Wakeboarding vs Kneeboarding : Is There A Difference?

Wakeboarding vs Kneeboarding

While waterboarding and kneeboarding are two closely related water sports, they actually have many differences which makes each a unique board sport in their own right. In this post, we will identify the inherent characteristics of these towed water sports- from the right equipment requirements, tow line, board materials, techniques, and the type of clothing athletes wear while on water. If you’re a water sport beginner and have tried out these two sports, knowing the differences between them will help you decide which one deserves more of your time, effort, and money investment.

What is Wakeboarding?

There is no accurate account as to when and where wakeboarding originated. But this highly competitive board sports is popular in both the young and old. In wakeboarding, a person rides a small thin board outfitted with a shoe like bindings to keep you on the board whilst doing complex tricks. A boat pulls the board from behind as it moves across the water surface. The combination of boat speed and the shape of the wakeboard makes it possible for a rider to experience a smooth ride, execute higher jumps, and intricate tricks on air or across the water.

Wakeboarding is one o the more popular water sports as the mechanics are straigthforward for most people. Despite its simplicity, many prefer wakeboarding as beginners can pull off basic tricks after a few hours of practice and due to the easy maneuverability of the board. A novice rider can pick up basic movements fairly easy, such as the sitting position, standing position, or even the kneeling position, even while in motion. If you are an aspiring wakeboarder, a few wakeboarding tips that are worth remembering:

  • Determine which foot you will be leading. To identify which food should be up front, run a straight and come to an abrupt stop. As soon as you stop, the foot that you place in front to stop yourself is the lead foot.
  • The best position to place the back fastening system is as far back to the end of wakeboarding boards. After which, the foot is aligned at zero degrees so that the ride’s weight is pressed directly to the top of the posterior fin. Additionally, the front link of the board should always be pointed towards the front end of the wakeboard. With arms stretched, hold on to the tow rope firmly and use upper body strength to secure and balance yourself while the boat starts moving.

Essential Wakeboarding Equipment

If you want to try out wakeboarding, make sure to equip yourself with the essentials. You may also rent out the equipment if you are going to a lake or a proper wakeboarding facility. If you decide to invest on equipment, here are wakeboarding essentials that you can start with:


Most people would simply rent out boats especially if they prefer private wakeboarding sessions. Unless you’re one of those competitive riders, buying a boat will be a waste of money. But if you are going to invest in one, the ideal vessels for wakeboarding are Axis, Bayliner, and Calabria Boats.


Wakeboarding boards come in various colours and designs, so you can always mix and match, or even personalize one for personal use. Regardless of aesthetics, a beginner should always look into purchasing a double-ended board with a fin, featuring a smooth underside and round edges for stability. Make sure to buy fin boards and a continuous rocker from a reputable brand to get the best bang for your buck.


Velcro bindings are perfect for beginners as they can easily be adjusted for comfort. You may also opt for boot bindings that can easily be adjusted to ensure comfort. For advanced riders, high back boot bindings are perfect to pull off more complex tricks while providing your feet and ankle with ample support.


Wakeboarding is one sport where you need a rope to constantly hang onto at all times. When wakeboarding, a reliable rope is the most important thing you need as it will enable you to stand and balance yourself with ease. Ideally, a novice rider should start with thin, non-stretch ropes for added security. For optimum control while learning to wakeboard, shorter ropes are highly recommended.


Wakeboarding requires proper attire to ensure complete mobility, comfort, and safety. Wetsuits come in various length, color, design, and thickness options. You can choose to wear thicker wetsuits that go below the knees in cold conditions or a thinner wetsuit during the summer. You may also wear similar clothing pieces, but do make sure the material is thick enough to protect you from the weather and other external factors.

Buoyancy Aid

Whether you are an experienced swimmer or otherwise, you need to protect yourself for any untoward incidents like hitting sharp edges on shallow parts of the water. For added protection and a smooth ride, wear a buoyancy aid at all times.

What is Kneeboarding?

What is Kneeboarding?

Kneeboarding is one of the water sports that originated from wakeboarding. There are two ways by which you can enjoy kneeboarding. The first one is towed kneeboarding where you will be pulled behind a small boat while on top of your kneeboard, while the second technique, also called kneeboard surfing involves riding in the surf without by yourself, and without any assistance from a boat or any moving water vehicle. Whatever you choose, the mechanics of kneeboarding are almost identical. Before you give kneeboarding a try, make sure to outfit yourself with essential equipment, including the right sized kneeboarding boards, tow rope, rubber pads, and other safety gear to ensure a safe and fun ride.

Kneeboarding is typically done while riding out into deep water, with the purpose of performing tricks on the ocean’s surface. The kneeboarding boards are typically wider than the average surfboards towering between five or six feet. Kneeboarders wear swim fins, velcro strap, and leashes to guarantee their safety even when they fall out in the water, as well as prevent their boards from being carried away by the waves.

Essential Kneeboarding Equipment


Pads are designed to hold onto your knees without the use of straps. Ideally, purchase a kneeboard fitted with a molded EVA foam to hold your knee firmly on the board and gives you added control. Pads on kneeboard ranges from soft to firm that can be as deep or shallow as you want. When not in use, it is imperative for riders to keep their boards out of the sun to preserve the adhesive that holds the pads firmly onto the board.


Almost all kneeboards are outfitted with a velcro strap to plant your knees safely into the pad. Riders can choose from single or double locking velcro strap. For a beginner rider, a single locking strap is perfect, but it does lack the adjustability and security features inherent in double locking straps.


All plastic ride boards and some fibreglass kneeboards are outfitted with a hook attachment. It is being used to make deep water starts easy, especially for a novice rider. Simply attach the handle in the hook and let the boat pull you out of the water. Hooks are designed to be bolted into an insert in boards which lessens the strain on the tow line.


If you are a beginner, going finless is ideal for easy release during surface spins. On the other hand, fins are a great option if you want more grip from your board. You can choose from fins that are molded into the base of the board or retractable fins for convenience and versatility.

Kneeboarding vs Wakeboarding Similarities

Kneeboarding vs Wakeboarding Similarities

Compared to other towed water sports, kneeboarding wakeboarding share common characteristics and requirements. Here are some of their similarities:

Body of Water

Like other board sports, you need a large water body to accommodate a boat that will facilitate your movement and enable you to do tricks. In wakeboarding facilities, boats feature towers that allow riders to get enough airs in their jumps resulting in higher tow points.

Tow Line

When you kneeboard and wakeboard, you need a reliable tow line with an excellent handle at the end. Both board sport utilize tow lines with minimal to no stretch, so a rider can bear standing for extended hours, execute tricks, and get enough air easily.

Sports Wear

When it comes to kneeboarding vs wakeboarding, there’s really not much difference in clothing requirement. Wetsuit function the same way for both sport, in that it works primarily to protect riders from external factors. If you aren’t comfortable wearing a one piece wetsuit or if the weather is too hot to wear one, you may opt for separate wakeboard bottoms and rash guards. For an uninterrupted wakeboarding or kneeboarding session, easily tuck your rash guard inside your bottoms. To protect your head when wakeboarding, wear a safety helmet. A rider may also wear a life jacket to prevent them from drowning during intense or prolonged wakeboarding sessions.

Boat Speed

When comparing kneeboarding vs wakeboarding in terms of speed of the boat, these two sports share a similar speed range. Wakeboard ranges between 15 and 30 miles per hour while acceleration will largely depend on the weight of a rider. The wakeboard ranges can be applied for kneeboarding sessions to ensure safety of riders while on their knees at fast speeds.

Board Materials

In terms of kneeboarding vs wakeboarding boards, the materials are one and the same. Standard wakeboard and kneeboard have rounded edges and flat underside to make sure you can stand and be on your knees without too much worry of falling off the board. Pick a raw material where your foot feels comfortable and firmly planted while standing or moving. Choose one board for wakeboard sessions and a separate one for kneeboarding, too.

Wakeboarding vs Kneeboarding Differences

Wakeboarding vs Kneeboarding Differences

Although kneeboarding was an offshoot of wakeboarding, they also have a few differences. Here are some of them:

Kneeboarding vs Wakeboarding Form

One of the most obvious kneeboarding vs wakeboarding difference is the form that you assume on the board. When you wake, you are standing at all times with knees slightly bent for support and stability. During a kneeboarding session, you are kneeling at all times as the boat tows you across the water.

When kneeboarding, you are almost, always holding onto the rope. When you wake, you can hold the rope with one hand while your body is facing sideways.


Although the materials are just about the same in the sport of wakeboarding and kneeboarding, the shape and design are vastly different. Kneeboards are customarily long, flat, and thick to improve buoyancy, whereas wakeboards are thin, curved upwards, and shorter for easier maneuvering. When you use kneeboards to surf, you want one that features rounded edges and two wide grooves to accommodate both your knees and feet.

Wakeboarding vs Kneeboarding Difficulty Level

Kneeboarding is easier to learn, especially for those with little to no experience in board sports. As the body is closer to the water, a rider has an easier time to control the board while in motion. It takes a bit of practice to learn wakeboarding in general. As a wakeboard is lighter and less buoyant, you need to invest time to be able to control it with your speed while moving.

Trick Options

When it comes to kneeboarding vs wakeboarding trick, a rider can assume various positions to perform simple to complex ones. It is tougher to execute a trick when on your knees since both of your hands are on the handle at all times. Moderate to advanced wakeboarders find it easier to execute a trick, especially once they’ve mastered controlling their boards at high speeds.

Transition to other Water-Based Board Sports

If you want to excel in other water sporting activity, it’s best to begin your journey learning how to wakeboard. Since it is easier to gain control of the board with your feet, you are more likely to master various tricks that will help you if you decide to join competitions. As other towed sports on water utilize the legs for control and balance, it can be challenging for kneeboarders to transition to other water sporting activities.

Wakeboarding and kneeboarding has their own sets of unique features and advantages. It’s best to try out both sport, so you can decide which one delivers the most fun and challenge to you.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.
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