Wakeboarding is an awesome sport. Over the past 20 years it has absolutely exploded around the world with kids, teens, and adults enjoying it in lakes, ponds, oceans, and cable parks. A quick search online for wakeboarding will bring you videos of massive airs, spins, inverted tricks, rail slides, and even some crazy pros grinding glaciers in the arctic. The truth of the matter is that everyone out there started at some point with the basics, which we've outlined below. The basics for absolute beginners:
- Relax. Wakeboarding is about having fun so don't go into it all stressed out about getting up and riding. Not everyone gets it the first time and be prepared to eat some water during the learning process. Your life jacket will keep you floating so all you have to focus on is riding. Clear your mind, listen to your instructor, and get ready to shred.
- The board is your friend. Hopefully you find yourself behind the boat with a suitably sized board and boots. Wakeboards have a massive surface area to help pop you out of the water and, amazingly, they float! Position the board between you and the boat with the rope draped over the center of your board and the board floating about half way out of the water. If positioned correctly, the rope and board should make a big "T".
- Straighten your front leg a bit, point your toes, keep the board up. We say it all the time while teaching wakeboarding: once you get up once you will get up every time. Until then, staying in position behind the boat will help you when it starts pulling you forward. Before hopping in the water you should know whether your left or right foot should be in front ("regular" or "goofy"). By slightly extending your front leg it will automatically put a bit more pressure on your back leg, which will help you when the boat starts going. Pointing your toes will help the board slide over the water instead of pushing against it. Lastly, if that board slips under the water you will be propelled headfirst - which is not the optimal wakeboarding position - so make sure you're showing off the bottom of your board to the spotters in the boat.
- Don't fight the water! When the boat starts pulling, some beginners try pushing back by locking their legs and eat facefulls of water in the process. You want to slide the board over the water, letting the boat do all of the hard work. Keeping your knees a bit bent, your back straight, arms straight, and not leaning forward too much will help get the board up and on top of the water.
- Maintain your balance. Having taught hundreds of first time wakeboarders over the past ten years, I have seen so many students get so close to riding just to fall forwards or backwards. As the board slides up over the water you want your front leg to be in the front and the back...you guessed it...in the back. You optimally want about 60% of your weight on your back foot and 40% of your weight on the front foot. That will get you cruising.
- Back straight, arms straight, knees bent. I mentioned it before but I'll emphasize again: when you find yourself wakeboarding make an effort to straighten your back, bend your knees, and keep your arms straight. If you pull the rope in by bringing your arms to your chest you will fall backwards.
- Wow, you're riding! If you've made it up, congrats! Toss some big fist pumps in the air, you're a wakeboarder.
Every instructor will have their own style of teaching so pay attention to what they say. Watching other beginners is also a great way to learn how to get up on a wakeboard. Ready to learn how to ride? Sign up for one of our sessions to learn, improve, and master this sport: http://www.watermonkeycamp.com/#dates