How to Drive a Jet Ski

Driving a jet ski is not the same as driving a car. There are many factors to consider when driving a jet ski that do not apply to operating a vehicle. It is easy to learn to drive a jet ski, but it takes some getting used to, as the jet ski will handle and respond not only to how you drive it, but to the water as well. While you cannot control conditions such as wind, current, or choppiness of the body of water, you are much better off navigating these elements if you know how to drive the Jet Ski.

Drive a Jet Ski

Position yourself comfortably on the Jet Ski. Insert the Jet Ski key until you hear a beep, but do not turn the key or start the engine until you have unclipped and pushed away from the dock. Most keys have a stretchy coil that will attach the key from the jet ski to your life vest once it is inserted. This is a safety precaution which causes the Jet Ski to automatically shut off if the driver falls into the water.

Turn the key and start the Jet Ski after you have pushed away from the dock. Always keep one hand firmly placed on the Jet Ski’s handle bars when starting the Jet Ski. Then, place both hands back onto the handlebars.

Squeeze the levers behind the handle bars gently to increase your speed. Take a moment to become comfortable with the amount of pressure necessary to cause this increase. Squeezing too quickly will create a large increase in speed very quickly, causing the Jet Ski to jump forward, and then buck a bit once pressure has been released. It may also cause the driver to lose balance and fall off. Experiment with increasing your speed, then easing off and slowing down before you attempt to turn the Jet Ski.

Turn the Jet Ski by turning the handle bars in the same direction you intend to move in. This should also be down gently--slow and gradual is the way to go when you’re learning to drive the Jet Ski. Sharp turns may be fun, but the novice driver will fall frequently when attempting sharp turns. Instead, make long, wide turns by turning the handle bars slightly. This will help to get you accustomed to the way the Jet Ski leans to the side a bit through the turns.

Practice slowing down. This may sound silly, but Jet Ski’s don’t have brakes. The stopping mechanism here is the friction between the bottom of the Jet Ski on the water in addition your weight. This will act as a natural stopping force.


  • Proper safety precautions such as life vests should be taken at all times when participating in any water sports, including jet skiing.

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