- Jul 28, 2017
- by Ross Villarino
If you’re diving into the world of wakeboarding - first of all, congratulations! Wakeboarding is an incredibly fun sport that’s also wonderful exercise and great for group outings. With a variety of equipment and techniques, it may feel a little overwhelming at first, but don’t worry.
We’re sharing the top tips for wakeboarding beginners, so you can get started feeling confident.
Learn the Basic Wakeboard Terms
Here are the basic wakeboarding terms to know:
- Wake: The wave, which is created by the boat, that a wakeboarder uses to ride or jump
- Regular Footed: Riding with the left foot forward
- Goofy Footed: Riding with the right foot forward
- Bindings: The boots attached to the wakeboard, which hold the rider’s feet in place
- Get up: When the rider, as they’re being pulled by the boat, stands up on the board
- Nose: The tip of the wakeboard, closest to the boat
- Air: As one advances and begins jumping, the amount of air reached between the wakeboarder and the water below
- Set: A rider’s turn on the wakeboard (i.e. “That was an awesome set. Now, Jake’s up for his set.”)
Know the Wakeboard Equipment You’ll Need
You don’t need a lot of equipment to wakeboard. In addition to the boat for hooking up to, you’ll simply need:
- The Wakeboard itself
- A Wake rope
- Wakeboard bindings
- A life vest
- Recommendation: A helmet, particularly for those 16 and under
How to Choose a Wakeboard
Wakeboards can have a center fin or two side fins. As a beginner, you’ll want to look for wakeboards with a center fin. This type of wake board gives more stability. (As you advance and look for more control to use and do tricks, that’s when you’ll want a wakeboard with two side fins.)
How to Choose a Life Vest for Wakeboarding
There are two types of life vests to look at.
- Comp Vests (also known as competition vests or impact vests)
- Coast Guard Approved vests
We recommend starting out with CGA approved vests. They’ll float you out of the water more than an impact vest and, because you’re not sinking as much, will let you get up easier. This is very helpful for beginning wakeboarders.
Comp vests are mobile, but, as mentioned, they don’t float as much. Plus, there are more restrictions on when you can wear comp vests. As you get more advanced, you can bridge over to the comp vest, giving more mobility to do tricks and jumps.
Update: Liquid force recently came out with the Watson Liquid Force Coast Guard Approved vest. It has the feel of a comp vest but it also Coast Guard Approved. Two birds with one stone, my friends. Check out this video modeling the Watson Liquid Force CGA Vest.
Insider tip: You know a vest is coast guard approved if it has 2 buckles.
Should You Wear a Helmet Wakeboarding?
We recommend wearing a helmet for wakeboarding; it’s always a good idea because, hey, you never know when you may catch an edge or face plant. Even beginners can get up to 18 - 21 mph. Going down at that speed, we’d rather err on the side of caution.
When it comes to kids, we suggest helmets for those 16 and under no matter what. One reason is that younger wakeboarders are more likely to try crazier tricks, so it’s ideal to keep their heads extra protected.
How to Choose Wakeboard Bindings
There are two types of bindings for wakeboards.
- Open toe bindings
- Closed toe bindings
Closed toe bindings are more specific and personalized to the individual wakeboarder. Because your toes are locked in, they give you more control over the board and how to use it.
Open toe bindings will work for a wider range of people. For example, there’ll be ones that range from 8 - 12 and 10 - 14. If there a few people starting out together, usually open toe bindings are more logical.
To make sure the bindings you pick truly fit your body and feet, it’s ideal to go to a wakeboard store in-person. Just like trying on shoes, putting on bindings in person can allow you to feel out if you prefer:
- A softer or stiffer feel for the ideal comfort
- A narrower or wider foot
- The size itself
In addition, a store will have on-site staff and wakeboard experts who’ll make sure you get the right wakeboard bindings for you.
What to NOT DO on your Wakeboard
It’s ideal to NOT wear extra items like:
These are likely to fall off and get lost while wakeboarding.
Most importantly, do not panic. If it’s getting tough to hold on, you can always let go of the rope. And if you do go down, hey, there’s the opportunity to try again!
Decide: Wetsuit or No Wetsuit?
You can certainly wear a wetsuit, especially if wakeboarding in cold water. Our only warning: Wetsuits can restrict mobility. As you get more advanced and desire to do more tricks, it can be ideal to wakeboard with no wetsuit.
Be Prepared: You May Be Sore
Wakeboarding is such a fun and thrilling experience, one can forget - no matter how beginner or advance - that it’s also exercising the body’s muscles. So yes, there may be some soreness the day after!
For medical advice and recommendations, we recommend talking to your doctor. For general advice though, here are a few post-wakeboarding tips for if you get sore:
- Stay hydrated before, during and after wakeboarding. This helps muscles to not cramp and reduce soreness after.
- As needed after, use a combination of ice (to reduce inflammation and act as a local anesthetic) and heat (to help with blood flow and relief of pain, such as with a heating pad) to bring relief to the muscles
- Do some simple, gentle stretches after, such as:
- A Wall Stretch: Facing or standing perpendicular to the wall, place your arms out in front of you and slowly walk your fingers up the wall. (For sore shoulders)
- Over the Head Arm Stretch: Reach your arms up. Grab your left elbow with the right hand. Then, pull that elbow over and downward. Copy movement with opposite elbow and hand. (For sore shoulders)
A medical professional will be able to give more tips and tricks catered to the areas you feel most sore or sensitivity in.
Tips for How to Get Up on a Wakeboard
Now that you know about the equipment and how to prepare for wakeboarding, it’s time to think about the wakeboarding itself. That’s why we’ve prepared this guide for the most important thing for beginners: The Simple Guide for How to Get Up on a Wakeboard.