The 7 Most Common Jet Ski Handling Errors to Avoid (2023)

Jet skiing always means great fun, and fortunately, they can be easily operated even by beginners. But despite the ease of use, you can see many riders who repeatedly make the same mistakes.

Are you wondering what these are and how you can avoid them?

We, at JetDrift, have collected the most common jet ski handling error information, so you can avoid these mistakes and ride like a pro!

The 7 Most Common Jet Ski Handling Errors

1. Starting the jet ski in shallow water

Surprisingly, many riders make the most common jet ski handling mistakes when they start their engines in shallow water.

Every owner’s manual clearly states that you can start the engine only in a certain depth of water, which is usually 3 feet (90 cm).

If you ignore this warning, you risk your pump sucking up debris, trash, and even smaller rocks from the bottom.

Beyond the pain and hassle to remove these objects, this can damage the jet ski’s propulsion system, as the impeller and the wear ring can be damaged easily.

Because of this, always check the water depth before you start the engine, and also shut it off for the same reason before beaching your jet ski!

2. Porpoising

“Porpoising” is the effect when your jet ski is jumping in and out (surging) of the water instead of running smoothly along the surface.

This issue usually occurs with hard accelerations. If you have a high-performance PWC and do a “race style” start, it’s good to know that these models are prone to leaping out of the water. In fact, many times the problem comes from your position. If you sit too far back on the saddle, it leads to raising the bow of the jet ski.

The good news is that you can correct this jet ski handling error easily. Just sit forward on the seat closer to the handlebars and lean your upper body over it. At the same time, move your feet farther to the rear for better stability.

In this way, you can move more weight toward the bow which can keep it down if you do hard accelerations. If your jet ski has a trim system, turn the nozzle down completely.

Once the ski is on plane mode, don’t forget to set the trim to the optimal position and you can also sit on the saddle comfortably.

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3. Don’t stand up on rough water

Today’s jet skis have really big and bulky hulls, which means they are much more stable and comfortable on rough water.

However, if you’ve ever ridden in rough conditions, you may find that if you ride your jet ski in a sitting position, it can lead to painful bumps on the saddle.

Because of this, it’s highly recommended you ride your jet ski in the standing position! In this way, you can compensate for the bumpy effects of the waves with your legs, which means a much better riding experience for you – and for your legs as well!

If you have to cover a longer distance, you may find this position tiring. To get some rest, sit down on the saddle’s lower back support (seat bolster) while using your legs to compensate for the bumps.

What’s more, the standing position also gives you a better view of your surroundings.

Also, keep your speed low and avoid hard accelerations. If your ski has “ECO mode” or “Slow mode”, don’t hesitate to turn them on for smoother handling.

These were just some basic tips, but if you ride your jet ski in rough water regularly, don’t hesitate to learn more to stay safe on the water even in harsh weather!

4. Sliding out in hard turns

According to professionals, the next very common jet ski handling error is when you slide out during hard turns. It means your hull doesn’t cut into the water perfectly and the rear side of the jet ski slides out suddenly.

In fact, this issue was much more common on the early sit-down jet skis, but the problem still exists even on the newest models!

It can lead to losing control, which can be scary, and finally, you can find yourself in the water. In the worst-case scenario, you can capsize your jet ski!

Because of this, it’s wise to learn upfront how to flip your jet ski over in the water properly, as well as learning how you can reboard easily.

You may also like to know how to avoid sliding out with your jet ski. The good news is that you can avoid this issue if you control your speed and pay attention to your body’s position.

First, position your feet properly! The trick here is to put your inside foot toward the front of the jet ski while moving your outside foot toward the back of the footwell. In this way, you can keep your jet ski’s stern firmly in the water during the turns.

You should check the trim again, as setting it down helps to keep your jet ski’s hull in the water.

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5. Riding with passengers improperly

Most first-time riders think that riding with passengers doesn’t require any practice until they fall into the water!

In fact, if you want to take passengers or a lot of gear with you, it all affects your jet ski’s curb weight, thus the whole handling experience changes radically.

One of the most common issues is if the passengers fall off the jet ski during a sharp turn. This could also be an issue if your jet ski capsizes at low speed due to the lack of stability.

What’s more, if your passenger falls down behind the jet ski, the pump can force the high-pressure water into her/his orifices! That’s why your owner’s manual gives recommendations and instructions for you if you want to take passengers with you.

Never overlook these and learn how to ride your jet ski with passengers properly!

6. Riding at overly high speeds

One of the most common jet ski handling errors is overly high speed. According to the yearly jet ski death and accident reports by U.S.Coast Guard, one of the main reasons for many accidents is reckless driving and uncontrolled speed.

Because of this, you always have to be careful, especially if you aren’t an experienced rider.

If your ski has a “learning key” or any kind of “slow mode” installed, it’s highly recommended you use these features in your first rides as a beginner.

Once you have some experience you can try higher speeds – but only with caution!

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7. Doing dangerous tricks

It’s common knowledge that stand-up jet skis are designed for tricks, but you would be surprised how many tricks can be done on a sit-down jet ski as well!

But let’s face it, some of these stunts are not just spectacular, but dangerous at the same time.

For example, the popular wave jumps can be dangerous for you and for your jet ski as well. Operating the jet ski in different tricky positions or even facing backward is also risky and is not recommended at all.

It’s wise to know your limits and to wear the proper jet ski clothes and protection like helmets, to reduce the risk of injuries!


As you can see, there are several jet ski handling errors, but the good news is that most of them can be avoided completely.

Avoiding these errors involves learning how the jet ski works, as well as the basics of how to operate it. You can also find useful and necessary info in your owner’s manual, so don’t overlook it!

Additionally, it’s wise to learn how to avoid the 7 most common jet ski handling issues:

– Starting the jet ski in shallow water

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– Porpoising

– Not standing up in rough water

– Sliding out in turns

– Riding with passengers improperly

– Riding at overly high speeds

– Doing dangerous tricks

Fortunately, all of them can be avoided by a careful operation. The most important rules to remember are to control your speed, know your limits, and avoid tricks that can be dangerous for you.

You also have to pay attention to your handling techniques. If you don’t have riding experience, you can make a good start at some of the jet ski rental services.

Moreover, you should consider obtaining a boating safety course (jet ski license) even if your state doesn’t require you to have one.

This was our short compilation of information about the 7 most common jet ski handling errors. We hope you find it useful!

Related Articles:

How to Ride a Jet Ski: 25 Riding Tips for Beginners

How to Ride a Jet Ski With Passengers?

The 10 Best Sit-Down Jet Ski Tricks [Video]

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The 7 Most Common Jet Ski Handling Errors to Avoid? ›

The 7 Most Common Jet Ski Handling Errors
  • Starting the jet ski in shallow water. ...
  • Porpoising. ...
  • Don't stand up on rough water. ...
  • Sliding out in hard turns. ...
  • Riding with passengers improperly. ...
  • Riding at overly high speeds. ...
  • Doing dangerous tricks.

What can go wrong with a jet ski? ›

Spark plugs that are seized are a common Jet Ski difficulty because of the environment they are employed in. Mold and Mildew on the seat and in the engine bay. If you do not allow out your Sea-Doo, Yamaha, or Kawasaki Jet-Ski atmosphere after every use you will start to draw mold and within your engine bay.

What happens if you flip a jet ski the wrong way? ›

When flipping your jet ski in the water, ensure that you have read the hull's sticker, and that you flip it the right way. Doing it the wrong way can lead to engine damage! You also must learn how to reboard the jet ski properly, in order to avoid re-capsizing.

How do you handle a jet ski? ›

How To Ride A Jet Ski - YouTube

What makes a jet ski explode? ›

Jet ski explosions tend to happen when the watercraft is sitting idle. The usual reason for this is that many jet skis lack a blower assembly that is specifically designed to vent built up fumes. When these volatile fumes accumulate, all it takes to ignite them, causing an explosion, is the smallest spark.

How do you not flip a jet ski? ›

Avoid abrupt movements: The most common way to capsize a jet ski is by making a turn too abruptly. Make sure to turn gradually until you get a good feel for how the jet ski handles. Know your abilities: Another common way people flip a jet ski is by riding more aggressively than they can handle.

How many hours is a lot on a jet ski? ›

What is considered high hours on a jet ski? As a general rule to go by, a jet ski with more than 100 hours is considered a high hour jet ski. On average a jet ski should have approximately 30 hours a year. Anything more than 30 hours per year is considered “high hours”.

Which way do you flip a jet ski? ›

For most jet ski models you'll want to flip them back over in a counter-clockwise direction or the direction that allows the exhaust to hit the water last. If water is in the crank case, get your jet ski back to shore. Next, remove the plugs. With the plugs out and wires grounded, crank the engine.

Do jet skis turn around when you fall off? ›

Don't worry; the engine will shut down in case of a fall, so this means the jet ski will stay close to you. Current jet skis models come with safety equipment called a safety lanyard (also known as cut-off lanyard, or jet ski lanyard), which does this job for you.

Why do so many Sea-Doos sink? ›

Why Would a Sea-Doo Sink? The leading reason why many Sea-Doos sink is arguably missing drain plugs. These small plugs are located on the rear side of the hull. As their name implies, the drains are used for draining bilge water from the Sea-Doo.

Will a jet ski tip over? ›

PWC TV Tip - Roll over recovery - YouTube

Is it easy to fall off a jet ski? ›

It's much easier to fall from a jet ski than from a boat, and most watercraft-related deaths are the result of drowning, which can be prevented by wearing a life jacket. This is true regardless of your swimming ability!

How long should you flush a jet ski? ›

With water flowing run the jet ski for 3 or so minutes allowing for the jet ski to be warmed up for a thorough flush. VERY IMPORTANT to turn off the water first and allow the jet ski to run for an extra 5-10 seconds with a few light throttle squeezes to push out any remaining water in the system.

Are sharks scared of jet skis? ›

Fishing and Jet Skiing

As you can see, sharks don't want you or your jet ski; they want your catch.

Whats the weight limit for a jet ski? ›

A jet ski's weight limit is the maximum amount of weight it can hold, including passengers, fuel, storage, and any added on accessories. Most jet skis have a weight limit of 500-600 pounds. With a rider capacity of 1-3 people, this equals an average weight of 200 pounds per person at the most.

How common are jet ski accidents? ›

What's more, as jet skis offer much less protection than boats, in case of an accident, a jet ski rider is much more exposed to injuries. Based on the USCG report, 600-700 jet ski accidents are reported each year, resulting in around 40 deaths, although this tendency has been declining over the past decade.

Are jet skis hard to fix? ›

Although jet ski parts have some similarities to automobile parts, there tend to be some complexities with jet ski repairs that the average handyman may be surprised to find when rebuilding that jet ski engine which looked so easy in the beginning.

How hard is it to maintain a jet ski? ›

The average jet ski gets about 30 hours of riding a year meaning that you can expect to burn 120-300 gallons in a year. Depending on gas prices you should expect to spend $300-600+ annually. Ongoing maintenance is another cost that will need to be accounted for.

What to know about buying a used jetski? ›

Top 11 Tips when buying a used Jet Ski or personal watercraft
  • Check the year model and ID, do a finance check. ...
  • Check the hours. ...
  • Service history. ...
  • Check the hull. ...
  • Check the engine. ...
  • Look for water inside the hull. ...
  • Check the oil and oil filter. ...
  • Check it has the right security key/lanyard.


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