No. 1 Expert Guide on How to Wakeboard Correctly

Wakeboarding is an easy-to-learn watersport and I believe anyone can give it a try. Sure, it takes time before a beginner can spin and jump around in the water. But, once you get a hang of balancing on the board, you’ll never want to stop riding again. Here is how to wakeboard and how you can get started at first.

How to Wakeboard

To learn how to wakeboard correctly, figure out which foot you are comfortable leading with. The footing is one of the essentials when it comes to activities involving boards. If you’ve ever tried snowboarding, skiing, or even skateboarding, getting the right footing will come naturally to you. If not, it’s best to know if you have a regular stance or goofy stance.

Make sure your rope is short, and your board is large. For beginners, using a shorter rope is advisable as it minimizes the pull from the boat, giving you the chance to balance yourself on the board. A 30 to 50 feet rope will do.

With this in mind, you will be closer to the boat and the boat’s wake. If you want to know how to wakeboard well with the basics only, such a shorter cord is enough to start. Longer cords are best for professionals who need the space for tricks. It is also helpful to use a board with large rear fins as it can give the wakeboard more direction.

Figure out the right stance and the right angle. In attempting your first ride, the easiest way to start is to keep your feet shoulder-width apart and bend your knees as if you are sitting in a chair to keep your body weight in one place, making you stable on the board. Once the boat or cable starts to accelerate, slowly straighten your legs, place your lead foot to the front and then focus your weight on your back leg.

Remember not to pull on your rope and always keep it low. A wakeboarding rookie mistake is pulling the rope tightly, which usually results in losing one’s balance. Don’t think about it too much and let the boat or cable do the work for you. Simply keep your arms straight, let the boat or cable pull you up, and then slowly lower the handle close to your hip.

Pro-tip on how to wakeboard correctly: Practice on your handle grip first before hitting the water. Ask your instructor for help.

Keep your gaze straight ahead. Yes, the water view is distracting, and you can’t help but be amazed by its beauty, but you can always do the sightseeing later. Ensure that you are looking straight ahead while wakeboarding, so you don’t place the weight and pressure on your front foot. To avoid losing our balance and eventually falling, keep those eyes straight ahead.

Make sure the boat speed is just right for you to handle. 

Pro-tip on how to wakeboard correctly: Communicating with your boat/cable driver is as important as anything else. If the speed is up to your preferred pace, this will give you the chance to navigate the waters easier.

To have an understanding with your driver, here are some basic boating hand signals you should know when wakeboarding.

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Basic Boating Signals

how to wakeboard hand signals
  • Pulgares arriba – Indica al conductor de la embarcación que acelere
  • Pulgares hacia abajo – Indica al conductor de la embarcación que reduzca la velocidad
  • Señal de Ok – Indica que te gusta la velocidad o “no estoy herido” después de caer
  • Poner la mano en la parte superior de la cabeza – Indica que quieres volver al muelle
  • Señal de muerte – Solicitas detener la embarcación o “volver a por mí”
  • Giro con la derecha – Señalización al conductor de la embarcación para que gire a la derecha
  • Giro con la izquierda- Señalización al conductor de la embarcación para que gire a la izquierda

Starting Positions on how to wakeboard properly

Deepwater Start (for beginner)

After taking your lifejacket and your helmet on the board, sit down on the dock, get into the water and let the board float up in front of you while holding the rope with straight arms. When you feel the cable getting tighter, just let it pull you until you’re finally standing up on your board.

Jump Dock Start (for beginner to intermediate)

If you want to learn how to wakeboard like a pro, you need to try more challenging tricks and positions that will help you develop your skill. This one is a little bit harder than the first because it depends on the timing of jumping forward into the water when the rope starts to get tighter. When looking at how to wakeboard with a jump dock start, make sure to keep your arms straight and knees bent,  and do not pull on the cable so you don’t lose balance.

Nose Press Start (for intermediate to advanced)

Speaking on learning how to wakeboard with even more advanced positions, the nose press start is absolutely a go. While standing on the deck with your board attached, lean forward until the back of the board is slightly elevated. Focus your weight on the leg in front, and once you feel the cable getting tight, that’s your signal to move forward to the edge of the dock, then slowly jump into the water.

Tips and Tricks on How to Wakeboard

how to wakeboard tricks

Rope Length and Board Size

The size and length of your wakeboard will depend on what feels right based on your riding style and weight.

However, when beginners are learning how to wakeboard, it is advisable to get a bigger board and a shorter rope. This will make it easy for you to ride a board with a wider surface area to stand on.

On the other hand, when looking to know how to wakeboard without losing your stance, try using a shorter rope. This will give you as much upward pull as possible to help you maintain your balance.

When going from beginner to advanced and you want to learn how to wakeboard and do tricks, opt for a small board and a long rope. This way you have more control and space to do tricks. 

Set Your Board Up Properly

Before getting into the water, make sure your feet are properly placed in the rubber bindings and the bootstraps are tightly attached.

Tip: Get into your board when you are close enough to the water. Otherwise, you will have a hard time trying to walk with the bindings stuck to your feet and you might risk slipping and getting injured. 

Learn Boat Hand Signals

If you are going to wakeboard behind a motorboat, talk to the driver first before riding. Keep in mind that even though the driver is responsible for the speed and direction of the boat, you can communicate what you want or what makes you comfortable during your ride. Learning basic boat hand signals will ensure this.

Do Not Fight It, Just Ride It

Another rookie mistake I usually see when it comes to wakeboarding is being tense and thinking too much. As people always say: Go with the flow. Do not fight the rope by pulling it too hard or keep moving the board by changing your weight placement. This can result in you falling into the water or getting into unwanted accidents. Just relax, let the boat or cable do the work while you focus on maintaining your balance.


To learn how to wakeboard while controlling your board, you should know the two common turns used in wakeboarding. The first one is called heelside turn. With this, you lean your weight on the heels of your feet to keep the pressure at the back edge of your board, digging the water so that you can turn.

The second one is called toeside turn which is the hardest of the two. With this, you focus your weight on your toes so the front edge of your board digs the water. When you are turning, standing up straight will be the best option so that you can easily put the pressure either on your toes or on your heels. 

Wakeboarding Conclusion

If you are looking for a new hobby or something to do during the warmer months, wakeboarding is the perfect activity for you. At the end of the day, it’s just all about having a good time in the water. So even though you might slip and fall when learning how to wakeboard, it will all be worth it once you feel the rush of gliding through the water.

Let’s talk more about wakeboarding below! Leave me a comment to start a conversation with me. You can also follow my Facebook and Instagram.

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