Wakeboarding is a 30-year-old sport, invented by combining surfing with waterskiing. Beloved in the world of watersports, wakeboarding has influenced the tow-boat industry, helping manufacturers sell more boats and changing the way these boats were built. Every year since its invention, wakeboarding has grown more and more popular as more people join the sport. But starting from scratch can be daunting, and if you want to start wakeboarding, it can be hard to know where to begin. Learning how to wakeboard starts here: wakeboarding for beginners.
How to Choose a Wakeboard
The most important place to start is choosing your wakeboard. There are many different styles to choose from, as well as important factors to consider, such as how you eventually want to ride and even something as simple as your own proportions.
Due to principles buoyancy and basic physics, the length of your wakeboard is going to make a difference in how you ride. Part of this depends on weight – heavier riders should opt for a longer board, to ensure that the wakeboard is long enough and has enough surface area to sufficiently float along the surface. It’s best to get the size that’s right for your size to make sure your foray into wakeboarding does not end in frustration.
There are many, many styles of wakeboard out there. Since this is a world of trick riding, a lot of the variations lie in what kind of wakeboarding you want to do – some are designed for speed and peak aerodynamics, while some are designed for tight turns or huge jumps. For a beginner, though, it’s best to start with something that will give you the most stability possible. This will likely look like a double-ended board with a fin and what’s referred to as a “continuous rocker”, or a single fluid, curved shape along the bottom of the board that allows for a smooth ride.
An important element of your wakeboarding exploration is going to be cost. Since your board will be one of the most important pieces of equipment you buy, it’s worth the money to try to get a good one, especially one that will best suit your needs for some time to come. But you don’t have to break the bank either – while some boards cost a lot of money, most wakeboards will come in at a reasonable price, with good quality.
Okay, so you have a wakeboard – what’s next? Well, there’s a lot of equipment left to select for the best wakeboarding experience. What kind of wakeboard gear will you need? Read on to find out.
Staying on your wakeboard isn’t just a matter of balance – you’ll also have bindings to help you out. What they look like and how they attach will be up to you. But the first step will actually be figuring out your stance: if you’re regular or goofy-footed. Like skateboarding, surfing and snowboarding, regular footing refers to standing with your primary foot (in most cases the right) in the back, while goofy-footed is the opposite. All you need in order to determine this is to know which is your dominant foot – this foot will go in the back.
From there, your binding options will vary widely. Typically, beginner bindings will be on the flexible side, softer. It’s also good for your bindings to fit snugly, but not too tightly. You can consider open-toe versus closed-toe boots, as well as system bindings. Open-toe will offer more space for a variety of shoe sizes, while closed-toe offers a more precise fit and more control. System bindings offer a more customized fit, with a high-back frame and ratchet straps similar to snowboard bindings.
Wakeboard towers, as the name suggests, mount on your boat to allow for a high towing point for wakeboarding. A higher angle for the tow point creates more lift for a wakeboarder, making it easier to get out of the water and do tricks. These don’t come with all boats, and are not strictly necessary for tow sports, but there are many affordable options out there. All you need to do is check that your chosen wakeboard tower is made of high-quality materials and will fit well on your boat.
Towing cable is a necessary part of wakeboarding. You need to have a line to hold onto as you’re being towed. Typically, beginners will find more success with a shorter rope. The shorter and less flexible the rope, the more control you will have while you’re learning. Additionally, wakeboard ropes differ from those for waterskiing and tubing in that they have very little stretch. Wakeboarders rely on a tight line to perform tricks and avoid falls, so buying a rope like this will help you gain the skills you’ll need as you get past the basics.
Storing wakeboards onboard will allow you to save space on deck, eliminate tripping hazards and organize your whole space by safely putting your board or boards away. They will also keep boards and your boat in better condition by not exposing them to quite as much potential for damage for either – your board will also dry out better, minimizing wear and tear. There are different types of racks for different types of boards, so make sure you research what you need. Most racks can be acquired at a reasonable price. Just be sure to keep an eye out for the features you want, such as rustproof metal, quick-release clamps and padded rack forks.
How to Get Up on a Wakeboard
Learning to wakeboard is difficult, and by far the most daunting part for beginners can be getting up on the board. But, like anything in life, all it takes is practice, patience and knowing where to begin. Start by floating on your back with arms straight out, holding the towrope. With the board strapped onto your feet, place it in front of you toward the boat, and then place your arms on each side of your legs and bend your knees. Signal to your driver that you’re ready, and then, keeping the board on its side in the water, allow it to plane on top of the water. As you pick up speed, allow the boat’s force to pull you up into a standing position. Stay crouched to maximize your balance. Try not to push, pull or fight against the forces of the water, the board or the boat – just stay relaxed and patient, and let your board and the water do the work.
How to Turn on a Wakeboard
Like other board sports, turning is a matter of controlling the edges of your wakeboard. To do this, you need to know how your feet and your weight can be used to control the movement of the board. In practice, this will look like leaning – either to your toes-side edge, or with your heels. If your stance is regular, a toes-edge lean will turn you right, and a heels-edge lean will turn you left. Try to keep your movements fluid and smooth at first, as sudden changes in your stance can upset your balance, causing you to catch an edge and fall.
Wakeboarding Tricks for Beginners
Once you have everything you need and you’re standing up on your board, it’s time to get to the best part of wakeboarding – the tricks! This is why so many people turn to wakeboarding as a sport, with a ton of fun moves to make out on the water and even in the air. But we’re not launching into backflips immediately; these are some wakeboarding tricks for beginners.
If you know how to turn (or edge) your board, you’ll be ready to try crossing the wake. You will move the wakeboard from side to side, and cross over the wake into the flats. In order to do this, start with your shoulders and chest in front of the boat, with your knees bent, and look in the direction you want to go. Turn your wakeboard to where you want to go, and you’ll start to move! This move can feel tricky due to the change in the water, but it’s an important skill to learn before moving on to more advanced tricks. It’ll help you learn how to lean and adjust your weight while still maintaining your balance.
Spins are an excellent beginner-level tricks that keep your board on the water’s surface, minimizing the risk of harm when learning while still letting you have fun. It’s a type of surface spin that uses similar motions to crossing the wake. To do it, your front and back feet will switch positions as you lean to spin your wakeboard, so be ready for that. First up, lock your elbows and bend your knees, then use your hips to turn your body and your back foot to lead and initiate the spin. You’ll spin 180 degrees in one direction, then back again to complete the trick. Once you master this, you can use the skills learned to go for harder tricks.
An ollie is a jump, and one of the most basic wakeboard tricks, perfect for a beginner as it is a building block of many other moves. In order to make it happen, you need to be confident and fast, to turn all the components into one full, precise movement. But it’s also relatively simple, so you should be able to get it right. Start off riding straight with the handle in your leading hand, and your arm slightly bent. Shift your weight onto your rear left, quickly lift your front left, and then push off from the water with the tip of the tail and bring your rear leg up to your front leg to level out your board. This will build into other skills, so it’s okay if it takes time to get it right.
Slides are beloved moves in the wakeboarding world, timeless and exciting to the point that even advanced riders will continue to perform them. Just like a surface 180, this move will keep your board on the water, making it a good beginner move. To execute it, you need to turn your board backside 90 degrees, displaying the balance and control you’ve already learned. You’re going to start next to the wake, edge toward the wake, and then cut out hard and edge into the flats. Then, as you’re cutting, kick your back foot in the same direction, take your back hand off the handle and relax your front arm. Lean away from the boat, so your toes are in the water and your heels are in the air. You’ll do the slide until you’re pointing forward and ready to do it again!
Tail grabs are another move that involves catching air, so be sure you’re ready when you start. It’s a good move to try as you continue to get more advanced. The goal here is to use your crossing the wake skillset, combined with your improved control over the board, to get enough air to grab the tail of your board and come back down clean. An easy way to start is to come from the flats into the wake, using the lip of the wake to jumpstart your airtime. As you start to cross it, put most of your weight on your back leg and lift your front leg. This will help launch you up. From there, if you have enough air, reach back and grab dead center of your board’s tail. This takes coordination to master, especially because once you start to come down from your jump’s apex, you have to be ready to level your feet out and land smoothly. It’ll take some practice!
Types of Wakeboarding Boats
The most important part of wakeboarding is the boat that you’ll be pulled behind. Watersport boats come in many shapes and sizes, with many built specifically for that purpose – these would typically come with a wakeboard tower and other features to enhance the experience of wakeboarding, such as a comfortable captain’s chair. These boats will also be high performing and easy to maneuver, which will help launch your wakeboarding dreams.