Wakeboarding – How?

Top tips how to wakeboard

Part 3 of our towing a wakeboard guide looks at how to wakeboard. Everything the rider needs to get started and up on the board. (for more see part 1  for the equipment and part 2 for how to tow)

Watersports from a RIB

Get ready – before you start

Before you set off, check your equipment and your kit. Ensure your driver and the speed boat or RIB for towing the wakeboard are ready too. If for any reason you don’t feel confident in anything, take time to stop and discuss it.

Before getting in the water make sure you are wearing the right clothes for the conditions. It can be handy to put some warm clothes, a drink and a towel on board, in a waterproof bag. Even on a hot day it can be cold when you stop.


  • check your equipment before you start and all adjustments are secure
  • wear a well fitted buoyancy aid / ski vest
  • wear a wetsuit
  • wear a helmet
  • use approved signals between skier and observer and driver (see below)

Which way to attach the wakeboard?

Just like snow boarding or skate boarding, you need to know which way your body will prefer to ride. Left foot forwards (regular) or right foot forwards (goofy). Most people who are right-handed tend to ride ‘regular’, although it’s not always a given.

To find out which way you are likely to prefer, get a friend or family member to help with this simple 3 step test:

  1. stand up straight with your feet close together and relax
  2. whilst chatting have your friend give you a gentle shove forwards
  3. notice which foot you move first to keep your balance

This will mostly likely be your back foot on a wakeboard. If you subsequently find it very difficult to get up on the board, try riding with the other foot forwards, it could make all the difference.

Getting up on the wake board

Attach the wakeboard with both feet already in the bindings and slide into the water behind the RIB or tow boat:

  1. float on your back, facing the back of the boat and line yourself up with the centre of the boat, away from the outboard engine
  2. position your feet and the board in front of you with the board tip just out of the water
  3. bend your knees, and tuck your elbows in close to your side, holding the towrope
  4. the driver then moves the towing RIB away gently, so the towrope is stretched out all the way between you and the back of the boat
  5. give the driver the signal you are ready
  6. as the RIB accelerates, the rope will try to pull you forwards:
    • keep equal pressure on both feet and stay in a crouched position with your knees bent
    • keep your arms straight, but not locked out, as you rise up on top of the water
  7. stay strong through your ‘core’ (stomach area) and let the boat to do most of the work to pull you up to standing

Now you are up on the wakeboard

Keep most of your weight balanced evenly between both feet. Focus on:

  • looking ahead at the boat and not at your wakeboard
  • pointing your forward hip in the direction you wish to travel
  • keeping your knees bent as you ski over the wake or over waves

    Doing turns on a wakeboard

    To steer you apply pressure through your heels or your toes, depending on which way you wish to turn.

    Once you feel confident standing up, practice using the pressure in your toes and heels to turn. As you get going, you can challenge yourself by moving outside the wake of the boat and ‘carving’ a sharper turn back to the other side of the wake.

    Communicating with your RIB driver and spotter

    There are standard hand signals to communicate whilst you are being towed by the RIB. Get familiar with these signals before you start.

    Faster – thumbs up
    Slower – thumbs down
    Stop – move your hand across your neck
    Same speed – sweep hand side to side – palm facing down
    Turn around – circle one finger in the air
    Speed ok – thumb and index finger touch together
    I’m ok – arms above head
    Back to dock – tap top of head with hand
    BWSW hand signals


    • watch the water ahead of you at all times
    • steer clear of obstacles in the water – other boats, mooring buoys, swimmers, rocks, sand banks etc.

    If you fall:

    • let go of the handle
    • signal to the observer that you are OK
    • recover your board quickly and make sure you are not tangled in the rope
    • stay away from the RIB or speed boat, if the engine is running
    • only get back on board the RIB if the engine is stopped


    • jumping in from the towing RIB whilst it is moving – wait for it to stop
    • falling forwards – try to sit down instead, or if falling sideways curl yourself into a ball
    • landing directly towards the shore – sit down if coming in too fast!


    • wrap the rope around any part of your body (fingers, hand or foot)
    • place any part of the body through the handle (neck, arm or leg)
    • ski directly ahead of, or to the side of, another boat
    • ski or wake board at night or in unknown waters
    • ski in shallow water

    Keep learning

    If you plan do a lot of wake boarding or water skiing, it’s not a bad idea to have a lesson on technique. It will short circuit the learning curve and mean you can get up and going further, much more quickly.

    Consider doing the British Water Ski and Wakeboard Ski Driver level 2 award, alongside your RIB or speedboat driver. That way you can also drive for other riders.

    At Ballistic RIBs we can arrange RYA Powerboat driving and water ski courses for you, as well as give advice on the right equipment, RIB and engines for towing a wakeboard. 

    Call us on 023 9239 7000 or email us.

    If you’ve enjoyed our How to Wakeboard guide, you may also enjoy part 1 and part 2 on preparation and safety and RIB drivers towing tips.

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