As the Ski industry began to die in the mid-1990s the tow-boat industry began to fall with it until the popularization of wakeboarding which some consider being the savior of the tow-boat industry.
Getting up on a wakeboard can be tricky for new riders, but by correctly positioning your body, relaxing your arms, and bending your legs, you will be standing up in no time.
As you are likely excited to dive into this new and exciting sport, it leaves the question: How do you get up on a wakeboard?
Table of Contents
Know Your Stance
It is important to know which way you will be standing on your board before you enter the water.
If you leave this until the boat has begun to tow you, you will not know which way to turn your wakeboard, and likely end up hitting the water.
As with other side-on board sports such as skateboarding or surfing, you have two stance options: Regular or Goofy.
- A regular stance is one that positions the right foot at the tail of the board and left in the front.
- A goofy stance is the mirror image of regular as your back foot will now be at the tail of your board and your right foot at the nose.
Should I Stand Regular or Goofy?
The stance you take is entirely up to you, but most riders prefer to place their dominant foot at the back of their board.
If you don’t know which foot is dominant you can take note of what foot you use first when climbing stairs, kicking a ball, or standing on a skateboard and see which stance feels the most stable.
That being said, in some cases a right-dominated person may surf goofy, and vice versa.
You should choose the stance that feels the most natural, and not the stance that “should be” correct.
Body Position in the Water
Once you have discovered your main stance it is important to understand the correct body position while in the water before being towed.
If your starting position is off then getting up on the wakeboard will be significantly more challenging.
- When in the water you should be floating on your back with the wakeboard floating near the surface of the water parallel to the back of the boat.
- Your entire body should remain relaxed with your knees bent to your shoulders and hands holding the tow rope (palms facing down).
- Your arms should be in between your legs and kept straight but relaxed.
- Your heels should also be pushed slightly down to keep the top rail of the wakeboard out of the water.
Different Types of Starts
When it comes to different starts, there are two main options: Deepwater starts and dock starts.
Each of these has its own advantages, but it is the ease of the deepwater start that has a strong contribution to the popularity of the sport, and the start that is recommended for beginners.
Deep Water Start
Deepwater starts are generally best for beginners as they can be gentler, and you won’t need a professional boat driver.
For a deep water start, you will begin lying in the water at the back of the boat as described above.
As the boat picks up speed, the momentum will pull you up and out of the water.
A dock start is slightly more tricky and requires great communication between the rider and the boat driver.
You will also need a private dock and an uncrowded area to do this.
A dock start can be done by sitting at the edge of the dock with your feet in the bindings. As the boat takes off it will pull you off the deck and onto the water.
This can also be done from a standing position by jumping at the opportune moment, but this is past the scope of a new wakeboarder.
How to Get Up on a Wakeboard
For the purpose of making standing up as easy as possible, we will be discussing how to get up on a wakeboard by using a deep water start.
This is because not everyone has access to a private dock and it’s often found to be easier than dock starts.
1. Secure Your Bindings
Before you think of jumping into the water you need to make sure your foot bindings are secure.
If your bindings are too loose you will not be able to properly control the board, and will likely come out of the bindings if you fall.
Bindings that are too tight will hurt your feet and eventually lead to cramping. This takes a lot of the fun out of the sport as you’ll be constantly in pain.
2. Get In the Water
Hop off the boat with the tow rope in one hand, or have someone pass it to you once you are in the water.
Once you are in the water and holding the tow rope, simply float on your back (which should be easy with the aid of your life jacket) and wait for the boat to move away from you.
Once the rope has no more slack you can use it to maintain your balance while floating.
You should be lying on your back facing the stern of the boat with your wakeboard parallel to the back of the boat.
3. Secure the Handle
Hold the handle of the tow rope with both hands, palms facing the water.
The rope should be running between your legs and over the center of the wakeboard’s lip.
It is important to keep the rope center so as to not be pulled to the side when the boat speeds up.
It is dangerous to fix the tow rope to your board or body as you will be dragged behind the boat if you fall. You should avoid twisting the rope around your hands, arms, or any other body part.
4. Position Your Board
Your wakeboard should be positioned on its edge with the upper rail out of the water. If you
keep the wakeboard flat it will get caught under the water when the boat takes off and will not pull you out.
To help keep the rail out of the water you should press down with your heels, slightly tiling the top rail towards your body.
This will also help keep the rail from getting pulled under the water when the boat accelerates.
5. Bend Your Knees
Bend your knees as close to your body as possible. The closer you are to your board, the more stable you will be when the boat accelerates, and therefore the easier it will be to get into an upright position.
6. Position Your Arms
With the tow rope running down the centerline, place your elbows on the outer side of each knee.
Your arms should be straight but remain relaxed (this will make sense once you try it). If your arms are stiff you will find it tough to adjust to the chop in the water as the boat pulls you out.
7. Let the Boat Lift You Out of the Water
Lean back as the boat begins to pick up speed. Don’t try to pull back against the boat, instead allow the boat to pull you up and out of the water.
You should avoid bending your arms to bring the handle closer to your body as this will cause slack and a strong jerk when the boat catches up.
8. Keep Your Weight on the Front Foot
When getting up on a wakeboard you should keep the majority of your weight on your front foot. This will help you get on top of the water and turn into position.
Once you are up and riding you can adjust your weight distribution towards the back.
9. Stand Up Slowly
Once the momentum of the boat has pulled you out of the water you can slowly begin to straighten your legs and turn your front hip towards the boat.
Don’t stand up too quickly as to lose your balance, and keep some bend in your knees to absorb any bumps in the water.
10. Shift Your Weight
Once you are up and stable, you can begin moving your weight between your toes and heels to maneuver around the back of the boat.
Keeping the handle of the tow rope close to your hips will maximize control and balance.
7 Tips for Standing up on a Wakeboard
If you have followed all the above steps, watched countless “how-to” videos, and spend hours in the water but are still struggling to get up on a wakeboard then one or a few of the following tips may be a solution.
1. Choose the Right Board
Selecting the correct wakeboard to start learning on will make all the difference.
The best wakeboards for beginners should be on the larger side, have a small rocker, include rounded rails, and have larger fins.
This combination will provide maximum stability, more control while moving forward, and will be slightly slower to aid with your learning curve.
2. Shorten the Rope
If you are struggling to get up on a wakeboard you should consider shortening the tow rope.
Generally, a wakeboarding rope ranges from 55 feet to 75 feet, with 65 feet being “ideal” for beginners.
Shorter ropes keep you closer to the boat which allows you to practice on narrower wakes (or try a wake park).
Advanced riders tend to opt for longer ropes as they allow more freedom to move, generate more speed, and catch move air time on jumps.
3. Slow Down the Boat
If you constantly find yourself being pulled off your feet when the boat takes off then you should consider telling the boat driver to slow down.
Many beginners think that putting the boat into full throttle will create the required momentum to pull them out of the water, but this is not the case.
Pulling off at 12 to 15 mph is perfect for beginners, and can slowly be increased as the rider stabilizes and gains confidence.
4. Use a Wakeboard Tower
As a general rule, the higher the tow-rope is fixed onto the boat, the easier it will be for the wakeboarder to get onto their feet.
By using a wakeboard tower, the rope will not only pull you forward but will drag you up. This will decrease the drag time behind the boat before your wakeboard pops onto the surface.
5. Keep Your Knees Bent
You should always ride a wakeboard with slightly bent knees.
A mistake that is made by many beginners is that after getting up on their wakeboard they fully extend their legs.
By doing this they remove their ability to absorb the bumps in the water caused by the boat and elements.
Being stiff in this situation will likely cause you to bounce around behind the boat and ultimately fall.
Keeping your legs slightly bent at all times will not only increase your stability but will give you more control when maneuvering your wakeboard.
6. Switch Up Your Stance
If you have followed all the above steps and tips, but still do not feel stable or comfortable on your board then you may want to consider switching up your stance.
It is common for people to ride better in switchfoot (their dominant foot at the front of their board).
This may seem strange at first, but switching your stance could be the solution you are looking for.
7. Know Your Hand Signals
Being able to successfully communicate with the boat driver and others on the boat is a must.
If you can successfully tell the driver to speed up, slow down, turn, etc. then you will have greater control of how your ride develops and will not be surprised when the boat makes moves.
Wakeboarding is a high-intensity extreme sport that is loved by millions around the world.
As with everything new, there is a learning curve to face before we have mastered the basics, and wakeboarding is no different.
Getting up on a wakeboard can be tricky the first few times you try as the learning curve is steep, but once you are up, something will click in your head and you will find it easier each time.
Follow the steps above, and when running into any problems, refer to the provided tips.
If you do this you will be on your feet and carving up the wakes in no time.
G’day, my name is Rach Taylor and I’m the proud Founder of Surf Hungry. I am a former Australian Olympic athlete and Australian representative surf sports athlete. I’ve worked in the surf industry and lived at many of Australia’s best surf spots, sparking a life-long love of the ocean and a passion for surf sports which also rubbed off on my two young sons! I am also lucky to spend a lot of ocean-time in my favorite second home, Indonesia. In addition to SurfHungry I have founded several other websites in my areas of passion, namely coffee and rock climbing, and am also a regular rowing content contributor.