As a water sport, it is expected to water skiing or wakeboarding to come first on your mind. To your surprise, kneeboarding can be both recreational and pretty competitive. A lot of people actually enjoys this water activity. It is quite a popular water activity now. More than 100,000 snowboards are sold per now. Some passionate skiers came together to make something easier years ago. Now, it is been practiced for recreational or competitive purposes. It is a fun-filled and comparatively safer sport.
From the title, you can easily predict that we are going to talk about how to kneeboard and how it is beneficial to you. But we are also going to talk about the history, things to consider and some interesting tricks in this article.
When Did It Start?
The sport got the market in the 1980s. But the history began back in the 1950s. Some Southern California surfers initiated experiments. They were looking for something alternative to other popular water sports like wakeboarding, barefooting, water skiing, and all. In the 70s waterskiing was getting the most popular water sport and skiers started looking for surfboards where they could kneel rather than stand.
The first commercial “kneeboard” came in the market in 1972. It was called Knee Ski. Knee Ski produced those boards and brought them to the market. At that time the annual sales were only a few thousand boards. Later, other companies like Glide Slide, Hydroslide, and others came up with their kneeboards. The shape and materials had gone through several modifications through all these years.
Ronald Hillier founded The International Kneeboard Association (IKA) in the early 1980s. Being a champion in several water sports Ronald knew kneeboard had a future. He was even the creator of rules for kneeboarding. The renowned book Kneeboarding A-Z was written by him. Even still now his rules are followed and used. The American Kneeboard Association (AKA) perhaps was formed in 1983. The purpose was to uplift Kneeboard surfing as a competitive sport. The idea came from a group of traditional water skiers. They also arranged and designed several events at that time.
It is an Enjoyable Aqua Sports
This activity gives you an adrenaline rush when you pass through waves. Balance and focus are the keys to acing this sport. But at the same time, it can be really fun to do or just watch the sport.
Usually, riders preferred to be pulled on a board behind motorboats. At first, the rider or the boarder kneels on the board. There are different boards according to riders’ skills. Also, there are adjustable straps. The boarder has to strap over the thighs. Then he/she holds the tow-rope tightly. The towing motorboat pulls forward to provide the motion.
Is Kneeboarding Just for Recreation? Or, It Can Bring Some Benefits Too?
Kneeboarding might seem easy. I would strongly recommend warming up the body before going for the activity. Lots of people think that it might be a good exercise. But the truth is, kneeboarding needs physical fitness. If you have joint pain or arthritis kneeling in water would become an issue for you. Also, your body needs strength to do this sport. Your hands, shins, and knees especially have to be strong to stay that long catching up with the speed of the tow-boat.
In my opinion, it is a sport that helps you to know your body more. It freshens up your mind. Your brain works to find out the right position, the right technique to keep you balanced on the board. So, it is a good exercise for your mind.
Guide To Kneeboard Surfing:
The first thing we are going to talk about here is how to get up on the kneeboard. Of course, everyone has one’s own way to do that. We are here just trying to bring an easy way to start with. So here are the steps:
- Take your board in the water and lay on the board facing downward
- Place your body in a manner that your hands can hold the strap.
- Use one hand to grip the tow.
- Sit up and stay kneeled. It is good to keep your torso a bit forward.
- Make sure that your shins are kept flat position.
- Fasten the strap over your thighs.
Boarders lay their bodies on the board in different ways. Some of them directly hop on and kneel. But directly hopping on the board might not be as easy as it sounds. Whatever your way is, my suggestion would be put your torso a bit forward. It helps you to get the strap easily. When the tow-boat takes the board on the plane water you can squat and put your body in a position that you find comfortable. You can check which postures would balance you more conveniently. You can switch your hands while holding the rope to check which will compliment your position. Your shins need to stay on flat comfortably. When you know that you have positioned perfectly and you are ready to go, tell the boat-driver to speed up. Start your boarding! Do not lean too much. Otherwise you will lose your balance while speeding up and you will end up with a face plant.
Always make sure that you tighten the strap over your thighs. Go easy and at low speed for first couple of times. With time you will understand balancing yourself on the board.
These tricks are for those who are NOT beginners anymore. If you have learned already to balance yourself on the board, then this segment is a bonus for you.
- To get a smooth turning, just gently tilt your shoulder and head to the side you want to turn and keep doing that slowly until you get the turn. Do not bend your hands. Simply keep them straight. No need to tilt too much. Otherwise you will fall in the end.
- This one is a fun trick. It is called Jumping the Wake. This means jumping in the wake area of the towing boat. You will water surface rippling from the back side of the towing vehicle. This is called wake. The thing is, you will have to cut through the wake and go as far as possible. Go to the either side of the boat. Then again cut back hard and jump to get into the wake. Now, when cut back near the wake, make sure you tilt back a little. It will help you to land injury-less.
- Another fun thing is Surface 360. It means to turn 360 degree while boarding. You have to create and hold the momentum while turning. If you are turning right, then disengage your right hand. Hold the handle with your left hand. Then take a 360 turn. And just right before getting back into your neutral position detach your left hand and hold the handle with your right hand. This is not complicated actually. It just needs practice.
- This one is called Ollie. You will have to press your knees downward. It will create a down-force in the water. Then you pull knees upward and jump to get off the water. It is a very simple and classic trick.
- Now, we are going to learn to ride backwards. If you have learned surface 360, then it is easy for you. Basically, it just turning 180 degree. You start by gently side rotation to either side. Again, if you are turning to the right side, then release your right hand only. Then rotate until you completely go backward. Hold the handle with your left hand. Also, pull your left hand and bring as near to your waist as possible. After completing a 180-degree turn and come back to your neutral position and hold the rope with both hands.
If you enjoy yourself on the kneeboard, then I would say to must try these tricks. There are more fun tricks like Wake Front-to-Back, Switch 3, Butter Slide, The Olle, Wake 360 Front-to-Front, Backrolls and others. These are a bit complicated and also need lots of practice.
Find The Right Equipment:
One of the advantages of kneeboarding is you do not have to have much expensive equipment to do this. However, equipment according to your skills and size are important.
The very first thing you need is to find a proper kneeboard. Now, your purpose for the activity is the primary thing to consider here. Two basic types of kneeboards are recreational and competitive. After that, you should check for board styles and then constructions. One of the basic features of recreational boards is they are rotationally molded. It helps the beginners or amateurs to turn smoothly. These boards are usually thick also. If you spill as a beginner then this feature will help the board to float again. On the other hand, the competitive or professional boards have more sustainability, lighter in weight, and are compression-molded. These boards are absolutely for advance level boarders.
The next thing you should focus on is selecting the appropriate rope. If you think that water skiing rope can work with kneeboarding then I would defer. I would recommend you to take the rope whose stretch level matches your skill level. You will find No-Stretch, Low-Stretch ropes in the market. Materials and construction styles are different in these two ropes. No-stretch ropes are a good option for those who are sharpening their skills. Low-stretches are a good option for recreational boarders. Besides, do not forget to check rope length and handles. Choose the rope length and especially the handle as per your body strength.
Kneeboarding and Kneeboard Surfing Are Not the Same!
Kneeboard surfing are different from kneeboarding as per some aspects. Usually, kneeboard surfers do their activities in the sea. And the biggest difference between these two water sports is kneeboard surfing does not need any rope or towing. The boarder paddles with hands or pumps the board with knees. Kneeboard surfers are usually pro when they surf in the seas. They have got to face lots of 360-degree turns. And they use their hands to execute the perfect and smooth turns.
Kneeboarding or kneeboard surfing in the sea, both need to focus on positioning own body, spreading the body weight and adjust the upper-body position during going through waves. Even if some aspects are different, they both are enjoyable.
Some Cautions for Your Safety Issue:
- Always put on a life vest
- Have clear knowledge about hand signals before getting involved into any water activities.
- Avoid face plants as much as possible. Falling on sideways or backwards can save you from fatal injuries.
- Choose equipment according to your purpose (recreation/competitiveness) of activity and skill level. Check the state of your equipment before going for kneeboarding every time.
- Always signal your towing boat to start taking off only after you are ready
- Hold the grip of the handle with your hands only. Do not strangle it to anywhere else.
- Make sure you maintain safe distances from other boarders, surfers, and vehicles while boarding. Otherwise, it may cause accidents sometimes.
- Tighten the strap over your thighs properly.
Kneeboarding is losing its popularity to some extent. It is a great way to lighten up your mood. It can cheer you up easily. It may be dangerous to people who have knee pain or joint pain. While performing tricks some positions could be a little hard for your knees. There could be strains, especially at the joints. So, if you have these issues you can avoid the activity. But if you are not going through these health issues, then my request is to give it a shot. It is worth the try.