Beginners Guide to Buying Wakeboard Bindings
Source: Action Sports International (http://www.actionsportsinternational.com)
Welcome to our article on buying Wakeboard Bindings. We live and breath wakeboards as not only are we a Premier Wakeboard Retailer for the UK but we also own and operate Sussex Wakeboard Club, a friendly and deliberately non-elitist club based in Worthing West Sussex and serving Shoreham, Lancing, Worthing, Goring, Ferring and Littlehampton.
Introduction to Buying Wakeboard Bindings
This article is aimed at the novice Wakeboarder as it is assumed that an intermediate or advanced rider will probably know most of this stuff already. This is not intended to be an exhaustive study of wakeboard binding design. Instead we have deliberately filtered out a lot of the unnecessary jargon and technicalities and put together a simple list of considerations that are relevant just to beginners. We hope that you find this article useful and that it helps you to choose the perfect wakeboard bindings for you. If you're completely new to the sport you may want to read our article on What Is Wakeboarding? first.
Wakeboard bindings are designed to hold your feet firmly to your wakeboard and to support your ankles, but in such a way that they will release in the event of a hard tumble. Many Wakeboards come complete with bindings and these will be carefully matched to suit the board. Cheaper wakeboards will have more basic bindings and the more advanced boards will have proportionally superior bindings.
Wake Bindings are either open-toe or closed-toe. Open toe bindings (where the toes of the bindings are literally cut out and your toes are visible) are best suited to recreational beginner to intermediate riders as they offer slightly less rigidity than close toe boot type bindings. However, open-toe bindings are much more versatile as they are designed to fit a foot size range (e.g. UK 7-11) rather than just one size. This makes them perfect for shared / family setups (wakeboards that are likely to be used by more than one person). Closed toe bindings offer the best support and "feel" so are the best choice for intermediate to advanced riders that do not share their board.
Bindings tend to be either lace-up or velcro (or both). Laces give you more change to get a nice tight "locked-in" feel but are more difficult to do up when in deep water. Velcro bindings won't offer the same level of locked-in feel as lace-ups, but they are much easier to do up when you're in the water. The beginner boards at most watersports schools have velcro bindings for exactly this reason.
Wakeboard Bindings MUST be properly set up as this will improve your learning curve and reduce the risk of injury. The 2 main objectives when setting up your bindings are ensuring a snug fit (but not tight) and being able to adopt a comfortable stance commensurate with your personal preference and skill level.
In order to set up your bindings properly you must first determine which of your feet will be positioned at the front of the board, and this is not necessarily the foot you would expect. I for example am right handed but lead with my right foot (known as "goofy"). Many other right handed people that I know lead with their left foot. The foot you lead with is entirely down to your own personal preference and what "feels right". Nobody knows why some lead with the left and some with the right, but when you are aware of which is your natural leading foot and set your board up accordingly you will feel more comfortable and in control and your learning curve will improve.
There are two good ways to work out which is your leading foot. The first is to stand with your feet together, eyes closed, and then get someone to give you a gentle shove from behind without warning. Which ever foot you move forward first to catch your fall will be your natural leading foot. Another even simpler test is the pants test! Whichever foot you lift first when putting on your underpants will be your natural leading foot. Funny, but true!
The next step when setting up your bindings is setting the correct stance. Wakeboard binding plates (the plate on which the binding is attached) come with numerous pre-drilled mounting holes that allow easily adjustment of the position and angle of the bindings relative to the board. The width at which the bindings should be set apart can be easily determined simply by jumping up in the air. However your feet land will be the way your body naturally steadies itself and is a good indicator of how your stance should be configured on your Wakeboard. Remember that you will be travelling sideways like a skateboarder so set the angle of the bindings so that the feet "toe out" by a few degrees as this will be more comfortable at first.
To fine tune your stance you need to revert to trial and error i.e. get out on the water and just see what works best for you!