiing or wakeboarding: equipment selection and fitting, strength and conditioning, technique and skill development, and competition. “You reach your ultimate potential only when all four components are working together, totaling 100 percent peak performance,” Favret explains.

As a first step in the 25 percent rule, Favret suggests choosing someone to emulate for each of the four components. “When choosing someone to emulate for technique, consider two factors: your personal style and your body type,” suggests Favret. “Although you may be in awe of Darin Shapiro's style and moves on the water, if your body type and natural movement style are more like Jeremy Kovak's, you would want to emulate him.”

Next, skiers and wakeboarders should rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 25 in each of the four components. A coach or training partner can help assess skills for a more objective score, according to Favret. “Assess the ratings and prioritize training by focusing on the biggest area of weakness,” he advises. “Write down three actions you can take and when you are going to take them to raise your skill level 3 to 5 points on the 25-point scale.  As your most glaring areas of weakness improve, usually you will find that other areas improve as well.” Favret adds that listing only three actions helps an athlete maintain focus and avoid being overwhelmed by multiple areas that need work.

Like the 25 percent rule, Favret's Water Skiing and Wakeboarding book is set up as a series of small steps, or learning progressions. It begins at the water with fitting equipment to an athlete's skill level and body type. The book then focuses on the strength and conditioning required for performing on the water, followed by an in-depth look at the basic movements of the sport, which are then incorporated into learning progressions for each event. The book also prepares readers for competition by addressing mental toughness and competition-day strategies.

For more information see Water Skiing & Wakeboarding.