Learnwake Instruction by Kyle Schmidt

July 31, 2008

A forum user decided to contact WakeBoarding Magazine with a question about his heelisde frontside 360, and it just so happened that WBM Instructional Editor Kyle Schmidt felt like answering. Below is Jon’s original forum contact followed by Kyle’s response and a video supplement that uploaded to WBM‘s video site,

From: “Jon VanWagnen @ Wakeboarding Magazine Forums”

**Subject: Wakeboarding Magazine Forums Contact Us Form – help with hs fs 360******


**it seems like i’m always landing a little off axis and i fall over on my butt. i know i don’t have the best set up for big air cuz i’m using a seadoo challenger 1800 with nothing on it so it doesn’t make huge wake but i still feel like i can land this trick. if you have any suggestions as to things to try that would be sweet.******





It sounds like you have a very common problem that most riders have when learning this spin. Let me go over a few things that should help you out.

  1. First off, you need a seated edging position on the way in so you edge stay mellow and you can use a lot of legs at the wake. Your goal is to clear the wakes with all legs and hardly any edge. This type of approach keeps the line tension low which makes it easier to pass and spin. The more you increase your speed the more line tension you produce as you near the wake. When you take off and pull it will be difficult to pass.
  2. For on axis spins is more ideal if you spin in a shorter position. When you’re taller it is easier for the rope to pull you off axis. So, off the wake you should pull your knees up and spin in a crouched position. Bringing your knees up also gives you something to do before you initiate the spin as you leave the wake. So, that delay helps you set the axis better.
  3. When you are facing backwards passing the handle your shoulders should be leaning away from the boat, your butt should be sticking out towards the boat and the board should be the closest thing to the boat. Also, the bottom of the board should be visible to people riding in the boat when you are facing backwards. If it’s not then you are too upright.
  4. There are two skills that we teach that are directly related to passing the handle and the correct handle pass position. You can practice them while riding on the water in the middle of the wakes at slow speeds. The “Cuffed Riding Position” teaches you how to move your body correctly to pass the handle. The Cuffed Riding Position is basically riding with the board normal (nose pointing at the back of the boat) but with your upper body is facing backward with both hands behind your back (like your in hand cuffs). Your head is looking straight back away from the boat the entire time and you have to lean away whille riding. This is a very awkward position if you have never tried it. But it really teaches you how to pass the handle better and in the correct position. You have to lean away just like you do during the spin in the air. The other position is the “Cuffed Slide” and this basically a 90 degree slide backside in the middle of the wakes. You will be facing backwards with both hands on the handle behind you just like you would be passing the handle during the 360 in the air and the board should be sliding perpendicular to the boats path. Make sure to stay crouched while sliding and keep the boat speed down to about 13 to 14 mph. This sliding position represents the proper axis for spinning. If you can’t control this slide in the middle you will probably struggle to keep this position during the handle pass in the air as you spin the 360. The Cuffed Riding and Sliding positions are the best tools for engraving the proper axis and movement for handle passes.
  5. Last, and this is probably the most over looked part of spins, is your sequence for spinning and where you should stop your head. The old school of teaching spins was to start the spins with your head and then bring your head all the way around to the boat as you finish the 360 or even all the around toward shore. But this brings your upper body forward, which can make you take a fall out the front. It also causes your head to pull the tail of the board around to far which can make you over rotate. The new school is to leave your upper body more quiet while you start the spin with the board first. Then, as you finish, you stop your head looking back away from the boat instead of bringing it all the way around. If you stop your head looking back and finish with the board first it keeps your body back against the rope so you don’t get pulled over or forward out the front and the tail of the board stops where its supposed to. After the pass you should try to spot the landing side wake and then continue watching that wake as you finish the 360 rotation with the board while your head stays back. Again, this is a weird feeling but it helps you stay in the correct position instead of getting pulled over. So, you start the spin with your board and then your upper body follows, but you also finish with the board first and your upper body follows and your head stops at the 270 mark so you don’t over rotate. There are a lot of spins where this comes into play and this should help you out for the HS FS 360.

Well, I hope this helps and if you have any other questions post a video on the Bulletin boards at and I will analyze it for you.


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