We all make common mistakes while behind the boat – it’s part of the learning process. The key to becoming a better rider is finding ways to fix or avoid the most general mistakes and to hone your basic skills so your more advanced moves won’t pay the price. Two-time WWA Worlds champion Andrew Adkison knows what it takes to evolve on the water. Here are six mistakes he sees the average rider make and how to fix them.
Adkison’s Take: Edging on a wakeboard means controlling your board. With the proper edge, everything else becomes significantly easier. All beginners, including myself when I was starting out, think speed is what gets you in the air – it’s not.
Recommended Fix: You have to swing out wide and progressively start your approach into the wake. Don’t rush it. Think about adding edge all the way up and through the wake. I even tell students to start their wider approach unnaturally slow. This ensures they don’t approach the wake too fast for their comfort zone or come off edge early.
Basic handle position
Adkison’s Take: Many riders, when learning the basics, work against the handle instead of with it. Holding the handle with your arms all the way straight or all of the way bent are common mistakes.
Recommended Fix: You want the handle to be pulling you from your center of gravity, so the handle should be just to the inside of your front hip. It sounds too simple, but it will make all the difference. This eventually will become second nature, but making yourself aware of it will save you several hard falls, whether you’re attempting a new trick or just learning how to carve around.
Release off the wake
Adkison’s Take: This is especially hard when first learning how to ride a board and when attempting a new trick. For some reason, all of us trying a new trick will start the rotation before getting the pop off the wake. We have a tendency to rush the trick, forgetting to use the wake to make it happen.
Recommended Fix: Edging through the top of the wake gives you lift. Especially when learning a new spin, you have to pop off the wake first and then initiate the spin. Instead of spinning earlier to get that extra 180, try to pop a little more.
Adkison’s Take: It seems all the focus and technique of a new trick is put into getting in the air first, but none of that matters if you aren’t prepared for what happens next. It’s important to put some thought into the mechanics of a proper landing.
Recommended Fix: Spot your landing! I’ve challenged myself and many other pro riders to a simple wake jump while looking back at the horizon where we just came from. I haven’t seen anyone ride away from it yet. No matter how many times you’ve done a jump or a trick, you’re lost if you can’t see where you’re going.
Adkison’s Take: Most riders start learning inverts with their eyes closed, which rarely ends well. It’s also important to understand the rotation before you attempt an invert.
Recommended Fix: Once you’ve passed the midpoint of the invert, you need to start looking for the landing. Be sure to bring your head around with the rest of your body or you will stall out midair. Learning an invert also exaggerates how important it is to ride through the top of the wake.
Adkison’s Take: Besides leaving the wake too early on a spin, another common problem I see is the handle being too far away from the rider for them to make the handle pass. This happens not because of a lack of strength, but an often-overlooked technique when learning to spin.
Recommended Fix: You’ve now heard pop and then spin. To make a handle pass we need to add one more step to that. Advance your body toward the handle while initiating the spin. Literally try to close the gap between the handle and your hips. Doing so will keep the handle into your hips for the pass.