Riders sometimes overlook front hand grabs because they’re a little harder than grabbing with your back hand and fairly awkward to learn at first. That’s too bad because front hand grabs not only add more style to your riding, they can also make some moves easier and can even help add more tricks to your arsenal. Follow my advice and you’ll be grabbing mute, slob, nose, melon and method in no time. — Kyle Rattray
Be Patient Don’t cheat your wake jump when trying to grab. It’s very important to edge through the wake with both hands on the handle so you get every bit of pop off the wake and enter the air in control. If you reach for the grab early, the handle will pull your back hand away from you, and you’ll hit the wake stretched out and hunched over. You’ll either end up being flung into a frontside 180 or pitched out the front and onto your head. Instead, keep both hands on the handle as you edge through the wake, and wait for the peak of your jump to bring your board up to your hand for the grab.
Keep It Close When you do a wake jump, the handle is right at hip level, slightly closer to your front hip. You want to keep the handle in the same place when grabbing with your front hand. Moving the handle while you’re in the air will pull your body in different directions. You’ll notice this even more when you only have one hand on the handle. Don’t let the handle get away from your body or move toward your back hip or you’ll be pulled into a frontside spin or pulled out the front. Keep the handle close to your front hip and you’ll maintain your direction across the wakes and keep the pull consistent throughout the trick.
Grab to Spin Front-hand grabs make spinning frontside much easier because when you’re holding the handle with only your back hand, the boat naturally wants to pull you into a frontside spin. Once you have the grab with your front hand, let the handle slowly drift away from your front hip. Use that momentum to swing your back hip toward the handle and give the handle a little tug to help finish the spin. Reaching for the grab also helps you rise to the peak of your jump before you initiate your spin. When learning 360s, a lot of people leave the wake early and spin too soon. Reaching for the grab forces you to wait.
Style It Out There are plenty of ways to add style to your front hand grabs. Try poking a leg out or pulling a knee up. Or turn 90 degrees in the direction you came from and poke away from the boat before you turn back and land. Melons are one of my favorite grabs to style out because you can take them really big fairly easily. For a melon, grab the board’s heel edge between your boots with your front hand. With board in hand, try to straighten out your front leg completely, poking the board in the direction you’re travelling. If you’re really ambitious, try poking your board in the direction you’re going, then turn it to 180.
Grab Longer Certain tricks allow you to hold a front-hand grab a lot longer. For example, on a frontside 180, you can hold the grab through the entire spin because you don’t have to pass the handle. On a frontside toeside 360, you can grab throughout the spin, poke the grab out and land wrapped. On a Moby Dick, you initiate the flip and pass the handle right away, freeing you to grab with your front hand through the rest of the trick.
Master Methods Methods are one of my favorite grabs, and it’s really fun to see how far you can kick them out. To learn, start by pulling your front knee up on your next wake jump and do a shifty, kicking your back leg in the direction you’re travelling. Once you have that down, a method isn’t much different. Pull your front knee up and grab your board’s heel edge between the boot and nose with your front hand. With the board in your hand, go through the same motions you did for a shifty. Next, try a method variation, turning 90 degrees backside to the boat or doing a method glide.
Photo: Bill Doster