Adaptive Water Skiing: Adrenaline-Fueled Fun

If you like getting wet, adaptive skiing could be the sport for you. While this awesome sport is heavy on equipment, it’s worth the hassle. You’ll need a boat, of course, a driver and someone to help you into the ski – a mono-ski – and a ski rope. For quadriplegics, there are a couple of additional accessories. Ski equipment is explained in greater detail below.

Remember, while it may seem daunting to organize a water skiing adventure,, several organizations across the country offer adaptive water ski opportunities. A list is posted below.

How Paraplegics Water Ski

When it comes to adaptive water skiing, the equipment paraplegics use and the equipment quadriplegics use is very similar. Paraplegics use a mono-ski, which looks like a smaller version of a surfboard, and a cage, which is the seat; the type of cage varies depending on the injury level.

After transferring into the cage (which is usually done on the dock where an able-bodied helper will assist you into the water), you’re then strapped in. If you have good hand strength, you can opt to hold the tow rope. Once you’re set to ski, the boat will drift into position. When you’re ready, you usually say “Hit it” or give a thumbs up, and the boat will take off.

It is very difficult for a mono-ski to flip over. They’re typically quite stable, but see below for additional accessories that assist quadriplegics in this area.

How Quadriplegics Water Ski

Quadriplegics of any level can try adaptive water skiing, which makes this sport especially awesome. To make the mono-ski stable for quad skiers, outriggers float on each side of the mono-ski. When these are attached to the mono-ski, it cannot flip. This works especially well for those who cannot swim or have a hard time balancing.

And since most quadriplegics won’t be able to hold the tow rope, a ball on the mono-ski hooks on to the rope. And make sure you use a loud voice since that’s the main way to communicate with those in the boat. If you’re especially fearful but still want to try it, you can ski with someone next to you; either behind or to the side. Able-bodied skiers can ski/stand alongside the mono-ski to help out with stability, reducing any anxiety you might feel.

Adaptive water skiing is and will remain one of the crown jewels of adaptive sports. It’s one of the best adrenaline-fueled sports out there. While it definitely can’t be done alone, and it takes a bit of planning, we can’t recommend this insanely fun sport enough.

Have you tried adaptive water skiing? Where did you go?

Learn more

Adaptive water skiing rules from Disabled Sports USA

Adaptive Water Ski Equipment

Adaptive Water Ski Organizations


Adaptive Adventures (CO)

Allina/Courage Kenny (MN)

Colsac Skiers (WI)

Great Lakes Adaptive Watersports (NY)

Patricia Neal Recreation (TN)

Northeast Passage (NH)

Achieve Tahoe (CA)

UCanSki2 (FL)

YMCA Adaptive WATER Skiing (NC)

Outdoors for All (WA)

Two Top Mountain Adaptive Sports (PA)

LOF Adaptive Skiers (CT)

Adaptive Water skiing Videos

Sault Accessible Sports – Adaptive Water Skiing

GO PRO: Immanuel Rehab Adaptive Water Skiing

Married to the Chair: Adaptive Water Skiing

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