Essential Wakeboarding Tips for Beginners (Riders & Drivers)
Wakeboarding is a lot of fun, however, like anything new when you first start out, learning can be frustrating. If you’re unlucky, it can also be rather painful.
Having an instructor will definitely help the learning curve, as will having a friend there to guide you through the fundamentals.
However, if you have neither, the following tips will definitely be of assistance.
Read these and take heed, and you will find your time on the water will be a lot more fun.
1. Preparing the gear
Wrong gear and no idea? You might want to change at least one part of that sentence. Starting out with the right equipment will put you in good stead.
You may be relying on whoever is providing the boat for this, however, you should be wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vest.
Neoprene vests are recommended as they are more comfortable and will fit your form better.
The rope will also make a difference to your experience. A non-stretch tow rope of about 65- to 75-feet in length is recommended for wakeboard use. This will give you enough distance from the back of the boat to maneuver.
Take-off loops will also give you the versatility to shorten or lengthen rope as you see fit.
Finally, you should set your board up so that it is specific to your size and shape. The bindings should be positioned shoulder-width apart or wider.
You should also be able to assume a comfortable “riding” stance on the board with your boots pointing outward at a 9-degree angle.
This will help prevent aches and pains on the water, while also giving you a better center of gravity for staying upright.
- Related Content: Best Wakeboard Bindings for More Fun on the Water in 2021
2. Getting up on the water
The first time you stand up on the water and begin skimming along with your board is a wonderful feeling.
The best way to make sure that happens on your first few tries is to remember to relax.
Don’t exert yourself trying to pull your own weight up and out of the water, the path of the boat doing the towing will take care of that.
Keep your arms straight and with your knees bent in front of you, allow the board to raise beneath your body.
The important next step is to raise yourself above the board slowly. Don’t rush it and allow for the momentum to increase your stability.
You then adjust your posture so that your weight is focused on your back, dominant foot.
Well done, you are up out of the water and wakeboarding!
3. Staying up on the water
It’s not over yet, however. Staying up for a decent length of time is the next step.
If you feel as if you are being lurched forward from the pull of the rope it could be that your knees are not bent enough.
Essentially, your center of gravity is too high and you are feeling the force of the boat and rope too greatly.
The strain of fighting this to stay up will tire you out much quicker. You’re also a lot more likely to end up face down in the water.
After adjusting your knee bend, you can increase your chances of staying up by gently applying pressure on your heels.
This should skim you out to the side of the wake making for a smoother path that is easier to move through.
If you do find yourself directly behind the boat, the wake will be choppier. In this scenario, position yourself with the rope at your hip, and your weight evenly distributed across your feet for balance.
4. Turning on the water
Toeside and heelside are the descriptions used for turning on a wakeboard. Let’s see exactly what each means:
- Toeside Turns – When your toes are facing the wake, you apply weight and pressure onto your toes so that you approach the wake on your toes.
- Heelside Turns – When your heels are facing the wake. You apply weight and pressure onto your heels so that you approach the wake on your heels.
Toeside can be daunting as you have to stand up and lean back into the rope. A process that feels counterintuitive the first few times, (you think you’ll naturally fall into the water).
It is very easy to get stuck and find yourself remaining on the same line. This is commonly due to the rider leaning the way they are trying to turn, rather than back against the rope.
Get that movement right and you’ll be all over your wakeboard turns.
The next step is the jumps and spins, (but that’s for another article 🙂 )
5. Beginner tips for the driver
If it’s your first time driving the boat with a wakeboarder attached, you may like a few tips too.
First off, you need to ensure you provide smooth and consistent acceleration from a standstill.
High speeds are not necessary for a wakeboard to plane as they have a generous surface area (when compared to water skis for instance).
An average speed of 20mph should do it, (although more confident wakeboarders will appreciate faster no doubt).
As you should be concentrating on what’s in front of you, and maintaining a clear path and good speed, another passenger will need to act as your spotter for what’s going on behind.
Ensure you are able to hear if the wakeboarder has fallen off or needs help.
Ultimately the best wakeboard boat drivers keep to a steady, consistent speed and take straight paths so that the rider can enjoy a good line and wake with which to play.