Wakeboarding

01 Overview

In wakeboarding, a person is towed across the water on a rectangular board with bindings attached to it. The wakeboarder may be towed by a motorboat, a closed-course cable system, winches, or personal water craft. Wakeboarding is in the BC Summer Games and is coordinated locally by volunteers through Water Skiing and Wakeboard BC. While there is risk for physical injury in wakeboarding, there is evidence that these injuries can be prevented.

(see Section 04 - Prevention)
Athlete silhouette
View Common Injuries by clicking the blue dots on the silhouette

Lacerations to the head and neck, as well as concussion, are common injuries in wakeboarding. When thrown into the water, the hardest impact often occurs to the head. Rupturing an eardrum from suddenly falling and sustaining a blow to the head is also a common injury in wakeboarding.

Shoulder dislocations and arm contusions, abrasions, sprains, strains and fractures are common injuries in wakeboarding.

Contusions, abrasions, strains, sprains, low back pain and rib fractures are common injuries experienced in wakeboarding.

Ankle and hamstring sprains or strains, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, contusions, abrasions, and leg fractures, including fractured femurs, are common injuries experienced by wakeboarders. As the wakeboarder’s ankles are bound to the board, the impact of a fall can place pressure on the ankle ligaments.

02 Injury Statistics

The most common injuries in wakeboarding occur to the head and face, arms, back and trunk, and legs. There are predominantly more males than females participating in wakeboarding, however, the type of injuries sustained by males and females are similar. Approximately 25% of injuries are lacerations, 11% are concussions, 10% are ankle sprains, 5% are leg fractures, and 5% are shoulder dislocations. There is no significant difference in injury incidence for different skill levels, however, types of injury differ with increased skill and attempts to do tricks and stunts.

 

Curious about the research on injuries?

It is estimated that...

03 Risk Factors

Current evidence about the specific risk factors in wakeboarding is extremely limited. Potential risk factors for wakeboarding injury include: environment, equipment, level of experience, education, and fitness.

  • Environment

    Inclement weather and water conditions, or wakeboarding in restricted areas is a risk factor for injury.

  • Level of Experience

    Wakeboarders of all levels sustain injuries. Novice wakeboarders are injured most frequently when submerged during takeoff, whereas pro/advanced and intermediate wakeboarders are most frequently injured from falling. ACL tears are more frequently sustained by intermediate wakeboarders, followed by pro/advanced wakeboarders, with the least ACL tears reported among beginner wakeboarders.

  • Boat Operator Knowledge

    Lack of knowledge, skill, licensing, or experience on behalf of the boat operator is a risk factor for injury in wakeboarding. Operators should be knowledgeable on the appropriate acceleration and speed of the boat.

  • Equipment

    Not wearing protective gear, such as a lifejacket or personal floatation device, helmet, and wet or dry suit, can increase the risk of injury.

  • Wakeboarder Education

    New wakeboarders may be at higher risk for injury if they are not properly educated on techniques for getting up out of the water, basic hand signals to communicate with the spotter, strategies to minimize the force exerted by the towrope and the importance of letting go of the rope when they fall.

  • Fitness

    Low fitness level is a risk for injury, as wakeboarding requires the body to maintain balance and posture.

04 How can I prevent injury?

Some muscle soreness or joint pain is expected when increasing your level of physical activity. It is important to listen to your body for persistent or worsening pain, and to know when to rest. Learn more about how to prevent injuries in wakeboarding.

  • Participant & Parent

    Talk to your coach or organization, if applicable, about the prevention strategies below and how they might be incorporated into training and policies.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    Ensure you warm up before engaging in wakeboarding; many wakeboarders move from sedentary positions as boat drivers or spotters to wakeboarding without exercising. Dry land conditioning is useful for strength conditioning; “wakeboarding into shape” can increase the risk of injury. Other benefits of dry land conditioning include correction of muscular imbalances, rehabilitation of injured muscles and joints, and minimizing strength loss in the off-season.

    Specific Wakeboarding Strength and Conditioning Exercises
    Strength and conditioning programs can address postural control, balance, and stability on the wakeboard. Consider learning more about how to incorporate these exercises into your workouts:

    • Tandem squats and tandem deadlifts improve balance.
    • Torso rotations, supine planks, prone planks, and side bridges tone the trunk muscles.
    • Other recommended strength training exercises include wall slides, seated rows, and pull-ups. 

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program.

    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Incorporating a warm-up program like this one into your training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in lower body injuries.

    Click here to view poster.

     

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    Adopt strength training exercises designed to prevent injuries. The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed exercises that specifically help keep the shoulder strong and reduce the risk of shoulder and ankle injuries. This resource includes videos and PDFs for download.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent shoulder injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent ankle injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Managing Concussion

    Concussions are a common injury in wakeboarding. It is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource for participants and parents to learn more about how to recognize, prevent, and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to respond to a potential concussion situation, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Equipment
    Ensure that equipment is in good, working condition. Wakeboards should be appropriate for your body weight and height. Wear protective gear such as a wet or dry suit to decrease the risk of various skin abrasions, lacerations and/or contusions; as these are the most prevalent type of injuries sustained in wakeboarding. Additionally, wear a lifejacket and a helmet. Choosing a towrope with plastic and/or foam coating can also decrease the incidence of injury. Caution should be taken when picking bindings, as wakeboarding bindings are worn extremely tight, and some type of lubricant or soap may be required. The feet are securely attached to the board with an unforgiving release technique which may cause issues during a fall. Moreover, if these bindings are worn loosely, one foot could come out of the boot while the other stays in, creating a dangerous situation where the wakeboard is uncontrollable.

    Education
    If you are new to wakeboarding, take lessons at a reputable school. Be familiar with safety precautions and proper technique. Know how to assess both water and weather conditions before heading out on the water, and be aware of times for low and high tide if applicable.

    AdventureSmart is a national program providing information to keep you safe while participating in outdoor recreational activities.

    Learn more about water safety.

    Sport-related Physicals
    Wakeboarding can be a physically demanding sport and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. An annual sport-related physical evaluation ensuring fitness to participate can help to reduce risk of injury. KidsHealth provides information about what sports physicals are, why they may be appropriate and where you may go to get them.

    Learn more about Kids Health Sports Physicals.

  • Coach & Teacher

    Talk to your organization or school about the prevention strategies below and how they might be incorporated into training and policies.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    Ensure your athletes or students warm up before engaging in wakeboarding; many wakeboarders move from sedentary positions as boat drivers or spotters to wakeboarding without exercising. Dry land conditioning is useful for strength conditioning; “wakeboarding into shape” can increase the risk of injury. Other benefits of dry land conditioning include correction of muscular imbalances, rehabilitation of injured muscles and joints, and minimizing strength loss in the off-season.

    Specific Wakeboarding Strength and Conditioning Exercises
    Strength and conditioning programs can address postural control, balance, and stability on the wakeboard. Consider incorporating these exercises into your training program:

    • Tandem squats and tandem deadlifts improve balance.
    • Torso rotations, supine planks, prone planks, and side bridges tone the trunk muscles.
    • Other recommended strength training exercises include wall slides, seated rows, and pull-ups.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program.

    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Incorporating a warm-up program like this one into your training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in lower body injuries.

    Click here to view poster.

     

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    Adopt strength training exercises designed to prevent injuries. The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed exercises that specifically help keep the shoulder strong and reduce the risk of shoulder and ankle injuries. This resource includes videos and PDFs for download.

     

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent shoulder injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent ankle injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Managing Concussion

    Concussions are a common injury in wakeboarding. It is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource for coaches and teachers to learn more about how to recognize, prevent, and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to respond to a potential concussion situation, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Equipment
    Ensure that wakeboarders have their equipment in good, working condition. Wakeboards should be appropriate for the user’s body weight and height. Wakeboarders should wear protective gear such as wet or dry suits that decrease the risk of various skin abrasions, lacerations and/or contusions; as these are the most prevalent type of injuries sustained in wakeboarding. Additionally, wakeboarders should wear lifejackets and helmets. Choosing a towrope with plastic and/or foam coating can also decrease the incidence of injury. Caution should be taken when picking bindings as wakeboarding bindings are worn extremely tight, and some type of lubricant or soap may be required. The feet are securely attached to the board with an unforgiving release technique which may cause issues during a fall. Moreover, if these bindings are worn loosely, one foot could come out of the boot while the other stays in, creating a dangerous situation where the wakeboard is uncontrollable.

    Education
    If participants are new to wakeboarding, have them take lessons at a reputable school and ensure they are familiar with safety precautions and proper technique. They should know how to assess both water and weather conditions before heading out on the water, and be aware of times for low and high tide if applicable

    AdventureSmart is a national program providing information to keep participants safe during outdoor recreational activities.

    Learn more about water safety.

    Sport-related Physicals
    Wakeboarding can be a physically demanding sport and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. An annual sport-related physical evaluation ensuring fitness to participate can help to reduce risk of injury. KidsHealth provides information about what sports physicals are, why they may be appropriate and where people may go to get them.

    Learn more about Kids Health Sports Physicals.

  • Official & Administrator

    Talk to your organization or school, if applicable, about the prevention strategies below and how they might be incorporated into training and policies.

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    Ensure your wakeboarders warm up before engaging in wakeboarding; many wakeboarders move from sedentary positions as boat drivers or spotters to wakeboarding without exercising. Dry land conditioning is useful for strength conditioning; “wakeboarding into shape” can increase the risk of injury. Other benefits of dry land conditioning include correction of muscular imbalances, rehabilitation of injured muscles and joints, and minimizing strength loss in the off-season.

    Specific Wakeboarding Strength and Conditioning Exercises
    Strength and conditioning programs can address postural control, balance, and stability on the wakeboard. Consider incorporating these exercises into your training program:

    • Tandem squats and tandem deadlifts improve balance.
    • Torso rotations, supine planks, prone planks, and side bridges tone the trunk muscles.
    • Other recommended strength training exercises include wall slides, seated rows, and pull-ups.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program.

    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Encouraging coaches to incorporate a warm-up program like this one into their training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in lower body injuries.

    Click here to view poster.

     

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    Adopt strength training exercises designed to prevent injuries. The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed exercises that specifically help keep the shoulder strong and reduce the risk of shoulder and ankle injuries. This resource includes videos and PDFs for download.

     

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent shoulder injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent ankle injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Managing Concussion

    Concussions are a common injury in wakeboarding. It is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource to learn more about how to recognize, prevent, and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to respond to a potential concussion situation, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Equipment
    Ensure that wakeboarders have equipment in good, working condition. Wakeboards should be appropriate for the user’s body weight and height. Wakeboarders should wear protective gear such as wet or dry suits that decrease the risk of various skin abrasions, lacerations and/or contusions as these are the most prevalent type of injuries sustained in wakeboarding. Additionally, wakeboarders should wear lifejackets and helmets. Choosing a towrope with plastic and/or foam coating can also decrease the incidence of injury. Caution should be taken when picking bindings as wakeboarding bindings are worn extremely tight, and some type of lubricant or soap may be required. The feet are securely attached to the board with an unforgiving release technique which may cause issues during a fall. Moreover, if these bindings are worn loosely, one foot could come out of the boot while the other stays in, creating a dangerous situation where the wakeboard is uncontrollable.

    Education
    If participants are new to wakeboarding, have them take lessons at a reputable school and ensure they are familiar with safety precautions and proper technique. They should know how to assess both water and weather conditions before heading out on the water, and be aware of times for low and high tide if applicable.

    AdventureSmart is a national program providing information to keep participants safe during outdoor recreational activities.

    Learn more about water safety.

    Sport-related Physicals
    Wakeboarding can be a physically demanding sport and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. An annual sport-related physical evaluation ensuring fitness to participate can help to reduce risk of injury. KidsHealth provides information about what sports physicals are, why they may be appropriate and where people may go to get them.

    Learn more about Kids Health Sports Physicals.

  • Health Professional

    The role of health professionals in preventing wakeboarding injuries has two main components:

    1. Providing ongoing education to participants, parents, and coaches on effective injury prevention programs such as balance and resistance training; and
    2. Ensuring that injured participants are completely healed and fit-to-perform before returning to wakeboarding to prevent re-injury or chronic injury. 

    Strength Training and Neuromuscular Training Program

    Encourage wakeboarders to warm up before engaging in wakeboarding; many wakeboarders move from sedentary positions as boat drivers or spotters to wakeboarding without exercising. Dry land conditioning is useful for strength conditioning; “wakeboarding into shape” can increase the risk of injury. Other benefits of dry land conditioning include correction of muscular imbalances, rehabilitation of injured muscles and joints, and minimizing strength loss in the off-season.

    Specific Wakeboarding Strength and Conditioning Exercises
    Strength and conditioning programs can address postural control, balance, and stability on the wakeboard. Consider incorporating these exercises into your training program:

    • Tandem squats and tandem deadlifts improve balance.
    • Torso rotations, supine planks, prone planks, and side bridges tone the trunk muscles.
    • Other recommended strength training exercises include wall slides, seated rows, and pull-ups.

    Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    The risk of all lower body injuries may be reduced by up to 50% by regular participation in a balance training exercise program with a resistance training component, such as a neuromuscular training warm-up program.

    The Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre has developed a neuromuscular training warm-up program that can be adapted to many sports. Encouraging coaches to incorporate a warm-up program like this one into their training program at least two times per week has been associated with a significant reduction in lower body injuries.

    Click here to view poster.

     

    Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre Neuromuscular Training
    Recommend the adoption of strength training exercises designed to prevent injuries. The Oslo Sport Trauma Research Centre has developed exercises that specifically help keep the shoulder strong and reduce the risk of shoulder and ankle injuries. This resource includes videos and PDFs for download.

     

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent shoulder injuries.

    Learn more about exercises to help prevent ankle injuries.

    For more exercises, visit http://fittoplay.org/.

    Managing Concussion

    Concussions are a common injury in wakeboarding. It is important to be aware of concussion signs and symptoms and know what to do if concussion is suspected. The Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) is an online resource to learn more about how to diagnose and manage a concussion. CATT also includes resources on how to assess a potential concussion, as well as detailed Return to School and Return to Sport protocol.

    Other Considerations (about this section)

    Equipment
    Encourage wakeboarders to have equipment that is in good, working condition. Wakeboards should be appropriate for the user’s body weight and height. Wakeboarders should wear protective gear such as wet or dry suits that decrease the risk of various skin abrasions, lacerations and/or contusions as these are the most prevalent type of injuries sustained in wakeboarding. Additionally, wakeboarders should wear lifejackets and helmets. Choosing a towrope with plastic and/or foam coating can also decrease the incidence of injury. Caution should be taken when picking bindings as wakeboarding bindings are worn extremely tight, and some type of lubricant or soap may be required. The feet are securely attached to the board with an unforgiving release technique which may cause issues during a fall. Moreover, if these bindings are worn loosely, one foot could come out of the boot while the other stays in, creating a dangerous situation where the wakeboard is uncontrollable.

    Education
    If participants are new to wakeboarding, encourage them take lessons at a reputable school and ensure they are familiar with safety precautions and proper technique. They should know how to assess both water and weather conditions before heading out on the water, and be aware of times for low and high tide if applicable.

    Sport-related Physicals
    Wakeboarding can be a physically demanding sport and some pre-existing conditions may increase the risk of injury. An annual sport-related physical evaluation ensuring fitness to participate can help to reduce risk of injury. The American Academy of Pediatrics provides information about preparticipation physical evaluation.

    Learn more about Preparticipation Physical Evaluation.