Grabs

  • C.C. Roberts has his eye on the second peak of the double-up. He's out wide, cuts hard and launches perfectly off the lip. "He's probably going to throw a fat tantrum, or a big front," I think to myself. "Inverts. All you ever see anymore is inverts." Yeah, inverts are hard and all, but whatever happened to the simple pleasures of a good, fat poke?
    But this time C.C. shocks me. He stays
    vertical, goes up to un-humanly heights and pokes a melan that rates as big on the sick scale as anything I've seen in weeks. Grabs are still the bomb. Here's how to do them right.

  • Your First Grabs
    The first grabs you do should be either a backside or frontside indy. This is because it's easiest to grab with your trailing hand if you want to land forward, and indy grabs are back hand, toeside - a natural non-tweaked position. Look at the sequence of Scott Jobe doing a backside indy. Note that he launches cleanly off the wake, pulls his board up (look how bent his knees are) to his hand for a firm toeside grab, pokes it back for a little extra style, then holds onto the board a little longer before letting go and setting the jump back down. This is good technique. He cuts all the way through the wake before grabbing, gets a firm grip on the board and holds it long enough for you to tell it was a grab, keeps his head up and body on a level plane - and he even twists and bones it out for extra style.
    Once you get basic indy grabs like this, you should try some melans (melancholy). When doing a rear-hand grab, like a melan, the boat naturally wants to pull the side of your body that is holding the rope toward the boat. So in order to keep a melan grab under control, you have to keep the handle in close to your body. In the sequence of C.C. doing a backside melan, he cuts in progressively and by Photo 3 he has completely cleared the wake with both hands still on the handle. This is good. You can't even tell he's going for a grab at this point. Then, in the air he pulls his back leg all the way under him, grabs heelside and pokes out his front foot for style. Look at how he doesn't bend at the waist much from the time he is cutting through the whole maneuver. He keeps his head up and keeps his body on axis.
    After you have these grabs wired, you might want to try a frontside melan to fakie, or an indy half-cab, which is just coming in fakie, grabbing toeside, then landing forward. Remember: On rotational grabs, whichever foot you are going to land forward with, leave that hand on the handle. For instance, if you take off right foot forward, and let go with your right hand, it will help your rotate on an indy half-cab.

  • Keys to a
    Good Grab
    On the surface, there's not much to a grab. You put your hand on the board, you close your fingers around the rail and voila, you've got style, right? Wrong! If you think grabs are just about slapping the rail with your hand, you've got a lot to learn. Greg Nelson, one of the most stylish riders wakeboarding has seen, says that grabs don't give you style, but rather they should be an extension of your style. He goes on to note that a lot of people don't know how or when to grab and could probably use some tips just like he got from a snowboarding friend when he started boarding years ago.
    With that in mind, Nelson, C.C. and instructors Dave Briscoe, Charley Patterson and P.J. Marks offer these keys to a good grab.
    1. Wait until you get to the peak of your jump to initiate the grab. A lot of people try to suck the board up to their hand too early. This, as Briscoe explains, causes you to lose your pop off the wake and keeps you frometting good air. So the main thing is to go up with the jump first, then bring the board to you at the peak of the jump. Don't reach down for the board before you jump. If you try to grab the board before you leave the wake, you will be simultaneously pushing with legs and bending down to grab -which tends to launch you into a front flip, which tends to make you land on your head.
    2. Bring your knees up to your hand rather than bending at the waist and reaching for the grab. By bringing your knees up, you can keep your eyes on the horizon and keep your axis aligned. Too many people reach for the board, which puts your body out of position.
    3. Don't go off the jump, bone your leg out, then grab. If you are going to do a poke, do it after you grab the board.
    4. The more height you get, the longer you hang on to poke or play with the grab.
    5. Commit to your grab. Too many people don't commit to the grab -quickly reaching toward the board, slapping the rail and then going back to the handle. You actually have more time than you think. You are better off holding the grab too long than not long enough.

  • Enhancing Moves
    Look at the pictures of pros doing the most simple jumps with grabs. They look natural, effortless and stylish. That is the goal, although in some cases grabs can have some function. C.C. Roberts says that in spins and flips, your legs are like the throttle. The higher up you pull your knees, the faster you will spin. In other words, when you suck your legs up for a grab, you are going to rotate much faster than in a laid-out position.

  • Spins: Charley Patterson says that grabbing spins is hard because it tends to throw you off axis. The key to controlling this is to reach down low for your handle pass. Look at the melan 360 C.C. is doing on this page. He does a moderate cut but pops off the wake with the board fairly flat. Once he gets well into the air, he sucks his legs up and initiates his front-hand, heelside grab. He holds onto his grab for about one-third of the spin before letting go of the rail and going for the handle pass. But rather than put the handle to the small of his back like on a normal 360, he passes it down below his butt. This keeps him low and keeps him relatively on axis. As you can see in photos 5 and 6, he could benefit from an even lower handle pass to keep the board on a flatter plane, but he pulls it off nonetheless.

  • Flips: When you grab a flip, it makes you spin faster - twice as fast - so the key is to delay everything by going into the flip later. Probably the most popular grab roll is the indy tantrum. On this move, right off the top of the wake, you suck up your legs into your chest, then grab the board indy. Whereas on a normal tantrum, you go off the wake, throw your head back, then lay out. With a grab you can't throw your head back and spot the water as quickly - it's kind of a delayed roll, according to P.J. Marks. So you take it up, grab it, then you throw your head back to rotate. It will feel as though grabbing slows down your rotation but it doesn't - it just delays it. The advantage is it makes your body more compact, so you rotate faster. The hardest thing is trusting that when you grab the board, the rotation will happen even though you can't lead with your head. You have throw the trick with the board instead of throwing it with your head. Grabbing the tantrum is a little harder, but everyone we spoke with says you can get just as much air as on a laid-out tantrum.

  • Good Combinations
    Here's a list of moves our panel says are good ones for grabs. Of course, you can combine almost any move with a grab, but Greg Nelson offers this advice: "I tend to stay away from anything that reminds me of playing Twister."

  • Any grab spins
    Heelside slob 180
    Frontside back roll with indy grab
    Grab roll-to-revert (slob, melan or nose)
    Frontside slob roll-to-revert
    Crail tantrum
    Roast beef tantrum
    Half-cab roll
    Oriental
    Nose grab front
    Method front - you rotate a lot faster
    Method scarecrowcan combine almost any move with a grab, but Greg Nelson offers this advice: "I tend to stay away from anything that reminds me of playing Tw

  • ister."

  • Any grab spins
    Heelside slob 180
    Frontside back roll with indy grab
    Grab roll-to-revert (slob, melan or nose)
    Frontside slob roll-to-revert
    Crail tantrum
    Roast beef tantrum
    Half-cab roll
    Oriental
    Nose grab front
    Method front - you rotate a lot faster
    Method scarecrow