How to Jump on a Wakeboard

Wakeboarder performing a jump
CabanCreative / Getty Images

 You’ve been wakeboarding for a little while and you feel very comfortable riding and turning the board, but let’s face it—the reason you got into this sport in the first place is in the air. So how hard could it be? You’re just supposed to ride up to the wake as fast as you can and jump as hard as you can off the top—right? Well, not exactly. Jumping on a wakeboard is definitely not rocket science, but there is more to it than meets the eye. So if you are ready to start accruing some frequent flyer miles behind the boat, then all you have to do is learn these three basic steps.

01 of 04

Learning the Progressive Edge

When you watch pro wakeboarders, it’s almost unbelievable how they can generate so much speed and pop off the top of the wake. One of the biggest keys is knowing how to keep a progressive edge. In a nutshell, a progressive edge is when you move in toward the wake, starting slowly at first then moving faster and faster until you reach the lip to get airborne.

To break it down even further, think of a swinging wrecking ball. When it starts swinging the ball is going it’s slowest when it is winding back from the building. But when it’s released it begins traveling faster and faster until impact. To harness the power of the progressive edge in your jumps, simply cut out until you have a little slack in your rope. Then cut back in toward the wake, slowly at first but then faster by digging your heels or toes into the edge harder and harder as the rope builds more resistance. In order to visualize this, try choosing an angle and keeping your eye on the spot on the wake where you want to jump from.

02 of 04

Stand Tall and Lift Off

When you first approach the wake, your first instinct will be to try and jump from the top of the wake. And it does seem logical to give an extra kick from the top of the ramp. But in reality, getting big air happens a few moments before you even hit the wake.

As you approach the wake you will notice there is a small dip that leads right into the incline. When you are at the very bottom of this dip stand tall and keep your legs straight. This will help you absorb all of the speed and campy goodness that your wake has to offer. Once you have left the lip, pull your knees upward toward your chest to maximize the height of your jump. Now, at this point, a lot of people will throw one hand in the air to try and balance themselves in mid-air. These instinctive phenomena are often referred to as a “rodeo,” because it makes you look you are riding a bull with one hand on the rope and one hand up above your head. To keep yourself centered while airborne bring the rope in close to your waist and keep your head looking forward toward your landing spot.

03 of 04

Land Smooth and Ride Away

At the height of your jump, you should already be looking for your landing spot. Once you have locked onto your landing zone, avoid pointing the nose of your board downward, as this can lead to some pretty nasty spills. Instead, focus on keeping your knees bent and setting your tail down on the other side of the wake. Locking your legs on impact can jolt your joints and even cause some pretty inconvenient injuries, especially if you are landing in the flats. Finally, as you are riding away, maintain the same angle for a few moments. This will ensure that you don’t catch an edge or fall prematurely.

04 of 04

Fly as Often as You Can

Learning to jump properly is essential to becoming a well-rounded wakeboarder. And mastering the basics will provide the foundation you need for performing bigger and better tricks. It takes years of practice to execute perfect jumps every time, so keep at it. There will always be jumps where you take big falls, get off axis, or land funky. Nevertheless, keep working at it, with a little bit of practice you’ll be flying higher than ever.