Wakeboarding is one of the most popular water sports in the nation, but many people are unsure how to begin.
If you’ve been sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else have fun, these tips can help you get up on a board and in the middle of the action!
Regardless of whether you’re brand new to wakeboarding or have been involved in the sport for years, there are always methods you can use to sharpen your skills.
Wakeboarding can be a lifetime hobby, so you should never feel as though there is nothing else to learn.
There is also something to be said for introducing others to the sport.
Once you’ve learned the ropes, consider teaching others some basic tips and tricks.
It’s always easier to learn with a friend, and to have someone to talk to about your latest achievements on the water (or your most spectacular wipeouts!)
Tips for those first few rides
When you’re learning to wakeboard one of the most challenging things is simply learning to stand on the board.
Here’s how to get started:
- Begin floating on your back with the board in front of you, arms straight in front of you holding the towrope
- Put one arm on the outside of each knee, and bend knees
- With your feet strapped to the board, keep it in front of you
- Allow the board to rest on its side, then it will begin to plane on top of the water once you get some momentum
- Let the boat driver know you’re ready to go
- Try to stay relaxed as the boat picks up speed and lifts you into a standing position
- Don’t lock your knees and try to stay flexible
It takes time to get the hang of wakeboarding, so don’t be too hard on yourself as you get started.
Like with any sport, you’ll get better with practice.
It’s also important to say that your body will ache in all sorts of new places after your first few rides.
Don’t worry, your strength will quickly increase and you’ll be able to enjoy your new pursuit without aches and pains.
Tricks for beginners
Once you’re comfortable on your board, it’s time to master a few basic tricks.
Crossing the wake
As the boat moves through the water it creates a V-shaped wake behind it.
You’ll learn how to wakeboard within the wake, but once you have that down you’ll want to work on crossing the wake.
This is how you’ll begin to catch air on your board, and it’s a great way to strengthen your balance and skills.
Here’s how it’s done:
- Turn your board by leaning into your heel and toe edges as you pull the rope away from the boat. This allows the wakeboard to turn. Turn your head int he direction you want to move, and gently angle your shoulders and your chest in that direction, keeping your movements slow and controlled. To cross the other direction, just push your knees down toward the water, press on your toes, then turn your chest and shoulders the other direction.
Jumping the wake
When you’re ready to catch some air, position yourself near the edge of the wake.
With your knees bent and your handle held at hip level, begin to straighten your legs to stand as you approach the wake.
Once you feel the air, pull the rope toward your front hip.
Keep your arms in for the landing, and your knees bent as you move forward.
This one looks more complicated than it is. You don’t actually leave the water, but maneuver your board in a complete circle.
Keeping your elbows inward toward your body, begin bending your knees and rotating your hip, putting extra weight on your heels.
As you begin to rotate to the front while keeping your chest toward the boat. As you rotate to the back, pivot your chest away from the boat.
Once you’ve mastered some basic moves you should have the confidence and skills needed to advance.
The key to avoiding injury is to progress slowly, allowing your body to become comfortable maneuvering the board before you approach more complicated tricks.
Tricks for intermediate riders
When you’re ready to move into the next level, try mastering one new trick before you move on to the next.
A great way to warm up on the water is to complete a progression of tricks you are comfortable with, moving from least to most difficult.
This move combines a frontside 180 with a frontside front roll. Begin by edging outside and gliding back to the wake.
Keep your hands held closely to the forward hip. At this point your shoulders should be perpendicular to the wake.
As you approach the wake, stand up and turn your head toward the boat, looking over your shoulder.
This should initiate a turn as you launch into the air. Once you’ve spun, look for your landing spot.
Keep your hands pulled in close to stabilize you during the rotation and landing.
Once you can perform a heelside 180 and heelside 360, you can step up to the 540.
Begin by approaching the wake with sufficient speed to know you’ll clear the wake and get up high.
With your arms tight toward your body, let go with the front hand as you pop up, making an effort to mvoe toward the boat.
Pull the handle behind your back and try to grab it at the hip, not fully behind your back.
Once you’ve made your 360, swiftly move the handle across the front of your body and pass to the back hand.
With your head and eyes up, pull the handle to your hip to complete the rotation.
You should land on your toes, edging away from the boat.
Tricks for advanced riders
Once you are fully comfortable on the water and know how to easily guide your board the direction you intend, challenge yourself to master a few advanced tricks.
Always a crowd favorite, this trick combines a trick called the Tantrum with a 360 backside turn.
You approach the wake as if you’re doing a basic Tantrum, cutting in with a strong edge and preparing to stand to full height near the wake.
Twist your body as you complete the Tantrum, with your back angled slightly toward the boat.
With a bent arm and a tight handle, begin your rotation by abruptly moving your head, arm, and shoulder away from the boat.
Your elbow and arm can remain in the air to increase your rotation.
When you’re read to land, lower the arm and look for your landing spot.
Once you can consistently get good air during Scarecrows and have mastered the Toeside 360, try and add the Crow Mobe to your repertoire.
Begin on the outside of the wake by around 10 feet. Glide onto the wake with a progressive edge, keeping your body tall and pushing off the wake to achieve a substantial pop into the air.
Initiate your rotation as you would with a normal Scarecrow, but give it an extra push.
Begin to pull the rope toward your back as soon as you can see the water again.
If you’re able to do a handle pass here, that looks really cool. You can also opt to simply land wrapped. T
here are also tons of style variations you can add to this trick.
There’s a reason why wakeboarding is such a popular way to spend time on the water.
Not only is this sport exhilarating, it’s also an excellent way to stay in shape.
There’s also something to be said about the “wow” factor of wakeboarding.
As you progress through the stages and become more and more comfortable on the water, find ways to add flair and style to your tricks.
Your posture counts, as does the speed with which you progress through moves.
Many advanced wakeboarders have developed signature moves that make any trick their own.
This comes with time and practice, but is something that’s fun to work toward.
By putting in some effort and pushing yourself to learn new tricks, before you know it you’ll be the one gracefully sailing through the air and sticking your landings.
Best of all, you’ll know exactly what is going through the minds of everyone on shore who is watching with awe and admiration.
And as always, stay safe on the water.
Be sure your body is in good shape on land and by sea, which will reduce your risk of injury and allow you to engage more fully into your tricks.
Spend time warming up, don’t hog board time if you’re out with others, and take time to fully enjoy these moments spent on the water.
In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, wakeboarding offers a chance to push the limits of gravity, and an opportunity to push your own limits, as well.