USA Water Ski & Wake Sports

How to Get Kids Into Towed Water Sports? Try Kneeboarding!

Note: This article first appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of The Water Skier magazine, the official publication of USA Water Ski & Wake Sports. If you are not a member of USA Water Ski & Wake Sports and you are interested in receiving the quarterly magazine, join now.

 

Written by Tom Kohl

Photography by Ted Bevelacqua

 

Parent-child Kneeboarding DoublesKneeboarding is a great sport that can be enjoyed by all ages, and it offers an easy entry into towed water sports. Slow speeds and a low center of gravity make kneeboarding an easy ride for kids. Pair that with a stable board and a rope hook, and you have a winning combination! From a relaxing glassy fun run, to big air flips and spins, kneeboarding offers an easy introduction to towed water sports with plenty of room to challenge the most competitive athlete. This article will shed some light on easy tips to get your kids behind the boat.

For starters...The most important thing to remember is not to ever push your sport onto your kids. Regardless if it is kneeboarding, wakeboarding, or skiing, trying to force kids into an activity almost always backfires.  Instead, show them how much you love your sport by having fun in front of them. Keep having fun in front of them until they ask about it. If they are apprehensive, kneeboarding is a great option. Show them it is fun to do, show them you can go slow. If you have a hook on your board, show them you can go no-hands! When they are ready, they will come to you interested and eager to try it.

What to buy? For first timers and young kids, a beginner board with an Aqua Hook is an easy purchase for under $200. An Aqua Hook is a small plastic knob on the nose of the board that can be used to hook the rope, too. This allows the rider to concentrate more on balance and less on holding on to the rope. When the rider is ready, the rope can be easily unhooked and held by hand. If you can spend a little more, there are a few mid-level boards that still offer an Aqua Hook and have some room for advancement.

First try! For the little ones, the first experience could be the deal breaker. There are a few things you can do to ensure success. The first thing to do is to remove the (knee) strap! Since it is their first time, there is no need for the strap, and it will prevent them from getting stuck in the board if they fall. Secondly, have an adult in the water with the first timer. Put the rider up on the board in the kneeling position. Then with rope in hand in their hands, or on the Aqua Hook, stabilize them by holding the outside edges of the board, in line with the boat. When the rope gets tight, guide the board for a second to stabilize the rider as they take off. After a few successful rides, start teaching them how to get up from their stomach.

Join in! Kids love activities with mom, dad, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, grandparents and friends! When your little one is comfortable on the water, offer to go double! Kneeboard with them. Remember to keep the speeds slow, too much speed may overwhelm them. If you do not have two kneeboards, a set of trick skis or jumpers work great to ride alongside your kneeboarder at slow speeds.

Bonus points! Bring lots of warm clothes. You will earn big bonus points for a spare, dry life vest for the kids, too. Especially in the northern part of the country, those little ones will get cold! A dry life vest will keep them out longer!  Have a wet vest for kneeboarding and a dry vest for hanging out in the boat.

Whether you are a high-level slalom skier, a distance jumper, show skier or pro wakeboarder, we can all agree that we want our little ones to fall in love with water in the same way we did. Kneeboarding has so much to offer that makes it an easy introduction to the world of towed water sports. Regardless if it is a gateway to other types of skiing or if it becomes their mainstay, I hope you consider kneeboarding to start your kids out with a smile.

If you have more questions, feel free to reach out to Tom via social media - Instagram tks_h2o and Facebook @Tom Kohl!