Do you ever feel like you are putting everything you have into your riding but are only progressing at a snail’s pace? When this happens, the frustration can become overwhelming. You feel hopeless, but instead of pushing forward and trying harder and harder, maybe it’s time to take a step back and analyze what’s sabotaging your riding. Depending on your skill level, there can be a variety of factors working against you. Let’s take a look at the things you are doing to sabotage your success.
THE CULPRIT: Trying to run before you can walk.
THE FIX: For too many people, as soon as they get up for the first time they want to start jumping. Then, as soon as they land their first jump, they are already thinking about spins or flips. They never take technique into consideration. Slow down and take your time! Technique is key in every aspect of wakeboarding, from getting up and riding to landing the hardest tricks in the sport. If you ever watch the pros ride, you’ll notice everything they do looks effortless. That’s because they are using proper body positions and technique to do all the work for them. Take this approach, and wakeboarding gets easier.
THE CULPRIT: Making excuses.
THE FIX: “It’s too choppy to ride.” I’ve heard it a million times. Everyone I know, myself included, has used this excuse when conditions are less than ideal. Sure, there are cases when it really is too rough to get any benefit out of riding, but unless you are on a heavily trafficked lake where it would be dangerous to enter the water or the entire lake is covered in whitecaps and there is no shoreline to provide shelter from the wind, then all you are doing is eliminating an opportunity for improvement. You may not be able to focus on a difficult trick you want to learn, but you can still work on things you’ve neglected. If this doesn’t sound appealing, then get on the water at the crack of dawn when conditions are probably at their best.
THE CULPRIT: Relying on an incompetent driver.
THE FIX: In a way, wakeboarding is a team sport. Riders rely on the driver to give them a smooth, predictable pull. A bad driver can quickly ruin a wakeboard set, so make sure your driver knows certain important things before you hop into the water:
• Tell them what speed you like. To drivers, a difference in speed of 1 mph may not seem like much, but for the rider it may be the difference between going wake to wake or coming up short and having a bad crash. A boat with a cruise-control system, such as Perfect Pass or Zero Off, makes speed control so much easier.
• Drive straight. The driver should minimize the amount of unnecessary turns. A boat that is constantly turning impacts the shape of the wake and the pull the rider feels from the boat. Such inconsistencies make riding more unpredictable and unnecessarily difficult.
• The driver is responsible for finding the best water possible. He shouldn’t, however, zigzag all over the lake looking for calm water. Pick a shoreline and stick with it (unless the lake imposes regulations on boat traffic). When rollers — the wake from a boat that slowly makes its way across a lake — enter your line, have your driver cross them and straighten out again, so your wake isn’t constantly bouncing up and down.
• No power turns. After a fall, the driver should pull off the throttle and idle back to the rider. Hammering down on the throttle and doing a big wide turn does not improve pickup time. It just burns more fuel and makes the water rough, resulting in less riding time and worse conditions. Repeat after me: “No power turns.”
Given all of this, be kind to your driver. It is not an easy job.
THE CULPRIT: Avoiding the things that feel awkward.
THE FIX: It’s pretty rare for someone to get up on a wakeboard and immediately feel comfortable edging both heelside and toeside. Heelside feels more natural, so most people tend to focus on that and neglect toeside, especially when it comes to jumping. When riding switch is thrown into the mix, an entire other side of wakeboarding generally gets overlooked. Being comfortable with all of these aspects is essential to good riding. How is one supposed to have good heelside jumps if he struggles edging out on his toes to set up for the jump? How is one going to land her first 180 if she feels really uncomfortable riding switch? Being competent with these body positions is essential to good riding, so take plenty of time getting comfortable with them. Progression depends on it!
THE CULPRIT: Trying too hard.
THE FIX: Wakeboarding is supposed to be fun. If you lose that element, riding becomes stressful and puts you in a bad headspace, which makes it difficult to progress. Relax.
THE CULPRIT: Always doing it on your own.
THE FIX: There are great coaches all over the world, so take a lesson every once in while when you feel stuck. They should be able to help you pinpoint things to work on.