A lot of pro wakeboarders do clinics in the summer. These sorts of things are kind of like coaching sessions. A pro comes out to your local dealership and us as riders can sign up and pay a reasonable rate to not only get a chance to ride with a pro all day but also get shown what we are doing wrong on the wakeboarding tricks we’re working on. I have done quite a few of these, and to be honest, every time the same problem occurs — everyone wants to learn a flip before they are ready.
Alright, I know the flip is cool. It’s impressive and everyone enjoys doing it. And everyone wants to be the first person in his or her crew to land one. Or the latest to land a new one. I was guilty of this as well. All I wanted was to do a back roll. Trouble is, I could barely do a flip on a trampoline at that point. I could try to get that invert all day, but it wasn’t going to happen. It has been this way in wakeboarding and every other board sport for a long time. You can’t build a building without the foundation.
The first clinic I went to was with Zane Schwenk. I got to go as a gift for my 12th birthday. And like every other rider, I immediately tried to learn a flip. Zane stopped me almost immediately and made me get back to the basics. He had me learn all four frontside 180s. One wake at first and then work into getting them all wake to wake. At the time, I didn’t understand this. Learning 180s wasn’t going to help me land a back roll, and that’s what I truly wanted to learn.
The 180s are important. In the grand scheme of things, they are the most important thing you will ever learn in wakeboarding. So take your time and get them solid before you move on. The reason they are so important is that once you learn that first flip you are immediately going to want to learn another. Maybe you will try to throw a 180 in the original. Like taking your back roll to revert or your front roll to scarecrow. How is this going to happen if you can’t do a 180 in the first place? If you can’t land switch just doing an air over the wake, how are you going to do a flip and land switch?
You always have to crawl before you can walk. And walk before you can run. So it’s important to take your time. I’m not saying you won’t be able to throw a 180 in your flips without learning the 180s first, but it will definitely speed it up. Sometimes it takes one step back to go two steps ahead. — Derek Grasman
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