Tournament Tips

There is nothing to be nervous about, riding in tournaments is a lot of fun and will teach you what you need to practice to take your riding to the next level. An understanding of a few basic concepts can give you the competitive edge.

Preparing a trick pass
The standard tournament format is two-thirty second passes and one wildcard trick at the end of your second pass. When you’re preparing your run, I think it’s better to put your easier tricks at the beginning of the pass, so that you can adjust to the wake and towboat speed. Practice your passes with a stop watch in the boat to alleviate the feeling of being rushed, and not getting all of your planned tricks in at the tournament. Have your spotter time your pass; ideally you want to have all 5 or 6 tricks completed in 25 seconds. Consistency is the key tournaments, if you fall on a trick in practice, get up do that trick 3 times in a row.

How you are scored
The three areas that the judges will score your pass are: Difficulty of tricks landed, Intensity, and Variety of maneuvers. Try not to repeat any of your tricks, and go big. It can be difficult for the judges to decide who should win when everyone does similar tricks, but if you can do your stuff a little bigger than the next rider, you’ll win. If you fall on a trick, chances are it was probably one of your harder moves, so show the judges that you can land it, and try it again.

Taking advantage of the course
Most tournaments will allow one out of course fall, so while the boat is getting set up to enter the course test the wake with a few jumps and let the driver know if the speed is alright. There will be a start buoy and an end buoy in the course. Make sure that you are set up outside the boat wake and ready to cut in as soon as you pass the start buoy. It’s very common to see riders enter the course with out being ready, and then only being able to get two or three tricks in. If you stand up your pass and still have room in the course, stay busy and do some extra tricks to bump up your Variety score.

How to get involved
In the midwest we have several different series of tournaments that start in early May and continue through the end of August. The Midwest Mission to ride, American Wakeboard Association, National Wakeboard League, and Hyperlite all have grassroots events throughout the state. They are all great events and a great value. For more information check:!

Crow Mobe

A Crow Mobe is a great way to get started in the world of mobes. A mobe is any trick where a flip is combined with a 360 spin. It may sound really difficult, but like any wakeboard move, take it one step at a time and you’ll get it.


Before you attempt this, make sure you can land scarecrows every time you try them, it helps if you can land a scarecrow wake to wake and land them in the flats.

The Approach

Your edge toward the wake is the most critical part of this move. Set up close to the wake, 10 to 15 feet out, and take a progressive cut, edging moderately hard through the top of the wake. Keep more of your weight on your front foot as you hit the wake.

In The Air

For the first half of the trick, concentrate on keeping the handle low and hold on with both hands as long as possible. Half way through the flip, pull the handle in toward your front hip so you will have a little slack when making the handle pass. Delay the last 180 spin until right before you land. Concentrate on spinning the last 180 totally with your lower body, and let your shoulders follow.

The Landing

As you land, there is a natural tendency is to slip back onto your heels, so push your chest forward as soon as your board hits the water. For learning purposes, try to land this trick wake to wake. It’s quite a bit harder to stick this move if you are landing in the flats. Some people land this trick wrapped, however, I think it’s more consistent to pass the handle immediately as you land.

These are the areas that most people have difficulties when trying Crow Mobes.

I’m can’t figure out how to throw this trick.

The key to the Crow Mobe is waiting until the last second to rotate the second 180. Approach the wake just like you are going to do a scarecrow, and if you have time as you drop out of the crow, rotate the second 180 with your legs.

I don’t have enough air to rotate the last 180.

Have your boat driver drive a slight arc in the same direction you are cutting. You want the wake to be curling over a little bit as you edge through it, giving you a more abrupt kick off the wake and more air.

I land on my board, but miss the handle every time.

This is another area where your driver can help out a little. Have the driver ease back on the throttle as you are about to land, which will create slack and make the handle pass easier. Also, make sure you pull the handle harder to your hip to create the needed slack.

I’m landing but slipping back onto my butt.

This happens a lot on boards that are designed to have a loose feel. You can either put slightly larger fins on your board, or, throw your upper body harder as you initiate the flip off the wake.

Trampoline Training

Trampoline training is the best cross training technique to help you progress faster in wakeboarding, and a great way to get a head start on the season. Any Pro wake boarder will testify that practicing on a trampoline will give you the aerial awareness, and muscle memory needed for learning new inverts and spins. Pro rider Tim Keepers says, “You should try a new trick one hundred times on the trampoline before you try it behind the boat.” This approach to training will greatly reduce the learning and crashing time spent on each new trick.

There are a few safety points that you should keep in mind when you’re jumping:


  • Don’t have someone double bounce you, it makes you susceptible to falling off the trampoline, and can hurt your knees if you’re not ready for the double bounce.
  • Don’t strap a wakeboard to your feet and jump on the trampoline. A lot of people want to try this to get the feel of having a board on their feet when jumping. It really doesn’t help, and can tear up your trampoline and throw you off the mat if you land off-balance. However, there is a trampoline board called the Guru that will be on the market this summer and is the next best thing to being on the water.
  • Only take 3 or 4 bounces when setting up for a trick. For most flips and spins, you only need a medium height bounce. Many people will set up each trick with 10 huge bounces, but it wears them out quickly and they really don’t need that much air for the trick anyway.
  • Have a couple of spotters on the ground to help you if you get into trouble.


Here’s how to bounce the right way:


  • Jump off of flat feet with your weight centered. To avoid wandering in the air, try this exercise, take large bounces and try to land in the exact same spot every time.
  • Tie a wakeboard handle off to a tree or solid object to help you get the feel of handle passes, and correct handle position when flipping.
  • When you are doing spins, keep your eyes level. Also, just like when you are spinning off the wake, generate the spin from pulling the handle to your rear hip; try not to huck your shoulders to create the spin.
  • When flipping, think about leading the rotation with your head, keeping the handle low and by your waist. Fight the tendency of bringing the handle up to your chest; this movement greatly slows your rotation down when you are doing flips behind the boat.
  • When attempting a flip with a spin, initiate the flip part of the move first, and spin as you come down. If you are having difficulty trying a new type of flip, attempt it with very little air, or try it from a squatted position. This will help take some of the fear out of falling and make it easier to try.


Maintaining Longevity in Wakeboarding

I think everyone that has been riding for a few years will agree that wakeboarding can be hard on your joints, particularly your knees and ankles. When you look at Pro and Amateur riders who have had a long career in the sport, there are certain points to learn from their successes to protect and strengthen your own joints.

Stretch before you ride.

Although most people don’t do this, it’s the easiest way to avoid possible injury. Spend at least two minutes stretching; make sure to stretch your Hamstrings, Quads, Ankles, Shoulders, and Neck in your routine.

Protecting Knees

Many knee injuries are caused from having an improper stance or riding position on the board. I see a lot of wake boarders who ride with their front let straight, and their rear leg bent while they are riding around, and cutting into the wake. As they get into the air, they still have their front leg locked and tend to land that way, which increases the chances for knee injury. Try to get in the habit of riding with both knees bent all of the time. Besides protecting your knees, it will make the board more responsive by not riding tail heavy.

Protecting Ankles

Be aware of buying a board that is overly wide, as they tend to hyperextend your ankle on toe heavy or heel heavy landings. The wider the board is, the more leverage the outside edge has to hyperextend your ankle. I’ve personally had my ankle over extended a lot of times from wakeboarding. I now try to focus on keeping my ankles tense and locked into place as I leave the wake to try to avoid these types of injuries.

Absorb the Landings.

A lot of riders don’t absorb the impact of landing properly, and will only slightly bend their knees upon landing. Others will keep their knees rigid, absorbing the shock with their lower back by breaking at the waist. Be sure to properly absorb the landing by going through a full range of motion with your knees, until your butt nearly touches the water, to preserve your ACL and knee cartilage, especially on big jumps. Inward movement of the knee on landings should also be avoided. Always try to land softly, think of the phrases “light as a feather”, “straight as an arrow” to encourage proper body position.


A few years ago, it was fashionable in the pro wakeboard circles to have a stance width that was as wide as possible. After a while, these riders were having knee and hip problems. Your stance on the board is really something that is dependant on how your own knees work, and should be set up accordingly. The best way to do this is to have your board placed on the ground in front of you, and practice doing floor jumps directly behind it. Absorb some of the landings with your feet at shoulder width, and some with your feet wider than shoulder width apart. Position the width of the bindings on your board as a result of what feels most natural to you. The angle of the bindings should be set using the same method, most people find it comfortable to ride with both feet pointing outward, or duck footed, about 10 to 15 degrees.

Wake size

Avoid riding a huge wake all of the time, since it takes a toll on your body. Give your joints a rest from time to time by riding a smaller wake. It’s also a good opportunity to learn things like backside 180’s and spins, where a large wake isn’t needed and can actually be a hindrance.

Off Season

In the off season, concentrate on exercises that build muscle around your knee and ankle to help support them. Physical therapists recommend weight room activities that build a balance of strength between the Hamstrings and Quads. Training activities like Leg Extensions, Leg curls, and jumping exercises have been shown to prevent undue stress on the ACL and the knee as a whole. Balance exercises such as the Indo board, build ankle strength, as well as toe and heel lifts, and outward and inward ankle rolls. Also, readily available joint strengthening vitamin supplements such as Glucosamine Chondroitin are recommended by sports medicine therapists to promote joint health and serve as a building block for cartilage and connective tissue.


Wakeboard Driving 101

I think anyone who has ever wakeboarded has at some point been the victim of bad driving. Here are ten tips and reminders on some of the finer points of being behind the wheel.

  1. Hold the throttle stick with your forefingers and thumb and keep your right elbow gently rested on the drivers pad.
    For those of you with out Perfect Pass, you should be able to hold the boat speed with in ½ MPH of the target speed.
  2. Don’t clinch the throttle stick in the palm of your hand.
    Keeping a tight closed fist grip on the stick doesn’t allow good control to react to speed changes.
  3. Your eyes should constantly be checking three things; your rider, the boat speed, and what’s ahead of you.
    As a side note, I don’t think it’s good to have the radio blaring while driving, it generally hinders concentration toward your rider.
  4. When driving for someone that has never wake boarded before, tie the rope really short off the tower, about 30-40 feet.
    At that length, there is so much vertical pull from the rope that it almost pulls the wake boarder straight up out of the water. Keep the speed below 15 MPH until they can ride for a minute or so. Once they can ride with the board pointed straight toward the boat, and look comfortable, go ahead and let the rope out to 60 feet.
  5. Ease the rider out of the water with very little throttle.
    Wakeboard’s have so much surface area, that it takes very little throttle to get out of the water.
  6. Concentrate on driving straight lines.
    It’s easy to get in the habit of following the shallow curves of the shoreline, but driving even a slight curve will cause one side of the wake to curl over and make it harder for your rider to have consistency on landing difficult moves.
  7. Move passengers from one side of the boat to the other to make the wakes even.
    If one side of the wake is constantly curling over, more weight needs to be moved to that side of the boat to give both sides of the wake the same feel.
  8. In heavy traffic, pull over to the side of the lake or river and drop your skier.
    I think you have to be proactive when someone is tailgating your skier, waving your arms and yelling usually doesn’t get the attention of your average weekend Wally. Also, use the boat to block a fallen rider in the water.
  9. Idle back to the downed rider, it’s just as fast and doesn’t create big rollers from a power turn.
  10. Learn to throttle chop your rider.
    Whenever your wake boarder looks out of control in the air, pull back on the stick to put slack in the line. This technique will almost always save a hard fall, and is also very useful for teaching handle pass tricks.


Surfing in The Midwest!

The first time I tried Wake surfing I was hooked. The feeling of riding without a rope, the slow boat speeds, and ability to surf in rough water makes the sport addictive for anyone.


Only wake surf on Inboard or V drive boats. Most people find the best wake at 9-11 MPH. Starting line length should be about 10 feet past the back platform of the boat. If you have Fat Sacs you’ll want to heavily weight the port side of the boat (starboard for Nautiques) to get the best surfing lip. Typically you’ll need at least one thousand pounds of weight in the boat to get a ride able surf wake.

Getting Started

The easiest way to get up on a wake surfer is to lie on your back in the water, and place your heels on the board wider than shoulder width apart. When you are set in this position, have the driver put the boat in gear. As you slowly are pulled through the water, simply press down on your heels and the board will be tipped under your feet and ready to ride. At this point getting up on the wake surfer is exactly the same as a wakeboard start.

Facing the Wake

With every boat, there is one side of the wake that will always have a better lip than the other side. The cleanness of the lip is determined by the rotation of the boat’s propeller. Basically, for every boat except Nautiques the wake will be better on the Port side of the boat. What this means for wake surfing is that you may have to ride the board switch, or opposite foot forward, so that you can face the wake, as opposed to having your back to the wake. I think it’s a lot easier to always be facing the wake because you can see when you’re falling off the wake and make adjustments quicker. It really doesn’t seem to hinder beginners if they have to learn to ride with their opposite foot forward.


Wake surfing uses all the same techniques as surfing in the ocean.

To accelerate toward the boat, put more weight on your front foot, to slow down put more weight on the tail. Your stance should be very wide, more than shoulder width apart so you can easily rock back and forth on the board to stay on the right spot of the wave. While riding and still holding on to the handle, the first thing to practice is getting the feel of a “loose” rope. After you can ride for at least 20 seconds with the rope being slack, it’s time to throw the handle in the boat and surf.

On the Wake

Getting the feel for how the wake pushes you along can be the trickiest part. Where most beginners go wrong is that they don’t stay on top of the wake enough, and go off the side of the boat too far. Always keep pressure on the edge of the board to keep it on top of the wake. Lightly bouncing on your front foot, or milking the board, will quickly accelerate the board forward when you get back too far from the boat and start loosing the push of the wave. Another way to keep up with the wave is to paddle or slap the water back with your hand to gain speed. The learning curve is very fast in wake surfing, it’s not uncommon to see new riders surf rope-free and slashing the wave after just a few times on the board.

Toeside Front Roll and Scarecrow

The Toeside Front Roll, and Scarecrow are very similar to each other, if you learn one it will be very easy to learn the other. The Front Roll is no different to a perfect front flip that you would do on a trampoline, and on the Scarecrow, you just add a 180 to the end.


Before attempting either of these tricks, you should master toeside wake jumps and toeside 180’s. You also should be able to land toeside 180’s with the handle close to your hips, and land them in the flats.

Edging In

Start about 20 feet away from the wake and edge like a normal toeside jump. The only difference is, as you begin to edge up the wake, stand tall and back off your edge immediately before throwing the trick. If you keep a hard edge through the top of the wake on these tricks, your board tends to stick to the wake and you won’t get any air.

Throwing the Front Roll

At the top of the wake, throw your head straight down toward the center of your board. Hold the handle with both hands as you throw the trick, and let go with your back hand as you come out of it.

Throwing the Scarecrow

At the top of the wake, throw your head and back shoulder down and toward your front foot to initiate the 180 rotation. Hold on with both hands through the entire trick. Half way through the rotation, pull the handle toward your hip that will be in front when you land to help rotate the 180.

Trouble shooting

Most people tend to bring the handle up or over their head when learning these tricks, which slows down the rotation and makes it hard to land. Concentrate on keeping the handle low and close to your hips.

Whether throwing these tricks on a trampoline, or edging up the wake, they both start the same way.