Skipping rocks is a skill that requires mastery of speed, spin, and angle. It can make for a great day at a lake or another peaceful body of water and can even be a bonding activity for you and your friends or family members. Even if you don’t beat the Guinness World Record of 51 skips in one throw, you’ll likely impress children when you skip stones like a professional. The most important thing to keep in mind is that it’ll take some practice to skip rocks across a water surface, but the hard work you put in will be worth it.
- Find a flat water surface with a large supply of rocks.
Lake shores or calm areas of rivers are best. Ocean beaches are not your best option, unless it’s a very calm day. However, the calm bay side of a beach, such as parts of Florida’s Gulf Coast, can be just as conducive to rock skipping as a lake. If you do choose to skip stones on rough water, you’ll need to adapt your technique to using a slightly heavier stone, which is more likely to plough through a wave and maintain a steady course.
Just keep in mind that heavier stones can be more challenging to skip, so you’ll be putting yourself at a slight disadvantage.
- If you can’t find a flat water surface with a good supply of rocks, bring a stack of your own. It’ll be harder to get the technique down if you have to spend five minutes searching for a new rock every time you skip a stone.
- Select your rock.
Look for a skinny, flat and round rock about the size of your palm, which is just heavy enough to be immune to breezes and turbulence, but still light enough to be thrown with accuracy.
Try to find the thinnest rock possible. The smoother and flatter the stone, the better it will skip across the surface of the water without breaking the surface tension.
- However, the world record holder for rock skipping admits that a perfectly round and smooth stone is too slippery to hold; he prefers a stone with a chip or a bump that he can grip so that he can get the most spin.
- It’s also possible that a rock with lots of small pits on the surface reduces water drag in the same way that the many dimples on a golf ball reduce air drag. Try out different kinds of stones and see what works best for you.
- If you have rougher, more calloused hands, it may be easier to grip onto a smoother stone. However, if your hands are as soft and smooth as a baby’s, it may be challenging to grip it well before you throw it.
- to Skip Rocks Place your index finger against the edge of the rock.
Hold the flat sides of the rock with your thumb on one side and your middle finger on the other. This is just one way to hold the stone; what matters, ultimately, is that you can send the stone spinning in a straight line with the flat end almost parallel to the water. You should make sure to place the stone in the crook of your index finger while placing your thumb on top of the rock to maintain control of it.
- You can also consider the size of your hands when implementing this technique. If you have smaller hands, you may need to use a smaller stone so that you can really get a firm grip on it.
- Face the water sideways, with your feet shoulder-width apart.
Stand with your non-dominant side closest to the water’s edge, with your shoulder turned toward the water. Squat down close to the water so that when you throw, your rock will be close to parallel with the surface of the water. Scientists have found that the ideal angle between the stone and the water is 20 degrees; any less than that, and the friction slows it down; any more than that, and it cuts the water and sinks.
- If you’re tall, you might find yourself making the angle too wide, in which case you can compensate by throwing the stone faster. Practice getting the stone to hit the water at a 20 degree angle, even if you can’t get it to skip, at first.
- to Skip Rocks Bend your wrist all the way back and then snap it forward to flick the rock against the surface of the water.
Don’t think of it as throwing an overhand Frisbee, but as throwing an underhand softball. You can also think of it like cracking a whip sideways. The important thing is that you carefully bend your wrist all the way back to generate some power, and that you then flick it forward quickly and at the right angle, allowing it to spin counter-clockwise. Throw it as fast as you can
without losing form . Angle and spin are more important than speed.
- The world record holder has been observed to employ a baseball pitcher’s windup with a sidearm release and a strong follow through.
- to Skip Rocks Get your legs into it.
At first, you can just focus on getting the arm work down, but after you feel like you have a strong sense of how to get the speed, spin, and angle that you’re going for, then you can work on getting your legs into the mix so that you can generate even more power and master the technique. Focusing on your footwork can help you master the rhythm and skills needed to skip rocks to the best of your ability. Here’s what you can try:
- Bend down at least half a foot and get some bend in your knees. Then, when you flick that rock forward, you can generate some additional power.
- For extra momentum, if you want to be like our world record holder, then you can raise the foot closer to the water about half a foot above the ground, lean more on your back foot as you wind up, and then skip the stone and follow through to land on that front foot. This can also help you generate some additional power. You can think of this as being similar to a pitcher’s wind-up.
- Though you may be going barefoot or wearing flip-flops if you’re near a calm ocean or a lake, if you’re really committed, you can consider wearing sneakers. This can help you get a firmer grip on the ground and will keep you from slipping.
- to Skip Rocks Make sure to follow through.
Don’t just throw the rock and stop moving your arm as soon as the stone falls out of it. This will cause it to stop short. Instead, when you bend that wrist back, make sure to whip your throwing arm all the way across your chest, finishing near the shoulder of your opposite arm. Following through will ensure that you’ve put all of your power and momentum into the throw and will make the stone travel the furthest and skip the longest.
- Think of it as throwing a baseball or hitting a forehand in tennis. You want to complete the full motion to maximize the results.
- to Skip Rocks Keep practicing.
If the stones bounce off the water and go high in the air, you’re probably throwing it down too close to yourself (making a wide angle between the stone and the water); try throwing it so the first skip is further away from you.
That’s because the force of the water pushes the rock up, and with too much force, it goes too far up then comes down at a sharp angle and sinks. If you throw it too far, though, then the stone will “surf” across the surface of the water (rather than skip) and the friction will slow the rock’s momentum and cause it to sink.
- You can also practice skipping stones of different sizes and weights. You may find that you prefer a lighter, smaller stone, or a larger, heavier stone.
- If it’s summer and you have some free time on your hands, just practice skipping 20 or so stones a day until you get it. Remember that you’re not trying to be a world record holder and that you’re just trying to have some fun.
Add New Question
Are we supposed to spin the stone while throwing?
Yes. It should have a good horizontal spin so it can skip across the water. Try letting it spin off your index finger when throwing.
Would it be possible to use large, flat clamshells?
You can use anything as long as it has a similar shape and weight, but then it wouldn’t be skipping rocks. It’d be skipping clamshells.
What is the best kind of rock to skip?
Smooth, flat rocks or rocks with a small grip.
How many times on average do stones skip after lots of practice?
Skipping stones is still hard, even with lots of practice. There are many variables that influence the skipping of stones, so the conditions are a big factor. Even with natural conditions perfect, humans aren’t. You may get 0 skips, or 10. Look for good conditions and with lots of practice, you may get that ten in a row.
Can I use something other than a rock?
You could use anything of a similar shape and weight, but then you wouldn’t be skipping rocks.
About how long will it take to learn how to do this?
It depends on how quickly you learn. Just keep practicing and you will eventually get there.
Is it good if there are boulders in the water?
If you are using them as targets and can hit them, well done. Usually, a skipping rock that hits a boulder stops skipping.
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- Some people find the backhanded method of rock skipping easier. Stand facing sideways to the water, but this time have your dominant hand closest to the water’s edge. Flick with the backside of your hand facing the water, like you’re scattering birdseed.
- The really light and small rocks skip more times and go further, but a medium weight usually works best for beginners.
- Really big rocks, like stepping-stone sized, can sometimes be skipped using the backhanded method with both hands, but they don’t go as far.
- A rock with a curved edge will sometimes hit the water and go a different direction, like a boomerang.
- Do not aim rocks towards people or wildlife.
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