How to Wakeboard at a Cable Park

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Cable parks are a beautiful thing for the sport of wakeboarding. Few things have done as much to make the sport so accessible to the masses. Before cable parks, if you didn't have a boat—or at least know someone with a boat—you couldn't wakeboard. But now, it's as simple as heading down to your closest cable park, strapping in, and taking off.

The rapid rise in the popularity of cable parks has made it necessary for wakeboarders to be well-versed in both boat riding and cable riding. In fact, a whole section of the industry has been dedicated to making gear specific to cable park riding.

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Why Ride Cable Parks?

It doesn't matter if you've been riding for years or if you've never even touched a wakeboard, a good cable park session can help you get started and improve your skills. In fact, a lot of people wakeboard for the very first time at a cable park.

The only prerequisite is a willing spirit, so if you've got an itch to grab the cable then this guide will take you through all of the basics from starting out right up to hitting your first ramp.

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Taking Off

Every cable park will have their own setup, but more than likely they will have a starting dock of some sort. This is usually a floating square that is level with the water to allow you to start off standing up or sitting down.

Sitting Start

To do a sit start, move out to the edge of the starting dock and have a seat. With your board sitting parallel to the dock, take the rope into your hands and give the cable operator the go-ahead. As you feel the cable tension start to pull you up, start raising off the dock. As you move to a standing position, lean back, plane out, and ride just as if you were riding behind a boat.

Standing Start

The standing start isn't that difficult and will likely be your preferred method of getting started when you become a regular at the park. Simply start out standing on the board with your weight shifted forward. As the cable takes up tension, keep your weight shifted toward the nose as you slide to the edge of the dock. As you transition from the dock to the water, slightly shift your weight back to your regular riding position.

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Keeping Your Line

After you've started riding, you may notice that riding a cable is a little bit different than riding behind a boat. But if you keep a few things in mind, you will feel right at home very quickly. First, remember that the rope is way more elevated than your boat tower. That means that you will naturally be pulled upward, so you will see a lot of beginners doing a back and forth seesaw motion. This is because the natural upward pull makes you ride a little bit more forward and, to compensate, most beginners will lean far back and become wobbly.

To avoid the constant back and forth, simply square your hips, keep the rope stable at your chest, and keep your shoulders even. You will still feel the natural upward pull of the cable, but in this position you will be able to keep your movement slight in order to find the perfect balance.

Take a few runs back and forth on your line and get a feel for the motion of riding on a cable. Then, once you feel comfortable, you're ready to start taking it to the air.

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Hitting Those Ramps

Quite honestly, you won't find people heading to the cable park just to crank a few soul turns. The main reason you go to the cable park is to hit ramps and sliders and get big air! But before you hit your first kicker, make sure you have the basics down in your head.

Remember to start small. Most cable parks will have sections and features designated for beginners to make sure you don't go too big too soon. Using your hand signals, tell the cable operator to adjust your speed until you're comfortable.

Next, begin your approach to the ramp. Make sure that you keep enough tension on the line so that you carry all the way through the ramp, but not so much that you load the line and you get pulled over too fast. Once again, keeping the rope centered in front of your chest will help you keep the right balance of speed.

As you approach ramp, keep your knees bent and your shoulders perpendicular to the ramp. Don't lean forward or back as the board will slip out and you will likely hit the ramp with your rear end. As you make your way to the top of the ramp, stand up slightly and prepare for takeoff.

As you leave the coping of the ramp, bring your knees up and keep your body centered. Flatten out in the air and keep your knees bent for landing. It is important to keep your knees bent because there is no down ramp and taking the impact of a flat landing on stiff legs can be a nightmare for your joints.

After you get comfortable hitting the ramps, you can move on to doing bigger and better tricks like 180's, grabs, and even hitting sliders.

Above all, remember that park riding is supposed to be fun. Don't be intimidated if you see other people who are more advanced riders, or if the ramps seem too scary. Everyone has to start somewhere and a cable park is a great place to start.