Getting kids started wakeboarding from wakeboarding dad Darin Shapiro

Introducing wakeboarding to kids can be a difficult ordeal. Watersports in general can be a bit daunting for kids and parents as well. Here are a few things that I have picked up on which have helped me and my little guy have fun on the water.

First of all I would like to make it very clear that I consider my son’s wake boarding his own deal not mine. I allow him to choose how and when he rides, not me. I offer it and if he accepts we then charge it, if not then others will ride and only if he asks after that does he ride. We are talking about a 5 year old here.

I got him familiar around the back of the boat swimming around and standing on the platform with the engine running for a few seconds every once in a while since I knew the engine noise freaked him out a little bit.

I pulled him across the garage carpet floor using the rope with him in his board for nearly two years. From 2 1/2 to 4 1/2 years old.

We did a little bit of tubing at slows speeds for a while as well. We are lucky to have Orlando watersports complex nearby so I took him to watch other little kids learning to ride as well.

One day it rained and I pulled him across a puddle in the yard. If you have a shallow shoreline you can pull them along by holding the rope and jogging down the shore. That was about the time the switch flipped and he was ready to try the boat. To prep him for the boat, we stood together on the platform with the boat in gear (please only do this under extremely controlled conditions with an experienced driver using the most caution)  and hung half of his board off the edge and held a short rope with my hand, the handle end in his. I let him get used to the feeling of the board being in the water (partially) and the growl of the engine. I could tell he was excited but scared so we stopped there.

A few times later he started riding behind the boat at 5. We got to that point with no water in the face, no crashes, no major fear, and no tears.

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Darin & Kien Shapiro at the “Gravel Tour”

Kids are young, theres no need to rush sports when they are so little. Let them tell you what they want to do and they will have fun. If you want them to excel in a sport just put them around other kids who are into that sport often and let them go!

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