7 Most Challenging Wakeboarding Tricks to Master | Volcano Watersports

7 Most Challenging Wakeboarding Tricks to Master

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11 January 2024

A while ago, we wrote a blog on wakeboarding tricks to learn from a beginner’s perspective. But we’re not going to assume everyone using our services has never gone wakeboarding before.

For the last couple of decades, participation in wakeboarding has been on the rise, with more people than ever finding enjoyment in the sport. While a number of people have never gone wakeboarding in Costa Rica – and specifically here in Lake Arenal, which is the best place in the country to do it – there are plenty who have already mastered the basic skills.

With this in mind, we wanted to speak directly to those watersports enthusiasts. If you’re thinking of using our boat rentals, this is a great chance to push your skills to the next level and master some more advanced skills and tricks.

There are tons to choose from – and our instructors will be able to lend a hand in perfecting a few – but we’ve taken the time to list out some of the more challenging tricks. These are the tricks that can really build your confidence, helping you to feel more connected with the board and the waves while sufficiently shutting down your inner wakeboarding critic.

Oh heck, forget that. These are just the tricks that look really, really cool. Let's get started!

Intermediate: Backroll

Before trying anything else on this list, the backroll is a trick that will be useful to master. Put simply, this involves a heelside release where the board will rotate nose over tail. To do this, you should be travelling hard and wide, with most of your weight focused on your rear foot. When you jump off the wave, push your shoulders up and to the right, and keep your body in a single plane.

Depending on the size of the wake, your legs are going to be thrown backwards, but try to keep them as close to your body as possible, drawn right up to your chest. Likewise, keep your elbows tucked in and both your hands on the handle. When you see the water, release one hand and straighten – this will ensure a soft landing and prevent you from swallowing a mouthful of lake water!

Intermediate: Half-Cab Roll

There are two things you need to master before attempting a half-cab roll. The first is the half cab 180 – a trick invented by Steve Caballero in 1981, involving a rotation of 180 degrees – and the second is riding switch – involving a small, forward-facing jump and a rotation.

If you have nailed these two tricks, you should be ready to try the half-cab roll, which is a more condensed variation. The key is taking off with the nose of the board up and pointing away from the boat, and then switching your stance roll to revert, backrolling with a frontside 180-degree spin.

Intermediate: Reverting Backroll

You know how to go upside down, which is pretty cool in itself. But once you’ve conquered that challenge, it’s time to make it look even cooler! To do this, you could attempt the heelside, reverted backroll – going from a backroll to revert. While this is verging on an ‘advanced’ trick, it is doable in just a handful of tries, you just need to get the hang of it.

To pull it off, try to keep a tight edge all the way to the top of the wake. Make sure your backroll is performed away from the toeside, and look for the frontside when doing the 180 turn. When you’re around ¾ of the way through the jump, you’ll spot your landing already, and that’s when you should move the handle towards your rear hip, dropping your front hand down. When you land, bend your knees on impact and push your chest over your toes, away from the switch toeside.

Intermediate: Crow Mobe

The crow mobe might be a strange name for a trick, but it’s one of the simplest tricks to understand. In fact, it nearly got onto our basic wakeboarding tricks article, before we realised this could result in first-time customers spending most of their time in the water! The best thing about this one is that it doesn’t require a lot of air, and while it’s relatively easy to get right, it looks really cool when performed correctly. To do it, make sure you’re starting outside the wake by around ten feet, and only glide into the wake with a mild progressive edge. Stand straight and tall, and push off from the wake at the last moment.

As if you were performing a standard rotation, start to turn and pull the rope towards your back. When you spot your landing, pull the rope around and perform a handle pass – this isn’t completely necessary, but it looks a little cleaner than landing wrapped – and land away from the wake, with all of your weight pushed down onto your toes.

Intermediate: Frontside 360 with Toeside Approach

There are plenty of variations of the classic 360, but one of the most rewarding is the toeside, frontside 360. Like the crow mobe, it’s a fairly simple trick to get right, but it may require a few goes before you start showing it off to friends. To do it, you should carry out a soft approach, as soft as possible, to focus predominantly on your pop off the wave. After you push off, yank the handle back to your outer hip – we use the word “yank” because this motion should be fast, and as sharp as possible to do it in time.

Release one arm and begin rotating, completing the movement with your frame, while the rope remains taught. Towards the end of the rotation, catch the handle with your other hand and land with your toes down. When you’re up in the air, this should come fairly naturally. The trick about the toeside, frontside 360 is nailing the foundation – the soft approach and the immediate pop from the wake.

Advanced: Back Mobe

While the crow mobe can be described as the easiest of all the mobes, the back mobe – also called the Mobius – could be one of the hardest. This is essentially a heel set backroll with a front cell 360 rotation. You don’t need a lot of height or power, but you do need focus and as flat a wake as possible – not a problem when you’re here at Lake Arenal!

To perfect it, make sure you have a short approach, starting easy and ending hard. When you’re getting ready for the pop, try to almost get under the cable, as this will ensure less tension on the rope, and can help you get the exit angle of the board at around 180 degrees. After the pop, pull your body weight backwards and keep it that way for the entirety of the rotation. Keep both hands on the handle until you start to spin, and for the last 180, release and switch. One of the things you’ll want to do is fold your hips – as you would on a backroll to revert – but you should try to resist this. Instead, push your hips forward and keep yourself straight and stiff, giving you a good platform for a solid spinning momentum.

Mega Advanced: 1080

We thought we’d finish off with the creme de la creme: the 1080. We’re not expecting you to master this one, but the word 'challenge’ is in the title of this blog, and we couldn’t think of a better challenge than this. The 1080 is notoriously difficult for wakeboarders -- we’re not sure we’ve seen anyone do it here in Lake Arenal, but that could be more due to the conditions than the abilities of the wakeboarders themselves!

The 1080 is often unachievable without a ramp, as it requires a lot of air time, sometimes reaching three to four seconds. Working it out is pretty simple – get into the air and perform a 1080 rotation around the vertical axis – but it’s pulling it off that’s the tricky part. Our advice? Just get in the air and spin like hell!

Mastering Tricks at Lake Arenal

These are seven tricks to try and master on your visit to Lake Arenal, but there are many others – ranging from beginner to professional. We should reiterate that the tricks mentioned here are difficult, and they should only be attempted if you are a seasoned wakeboarder looking for more of a challenge. As with any sport, pushing yourself further introduces more risk, and you need to have a good hand on wakeboarding as a skill if you want to be prepared for those risks.

We should also mention, of course, that you don’t need to attempt any of these tricks! Wakeboarding is not just about looking cool and feeling a rush, it’s about having fun and becoming one with nature. It’s also true that wakeboarding doesn’t have to be difficult, and you will certainly find this to be the case when you come to Costa Rica. There’s nothing better or more relaxing than simply cruising along Lake Arenal, with the wind in your hair, the volcano in the distance, and the rainforest whipping past on either side of you. You don’t need any jumps or tricks to enjoy that. You just need a boat and a rope. And that’s exactly what we offer!