Wakeboarding for Beginners

Board Control

Brad Dwyer
An article by Brad Dwyer
Published: February 07, 2007

So you've just learned how to get up. Now you want to start actually doing stuff. After reading this article and practicing a little bit, you should be controlling the board rather than the other way around.

The first two concepts that you need to understand are the heel-side and toe-side edges. Intuitively, the heel-side edge is the one closest to your heels (behind you) and the toe-side edge is the one closest to your toes (in front of you).

Many new riders fall into the trap of trying to steer by turning the board. This is the wrong way to steer. Not only is it ineffective to rely on your fins to turn you, but you're setting yourself up for some hard falls.

If you want to learn the hard way, be my guest. I'd be willing to bet that after your first face plant that rips your eyelids back and sends water careening through orifices you didn't even know you had you'll relent and learn how to edge correctly. I guess there's more than one reason they call these kinds of falls "eye-openers."

The correct way to steer is to lean on your heels and your toes. Shift your weight. If you shift to your heels and lean against the rope, you will go backwards. For left-foot-forward (or regular footed) riders this will be port. For right-foot-forward (or goofy footed) riders this will be starboard.

You always want to be pulling against the rope (leaning away from the boat). This tension is what actually powers your turn.

You should go out and practice going from one side of the wake to the other until you get the hang of it.

As you get better at carving you should notice a few things. First, if you cut out and let up off of your edge too quickly you will get a lot of slack and the rope will be jerked from your hands.

This is an important thing to note. Sudden shifts in edge are generally not good. You want everything you do to be smooth and fluid.

Once you can control the board reliably, you're ready to start learning some basic tricks. Surface tricks and small wake jumps are what you should start to work on next.

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