Standing up on a kitesurfing board is no easy feat. It requires the mastery of the kite itself combined with fine-tuned balance and body control. It takes practice and patience, so do not expect to stand up on your board right away.
To stand up on a kitesurfing board, you first must have complete control over the kite. Next, position your body in the water to prepare to be lifted into a stance position. Allow the kite to power your body up with knees bent. Once standing, put your weight on your back leg and start riding.
It sounds simple, but once you find yourself in the water, standing up on your kitesurfing board will feel more complicated. You should practice and feel comfortable with each step before attempting to put them all together and stand up in the water. This guide breaks down each step you will need to master to stand up on your kitesurfing board and start riding those waves.
3 Steps to Stand Up on Your Kitesurfing Board
If you have never kite surfed before, we recommend you take lessons before attempting to get out on the water. Kitesurfing harnesses the power of two natural elements—wind and water—that need to be respected. Wind and water conditions are in constant flux. An expert instructor will not only teach you the basics of kitesurfing but also how to manage these elements.
Whether you are considering lessons or have enough experience to hit the water on your own, these steps will help prepare you for your challenge ahead. Experience kite surfers make standing up look easy and natural, but beginners will find that the task is anything but. By following these steps, and practicing a lot, you will be riding the waves soon.
Understand and Control Your Kite Out of the Water
The kite acts as your engine, steering wheel, and structural support. It is essential to understand how to control it before entering the water. If you take lessons, you will likely spend the first one or two learning about the kite itself and will not even step foot in the water until your third lesson. The kite is powerful and can put you in dangerous situations if you are not in control.
Take your kite out on the beach or near the water you plan to ride and practice maintaining control with your feet on solid land. Practice the following techniques until you understand how your kite works and feel comfortable operating it on your own:
- Maneuver your kite into the wind window, the 3-D area downwind of you that best harnesses the wind and activates the kite
- Turn leading edge perpendicular to the wind to keep the kite in place
- Practice different body positions needed to maintain control of the kite as it moves throughout the wind window
- Be able to stop the kite and maintain it in any position
- Learn to control the kite with one hand
Check out the below video for more tips about controlling your kite. Once you have control over your kite, you will be ready to break out your board.
Practice Your Stance
Your stance, or the position of your body while standing on the board, is essential to maintaining balance and control while kite surfing. Before attempting to stand up in the water, practice your stance by standing on your board and holding your kite on land. This will allow you to understand the limitations put on you by the board while maintaining control of the kite.
Achieving the perfect stance involves balance and control over your entire body. Practice positioning each of your key body parts in the following ways:
- Feet: Your feet should always be pointing out and away from each other in a V-shape. Your heels should be closer together with your toes splayed outwards, pulling up on the foot straps on your board. This will give you a solid foundation to stay on your board.
- Knees: Keep your knees soft and slightly bent, pointing over your toes. Because your feet are pointing in opposite directions, your knees will also be spread wide. This will prepare your body to move in any direction the wind takes you.
- Legs: Use your legs to push away from the board. You are the captain of the board, not just a passenger. By pushing against the board with your legs, you gain the leverage you need to control the speed and direction of your board.
- Hips: Your hips should move along your kite. Hold the kite bar on top of your hips and allow your hips to control the direction of the bar from side to side. By rocking your hips forward and backward, you can control the speed of your board.
- Shoulders: With your hips up, your shoulders should be back away from the kite, providing a counterbalance to the power of the kite.
- Arms: Your natural reaction will be to pull on the bar with your arms to gain balance and control. Instead, you want your arms to be lifted by the kite in a slightly bent, or row-like, position. As your kite maneuvers through the air, your bend in your arm may increase or decrease to maintain control.
- Hands: Maintain a firm but flexible grip on the bar with your hands no further than shoulder distance apart. Also, practice holding the bar with one hand towards the center of the bar.
- Head: Like the shoulders, your head balances the pull of the kite. The position of your head also directs the rest of your body, so be sure to hold your head up straight looking in the direction you want to go.
Your ability to get into your stance will change once you enter the water, but you should practice on land to teach your body the intended position. You want your muscles to have a memory of the position they need to be in so that when you enter the water, your brain does not have to do all of the work. Once you feel comfortable with your stance, it is time to enter the water.
Take it to the Water
If you have taken the time to master the two previous steps, you will likely feel anxious to get in the water already. Choose a day where the water is on the calmer side, with small, consistent waves. You want to practice standing up in knee to thigh deep water so that you can always let go of the kite and quickly recover.
When you have your water spot chosen, set up your kite, take out your board, and try to stand up by following these steps:
- Walkout into the water just past where the small waves break
- Hold your board downwind and lay back into the water
- Push your hips up towards to surface of the water, bend your knees and place one foot at a time in the foot straps
- Once both feet are in the straps, bend both knees in preparation for your stance position
- Dive the kite into the wind to gain power, and let the kite pull you out of the water. Your natural tendency will be to pull the bar with your arms to get out of the water, but this can cause the kite to nosedive
- Keep your knees bent in a squat position until you fully emerge from the water. Once you are up, shift your weight onto your back foot and get into your stance position
- Allow the kite to pull you gently for a minimal distance and then come to a controlled stop
Practice standing up on your board many times with the wind initially coming from various directions. This will ensure that no matter how or where you fall off your board while riding, you will be able to stand back up and get going.
Standing up on a kitesurfing board takes a lot of practice. To successfully stand up, you must have complete control over your kite, perfect your body’s stance position, and allow the wind to pull you from the water.
Again, if you have never kite surfed before, we strongly recommend you take lessons before taking it to the water.