You probably remember when you first wanted to learn how to wakeboard. You learned about the equipment, how to get up on the board, and tricks you should learn. Now, you’re ready to move from the basics to more challenging things. It’s time to go from a beginner to an intermediate wakeboarder! To help you level up, we’re sharing some tips and tricks for transitioning from beginner to an intermediate wakeboarding.
How to Tell When You’re Ready
It can be difficult to determine when you’re ready to move on to intermediate riding. One easy way to tell that you’re ready is when you are confident you’ve mastered the wakeboarding basics. You will want to smoothly be able to get up and stay on a board while you’re in the water. After you feel comfortable getting out of the water, you’ll want to be able to flow back and forth with your tricks. You should be able to master a clean wake to wake jump, which means getting good air, popping off the wake, and landing smoothly on the other side of the wake. This technique is for both heelside and toeside wake to wake jumps. Then, you should be able to incorporate some simple grabs in the wake to wake jump. From there, you would want to master 180’s for heelside and toeside. Once these jumps are consistently clean, with proper body positions, and you feel comfortable doing all of these tricks, it is time to start moving to intermediate and advanced tricks.
Still not sure if you’re ready to work on advancing your wakeboarding skills from the beginner to intermediate level? There are a couple questions to ask yourself to know if it’s time to learn something new:
- Can you get up and stay on a moving wakeboard in the water? If you are still struggling to get up and stay on the board, you may need to re-evaluate your technique, or even your boat. While any boat can technically be used for wakeboarding, there’s no denying that some boats are far better for the sport than others. Boats with added ballast capacity, such as a towboat that’s designed for watersports, make larger wakes. Larger wakes mean less work and strain on the rider, so they have an easier time getting up and staying up on the boat. That said, some wakeboarders recommend learning how to wakeboard without having ballast and then adding weight to the boat over time to make the wakes larger as you progress. The best thing to do is to get to know your situation on the water so you take the right steps to improving.
- Have you mastered the wakeboarding basics – a clean wake jump, heelside and toeside wake to wake jumps, simple grabs and 180s? If you are still working on proper body positions and have yet to master any of these basics, you might want to keep practicing before moving on to these more advanced tricks.
If you answered no to these questions, remember that practice makes perfect, and it’s always safer to take things one step at a time. If you answered yes, then you’re probably ready to take your boarding to the next level!
Your stance for intermediate wakeboarding will be different from a beginner’s stance. As you get more experience, you will be ready to move into an intermediate stance. The way you change your stance is by moving the bindings on your board. You’ll want to bring your bindings closer together and your feet will point out. When you move the bindings to the middle of your board, they will make doing intermediate tricks easier. You will want the back binding at zero to nine degrees and one hole from the back. The front binding should be at 18 degrees and four to five holes back.
As wakeboarders advance, they need drivers that understand the sport not only to help them successfully land their tricks, but also to keep them safe on the water. Make sure your driver understands driving patterns and how to speed up or slow down the boat as needed to accommodate a more advanced rider.
In order to land more advanced moves you’re going to need two things: knowledge of the right driving patterns and more speed. A beginner wakeboarder will typically ride between 19 and 20 mph. When you’re ready to level up to intermediate tricks you’ll want to increase that speed slightly to 21-22 mph. More advanced riders and professionals will ride at even higher speeds of up to 25 mph.
Once you’ve gotten the fundamentals of wakeboarding and you’re ready to move on to the next level, you might need some new equipment. We have a handy guide that can help you figure out how to properly outfit your boat for wakeboarding, but how do those needs change as your skills advance?.
Of course you’ll need a boat with a top-notch wakeboard tower, but as you learn more complex tricks and develop your skills you’ll be moving across the water at higher speeds and looking for higher jumps and more airtime. This will likely require you to level up your equipment alongside your skills.
Since you will be learning more tricks during this stage, the size of your board will start to matter more than it did when you were a beginner. The two main rocker options on intermediate wakeboards are three stage and continuous. Having a three stage rocker with a flat spot in the middle of the board will help push you into the air. This type of board is better for tricks and precision handling, but landings can be harsh. A continuous rocker provides a fast, smooth ride. After taking into consideration what kind of tricks you want to be doing, you should take your body proportions into consideration as well. Most manufacturers have sizing charts for the proper weight-to-length ratios so you can pick out the board that will best suit your body.
A Longer Rope
Another piece of equipment that will differ from beginner to intermediate wakeboarding is the length of your tow rope. With a beginner, you will want the rope to be around 65 feet, but intermediate riders typically need 65 to 75 feet of rope. You’ll want to lengthen the rope to get more air time. A longer rope also provides riders with more room when they are moving laterally behind a boat. As you get farther behind the boat, the space between the peaks of your wake increases, which allows riders to learn board control. With all of these benefits, you’ll definitely want to lengthen your rope. Remember not to use a ski rope as these are too stretchy. Instead, make sure you have a wakeboard line that is specifically designed to have less stretch and better grip. This is going to make advancing your skills much easier when you aren’t having to struggle getting and staying on the water.
Once you’ve mastered basic tricks, you’re ready to move on to intermediate tricks. There are so many you can learn, but we recommend trying these out first as you level up to intermediate wakeboarding:
The Tantrum is a heelside backflip. It is considered the foundation to more complicated tricks, so learning this one is important. A good way to start learning the Tantrum is to backflip on a trampoline or into the water so you can spot your landings and get an idea of how it should feel when you’re behind the boat. The most difficult part about this trick is the take off. You’ll approach the wake and let off the edge. Take your back hand off the rope and toss it to the side above your head. This motion will send you backwards into the air, and you’ll want to keep your eye on the water. Once you see the water, you should prepare to land with your knees bent.
Another trick you’ll be ready to learn is the Scarecrow. It is a toeside front roll with a frontside 180. This is another trick that, once mastered, will be the foundation for other advanced tricks down the road. You should be comfortable with a toeside approach for this one. Edge out at the wide part and get close to the wake. You should approach the wake with your handle close to the front hip, chest up, and shoulders turned into the wake. Then, you’ll turn your head over your shoulder, and this causes the rotation to happen. Keep the rope close to your body as you are in the air. As you come down, release your front hand, and keep your knees bent as you land on the water.
This is another trick wakeboarders start out with when they are transitioning from a beginner to an intermediate rider. You should be outside the wake about 10 to 15 feet. Let the boat naturally pull you back into the wake, and while this happens, bend your knees and put the boat on the heelside edge slowly. You’ll hit the wake hard and keep the rope tight to your body. As you are edging hard, the force of hitting the wake will send you into the roll. Keep your head up and look for your landing spot on the water.
Remember, just as you needed to learn beginner moves before advancing to these intermediate tricks, you will want to master these before trying to improve your skill even further. These three tricks, and several more, are foundational moves to upping your wakeboarding game later. Putting in the time now means even better wakeboarding later.
Advancing your skills as a wakeboarder is exciting but comes with new challenges you’re ready to face. Just remember as you learn to know your limits, focus on safety and have the right gear to help you succeed.
One challenge you may face is finding a place to put your new equipment. Check out our wakeboard racks to keep your new equipment organized while you’re out on the water.