The water sport of kneeboarding is often presented as one for beginners given the ease with which the riders can navigate the water. However, it can be really fanned once you get past the beginner stages of falling off the board and learning to perform turns and a few tricks.
While some of the tricks such as turning, side slide, jumping, can be performed with ease especially for starters, you may need some time to master the others such as the switch, flips, back roll, wake 360 front-to-front. Some of these complex tricks can only be performed by experts and after years of practice.
For a fun-filled and safe kneeboarding session, the following are some of the best tricks to perform for both beginners and pros. This guide also includes basic tips such as the best position to take, how to turn, and just about everything there is to the sport.
As a word of caution, always have someone with you when trying out a new move. Besides that, adhere to the safety measures of kneeboarding at all times.
Once you know how to balance on the kneeboard and ride on the water, turning is the one thing that you need to know early on. To do so, you simply lean the head and shoulders to the side you wish to turn to. Do it gently until you feel you’re actually turning. Too much leaning will lead to a fall. Keep the hands straight as you lean.
If you need an even sharper turn, pull the handle such that it’s around your hip area on the side opposite the one you’re leaning to. Also, lean harder.
To recover after a turn, simply lean to the opposite side of the initial lean until you’re upright.
2. Jumping the wake
Jumping the wake is a fun trick in which you jump back into the wake of the boat as you’re being towed. The wake refers to the area of ripples of water at the back of the boat. Jumping the wake means jumping from the outer edge of this area and back into it.
To do this, you’ll need to cut hard on the board and out of the wake to the side. Go as far away from the towboat as you can then cut back hard towards the wake. As you near the wake, you’ll need to lean back a bit. As you hit the boundary of the wake, you’ll be launched upwards into the air then land into the wake or outside of it on the other side.
3. Surface 360
As the name suggests, you’ll basically be spinning through a full circle denoted by 360 degrees. To perform this, you’ll need to rotate to one side with the focus of building momentum. Rotate to the side opposite of the initial one.
If the spinning is to the right, release the grip on the right hand then complete the spin before grabbing the rope again behind your back. As you pull on the rope with both hands, you complete the 360 degrees.
4. Wake Front-to-Back
The aim is to end up riding the kneeboard backwards. To do this, you’ll need to start from outside the wake. While holding the tow rope handle with both hands, move outside the wake then start cutting towards it.
Before hitting the outside of the wake, stop cutting and instead jump up while pushing your knees away from your chest. This gives you more weight making the move much better.
The moment you’re airborne, rotate your body towards the wake as you pull the handle towards your hips. Lean forward slightly as you spin until you’re facing away from the tow boat. As you land, you’ll be facing backwards and away from the tow boat. You then ride this way to complete the move.
5. Air (Ollie)
This trick is very similar to the air(ollie) in skateboarding and the bunny hop in BMX rides and entails jumping upwards without the need to utilize the wave.
It’s actually very simple given that you simply pull on the tow rope to make it more tense while pressing your knees down to create downforce. After this, you pull your knees upwards to get off the water. It’s basically jumping upwards with the board.
6. Switch 3
This is a complex move that starts off as the wake 360 but requires you to change the direction as you reach the 180-degree angle of rotation. You start by cutting out of the wake then making a hard cut toward the wake.
Your hands should be facing downwards as you do the inward cut. As you reach the edge of the wake, spin 180 around.
The spin should be to the right if you’re spinning from the left and to the left if you’re cutting in from the right.
Keep the handle close to your hip area and ride the wake then go airborne. As soon as you’re airborne, turn back to face the front through a 180-degree angle. Once, you turn around, extend the arms outwards again.
As the forward turn completes, pull the handle towards your hips then spin in the opposite direction but backwards. You’ll land backwards but will need to use the second jump off the water to spin back to the front. At all times, keep the handle close to your hips and head up to have proper control of the board.
7. Butter Slide/Side Slide
This is a simple trick in which you end up sliding on your side rather than forwards or backwards. To do this, you start by sliding behind the tow boat with your hands gripping the tow rope handle while facing downwards.
Without cutting the side of the board into the water, turn the board sideways. Slightly lean backwards so that the boat doesn’t pull you forwards and off the board. Having the handle of the boat at your hips makes it much easier to perform this trick.
8. The Ole
To perform the ole, you’ll need to learn how to ride with one hand since it heavily relies on that. You start by pulling in the tow rope using the hand-over-hand technique.
Basically, you pull the rope with one hand then place the other hand closer to the tow boat again and again until your hands are at least 6 ft from the handle. You then use one hand to hold unto the rope.
Use the free hand to swing the handle over your head such that the handle ends up behind you.
9. Riding Backwards
As the name suggests, you’re riding the kneeboard backwards. It’s basically a half surface 360 as you’ll go through a 180-degree turn.
You start by slightly rotating to one side then continue with the rotation until you’re facing backwards. You’ll have to ride with one hand for a short distance before pulling the hand on the handle again but at the back.
To keep the board afloat, lean forwards such that you push the tail of the kneeboard up and the nose down. This prevents the board from digging into the water and sinking you.
10. Wake 360 Front-to-Front (Wrapped)
This is complex trick that needs perfection in spinning and riding with one hand to pull off. You’ll also need perfect balancing.
As you ride in the middle of the wake, use the hand-over-hand strategy to pull yourself towards the boat. After moving about 6 ft away from the handle of the tow rope, loop the handle around your waist then hold it around your groin area with one hand as the other hand holds unto the rope.
Release the hand holding unto the rope then let the rope spin you around in a 360-degree angle as it straightens.
11. Back Roll
A very tricky trick to pull off given the intricate timing required, the back roll needs an expert to perform. You start by moving out of the wake then cutting hard towards it.
As you’re almost hitting the edge of the wake, you flatten out then ride the wake while resisting it. Resisting it means you’re preventing yourself from entering the wake fully. Rather, you’ll be riding the edge of the wake.
As you get to the top of the wake, move your shoulders towards the roll while pulling the handle towards your waist and looking back over your shoulders. The rotation momentum will take you around in a little circle as you come to land.
The red flags to take care of in this trick are the poor timing of the moves, poor sideways movements, and letting the arms out too much. Also, never try leaning forward at all as you’ll lose balance.
The frontflip relies on your balance and can be done with ease if you can also do it out of the water. You start by edging in hard then flattening out.
You then pop off the wake the throwing your body straight down as you keep your hands close to your hips but still on the handle. These aspects help you rotate properly and stay in control of the motions.
These tricks and tips will allow you make the most of your kneeboard as you’ll transition from a rookie to an expert in no time. As with any other sport, practice will help you master the motions.
Following are tips to help you learn faster and stay safe.
1. Warming up/Stretching
Before any physical activity, it’s always good that you warm up. This prepares your body for the physical challenge by stretching and warming the muscles and joints to allow you flow with the momentum. If you don’t warm up, you may have injuries from the stiffness of your body.
2. Have the correct Board & Rope
Do not just get a board…pick a kneeboard that suits your skill level
No stretch ropes if you want upgrade your game while low stretch ropes can still work well especially for kids and beginners
3.Strapping yourself on the board
Kneeboards come with straps to hold your body in tight connection with the board for ease of control. However, there is the issue that, as a newbie to the sport, falls are a frequent occurrence. As such, you may want to start off without the strap to make it easier to cushion your falls. As you get better, you can then use the strap.
4. The start
When you start, you lie on your belly on the kneeboard while holding unto the board and the tow rope at the same time. You make sure your elbows are on the board and you’re well-positioned on it.
As the boat starts gaining speed, raise yourself to the kneeling position then hold the tow rope handle with both hands facing downwards.
Keep the hands straight before you to ensure that you don’t get tired quickly. Also, ensure the kneeling position is comfortable for the same reason of avoiding quick fatigue.
5. Keep your eyes up and look straight forward
Just like in other many water sports, you will fall down the moment you look down. For easy, fast learning and safety keep your eyes up and straight ahead at all times
6. Find the right speed
Usually, Kneeboard speed ranges from 18 to 24 mph. This relies on the skill level of the kneeboarder and tow rope length. Longer ropes generally require more speed.
7. Always Keep a Good Posture
The correct posture is key to successfully and safely performing most of the tricks especially the jumps. A good posture will also help you avoid unnecessary injuries. Keep your back straight, shoulders back and elbows at your waist. Some kneeboarder also recommend riding with your arms fully extended to avoid tiring quickly
8. Do not give up
Kneeboarding, as water sport or a recreational activity, should be fun. If things do not work the as per your expectations, make an effort to try again. Even some of the pros took years and years to perform basic tricks.