While winter still has its cold arms wrapped around much of the U.S., the number of watersports enthusiasts starting to experience withdrawal is on a steady incline. Even people who enjoy many different winter sports feel that tug at their heart to be on the boat. It won’t go away. So, while we can’t make summer come any sooner, we can provide drills and exercises that don’t require access to a boat or water and that will keep your mind and body sharp for the much-anticipated first day back on the lake. Plus, they’ll help keep away the winter blues.
The idea for this exercise is to practice handle passes. Take the handle section of your rope, about five feet worth, and tie a half-full water jug to the end of it. At first, just stand still and try to swing the water jug around your body, passing the handle in front of you and behind you. As you get more comfortable, start spinning in the opposite direction that the rope is swinging. Practice handle passes in both directions. As you get really comfortable, move this exercise to the balance board.
Balance, Strength, Stability
Important aspects of any behind-the-boat activity are balance, leg strength and core stability, all of which can be worked on during the off-season. Enter a balance board—a wakeboard-looking board, a roller and stabilizer wedges—an excellent tool for anyone who loves wakeboarding or wakesurfing. It can be set up in the living room, in front of the computer or in a nice carpeted area. No matter where it’s set up, you can practice. As you get better, move around more, add weights or mimic on-the-water movements. If you get the hang of it pretty quickly, take a look at Indo Board’s (indoboard.com) social media feeds, where you’ll find posts that show how people around the world get creative in their cross-training.
Takeoff and Landing
For this exercise, you need a sturdy wooden or steel box of a height you’re comfortable jumping up onto. The focus of the exercise is twofold: full hip extension on the takeoff and soft, silent landings. First, send your hips back, and really load through your glutes before you jump. As you go to leave the ground, drive your hips up and forward, so you get every inch of height out of your legs before you bring them up to land on the box. This is very similar to the movement you should use when leaving the wake on a wakeboard. Then, as you set your feet down to land, try to cushion the landing as much as you can, so it makes next to no noise at all. Avoid a big thud by setting the balls of your feet down first; don’t land flat-footed. Actively absorb the landing with your ankles, knees and hips. Don’t fold over at the waist or let your chest drop.
Find yourself a nice carpeted area. Put your wakeboard on — yes, in the house! Now lie down on your back and raise your feet up so the board is directly above your stomach. It will feel weird at first, but go with it. Start moving your legs so you can grab the board in different places. What you’ll find is that it’s extremely difficult to grab anywhere on the board if you bend both knees at the same time. However, if you bend one knee and straighten the other, you actually bring one end of the board closer to you for a grab. On the water, such a move would look like a super stylish poked out grab. Do this exercise in every direction. Find the ways you can grab the nose of the board, the tail of the board, between the toes of your feet and between your heels. Do all of these with your right hand. Then change the movements and grab all those spots with your left hand.
This one may sound pretty obvious, but the value of bouncing on a trampoline is high enough that it lands on every cross-training list. But how do people — pros and weekend warriors — get the most benefit out of their time on a trampoline? One thing to remember is to keep your head up. Fix your eyes on something while you bounce, which is a huge tool for air awareness. Your body will settle into a better balance when your eyes are focused on the horizon. Try to stay in the same spot while jumping up and down — and do it without flailing your arms or legs. Even this simple time in the air will make you feel more comfortable back on the water. If you decide to work on flips, remember to drive the rotation of the flip with your lower body, not your head and shoulders.