How to wakeboard.
Wakeboarding is an increasingly popular water sport where a wakeboarder rides a flat board, towed behind a motorized boat. This board captures the wake of the boat (hence the name) and uses it to ride up and off the crest. Over time, wakeboarders become skilled at using this technique to perform aerial maneuvers, such as flips.
Wakeboarding has gotten more attention in recent years, in part thanks to wakeboarding competitions at the X Games. If you’ve always been interested in wakeboarding, but you aren’t sure where to start, we’ve got some tips that can help you take part in this rewarding and exhilarating hobby.
Tips for Beginners
These tips can help you have a better experience and be more successful wakeboarding, even if you have no prior experience:
- Try before you buy. If you’ve never been wakeboarding before, it’s a good idea to try it before you commit to it as a hobby. Before you buy your own wakeboard or invest too much time or effort into the hobby, consider going out with a friend and borrowing their equipment, or renting a wakeboard from a local vendor. If you find you hate the sport, you won’t be out much—but we’re willing to bet you’re going to love it.
- Choose the right board. Whether you’re renting or you’re ready to buy, make sure you choose a good wakeboard for beginners. Most wakeboards are fully adjustable, so they can work for a wide range of different riders. However, you’ll still want to get something appropriate in size. You’ll also want to buy a set that includes boots—and a set of boots that are appropriate for your skill level.
- Work out your arms. Most new wakeboarders are surprised at the toll the sport can take on your arms. Just holding onto the rope for extended periods of time is enough to give your arms a good workout, and if you attempt any tricks, it can exert you even more. You can prepare for this by working out your arms consistently prior to wakeboarding—but even if you do this, you can expect to be sore after your first few attempts.
- Be ready to fall. Speaking of your first few attempts, be prepared to fall. This is something that happens to every rider, and it’s practically unavoidable. If you’re ready for it, it’s going to be far less surprising. Depending on the angle at which you fall and the speed you’re going, falling in the water can hurt, but it’s usually a minor and temporary sting. Don’t be afraid of falling; instead, embrace it as part of the experience.
- Consider your stance. Most people have a dominant foot, the same way they have a dominant hand. In wakeboarding, your dominant foot will be at the back, pushing the board forward; in a regular stance, your dominant foot is the right foot, and in a goofy stance, your dominant foot is the left foot. If you’re not sure what’s most comfortable for you, consider trying a skateboard or surfboard first—you’ll naturally gravitate toward the most comfortable stance for you.
- Use a shorter rope. If you’re just starting out, consider using a shorter rope than usual. There will be less variation and less force to deal with, allowing you to practice more comfortably.
- Avoid pulling on the rope. Lots of newcomers end up pulling on the rope out of instinct, but this will tire you out and make it harder to control your board. Instead, let the rope naturally pull you.
- Keep the handle low. New wakeboarders are often tempted to keep the handle perpendicular to their body, holding it out in front of their chest. However, this gives you less control and can wear out your shoulders quickly. Instead, keep the handle lower and closer to your body; you’ll feel a difference immediately.
- Find a good teacher. You’ll have a much better experience, and you’ll learn faster if you have a good teacher. Consider looking for a mentor who has lots of wakeboarding experience, and who’s interested in sharing their experience with others.
- Start out with basic tricks. Don’t be shy about attempting tricks. Once you’re used to the basics, you can start learning a few basic tricks (as long as you’re prepared to fall during your first attempts). For example, try an ollie, or a basic 180-degree spin.
Keep at It!
Even the best-intentioned novice wakeboarders, and those already skilled at surfing or skateboarding are going to struggle in their first attempts. Don’t be afraid to fail, and don’t be intimidated if your first few sessions leave you feeling defeated or embarrassed. This is all part of the learning experience.