The first few skills a wakeboarder should learn are important steps for adding more difficult maneuvers. According to Heyday wake sports pro, Dylan Miller, “Learning how to wakeboard first makes learning new sports like wake surfing easier.”
Stacking these basic skills together will lead the way for future progress.
One of the first beginner skills for wake sports enthusiasts to learn is how to assume a neutral position. New riders tend to bend at the waist and hold their arms straight out, but the proper position is to keep the back straight, knees bent as much as possible and hold the tow rope about stomach-high with the elbows close to the body.
To learn how to get up, check out Heyday pro rider Mike Dowdy’s video. After successfully getting up, carving should be the next skill to learn.
“If they want to continue to progress, carving will be the main building block,” Miller said. “Being able to control the board while turning quickly and exploring the wave is a lot of fun and is a definite crowd pleaser.”
Next is learning how to carve turns between wakes. To learn to carve, assume the neutral position then try turning in the direction your heels are facing. This—heelside—is usually the easiest direction for new riders to initiate a turn.
Bend at the knees as you initiate your turn, and when you're nearly to the wake, stand tall to return to the middle of the wake.
Then, turn in the direction of your toes for a toeside turn, and push your hips to follow through into a standing position.
The next progression using this carving technique is to cut across the wake and practice going far outside then turning back in and using the wake as a backstop to halt the turn.
Once you're comfortable carving and crossing the wake, it’s time to start jumping off the wake. Heyday Pro wakeboarder, Carro Djupsjo has some great new wakeboarder advice for jumping from wake to wake.
“Start off by edging out wide on your toeside edge and let your board slowly turn toward the wake. Start your approach slowly and build up speed as you get closer to the wake by leaning back on your heels. Once you hit the top of the wake, stand tall and extend your legs while still leaning back and holding that progressive edge all the way through the top. As you get more comfortable and add more speed, eventually you will jump all the way from one wake and land on the down part of the second wake. Once you hit it, you will never want to stop experiencing that smooth feeling!”
The next skill to learn is how to do a Surface 180, where you swap the wakeboard’s direction. To initiate the turn, lean back against the pull and put pressure on the back foot to release the front fin then smoothly push the rear foot forward to make the swap.
The Ollie is usually done out of the wake and the rider jumps to clear the board from the surface of the water. To start the trick, jump down on the tail of your wakeboard and pull the front foot up. After getting some good air, try adding a 180. This is good training tool for more advanced tricks that will come in time.
There’s no watersport better than wakeboarding for giving new riders the steady thrill of accomplishing new skills that readily highlight their progress from novice to expert.