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Is Wakeboarding Really That Hard? What to Know Before You Start


January 7, 2022

Beginners often ask – is wakeboarding hard? Like all action/board sports, each person’s learning curve will differ based on their experience, gender, age, natural skills, water conditions, boat driver and boat setup.

is wakeboarding hard

So, is wakeboarding hard?

The most challenging part about wakeboarding is getting up out of the water, and about half of new wakeboarders won’t be able to get up the first time. After getting up, jumping wakes, and riding switch takes some practice and skills. Hard landings and faceplants also add a challenge to wakeboarding, so having board sport skills can make wakeboarding easier.

With that being said, getting up on your wakeboard can be done easier with a few tricks – we’ll go over wakeboarding tips below. Learning tricks and jumps can be done quicker by practicing at a cable park.

How to Wakeboard: Getting Up

When you’re learning how to wakeboard, getting up out of the water the first time isn’t necessarily going to happen. Whether you get up right away depends on many factors and is different for everybody.

Wakeboarding instructors should know that only around half of the beginner wakeboarders they teach get up on their first try. Don’t give up, though.

Getting up on your wakeboard can be challenging because many things need to happen in the right sequence and at the right time. The main issue is that many beginners try to pull themselves out of the water instead of allowing the boat to pull them.

Wakeboarding Tips for Getting Up

To quickly get up, you have to start by positioning yourself while in the water as if you’re sitting in a chair but leaning back, with your board pointing out of the water.

Bring your knees up to your chest as much as you can and keep them this way as the boat starts pulling away. Pushing straight knees and even fighting the water will make it harder to get up.

Stay in a squatting position with your butt as close to your wakeboard as possible until your wakeboard is fully planed. Otherwise, you’re going to try to stand up too early, sink your board, and release the rope.

is wakeboarding hard
Source: Unsplash

How to Wakeboard Behind the Boat

Once you can get up on your wakeboard like a pro, the next challenge is getting comfortable riding sideways.

The full-body twist involved in getting into the surf-style stance isn’t natural for some beginners. So, when you’re holding the handle with both your hands, your upper body will face toward the boat, while your hips are only slightly sideways – angled about 45 degrees from the moving direction.

Beginners with a history in board sports (i.e., snowboarding) will have an edge here because the stance is more natural.

Learning how to balance in the new natural wakeboard stance (i.e., right or left foot forward, AKA “goofy” or “regular” stance) while the boat starts towing you is the next challenge you’ll face when wakeboarding.

Your arms will start to get tired and hurt after riding for a bit. Remember that wakeboarding is hard on the arms, but you’ll build up muscle fast.

Keep the tow handle low and near your hips, and don’t pull on the rope. You can do these things to reduce the pressure on your arms and the likelihood of catching an edge or nose-diving your board – faceplants included!

Is Wakeboarding Difficult When Doing Tricks?

Many beginners find that doing new jumps and tricks while wakeboarding is difficult because they require a lot of practice and involve quite a bit of falling.

Jumping high and cutting hard across the wake isn’t easy, and a more advanced wakeboarding trick like Superman’s, tantrums, and backflips require a lot of commitment and boldness.

Most beginners won’t attempt any big tricks until they’ve mastered a dozen “regular” sessions – going side to side and performing small jumps with no issues.

is wakeboarding hard
Source: Unsplash

Is Wakeboarding Hard for Riders of Any Gender or Age?

Young riders have a different idea of the difficulty level of wakeboarding compared to older riders. Young riders view wakeboarding as an easy sport, often resulting in quick progression, while a more advanced rider deals with mental blocks.

Children also tend to have an easier time getting up on a wakeboard than adults do – about four out of five will succeed in getting up on a wakeboard the first time around.

Physical condition is also critical to consider. Beginners will have an easier time getting up, carving, edging, and jumping wake than less athletic beginners of the same age.  

Finally, women have an easier time getting up on a wakeboard than men because they typically don’t try to pull themselves up as much or fight the water.

Risk of Injury

Once you’ve mastered going wake to wake, performing advanced wakeboard maneuvers like inverts and spins can be highly challenging because they carry an increased risk of injury.  

With longer ropes and higher boat speeds, these tricks mean you have a higher chance of getting injured. Falling at high speed, especially headfirst, can result in various whiplash, fractures, and/or concussions.

Closed bindings can also cause broken legs, and the rope can cause cuts, burns, and strangulation.

Bottom Line

Is wakeboarding hard? It depends on who you are and how you view the sport. While it’s generally not thought of as a challenging sport, it can be challenging for people who:

  • Are water skiers
  • Fight the pull of the boat when trying to get up
  • Are afraid of getting injured
  • Are being towed by somebody with little driving experience
  • Aren’t in great physical shape
  • Don’t have board sport experience

Knowing how to wakeboard can add excitement to your life, and with a little patience and practice, we know you’ll get there.

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