A wakeboarder grabbing the handle behind his back.

Unique to other board sports like skateboarding and snowboarding, wakeboarding requires a pull from some other source to provide the momentum to ride on the water. Whether the pull is from a boat, cable park, winch, or something else, a wakeboarder utilizes a rope and handle to navigate their water playground. Holding your wakeboard handle correctly can make all the difference in your ability to keep your balance, get more air, and execute technical tricks. Follow these handle control tips, and you'll see significant improvement in your riding!

Keep it Parallel

Once you have reached a standing position, hold the handle of your wakeboarding rope parallel to the water. Your knuckles should be facing up. Unlike a water skier, the proper hand position for wakeboarding is with both palms facing down. This will give the rider the control they need when they start riding switch, getting air wake to wake, and passing the handle when spinning.

Keep it Low

A wakeboarder touching the water while leaning back.

Keep the handle of your wakeboarding rope close to the hip of your leading leg. Use your hip bone as a guideline, and try to keep the wakeboard rope below waist height for maximum stability. Keeping the handle closer to the hip will provide more control. It will also prevent slack in the line from letting the handle out and pulling it in too fast.

Use the Handle for Leverage

When learning to jump the wake, your handle can give you an extra boost in the air if used correctly. As you ride up the wake, if you simultaneously bring the handle close to your lead hip and push down, you will get more air and have more control. This movement also keeps the handle close to the body, making it easier for you to pass the handle when you are doing spins.

Use the Handle to Spin

The position of your handle can also assist in the initiation and completion of board rotations such as 180s and 360s. An example of this is when a rider is learning to do a toeside wake to wake 180. Since the rider is already in a twisted position riding in toeside, if they move the handle from their lead hip to their rear hip they will automatically rotate the front side 180. Handle control also helps a rider maintain the proper body position for a landing. For example, a rider learning their first heelside frontside 180 wake to wake, might have problems with slipping out on their heels when landing and falling back on their butt. This problem is fixed by the rider ensuring that the palm of their hand holding the handle is facing down. Turning the hand that is holding the handle down a little further from this position forces the body to be over the toes allowing the rider to land the 180 without slipping out on their heels.

Passing the Handle

When doing spins or flips with rotations, handle control is crucial in the successful execution of the move. It helps to never let the handle too far out from the body as you set your edge and approach the wake. As you ride up the wake you will want to bring the rope even closer. After you have popped off of the wake you will want to give the handle a pull. This pull will help to initiate your rotation. In turn, this ensures that the handle is close to your body allowing for handle passes.

Handle Exercise

A wakeboarder on a wake looking away from the handle

One great way to practice keeping the handle in close for rotation tricks is by trying the following exercise.

  • First, take get a wakeboard handle and the short rope section attached to it.
  • Tie the end of the rope to a small weight or an old milk jug filled halfway with sand.
  • Next swing the weighted end around as you practice keeping the handle in close and passing the handle.

By following these tips, you will improve your overall wakeboard handle control. In turn, your abilities to do tricks will improve. For more info on wakeboards, water skiing, or any other watersport adventure, visit your local Sun & Ski Sports.