USA Water Ski & Wake Sports

Kneeboarding - The Wake 360

Note: This article first appeared in the Fall 2020 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 Jessica Hanson and Jeff Wunderlich


kneeboard wake 360The Wake 360, sometimes called the Wake “O,” is a 360-degree spin while jumping the wake. It is a great intermediate level trick to learn and can be done with many variations. I will focus on the front to front Handle Pass Wake 360. I chose this trick because it is a classic maneuver that looks great but is easy to learn. It also has many variations and can be done on a smaller scale and taken to the flats. This instructional will get you on your way to successfully landing the Handle Pass Wake 360.


For this trick, you must be confident and consistent on your wake jumps and your surface spins. When trying a maneuver like this, if you are coming into the wake unsure, you are asking for disaster. Feeling comfortable with just the thought of attempting the trick is half the battle. 


The Approach: Start with a palm down grip with your hands toward the middle of the rope. (I find if my hands are at the edges of the handle, I tend to hit the handle on the board when attempting the handle pass.) Make a smooth, gradual cut into the wake. Make it hard enough to clear the wake, but not so hard you will land in the flats. As you approach the wake flatten out, straighten your back, and keep a slight bend in your arms.


The Launch: As you come up the wake, pull the rope hard into your hips. This will give you a good pop and help release the rope tension, which will allow you to pass the handle without pulling it out of your hands.  


The Spin: The easiest way to learn this trick is to spin toward the boat. This direction gives you the most pull from the rope to initiate your spin. At the top of the wake, look hard over your shoulder that is closest to the boat. At the same time, pull hard with your back hand to get the handle to the small of your back. As you begin to spin, reach around your back with your other hand and grab the rope behind you. The hand with the rope (your back hand) should almost make the motion of pouring out a glass of water as it passes around your hip. Keep the handle as close to your body as you can and bend your wrist down and around your hip. Try to place that hand right at the small of your back with a palms out/up grip. As you pass the handle behind your back, make sure you grab the rope with both hands for just a millisecond before letting go with your leading hand. As you pass the handle around your opposite hip, repeat the same motion with your hand of “pouring out a glass of water.”


The Landing: Once you have successfully passed the handle from one hand to the other, the hard work is done! Use just your eyes to spot your landing. Try your best not to look down by tilting your head. This will cause your body to shift off axis and likely lead to a crash. If you can, grab the rope with both hands as you rotate back around to forward as this will help solidify your landing. If you cannot get that hand back on the rope, do not worry too much. Concentrate on keeping your arm(s) bent and your elbows as close to your hips as possible. If you time it correctly, you should come down for a smooth landing on the down slope of the wake. If not, be ready for a bounce and remember to keep your arms in tight to your torso, with your elbows close to your hips.


Next Steps: Once you get the hang of the Wake 360, you can start working on taking it bigger by adding a grab before or after the spin. You could try any of the variations to the Handle Pass 360, including the wrapped 360, back to back 360, or back to front to back 360. You can also work on spinning faster and take it to 1-½ spins for a 540. Use the instructional in the last issue for tips on the Wake 180 to add to your 360. 


Why do I keep falling? There are a few common mistakes people learning this trick make that have easy remedies. Mistake No. 1 is dropping the handle during the handle pass. This could be because of two reasons. If you do not pull up on the rope as you come up the wake there will be more line tension when spinning. This can pull the rope out of your hands. The other is rushing the spin and letting go of the rope before grabbing it with the opposite hand. I still remind myself to “grab the rope with both hands.” Just repeating that in my head is all I need. It may work for you too! Mistake No. 2 is getting off-axis during the rotation. This could be from leaning too far forward as you come up the wake. Remember to straighten your back as you approach the wake and keep your head in line with your back as you turn it.  You could also be getting off-axis from working too hard to clear the wake. If you make a hard cut to cross the wake you may have your rope too long. Shorten it up a bit, so you do not have to cut so hard.  

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