Board sport enthusiasts: try not to mourn the fact that your snowboard is now sitting pretty in storage with a thick coating of wax. Instead, get thee to the nearest lake (or whatever body of water happens to be nearby), secure a reliable friend with an even more reliable boat, and kick off the wakeboarding season.
Wakeboarding is water skiing’s arguably cooler cousin. The feeling of gliding across the water is somehow similar to, yet totally distinct from, surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding. Quite simply, you have to try it to really get it. Here’s what you need to do to start your wakeboard season off on the right foot.
Whether you’re new to the sport or just a little rusty after a season on land, you’ll need to master the art of actually standing up on the board. Don’t overthink it: relax your body, let the boat roll you forward, and use your legs to start to rise as the boat accelerates. Practice makes perfect here: once you get it, you get it.
Regular or Goofy?
If you’re already a board sport fanatic, you’ll know whether you are regular (left foot forward) or goofy (right foot forward). If you don’t already know, don’t worry about it. Your body will shift into whatever position feels right.
Master the Ollie
Get comfortable with the ollie on your wakeboard. Just as in other board sports, the idea of the ollie is to jump over something, either just to get a little air, or to clear an obstacle. Get steady on your feet and jump up, shifting your weight from your front foot into your back foot. Visualize the motion of shoveling heavy snow: plowing the shovel with your weight, then transferring the weight to throw the snow off the path.
Once you’re comfortable riding in your normal stance, challenge yourself by getting used to riding switch (with the other foot forward; the way that feels unnatural). Riding switch is paramount to building a foundation for tricks. Don’t worry about starting from scratch: your body already knows what to do, so learning to ride switch will come to you much quicker than when you had to learn how to wakeboard the first time around.
There’s a long list of wakeboard grabs, many with entertaining names like Canadian Bacon and Roast Beef. All grabs, in one way or another, involve your hands holding onto a particular spot on the board. Grabs are the key to executing tricks with style, so study up on the various types of grabs and get practicing.
Strong skills on the water will lead you towards executing intermediate and advanced tricks—but strong skills out of the water will get you there faster and in better form. Don’t forget to stay conditioned in the off-season and throughout the summer months.
Play around with balance boards, or better yet, engage in other board sports year-round. Build your hands, forearms, biceps, shoulders, and back for rope control. Condition your core for flips and spins. Strengthen your lower body, including your quads and hamstrings, to keep you stable on the water.
Don’t forget to indulge in long, slow stretch sessions after on- and off-water conditioning. It’ll keep you going strong, so you won’t have to miss a day out on the water.