How many of you have ever done a bicep curl before? Well, when you did that set of bicep curls, did you just do one arm or did you work out both arms? What if we were really into having huge biceps and went a long period of time working out only one arm?
That sounds ridiculous in many ways. So, for some of those reasons we strive to balance out our workouts. We are taught to have good body position when we work out. We are taught to carry loads with our whole body, rather than just our arms and our backs.
Now, lets think of ourselves on our wakeboards. Do we ride switch 50% of the time? Do we approach the wake and land switch as many jumps as we do regular? Now fast-forward and think of how our wakeboarding may be shaping our physique. If the workout has been asymmetrical, your whole body is going to be asymmetrical, and suffering in some way!
The AF Wake method (AF Wake is my wakeboarding school) emphasizes understanding the four basic approaches and landings and utilizing each of them to get a balanced workout. Fundamentals! Low impact, high rep workouts build the most longevity!
Not everyone will have the athleticism and/or drive to push themselves to the limits like the pros do. However, everyone can get an incredibly balanced and vigorous workout, with more than 40-50 different basic to intermediate level wake-to-wake tricks, by learning to jump the wake and land each different direction!
How do I Learn to Ride Switch?
The answer is quite easy! First, shorten your rope and slow the boat speed down. Way down. Until you feel comfortable and can ride objectively without fear. I recommend starting as slow as 12 mph for little kids and 14 mph for adults with surface spins, then faster towards jumping speeds of 16-19.5 mph as the progression builds. We have huge, quick success teaching riders how to spin with shorter ropes and slower speeds.
Use your understanding of riding regular to give yourself a chance to feel what’s happening with the board, rope control and your body position. Learn to use the muscles on the other side of your body. Build strength and be able to separate the muscle control in your switch and regular riding.
Ride switch a higher percentage of your set! Through turns, at the cable park, in rough water, riding slow… anything to help your weaker side catch up.
Mind and Body
Most riders fear switch riding just enough that they don’t commit 100% to the body position and muscle control to use the board correctly. Instead, the rider favors dominant muscles, standing forward on the board and being in a defensive position at takeoff versus an explosive position. The board will not accelerate correctly or give you the right lift if your body weight is off-balanced.
Riders lack power in their switch muscles, which affects how high they go and how soft they land. Ultimately, it affects overall confidence. Our bodies crave balance. Our muscle structure and posture need to be balanced. Work at building strength on that side of your body.
Learning to Ride Switch
Here are some things to practice that will give you more control and balance on your board. If you take the time to practice you will quickly progress.
• While in a switch position on the heelside, edge smoothly away from the wake, coast, then ollie. Land smooth with tension and carve back in to restart. Learn to build a smooth, strong edge away from the wake, so that you feel the tension in the rope. Pay attention to and recognize your speed control. Learn to keep the line tight. Build strength in your switch ollies.
• After practicing on your heelside, try it on your toeside. When you ollie, make sure you square up completely switch, using your front arm and back leg. Your “regular” muscles need to totally relax so the control can be in the other side of your body. If you get stuck, try it regular footed a few times to get the feel of the rhythm. Then try it again switch.
• Once you can properly ollie switch, switch ollie backside 180’s aren’t so difficult and awkward. Learn a proper switch backside 180, then switch inside out backside 180’s off the start up roller. Then, of course, switch backside 180’s wake to wake, then with a grab, then toeside frontside 3’s and so on.
• Learn switch powerslides out in the flats, and how to boardslide on the wakes backwards. If you are a rail rider, learn to properly switch backlip and switch front board rails.
• Learn big tricks where you have to edge through the wake, like switch wake to wake landing switch, switch heelside backrolls, switch stalefish into the flats, switch tail grab into the flats. Half cab rolls into the flats, switch front flips, switch scarecrows, switch toeside indys. Switch Raleys and hoochie glides. These moves will challenge you to stand tall and strong through the wake with your core and legs. These moves are great strength builders!
Remember, you want to control and empower the trick with your switch muscles. With this knowledge and practice you’ll soon be going just as big switch as you can go regular. You will feel a more full, more balanced workout when you ride. Most importantly, you’ll be showing off a much more diverse array of moves to the crew! Good luck and have fun!