Three Keys to Improve Your Wake-Sports Skills

A three-point plan for wake-sports success.

Wake sports skills
It makes more than the right gear or boat to improve your skills. Garrett Cortese

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Remember that aha! moment when you first got up and stayed up on a wakeboard or water ski? That exhilarating feeling is etched in your memory. And if you continue to train and acquire new skills, those aha! moments will keep popping up over a lifetime.

What’s crucial is knowing how to get better. For most, it’s a matter of going on autopilot and defaulting to trial and error. Buying a new, better board or ski can be part of the answer to improving behind the boat. But there’s more to it.

Everyone, even if you are just getting started with wake sports or riding a tube, needs that plan. The key for getting better with wake sports is to improve three separate elements: equipment, technique and boat driving. This is a physical, symbiotic relationship, like a three-legged stool. Remove one leg and it falls over. Here’s a review of each aspect.


This ranges from your boat itself to the features on the boat specific for tow sports, such as a ski pylon or a wakeboard tower. It also includes the equipment that you use, such as the wakesurfer, ski or wakeboard to the bindings, line and handle, and flotation vest. Having proper-size equipment that is lightweight and offers the latest performance features will add immensely to your success.

Read our latest watersports boat reviews at


This includes body position, how your weight is balanced over your feet, and the position of your arms and hands while holding the handle for water-skiing and wakeboarding. Technique also includes many fine points, such as where your eyes are focused. If you look down, you go down. Or perhaps you are holding your breath, which makes your body tense. Learn through education; try hiring a coach or watching online videos. Know this: When you implement optimal technique, you will improve and tricks will feel easier to master.

Read “How to Teach a Kid to Water-Ski” at boatingmag​.com/story/water-sports/how-to-teach-a-kid-to-water-ski.

Boat Driving

Pros quickly know the difference between a skilled and unskilled driver. Weekend enthusiasts are not aware of the importance of having a driver who is attuned to giving the best tow to the skier or rider. A skilled driver for wake sports is sensitive to keeping a straight boat path, providing smooth acceleration during the start and holding the exact speed. A skilled driver is also highly sensitive to the safety of the person in tow.

Read “How to Drive a Boat for Wake Sports” at

While each of the three elements is important in itself, you need all three elements in harmony to maximize success. Think of it this way: If your bindings are loose-fitting and do not provide ample support, you will not make the most of having optimal body position because you will not have full control of the ski or board.

Or when your body position is not balanced properly over both feet, and you have most of your weight over the back foot instead, which is commonly done, your wakeboard, wakesurfer or ski will not work to its full potential.

Also, if you have the best ski or wakeboard, with bindings that perfectly fit a perfectly balanced body position, but the driver can’t hold exact speed, then you will be distracted and not able to focus on improving.

For a safe, successful and fun experience, the key is to develop awareness of these three key elements of wake-sports success.

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