Wakeboarding is a solo sport in the sense that when you compete, you compete alone and go head-to-head against other competitors. This is similar to sports like gymnastics or diving and much different from team sports, such as football or soccer; however, wakeboarding offers something unique, and that is style.
Style in wakeboarding describes the individuality of a rider. For example, two riders could go out and do the same trick but make them look completely different. This can be applied to all tricks, lending a certain distinction about a rider that makes that person stand out from others. This is different than gymnastics or other solo trick sports where a competitor tries to achieve a perfect version of a certain maneuver. While performing particular tricks well is important, adding individual style adds to the difficulty and intricacy of the tricks. A rider’s style is a direct reflection of the amount of time invested in perfecting the ride, which is why it is beneficial to work on style.
This is one of the things I love the most about wakeboarding. A rider’s uniqueness and individuality can be recognized, applauded and respected. It inspires creativity and allows for a never-ending progression. I have been wakeboarding for 15 years, and I still have not even gotten close to doing all of the different tricks and variations of tricks that are out there. To me, this is something that can be hard to find in many other sports, and it’s why I was so attracted to wakeboarding in the first place.
Oftentimes, contest judges and photographers tend to prefer riders with more style because it shows the time and effort they have put into making their rides look exactly how they want while also making each trick unique.
The best way to develop style is to go out and ride as much as possible. Start with one trick at a time and get creative with the performance of that certain trick. Grab the board or weight longer in the air before starting the trick. These are moves that help a rider to develop style.
For example, take a front side 180: This is a very simple trick but can be performed in so many different ways. Try grabbing the board first; then, do the rotation; and then, grab the board again at the end of the rotation. Delaying the rotations of spins is called stalling, which is another awesome way to add more style to riding tricks. This allows a rider to push toward getting better and also is a great way to test creativity. Try new things and new techniques that will ultimately make you a better rider.
Make sure to start with tricks you are already comfortable doing; then, begin to add your own signature to your tricks. Ultimately, wakeboarding is meant to be fun, and if you are getting bored with your riding, this might make it more exciting and push your riding to the next level.
Ben Watts learned to love wakeboarding on Lake Martin. He is a student at Auburn University and takes every opportunity to get behind the boat.