Most recreational riders get stuck progressing their riding and learning new tricks. But taking the next step doesn’t have to mean working on tricks that are beyond your capability. Using some simple advice, you can learn how to add your own style to the basic tricks you already have and add some new tricks to your bag.
One of the most basic moves you can do on a wakeboard is carve at the wake, which is commonly referred to as “slayshing.” To slaysh the wake, you want to start about 10 feet outside the wake on your heels, then carve back to the wake on your toes. Hold your edge to the bottom of the wake; at this point, change your edge quickly back to your heels, causing your board to carve up the wake then back outside of the wake. Doing so makes a big spray off the bottom of your board, which is always fun. It also teaches you better board control and how your board reacts to quick edge changes.
Being able to ride switch — riding with your opposite foot forward from your normal stance — is key to adding new tricks to your arsenal and becoming more comfortable on your wakeboard. Most recreational riders neglect riding switch, but it’s an easy way to learn something new, and it opens you up to tricks such as 180s. When practicing switch, make sure you slow the boat down a few mph, to eliminate taking any hard falls. Try to stay in the middle of the wakes at first and practice carving back and forth on your heels, then back on your toes. If you’re struggling to stay inside the wake once you get up, let go with your rear hand, which will help you to stay in the middle of the wake. Once you’re feeling comfortable, grab the handle with both hands and practice carving around.
The next step is to edge outside the wakes and then cross back and forth on your heelside and toeside edges. Make sure when you edge over the wake from the middle on your toeside edge, you continue to hold your edge while edging out and away from the wake. Doing so will help keep you from slipping out on your heels at the bottom of the wake. Another key to think about: Keep your eyes up and looking in the direction you are heading. If you look down, you go down!
You Spin Me…
When you start to feel comfortable riding switch and have consistent wake jumps, you are ready to learn 180s. The best way to learn your 180s is to slow the boat down, so you’ll be doing one-wake jumps and landing in the middle of the wakes. The first 180 I always teach is a Toeside 180, which is when you edge toward the wake on your toeside edge and do a one-wake jump to the middle of the wakes. When you’re at the peak of your jump in the air, pull your handle over toward your back hip to initiate the rotation. A 180 is not a big rotation, so you don’t need to pull very hard on the handle — just a nice, consistent pull to the finish the 180. When your board lands on the water, make sure you bend your knees, which helps to regain control and ride away. When you’re comfortable with Toeside 180s, move on to Heelside 180s, switch Heelside 180s and switch Toeside 180s. When you do 180s, make sure you execute your jump and your board leaves the water before you start your rotation. If you attempt to spin early, it will throw you off balance and can cause awkward falls.
Most riders want to learn how to grab their board when they are up the air; it shows control and adds personal style. The best way to grab successfully is to make sure you have a nice, consistent wake jump, whether it’s one wake (landing in the middle of the wakes) or two wakes (jumping across the entire wake).
The first grab to learn is called an Indy grab, which is when you grab the board between your feet with your rear hand on the toeside edge of the board between your bindings. Think about taking your jump up in the air with both hands on the handle before you begin to reach for the grab, which will help get the maximum height out of your jump. Once you’re at the peak of your jump, pull your knees up and closer to your body to bring the board closer to your hands. Let go of the handle with your rear hand and reach for the grab, while making sure you keep control of the handle with your lead hand, which is key to make sure you stay in control during the jump/grab, so you can land the trick and ride away clean. Once you’ve learned the Indy grab, you can begin trying other grabs:
- Tail. Grab with your rear hand on the tail of your board.
- Stalefish. Use your rear hand again, but reach around to the heelside edge of your board between your bindings.
- Nose. Let go of the handle with your lead hand and grab the tip of your board.
- Mute. Grab the board in the same location as Indy but with your lead hand.
- Melon. Grab the board in the same location as Stalefish but with your lead hand.
When you start to get comfortable with grabs, you can then begin to put your own style into each grab, such as poking out and tweaking your grabs. Typically, when you do a grab with your rear hand you can then push out your forward leg while holding your grab, and when you grab with your front hand, you can poke out with your rear leg. A key thing to remember when learning to poke grabs is to make sure you get the grab first, then hold on while you poke your leg out. Grabs and pokes will really make your riding more fun and make you feel like you can put a personal twist on it.