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.
1. 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!
2. Skateboard - No matter where you live, you probably
can ride a skateboard. It's cheaper then buying a snowboard
and paying $30 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.
3. 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. A great way to make your ankles stronger if
you are prone to injury. Two popular brands are Indo and Vew-Do.
4. 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.
5. 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 dangereous 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
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
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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 suprised how much you'll learn.
10. 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.
If you do some or all of these things, you'll be a better
rider next summer! Good Luck.