Unfortunately, not all of us live in a part of the world where we can wakeboard all year long. So what can we do while the weather is cold to become better wakeboarders? The following are some different things you can do to improve your riding during the offseason.
- Watch Videos - Watch as many wakeboarding videos as you can. Besides just watching for fun, stop and rewind tricks and watch them in slow motion. Really focus on what the pros do, how they edge, where they have the rope in the air, how they initiate a spin, how they have their weight, etc. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll learn. Instructional videos are the best choice if you’re looking to improve. Here are the top instructional videos:
- Snowboard - If you’re lucky enough to live near snow, go snowboarding. Snowboarding will definitely improve your wakeboarding, as it is another board sport that incorporates the same muscles, body movements, style, and types of tricks that are used in wakeboarding. While snowboarding, concentrate on improving your balance, develop a smooth style, and work on your board control. Work on jumping, grabbing the board solidly, and maybe even work on your air awareness and learn some spins. It’s also a great time to work on riding switch. Ride switch as much as possible, and do everything you do both ways. This will help your switch wakeboarding immensely. Snowboarding also satisfies the urge to ride a board, and reminds us why we like wakeboarding in 90 degree weather!
- Skateboard - No matter where you live, you probably can ride a skateboard. It’s cheaper then buying a snowboard and paying $40 for a lift ticket, so skateboarding is a good choice if you’re short on cash. Skateboarding will definitely help your balance and board control, it’s also a great way to learn to ride switch better. Riding switch on a skateboard is harder then a wakeboard, so it will make riding switch on the water seem easy. Skateboarding will also help your wakeboarding ollies spinning, and sliding.
- Balance Boards - These types of boards are indoor boards that sit on a roller that you can use on carpet, etc. They are similar to a skateboard deck, but sit on a roller that allows you to move around a little, ollie, do spins, shuv-its, grabs, and more. They run about $100, and they are a great thing to do while watching TV, especially wakeboarding videos. They will mostly help improve your balance, and your ankle muscles. This is a great way to make your ankles stronger if you are prone to injury.
- Lift Weights - Lifting weights will improve your wakeboarding more then you might imagine. While wakeboarding doesn’t seem like a sport that requires great strength, it is important to be strong and in good shape. The muscles most commonly used are the hands, forearms, biceps, back, abs, shoulders, quads, and hamstrings. As you can see, you might as well just do full-body workouts. Strong hands, forearms, biceps, and back help you pull out rough landings, hold the rope strong, and edge with upper body strength. Your abs and lower back help your spinning and flipping, because they are the center of the body. Having strong legs is important to stabilize yourself on landings. Having strong muscles also helps prevent injury, keeps the fat off so you have less weight to move around, you can ride longer and be less sore, and it makes you look good to the opposite sex. We won’t go in great detail about what exercises to do, but consult a trainer at a local gym, weight lifting web sites, or talk to friends who may no more if you’re not familiar with lifting weights. If you can’t lift weights do abdominal exercises and do some running or other physical activity to stay in shape.
- Trampoline Training - For a couple of hundred bucks, you can buy what may be the best tool to helping you improve your wakeboarding. A trampoline allows you to simulate tricks that you’d do on the water. It allows you to practice the tricks over and over as you learn the proper technique for the trick. You can work on grabs, spins, flips, and grabbed-spinning-flips all day long. If you don’t have space or don’t want to buy a trampoline, many towns have local gymnastic facilities that allow you to pay a few dollars and use their trampolines for a couple of hours, so this may be an option for some of you. A couple of tips for trampoline use for wakeboarding:
- Don’t try anything you’re not ready for. Just like in real wakeboarding, stay within your limits. Trampolines can be just as dangerous, if not more dangerous then water.
- Always bounce and throw your trick straight up in the air, and have someone else with you to spot you if you can. If you don’t throw your tricks straight up, you’ll go flying off of the trampoline, which is the most common way to get injured.
- Tie a wakeboard handle or handle and rope to a nearby tree or post. The handle will help keep you on your balance while simulating wakeboarding better.
- You can also use a wakeboard on the trampoline if you take off the fins. A better solution is to get an old skateboard deck and some old shoes, and either tape or bolt the shoes to the skateboard deck. This will simulate the feet position of being on a board, and allow you to do grabs in a more realistic manner.
- Stretching - Most people think of stretching only before riding. Stretching in the offseason can help you in two major ways. First, it helps keep your muscles limber all winter so you are less likely to get injured when you start riding again. Second, it can help increase your flexibility and coordination which will allow you to grab the board easier, have more body control, grab inverts easier, and allow you to get contorted in all kinds of stylish positions while in the air. To increase flexibility, you should only stretch to where you start to feel a little tightness, and hold your stretch for 30 seconds or more. You should stretch all the muscles in your body, because we use them all when riding.
- Balance Exercises - A big part of wakeboarding is balance. To help improve your balance you can do a couple of easy balance exercises. Without getting too specific, you want to do exercises such as balancing on one foot for 30 seconds, hopping on each leg, standing on your toes on one leg only, doing one legged calf-raises or squats, lunges, and other exercises. Doing these exercises with your eyes closed makes the exercise more difficult as well.
- Sports - Participation in any sport will help keep you in shape and improve coordination, endurance, strength, etc. So participate in as many things as possible instead of sitting on the couch all day.
- Visualize - Visualize yourself doing tricks and doing them correctly. Think about your approach, how you want your weight, where the handle is, how the board is on edge, how you take off, what you’re doing in the air, and how you’ll land. This is a great thing to do while lying in bed when trying to go to sleep.
- Upgrade Your Gear - While it’s not always necessary, you can often improve your riding by shopping for wakeboards so that you can find a better wakeboard to suit your riding, or one that is just generally a better board. Getting better wakeboard bindings can also help your comfort level and board control. Make sure you have a non-stretch wakeboard rope and a wakeboard handle made for wakeboarding, and adding fat sacs or a wakeboard tower or wakeboard pylon to your boat can help you have a bigger wake and higher tow point to get more air and perform better.
If you do some or all of these things, you’ll be a better rider next summer! Good Luck.
Shared with permission from http://www.wakeboarder.com/.