Heelside Backroll

A heelside backroll is typically the first invert we will teach at camp, and is a right of passage for moving into the world of inverts. This trick is basically a side flip, or cartwheel type motion.


When I learned this trick the hardest part for me was taking the exact same approach to the wake on every attempt. You will want to land on the exact same spot of the wake each time; right on the downslope of the second wake. I think it helps to have heelside wake-to-wake 180s dialed in before attempting inverts because they help teach edge control towards the wake. Also, if you can spend a little time on the trampoline it will make your first couple of attempts much easier on the water.

For the Driver

Slow the boat down 2-3 MPH from normal boat speed. A big mushy wake will force the rider to edge all the way to the top of the wake before throwing the trick, and the slower speed will take away some of the fear of trying something new. On the first few attempts by the rider, just concentrate on initiating the trick correctly off the wake and landing in the water of both wakes.

The Approach

After trying a couple of slow speed attempts, bring the boat back up to normal speed and go for the trick wake-to-wake. Use a normal heelside wake-to-wake cut. It’s very common for people to throw this trick early, or before they are off the wake, so concentrate on edging all the way to the top of the wake before throwing the backroll.

In The Air

Keep your head looking toward the boat, and throw your head and rear shoulder toward the tail of your board while pushing your hips toward the tip of your board. Keep the handle low and close to your hips throughout the rotation. Most people have a tendency to bring the handle up toward their head, which slows the rotation down. Halfway through the rotation, pull the handle closer to your hips. This will do two things, speed up the rotation to help you land on your board, and give you correct body position when landing, making it easier to give line tension back to the boat.

Trouble Shooting

These are the areas most people have difficulties when learning backrolls.

I’m under rotating this trick. There are generally two mistakes that will cause this:

Throwing the trick too early.
Practice some more slow speed one wake attempts where you begin to make the complete flip rotation and land in the middle of the wake.

Bringing the handle up towards your face.
Push the handle toward your hips after you initiate the flip.

The handle pulls out of my hand when I land.
 This is caused a lot of times by the bad habit of letting go with your rear hand in the air. Hold on with both hands and pull the handle in halfway through the flip. You can also have your driver cut back on the throttle the first few times you land this trick.

Wakeboard Posture

Posture is everything when it comes to effectively edging into the wake.


Hips: The position of your hips is the key factor for creating leverage when edging toward the wake. Keep your hips up and in front of your shoulders. Bad habit: Hips drift back behind the shoulders, and the board softly edges at the wake by the fins holding the direction, instead of the entire Heelside edge.
Shoulders: Keep your shoulders back and behind your hips for leverage against the pull of the boat.
Knees: Bend your knees as you start edging toward the wake. As you edge up the wake, straighten your knees up and push off the top of the wake.Bad habit: Knees stay bent while edging through the wake and absorb the pop on take off. On landing the knees stay stiff and don’t absorb the shock of landing.
Elbows: Should be bent at 90 degrees with the handle low and close to your hips as you begin edging toward the wake. Bad habit: Elbows straight, which leads to forward falls on landing.
Hands: Keep your hands close together when gripping the handle on Heelside and Toeside. This provides a more responsive pull when doing handle pass tricks. When you grip by the handle ends, the handle will slacken on handle passes which hinders consistency. Also, grip the handle with both palms down.


Hips: Hips should be up and in front of shoulders when edging toward the wake. Bad habit: Hips are low and butt is sticking out. While this posture will in fact create good leverage edging toward the wake, it will always lead to forward falls on landing.
Shoulders: Should be up and directly over your knees. Bad Habit:Shoulders and chest drop down into a hunched over position when edging toward the wake.
Knees: Slightly bent and rigid while edging toward the wake. As you edge up the wake straighten your knees to push of the top of the wake.
Elbows: Bring your elbows in close to your body for the approach to the wake. I always teach students to hold on with both hands the entire way through the air on the toeside jump. It feels awkward at first, but this technique will force you to keep the handle close to your hips and make clearing the wake much easier.

Heelside Front Flip & Front-to-Fakie

A lot of riders overlook learning Front flips, but they’re not as awkward as you think, and they’re sure to get a head nod from people that are in the know.

Throwing the Front Flip:
The rotation should be similar to a cartwheel, end over end. I’m doing this on the trampoline, and I ride right foot forward.

1. At the top of the wake, throw your head and lead shoulder toward the tip of the board.
2. Keep the handle low, and near your front hip.
3. If your nervous about trying your first one, have your driver slow the boat down by One to Two MPH.
4. Keep your elbows up when you land to avoid the dreaded elbow to thigh Charlie horse.
5. You can see the water as you come out of this trick, which always makes landings easier.

Throwing the Front-to-Fakie:
When you are confident with doing Heelside Fronts, it’s time to take it to Fakie. Take the same approach, but let go with your leading hand when you initiate this trick off the wake. Also, at the top of the wake, push your rear shoulder toward the boat to put the 180 spin into it.

Trouble Shooting

Doing a Frantrum, a Tantrum Front-Flip Mix?
This is generally caused by the way you initiate the trick off the wake. Concentrate on keeping your trailing shoulder square and pushed forward toward the boat.
Also, when people do a Tantrum they typically will bring the handle up as they let go with their trailing hand. So when they go for a Front Flip they have the same natural tendency, which turns it into an ugly Frantrum. Keep the handle low, near your front hip, and hold on with both hands all the way through the trick.

Butt Checking on the Front-to-Fakie
This is caused from not rotating the 180 enough. Push the handle behind your front hip as you come down to help with the 180 rotation. Avoid the tendency to throw the trick early off the wake, try to take it straight up.