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How To Get Up On A Wakeboard

Watersports > How To Get Up On A Wakeboard

To save yourself some time, prevent frustration and possibly save some of your self-esteem, try following these steps when trying to get up on a wakeboard:

    1. When starting off, lie in the water on your back and position your board and feet directly in front of you. Keep your knees at about a 90 degree angle. Hold this position until you feel pressure on the rope handle from the boat idling forward. If your feet and the board are not directly in front of you, you'll likely be spun around.

    2. When ready, give the driver a thumbs up signal to start the boat forward.

    3. As the boat starts to pull you, point your toes forward somewhere between a 25 and 45 degree angle so that you feel the board start lifting out of the water. If you keep your toes at a 90 degree angle before getting on plane, the board will be pushing the water in front of it forward rather than climbing on top of it. IE, instead of riding the water, you'll be pushing it forward (which would be hundreds, if not thousands of pounds of pressure; hence feeling like your hands are getting ripped off).

    4. While being lifted out of the water, start turning your board so one foot goes in front of the other. Do not stand up until you're on the water. By the time you're standing, your body should be facing either left or right. Left foot forward is referred to as a regular stance while right foot forward is referred to as a goofy stance. If you need help determining which stance is best for you, have a friend push you from behind. Whatever foot you put in front of you to catch yourself is the foot you'll want to be at the front of the board when you're riding on the water. Again, do not stand up until you're on plane.

    5. After you've gotten on plane and are gliding on the water, stay in the same general spot (relative to the boat) until you feel stable, then start making small turns left and right. Dropping into the lip of the wake for the first time will likely result with you back in the water, but give it a shot. If it doesn't work the first time, it'll work the second, even if that second attempt has to be repeated a few times. This is a crawl-walk-run type activity so give it some time.

Failure is part of the process so accept and embrace it. One of the worst things you can do to your progression is psyche yourself out by accepting failed attempts as your capacity. This is not the case. Progression can be quickly made by sticking with it, and focusing on what you want to learn rather than what you can't do.

While getting on plane will allow get you into the joyous world of wakeboarding, here are some other tips to help improve your experience:

    1. If you plan on doing a lot of wakeboarding, invest in a well fitting neoprene life-jacket or vest. In addition to keeping you comfortable and safe, the Neoprene material will keep you warmer than a standard foam or nylon life jacket, as neoprene traps water in which is then heated by your body (much like a wetsuit). This allows for longer sessions in comfort.

    2. Keep headaches away by using a water hood or helmet. The hood will help prevent headaches from cold water and air, as well as diminish head-to-water impact on crashes. Yes, you can catch edges while wakeboarding and it's almost a guaranteed headache. The helmet will have a similar effect as the hood, with an emphasis on impact rather than keeping your noggin toasty.

    3. Find your ideal speed. Most boat drivers will have a sadistic urge to take you much faster than you need to go. This creates heightened pain for you when you screw up, which creates entertainment for the driver. To counteract this problem, communicate your ideal speed to the driver. Social obligations will act as a temporary remedy for the drivers dark side, allowing for a less painful experience. You only need enough speed to keep you on plane and to build the type of wake you prefer (small, big, etc). For jumping, more than enough speed can be gathered by quickly going from one side of the wake to the other (which I call the nun-chuck effect).

    4. You don't have to be a Boy Scout to be prepared. Was getting your feet in the bindings a ten minute process Get some boot goo or find the right size of bindings. Was the rope handle tearing up your hands Get some wakeboarding gloves or a handle that's bigger or in better condition. Can't seem to get to the sweet spot of the wake based on rope length Buy a multi-section rope that can be adjusted to your preferences.

Big thanks to Derek Rutlidge for all the great tips those 11 short years ago.

Photo by Arturodonate

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