Distractions during your Slalom Journey

Do you feel stuck in your slalom skiing skill progression? Have you been running about the same buoys and speeds for a few seasons now? Perhaps you’ve progressed forward, then regressed back a few times? I know I’ve experienced all of this repeatedly which is why 14 years after making my first pass in the course I’ve still not run the 13M line length, and 14.25M is still not a 100% pass.

I define a “distraction” in slalom as anything that makes us focus on stuff that’s not important during the current phase of our progression. Depending on where you are in your slalom journey, there are one or two things that you MUST consistently focus on EVERY set. But we don’t. Distractions are everywhere in this slalom, and we’re so passionate this stuff that we just gobble them up left and right. Distractions come in many forms, including:

  • Well-intended advice from friends in the boat
  • Tips and advice from online waterski forums
  • New equipment purchases or trials, or equipment settings
  • Our own confirmation bias and egos

For me, the season is so short and water time is so precious that I grab wildly for any tip or trick that’s going to fast-track me to success. That’s why I’ve been stuck at -32 for 4 years now. I’ll continue to be stuck here if I don’t minimize distractions from here on out.

What’s limiting me at this point in the game is my body alignment, something I overlook all the time. I bleed off a ton of power from the boat due to inefficient, upper-body skiing. I’ve proven you can run 14.25M/28-off hundreds of times with poor body mechanics but I’ve also proven that you can’t run 13M/32-off and sure as hell can’t run anything shorter with poor mechanics. Additionally my back is telling me that it can’t sustain this style of skiing much longer.

I’ve gone 14 years without focusing on body alignment because season after season I get distracted by other “tips and tricks”. Or new gear I want to try out. Or new settings. Or whatever shit I think of or make up to focus on or change. Nearly every set I show up to the lake with different thoughts and goals. We wouldn’t take that kind of approach with any other craft, but we do it all the time with slalom and it kills our progression.

What you may need to focus on could be totally different than what I need to focus on right now. The important thing is that you do actually focus on whatever that is and put a solid feedback loop in place to make sure you execute on it and progress toward that singular goal. Over and over. Every set. Until you learn whatever it is. Until then, no distractions.

One thought on “Distractions during your Slalom Journey

  1. Joel, you’re so lucky. It only took you 14 years to get into shorter line. I’ve been doing this about 35 years and ski better now at 61 then I did at 25, 35, 45, and 55. I did eventually get a decent ski boat 03 197 so there’s no excuse there. 2015 HO S2 semi-modern and new. No big excuse there. Although I get distracted thinking about 15 things during a pass and not working on 1 item.


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