“They say we learn from our mistakes.
That’s why I am making as many as possible.
I will soon be a genius”
In all seriousness, last week I found myself falling into the bad habit track myself!!! I’ve been working on my kitefoil board grab body rolls; some days they work great, others are really hit and miss. My foiling buddy Stav (fellow kite/snowboard instructor/coach), pointed out that when I crash, it was often when I was staring down at my board. Doh! We tell our coached clients all the time; “head up, look where you want to go”. Even though I know this is a bad habit, I still need to be reminded not to do it. I remember self-correcting this last year when polishing my foot changes, but here I am again falling into that same bad habit.
Earlier this year I created a video on what I felt was the No.1 bad habit for beginner and intermediate kitefoilers *. Kiting with only one hand on the bar. It got a bit of push back from people who didn’t necessarily agree it was a bad habit. More importantly to me, it also got a lot of great feedback from foilers who focused on changing this one habit and saw huge improvements in their overall control and ultimately their progression.
My own habit slip reminded me to follow this video up with a review of common bad habits that can often hold us back.
Bad Habits Effect Us All – Beginners and Pro’s Alike
Whatever level you get to in your kiting, or any sport for that matter, you need to constantly re-evaluate your techniques and habits. Whilst good habits need forming, bad habits are unfortunately easy to fall into and harder to break out of.
Whether someone else helps to point them out, or you take a good look at your riding/crashing, you can take some easy steps forward in your progression and change those bad habits into good ones.
Here are some of the common bad habits I see a lot. They apply to pretty much every discipline in kiting, from twin tip to foiling. With an awareness of them and some simple changes, you will see some huge progression in your riding.
My Top 3 Bad Habits in Kiteboarding:
- 🖐Riding with your front hand off the bar.🙅♂️
- 🦵Straight Legs 🚫
- 👁 Not looking up and where you want to go 🙈
Now, let’s give each a little context because I’m sure people who have some strong opinions if I leave it vague!
Riding with your front hand off the bar
The issue with riding with one hand off the bar is that it can cause you to ride with a less ideal stance for progression, It might initially feel like you are gaining balance against the kites pull but ultimately it can limit your ability to move dynamically, which you need in kiting. You may find it harder to quickly react and make changes in kites control. It can put you in a position where it is harder to control the board if you make a mistake. And no doubt it is harder to recover and stop yourself from crashing. I’ve written about this a lot in relation to kitefoiling, as I feel this is a big no-no and no point repeating the reason here, You can check out the previous blog post.
For kiteboarding and kitesurfing, it’s less cut and dry. You’ll be riding with more power and can handle that power easier through the edge of the board, even with one hand, but it can still lead to a less ideal stance from which to develop various tricks and technique. So just be aware of this and if you are having problems with certain movements, look and see if you are riding one-handed. It could be the limiting factor in your progression.
Legs too straight
Anyone who has ever come on a Progression camp or clinic will have heard me shouting out “Bend your knees!”. Whatever the discipline, this one is at the heart of many mistakes. Straight legs make your weight distribution erratic, often disproportionately overloading one rail or the other. It’s also really hard to move your weight around or be dynamic enough in this position, This will limit the performance of most tricks and even your ability to go upwind effectively, Try jumping off a straight leg – it doesn’t work. You also find that common mistakes like breaking at the waist is a result of legs that are too straight. I can’t say this strongly enough, bending your legs and dropping low can you get you out of so many bad situations so it is should always be something to check if things are going wrong.
Not Looking where you want to go
Stop looking at your feet or the kite! We all do it (that’s me in the left-hand image above!). It’s amazing what a negative effect it has on body position and therefore your board control. If you look at your kite the chances are you will just ride towards it. Looking where you want to go, rather than where you are heading, is the key in any form of a gybe, but also when riding upwind or through any kind of rotation – a back roll, a tack or a lazy Susan.
Crash = Checklist
When I crash, 80% of the time it’s one of these things that are at the root of my mistake – and I say root because something like straight legs, causes you to make other mistakes. So a good practice to form is to observe if any of these common habits could be the fix. Running through this checklist, spotting what could be the culprit, then consciously correcting it on the next attempt, gets me closer to achieving my goals. It could well help you out too.
So come on what bad habits do you have?
Any others worth adding to the list?
And remember all our premium videos contain a Common Mistakes chapter where we can help you identify what you are doing wrong, why you’re doing it and how to fix it. Check out our Library for all our kiteboarding, kitesurfing and kitefoiling videos & collections.
* For all those who enjoy spotting me riding with one hand off the bar and laughing at me for not listening to my own advice – watch the video(!!!). It’s ok if you are relaxed and cruising in control and your arm is doing nothing and not affecting your balanced posture. For beginners and intermediates however, whilst one hand off the bar might feel like a quick fix, it is often masking other bad habits and will often get in the way of further progression because body balance and control is off. I have been kiting for a very long time, when things go wrong for me, I can often save myself from a crash with just one hand on the bar, others may not be so lucky. But keep the comments coming in, the discussion never gets old :)