Eliminate the Bad Crashes
Through the thousands of hours of lessons over the years, the goal always remains the same: jump both wakes and try to grab the biggest air. This usually comes part and parcel with some of the worst falls; although very entertaining for the spotters, I assure you it is no fun to catch an edge at the end of a line, have your face accelerate towards the water and do the best scorpion impression ever. Poor stance and body position is the number one culprit of nasty falls, and there are few key things that you can do to help eliminate these crashes.
Key: Evenly distribute your weight
The widest part of your wakeboard is in the middle: it is designed to turn and offer the most stability from this point. If you are standing on the dock strapped in to your board, you will be standing with your weight perfectly centered over the middle of the board. This is the most comfortable stance and, with your weight distributed on both legs, you will have the greatest stability.
If you were to draw a line down the middle of your body, the imaginary line should always cross the middle of the board when you ride. If you were to stand on the dock with all of your weight over your back leg, you will have half the balance you need and will get a sore, tired leg. This is equally true behind the boat.
Key: Control the Rope
Once you have a rope in your hands and are being pulled by the boat, there is a natural tendency to lean away. Resist the urge to pull with your arms for a tug of war with the boat! The boat always wins. The struggle also puts you out of the proper body position shifting your weight to your back foot. You will be able to diagnose this when you watch a rider straighten their front leg and open their hips to the boat. Relax your arms and use your large muscle groups to maintain your stance.
It is important to keep your hips in line with the tip and tail of the board and focus on bending your ankle and knee on your front leg to keep your weight even. Refrain from using your feet or the rope to steer in the direction you want to go; instead, aim your front hip in the direction you would like to go. Your hips are your center of gravity, so if you use your hips, your body has no choice but to follow. Although it feels unnatural at first, with repetition it becomes easier.
Here are some things to work on:
Silent Coach #1: Edge out on your toe side edge as wide from the boat as you can. Let your back forearm rest on your on your front hip and keep aiming your front hip away from the boat.
Silent Coach #2: Slow the boat speed down to 12-15 MPH and practice turning from left foot to right foot forward. It is difficult to do this if you are leaning away from the boat. This forces your body into the right position. The slower speed helps to let the fins release for the spin and falls at this speed do not hurt.
Silent Coach #3: Ride a wake skate or surf board behind the boat and carve around. If you do not have your weight even on both feet you slip out and fall, but it is much less painful than a fall with a wakeboard.
Silent Coach #4: Remove the fins from your board and practice using your edges without relying on your fins. It makes it really easy to do surface spins which will also help you become comfortable with the right stance.
Diagnosis: Your landings will tell the tale. The most common issue is too much weight on the back foot; if you land on your back foot or if the tip of the board is angled up while you’re in the air, this is the problem. The issue which makes the most painful falls is leaving the wake with too much weight on your front foot; you will either nose dive or land heavy on your front foot.
Maintaining this body position will help you with any trick that you are looking to learn. Whether you are trying to hang on for dear life your first time out, or approaching the wake for trick, your body positions should always be your first consideration. The better you get at maintaining your body position, the easier it will be to learn new tricks and you will use much less energy for more time on the water.