Understanding Wake Jumps & Approach Positions

Tips by David Ngiam
Photo : Approaches

There’s a common misconception amoung beginners that the faster your charge at a wake or the harder your try to push off the wake, the bigger the air you will get. Actually, how you control the line tension is primary in all wake tricks. It is this line tension that gives you both lift and distance. By combining it with a good, timed pop, that will increase your lift even more.

So remember, line control is very important. Also, to me, 70% of any trick is in how you approach and pop. There are basically 3 types of approaches – Middle, Seated & Tall. The most common among the 3 is the Middle approach. I will describe these approaches based on the heelside approach. However, the same concept can be applied to the toeside approach as well.


In this approach, you want don’t want to stand too tall, nor do you want to croach to low. You want to keep your knees slightly bent, with some break at the waist. Your elbows should be bent a little with your handle kept low to keep your centre of gravity low. But it is not necessary to pull the handle in. You want to keep this position all the way through the approach. All you need to do is rock on to your heels and lean back on your lower back. Remember, it is important to maintain this posture all the way through the approach. For wake jumps, you can even maintain this posture through out the whole trick except that you’ll need to stand a little taller as you edge through the wake. This approach can be used for tricks like wake jumps and backrolls where you want to maintain a consistent line tension throughout the trick.


In this approach, you want to come in on a milder edge keeping your upper body upright by breaking at your waist more and your lower body croached low. The handle may be tucked in a little more than normal. The purpose of this approach is to focus more on the pop. Such approaches are typically used in grabs and spins where you want to get a good pop, but don’t want the line tension to be too tight in mid-air for the grab or handle-pass as you release one hand off the handle. Don’t expect to get too far out into the flats as you are more likely to land wake-to-wake. However, with that added extension for the pop, you should still be able to get plenty of air.


In this approach, you want to come in fairly tall with your waist and knees slightly bent. It is important to lock your waist in particular, breaking very little as you edge. You should feel most of the tension in your upper back as compared to the lower back for the other 2 approaches. This is because this approach is used more in Raley based tricks where your body get extended into a ‘Superman’ position. This approach raises your centre of gravity to your upper body where the pivot point, in this case, is at your shoulders. The line tension for this approach is the tightest, and it is because of this tightness, it is able to snap the rider into a raley position.

Although the 3 approachs are used typically for the type of tricks mentioned, there are no hard and fast rules about it. The more experience you get, the more you can mix around the approaches to vary your intensity or style.

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