Wakeboarding might not have been around quite as long as other water sports, but it has quickly risen in popularity and become a favorite for anyone looking for an adrenaline rush on the water. Wakeboarding has become the sport it is today thanks to professional wakeboarders like Cobe and Tarah Mikacich, but do not let those epic moves fool you – even wake legends started as wakeboarding beginners.
If you are new to wakeboarding and looking for a thrill with some major air be prepared for a bit of a learning curve. Before you can bust out more complex, advanced wakeboarding tricks, you will want to be patient with yourself and start with the basics. These basics are wakeboarding skills that every rider should know before they try learning harder moves, especially since these moves could pose risk of harm if you go out on the water without knowing what you are doing.
To help beginner wakeboarders ease their way into the sport, we have put together a beginner’s guide to wakeboarding. This guide includes overviews for some of the most popular beginner wakeboarding moves – like surface slides and jumps – to get you up on the board. These moves will help you get comfortable being on the water as you find your balance and learn how to move and rotate the board. Before you get started, there are some wakeboarding terms you should know.
Basic Wakeboarding Terms Every Beginner Needs to Know
- Backside - This is a rotational direction where the back side of your body faces the direction you are going.
- Frontside - This is a rotational direction where the front side of your body faces the direction you are going.
- Heelside - This is an edging position where you are leaning back with your weight on your heels.
- Toeside - This is an edging position where you are leaning forward with your weight on your toes.
- Spin - This is a wakeboarding trick where you rotate your body and wakeboard.
- Switch Stance - Otherwise known as the goofy stance, the switch stance is a non-natural stance where your opposite foot leads.
- Wake - This is the water that moves outward in either direction behind the boat as it moves.
Safety Tips for Wakeboarding
Before you start learning how to wakeboard, there are some important safety factors to keep in mind. As you are finding your balance on the water and becoming comfortable with some basic moves, remember that wakeboarding does come with its dangers. As you are learning the water sport, you are likely to land in the water more often than you land any tricks, and if you have ever fallen into the water you know how much that can sting when you are tossed in by a boat at high speeds.
To keep yourself safe, you should start with simple moves and be prepared before any injury happens. This means wearing a life jacket and helmet as the rider. Your boat captain should also have some safety items as they are just as responsible for rider safety as the rider themselves. Safety items for the boat include a wakeboarding setup that has wakeboard tower mirrors for view of the rider as they are being pulled across the water. These safety items will help you have a much more enjoyable experience while wakeboarding!
Beginner Wakeboarding Moves
Once you are prepared to ride the wake safely, it is time to learn some basic moves. The very first thing you need to learn how to do before you can attempt any wakeboarding tricks is how to get up on the board. This is the very first step to any wakeboarding adventure for any wakeboarder, especially beginners, so we asked wake legend, Cobe Mikacich, to show us how it’s done in a quick and simple how-to guide.
Then, once you are comfortable getting up on the wakeboard, it is time to find your wake legs. Finding your balance as you are being pulled across the water may take time, so as with all wakeboarding skills you are going to learn, exercise patience with yourself! Every wakeboarder started as a beginner, so just keep practicing and you will get it in no time. As your balance gets better on the water you can start to figure out how to maneuver the board. Maneuvering the board can be done in different ways depending on what trick you want to perform, so next up we will cover some of the most basic beginner wakeboarding tricks that get you moving on the water.
A precursor move to virtually any wakeboarding trick, edging involves shifting your weight on the wakeboard to move yourself within the wake. This can be performed both heelside and toe side, meaning that you can lean forward or backward to move in either direction of the wake as you are pulled behind the boat. Practicing this move will help with your balance and ability to control the movement of the board.
Crossing the Wake
Crossing the wake is a step up that builds on edging. Like edging, you will move the wakeboard from side to side, but rather than staying inside of the wake you will cross over it into the flats. This is an important skill to acquire before moving on to more advanced wakeboarding tricks. Being comfortable with crossing the wake will help you learn how your wakeboard moves across the water, which means you can figure out how you need to lean and shift your weight in order to get the board to move in the way you want it to. For more help learning this wakeboarding basic, check out our beginner’s guide to crossing the wake.
Jumping the Wake
While aerials and ollies are cautioned against for beginner wakeboarders, we all know that one of the most exciting things about the water sport is getting some air. A basic jump is an easy trick to perform while you are still learning. With a basic wake jump, you can still feel that adrenaline rush on the water by edging into the wake and then jumping over it into the flats. This move will require balance and control of the wakeboard, but once you have it mastered it is sure to become one of your favorites! To make your wakeboard journey a little easier, check out our handy guide to learning how to jump the wake.
Spins are great beginner-level wakeboarding tricks that keep your board on the surface of the water. This minimizes the risk of harm when learning while still letting you have fun on the water. The surface 180 is a type of surface spin the is a great follow-up to crossing the wake as it will use similar motions but provide more of a challenge to hone your wakeboarding skills, especially since you will need to be comfortable with the switch, or goofy, stance. During the trick, your front and back feet are going to switch positions as you spin your wakeboard. This rotation can be completed either starting in switch stance or in regular stance, so try it both ways to see which one is more comfortable for you! Learn how to perform a surface 180 in our helpful beginner’s guide.
Also known as the “power spray”, the power slide is a timeless wakeboarding trick that even seasoned riders continue to perform. This is a great beginner move because, just like a surface spin, it keeps you on the surface of the water, but with the spray that comes from pushing against the water provides quite a thrill! To perform the trick you are going to turn your board backside 90 degrees, so you want to make sure you have balance and control while your wakeboard before you attempt it. Also, keep in mind that smoother water is best for this one. Trying a powerslide on choppy water is almost a sure way to get thrown in. Before you head out on the water, be sure to read our beginner’s guide to performing the powerslide.
Another type of slide is the butter slide, a fun beginner wakeboarding move that can be performed a variety of ways to keep it exciting and provide a challenge at any skill level. This move is all about sliding your wakeboard sideways across the water while grinding the wake. When done properly your board will only be touching the wake at its center while your body weight is shared evenly between your feet. You can perform this one both frontside and backside and at 90- and 180-degree angles. For even more of a challenge, hold your handle between your knees while you butter slide. If you’re ready to try it for yourself, check out our beginner’s guide to the butterslide.
Next Steps to Learning How to Wakeboard
After you have mastered these beginner wakeboarding moves and feel confident in your wakeboarding skills you might be wondering – what’s next? The moves included in this guide are some of the most fun and thus, most popular, tricks that are well-suited for all skill levels, so they are sure to keep you feeling that rush on the water for some time.
These moves are basic and can be more easily learned on your own, but as the tricks get more complex you are going to want a more experienced guide to show you the way. Having a seasoned wakeboarder teach you will help keep you safe on the water, and it will make it that much easier to learn. In the meantime, keep practicing those skills and we look forward to seeing you out there on the water! Tag us on Instagram or Facebook to share your progress!