Learning to Wakeboard

Wakeboarding - the sport that combines water skiing with snowboarding - is one of the coolest watersports out there. Apart from the optics, there’s the fact that it’s actually pretty easy to get into. Unlike surfing, for example, most people find that they can stand up on the board and complete simple manoeuvres on their first attempt. Another difference with surfing is that you don’t need an oceanic swell to do it - more on that later. But beyond skimming across the water’s surface behind a boat, or towed by a cable, making progress becomes more difficult. We’ve all seen professional wakeboarders pulling off some awesome stunts, but how can we emulate them? Keep reading because we’re going to give you some tips and tricks that will help you complete your first jumps on a wakeboard.

Preparing to jump

"You have to walk before you run."

It’s the same in life as it is with wakeboarding - before you can start getting some air and jumping some waves, you need to have the fundamentals down. The first thing to do is stand up. To do this, you’re going to keep your weight low with your knees bent on the board as you start to move. As the rope pulls you up above the board, slowly start to extend your legs without shifting your weight to either side.

Keep your knees bent

Turning comes next. The turns you complete on a wakeboard are heelside and toeside, referring to the direction that you move the board - towards the heels or the toes. Essentially, to carry out one or the other, you need to put pressure on the side of the board you want to go in. Toeside turns can be particularly difficult because you have to shift your weight onto the front of your feet - just remember to keep the rope taught and you should get the hang of it.

Basic Wakeboarding Jumps

Once you’re moving side to side, you can think about going up and down - jumping. The two basic ways to jump on a wakeboard are completing an ollie and jumping the wake. Just like on a skateboard, learning to ollie is a right of passing for wakeboarders. Start by holding the handle with both hands at chest height and lowering your weight gradually by bending your legs. Next, you’re going to push down with your back foot at the same time as lifting your front foot. This coordinated action can take some time to master but it’s all about getting a feel for the water and your own balance. The board should jump off the water’s surface. Stay calm, keeping your legs bent while in the air, and try to touch the water with the back of the board first.

Balancing while popping an ollie

Jumping the wake is the first step to some of the most epic wakeboarding stunts, so this one is worth getting right. First, move the handle to the left or right to position yourself off-centre from the boat. Then move your lower body to point the board back towards the boat and pull the handle down to your hips - this will make you accelerate forwards. As you approach the wake, keep your knees bent then straighten when you hit it, just like you're jumping out of the water. Now that you're airborne, the same tips for landing an ollie apply.

Jumping the wake

More Advanced Stunts

Getting the hang of those two jumps will keep you entertained for a while, but there’s plenty more you can learn to do. We recommend that you experiment with changing your position, centre of gravity and tension on the rope while completing these jumps to go higher and further. When you’ve mastered them, you can move onto flips, rolls and other gravity-defying stunts! Check out some of the best in this video:

Other Considerations

Wakeboarding Equipment

The equipment that you use will affect your ability to jump on the wakeboard and complete other manoeuvres. Beginners will usually use a long, flat-bottomed board for extra stability. That’s not exactly what you want for pulling off jumps and tricks so you’ll want to take a look at shorter boards with a more complex cross-section. This is referred to as the rocker. Experienced riders usually choose a three-stage or a continuous rocker, allowing detailed control of the board as they shift their weight.

Get more confident

Boat tow or cable wakeboarding

Another consideration is the kind of wakeboarding that you’re doing. The typical setup uses a boat that tows the wakeboarder. There’s a lot of fun to be had when you're being towed by a boat because the pilot can change your speed and direction Of course, the boat also creates the wake which is where the best jumping is found. The other variant is cable wakeboarding, where a winch system pulls you across the water. While there’s no wake to play with, this version often takes place on lakes where ramps and other installations have been put in place to allow you to do some awesome stunts. It’s also a great option for practising as prices are lower when you don’t need a boat and a pilot.

The best British Wakeboarding Locations

As we’ve just mentioned, lakes are a good place to enjoy wakeboarding. Some of the best lakes in the UK are the Tallington Lakes in Lincolnshire, Hove Lagoon in Brighton and Hove, and the Rotherfield Valley outside Sheffield. Wakeboarding behind a boat can be enjoyed on the open ocean, for example near Newhaven and Seaford in East Sussex or off the South Devon Coast, or on estuaries like the Camel in Cornwall or the Bann in Northern Ireland.

Are you ready to try it? Have a look at our wakeboarding experiences and let us know how you get on!