Posts Tagged ‘instruction’

Learning Board-offs – The Kitesurfing Old School Classic!

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

I remember going down the beach with my powerkite, flying around having a great time on land, while guys were out on the water going big and throwing some amazing old school tricks which were not so old school at that time :-)

Riders such as Steve Kelner, Jason Furness and Brian Kelner were the local hot shots at my beach, and at that time kitesurfing was about sending it hard and and getting that board off your feet.

It took a few years before I took the plunge and got on the water. When i came to learn my first tricks the spotlight was on nailing unhooked tricks and kiteloops. These took me a while to do, but  i managed to add raleys, s-bends, surface passes, krypts, f16s and dangle passes into my trick list, any urge to learn board offs had disappeared with the experience of unhooking.

Unfortunately last year I had a nasty accident and dislocated my shoulder quite badly. It took 12 months of physio and a full on operation to get things working again. However my arm no longer sits in its original place and i have found unhooking is putting too much stress on my joint.
The reason i love this sport is due to it’s versatility, and the fact i couldn’t unhook anymore was upsetting but I can still work on my hooked in style and wave-riding.
Now I really wanted to start trying some board offs, so with the new Progression Player app and a quick download, I headed down the beach ready to give it ago!

First Attempts: The One-Footer

The foot out was a simple starting point for me, the trick itself isn’t to hard. If you can jump and grab the tail of your board you can try these out with ease. We have a great video available that will show you the progressions that lead up to a board-off, including this important one-footer step:

My main struggle was the mentality barrier. I kept imagining getting my foot out and not being able to put it back in, thus ending in a knee jerking landing. The fact I had previously been off the water for a year didn’t help, but with a nice 20 knots hitting my 11m I sent the kite on my first tack and got the trick, and the stoke was back. A bit of confidence really does make a big difference!

Top Tips for one-footers

  • Edge hard and boost big
  • Use a larger kite for extra hang time and stability, you don’t want to be on your 7m worrying about its position in the window.
  • Break the trick down.
  • Get used to releasing your back hand off the bar and grabbing the tail of your board as quick as you can.
  • Try holding the grab for as long as possible and redirect late and hard, to give you that extra bit of air time
  • Try these on a down winder so if you need to kick your board off you can don’t have to worry about kiting back upwind.

After I’d started building confidence with the single foot out the time came around for a board off.

Both feet – The Board Off

Later that week I was blessed by the wind Gods with a 30 knot flat water session so out came my 9m and a big grin on my face!

As soon as I was up on my board I spotted the perfect kicker and sent the kite hard, this time grabbing the tail and taking both feet out. It was an amazing feeling not being locked into straps, so good I actually forgot I needed to put the board back on to my feet!

Unfortunately a trend then started of me getting the board off and not back on. No matter how hard I tried or how high I jumped, I couldn’t get my board into the correct position to get it on to my feet.

Frustrated by my half completed or failed trick, I went back to the board off chapter on my Progression Player, and practised in front of the tv flicking the board on and of my feet by using my wrist to correctly position the board. This helped a lot!

It took a few more sessions on the water for me to nail the board off, I found the wind hitting the board itself made things tricky but i can proudly say I now have board offs down, and am excited in how i can progress in this style of kiting. Definitely a fun session when the wind is strong and you are hanging with too much power to try anything more technical.

Board off top tips

  • As with one footers you need to be powered up, edge super hard, get a clean take off and get a big floaty jump
  • Practice taking the board off sitting on a chair and then getting your feet back in.
  • Always get your front foot back in first
  • Making your foot straps ever so slightly larger can help when getting the board back on your feet
  • First attempts; hold the board on the back, heelside edge, gripping the fin and rail, this will give you more control when positioning the board

There are lots of different ways to grab the board and make a board of a little more fun and interesting. Here are a couple of variations:

If you’re keen to learn to Board-offs then either install the Progression Player on to your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad or get the Progression Kiteboarding Advanced DVD.

Even though I am employed by Progression I have been using their products from the beginning, and continue to use them both for myself and with my students during the summer season. If you are interested in watching some great footage during the transitional stage of kiting where the handles passes became the top trick for comps, have a look at A.C. This was our first and only action kite movie and is free to watch online (all 45 minutes of it!). You might even spot a certain 5x World Champ back when he was just 14 years old and throwing down some massive board offs!

Thank to all the riders in the photos and videos:
Bas Koole –
Tom Hebert –
James Busse
Christian Harris –


Don’t blame your kite, she might just need a little tuning

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

It’s all too easy at the end of a bad session to point the finger at your kite for holding you back – it felt gutless/no bar pressure/slow to turn etc etc – we’ve all said it and sometimes it may be true, but more often than not it may just be that your kite needs a little love to bring her back to her former glory!

This is especially true of second-hand kites, those which you are not using the supplied bar with or maybe you’ve just past the beginner stage and have been dumping your kite in the water repeatedly causing all your lines to stretch under the strain! Whatever the case with a little knowledge & advice from us  you will hopefully be able to diagnose any potential problems. There are three key areas to focus on:

  • The difference in length between your front and back lines and how they affect your kites handling and performance
  • The difference in length between the right and left sets of lines and how they will affect your kites balance or cause erratic behaviour.
  • The attachment points for the front and back lines along the tip of the kite

1. Front & Back Lines Common Problems:

  • Front Line too long, back lines to short
    • Visual tells: The tips of the kite are flared out
    • Handling: Bar feels heavy and the kite is sluggish & turns slowly.
    • Solution: Depends on the available adjustment points on your kite and bar but commonly start by trying to lengthen your back lines, probably at the kite end, by use a pigtail knot further from the kite or at the bar.
  • Front lines too short, back lines to long:
    • Visual tells: Back lines are visibly sagging
    • Handling: Bar feels light and pulling on each side has little effect on the kite, the kite reacts slowly. You feel like you need to be sheeted in the whole time.
    • Solution: Again depends on the available adjustment points on your kite and bar but commonly start by trying to shorten your back lines, probably at the kite by use a pigtail knot closer to the kite or at the bar.

2. Difference between Right and Left sets of Lines:

  • Visual tells: When the kite is stationary above your head, you have to pull lightly on one side of the bar to keep the kite directly over head.
  • Handling: The added co-ordination it takes to keep the kite flying straight will affect your ability to simply ride along and stay upwind. The kite will react differently when flying from right to left or left to right – noticeable during times when your use extreme moves of the kite like waterstarts, changing direction and jumping. On one side the kite will be too fast and catch you out, on the other it will be slow and less responsive.
  • Solution: Check your line lengths for your sets of front and back lines separately. You can do this on the beach by attaching them to a solid object. For the inexperienced this is an article in itself! The Tuning chapter in our Kiteboarding Intermediate Volume 1 DVD shows this in detail and maybe the easiest option. (See the introduction to the chapter below).

If after checking your lines they turn out to be equal then you may need to check your bridle. This far harder to check and something that can be very different between bridled kites. Speak to your local kite shop or the manufacture for help with this.

3. Kite Attachment points Over the years kites have been developed and refined, with handling characteristics becoming broad reducing the need for multiple kite attachment points. However, many kites still have two or more options and they can have noticeable effects on the handling characteristics of your kite:

  • Front line attachments – alters the depower range of the kite available by sheeting the bar in and out
    • Forward position – increase the amount of depower
    • Rear position – decreases the amount of depower
  • Back line attachments - alters the speed at which the kite can be navigated
    • Forward position – Kite will turn slower, in a wider more powerful arc
    • Rear position – Kite will turn faster, in a tighter less powerful arc

As you can see there is a lot you can do to tune your kite, to solve negative handling characteristics and also to broaden the range and style of your kites function. Next time you head out, give your kite a little bit of attention and ensure she is giving you her best!

If you are new to kitesurfing and some of this still confuses you, you need to watch a 30 minute DVD chapter that completely focuses on Tuning your kite across all these scenarios. Check it out on our Kiteboarding Intermediate Volume 1 DVD.

The Art of Popping – Part 2

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

In part 1 of this blog post we introduced you to some top tips for popping whether you are riding Hooked-in or Unhooked. The two videos have had a great response but check them out if you’ve yet to watch them… But now we thought it would be good to show you how you can take the basic technique of popping and move it forwards into more advanced tricks.

What next – Hooked-in Popping…

1. Popping on its own will get pretty boring pretty quickly so the next progression is definitely Popping to Toeside and it definitely beats forcing the board round like you may have been doing so far.

2. Next up has to be grabs and there are a lot of them to try, which in itself can keep you busy for some time!

3. Finally we suggest you take a look at the more advanced technique of Popping to Blind. This is a trick that takes some practice, to get used to the contorted position you have to get into. However once again, it will improve your kite and board control and set you up for taking your next progression, unhooking…

What next – Unhooked Popping…

When it comes to unhooking then possible tricks that lay ahead are endless! But to start with heres a few of the first progressions you should look at taking…

The number of tricks, requiring good pop, that you can try beyond that are numerous.  Here are just a few examples to get you started:

So there you have it, your next steps for popping whether you are hooked or unhooked. If you want more in-depth help with your kitesurfing then check our the our Progression DVDs which cover many of these tricks in full detail, including common mistakes and key elements helping you to get it nailed faster!


The Art of Popping – Part 1

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

In Issue 51 of KiteWorld, their Motordrive section cover how to “Get Pop”. Now for any riders wanting to perform unhooked tricks learning to pop is a necessity but for those of you who aren’t quite ready to make that step yet, popping hooked-in is still a vital skill to learn. To that end we have created two ‘Top Tip’ videos for kitesurfers learning to Pop Hooked-in & Pop Unhooked.

Now fundamentally the technique for popping is the same whether you are hooked-in or unhooked:

  • Keep the kite low and stable
  • Edge hard off your back leg, with your whole body moving back against the kites power
  • When you release the edge your whole body comes forward

The unhooked version however requires better timing and control to ensure you can harness that power correctly – but start learning your pop hooked-in and you’ll be half way towards the next progression of unhooking.

Hooked-in Popping

Popping hooked-in is a great technique as it will not only giving you leg up when it comes to unhooking but also offer you a range of new tricks to learn whether its popping to toeside, popped grabs or trying back rolls without sending your kite.

Want to master this trick in full? The Progression Kiteboarding Intermediate Volume 1 DVD covers popping in-depth within a 45 minute chapter of high quality instructional content about learning how to jump in kitesurfing - buy it now from our online store.

Unhooked Popping

For those wanting to unhook, getting good pop is vital for Raley’s, S-bend’s, in fact every powered trick that exists! Quite often the most common problem for any unhooked trick comes back to the very beginning and mistakes in that initial pop.

Want to master this trick in full? The Progression Kiteboarding Advanced DVD covers everything from setting up and learning the basics of unhooking, to learning to pop and then on to in depth instruction for how to throw down a raley and a s-bend -buy it now from our online store.

So this is just part one of the ‘art of popping’ from Progression, in the next blog post we’ll run through some of the progressions you can take after the basics of popping to spice things up a bit!


A Survival Guide – 5 Tips For Kiting In Strong Winds

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Last night the wind howled all night here in Tarifa, rattling my shutters – and me – awake in the early hours. Kiters are rarely praying for less wind but with only a handful of diehards able to make it out here the last week or so you wonder whats best – howling strong winds or no wind at all?  At least in no wind you can turn to activities like cable or SUP, and of course lounging in the sun without being sandblasted!

Now we would never advocate going out in winds that you didn’t think you could handle but sometimes people limit their sessions unnecessarily when really it just comes down to learning good technique that will enable you remain in control in all types of conditions.  Being able to go out in a wider variety of conditions not only will stop you being a frustrated kiteboarder but will make you more skilled – ready to deal with challenges when they arise even on an average day.

Approach new conditions and locations as you would any new trick.  Assess, understand and practice. Strong winds can deliver some awesome sessions so don’t be put off, just be prepared and follow these five top tips:

Tip 1 – Keep The Kite Low.

You want to be in control and in kitesurfing, control is all about your edge.  It might feel natural to keep your kite high and out of the power zone when its super windy, but this will pull you up and off your edge making it hard to resist gusts. Keep your kite low at 45 degrees, that way you’ll be flying the kite and not the other way round.


Tip 2 –  Edge Really Hard.

Pushing hard with your back leg, push your board edge deep in the water. Not only is edging about staying in control but its about keeping your speed low.  By edging hard you also drive your kite to the edge of the window which again, will allow you to reduce power and stay in control.

Tip 3 –  Power Stance

The classic piece of advice you get when you learn is “shag it don’t shit it” as an eloquent way of illustrating the right position to hold your body in.  In strong winds though you need to “shit it” a bit more.  Sit back down in your harness so your hips aren’t so forward but still keep your shoulders back and arms slightly bent.  This is the power stance!

Tip 4 – Assess The Risk Factor

In new places you probably do this all the time but you need to do this even at your local spot if the winds are strong. Hopefully others will be out or rigging up so first up see what sizes they are on, but importantly also consider their size, weight and ability in comparison to you. If you only have one size of kite and its not right then don’t just risk it – you wouldn’t drive a car down a busy high street if it could only go at 90mph!  Sit it out this time and keep yourself amused by watching how others cope with the conditions – it could give you some useful insight!

Tip 5 – Be Safety Conscious

This is basic stuff really but we all know how we can lose our head when we are excited to get out!  In strong winds though if something is gonna go wrong, its gonna go really wrong. Double, triple check your lines are set up ok, preferably find someone to launch your kite who you know and trust, never self launch and don’t hang around on the beach. Sometimes you can feel overpowered on the beach but fine on the water so get out as soon (but as safely) as you can.

Kiteboarding is all about taking considered risks – well, it is an extreme sport!  Never put yourself in a situation you can not handle and be as prepared as you can by watching instructional content, listening to others advice and taking time to assess the situation before you take the plunge.  Most importantly though, have confidence and enjoy the session, if you can nail your tricks in extreme conditions you are that much closer to being a more competent and skilled kitesurfer!

When to use instructional kitesurfing video

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

In a recent survey we found out that just under 75% of our sample owned an instructional DVD of some sort – thats an incredible 3 out of 4 kiters using video instruction to progress!

Video instruction is a valuable tool for any kite surfer. Whether your new to the sport and desperate to learn the basics, or an advanced rider trying to get your head round a complex technical trick.

So, video instruction is good. But when are you supposed to watch a video to help you out the most?

In the same customer survey  we asked this exact question and here is what people said:

So mostly, people are watching instructional DVDs once in a while to refresh.  This suggests to me that people are probably using them as a bit of inspiration on what to do next rather than just for instruction.  Its so easy to get stuck in a rut but having a range of tricks on one DVD is an easy way to get ideas on what someone your level could try next.

The next two most common viewing habits were much more focused around getting you ready to to head out and nail something specific.  Doing this kind of homework before you head out can really help put you in the right mindset to learn something new.  You can visualise the move as its supposed to be, you can understand the common mistakes so you know what to do when you make them, and most importantly it can physche you up to really want to nail that move yourself!   Our DVDs all have chapters which makes it easy to jump in where you want and quickly view the relevant section, and all of our videos online are easily searchable by trick name or level too.

Few people are watching these videos on the beach, although i suspect that will change in the future with smart phones. Progression have loads of tricks interpreted into mobile tip videos available free on You Tube, these can easily be watched on a smart phone to refresh down the beach when you’re not quite getting it right!


It was good to know that not many people watch it only when they first buy it, I guess sometimes we just need a gentle reminder of what we bought it for in the first place.  So dust off those old copies of Progression or buy yourself the next level up – refresh, prepare and get those new tricks nailed!

How to Waterstart on a Strapless Surfboard

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

I have been injured for quite a few months now with a troublesome ankle tendon.  This kind of injury is rarely from a big impact, more from overuse which also means that it takes longer to repair and only flairs up when you use it in the same way which brought it on in the first place.

So riding in foot straps has been near on impossible as it requires me to flex those aggravated tendons. To stop me going completely insane watching all my mates on the water, I thought I would try out a different kind of board – a strapless wave board/surf board.

It took only a few goes to actually nail a waterstart and get going, we got a small clip of me riding along in Langebaan (South Africa) yesterday as you can see.

From my experience yesterday and reading around a few other places online, in particular iksurf technique article from Christian and Karine, I have put a few top tips for anyone else trying this out:

1. Try it first in flat water until you get used to riding both a wave board and/or strapless.  You may look strange heading out into flat water with a wave board under your arm but you’ll certainly look better when you eventually head out to the waves and don’t get pounded!

2. Get a board with grip pads on like I had – or use lots of wax.  You do tend to stand up more as oppose to edgeing against the board, without straps its hard to keep your feet ‘stuck’ to the board.

3. Hold onto the board with one hand (your back hand) whilst you position it in front of you and get your first foot (front foot) on. These boards are much more buoyant than a twin tip and have the tendency to bob along, drifting away from you!

4. Try and keep a little power whilst you position your feet on the board – if its not windy enough then move your kite a little back and forth to help as these guys in Kiteboarder suggest.  The iksurf article also suggests a ‘soft’ waterstart where you navigate the kite backwards first to give you a bit of pull up before diving it. This is for the same reason I imagine – to help get your body & feet positioned a bit more above the board before waterstarting.

5. Keep a fairly wide stance as this will help with balance. If your board is one designed for kitesurfing then the pads will give you a clue of where to put your feet. For me (5 foot 9) this was about two foot apart, ensuring my front foot was a lot further forward than I originally thought.

6. Stand up straight. You need a lot more front foot pressure that you would on a twin tip, with the aim to flatten out the board.  When I first tried I was digging in the tail and the nose was too high to plane.  If you think about standing up a little straighter, maybe in the stance you would use for light wind riding, this will help a lot to get up and going.

Everything else is the same for any waterstart – dive the kite, point the board downwind to get up the speed and then lean back gently (not as hard as you would with straps) as you drive the board more upwind.

As you can see on my video I didn’t quite know what to do when I wanted to turn around so I will try out a carve or gybe next time I go out!

I found it a completly different feeling riding this way.  It definitely felt more ‘free’, more cruisey and more fluid. It was also nice to go and learn something completely new without feeling like i needed to put my body through hell to do it!

I am keen to follow this up but as Progression have yet to cover off this style of kitesurfing i’ll need to source my instruction from elsewhere!  Any good tips, links or articles please send my way :-)

Learning about trick progression

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

Being in Cape Town during its windy season has afforded me not only refuge from the long winter back at home in the UK but also some of the best riding I have seen in a long time.

As everyone knows, Cape Town is where many of the pros come during winter.  Its consistent, varied and sometimes challenging conditions make for a perfect training ground and no better place for Progression to capture some of these tricks, trials and tribulations for our usual eye of analysis.

My job the last few days has been to log all of the footage we are shooting – 400 clips one day, 300 clips the next.  I am seeing back mobes in my sleep now! What this task has provided me with though is the concept and construct of trick progression – the foundation and obsession of the Progression brand itself!

Rob laughed at me (as I am sure most would) as I diagnosed ‘advanced’ tricks through my ‘intermediate’ eyes but I found it personally useful so that’s why I am sharing. Breaking down a trick with a random name means you actually understand what it is as well as giving you easy steps to learn the trick components separately first before putting them all together.  For example:

Back Mobe – Layman’s description:

A Back Mobe is an unhooked backroll, into another the same way whilst passing the bar in the air.

Back Mobe – Official Description:

A Back Mobe is a powered unhooked backroll with a frontside 360 with an airpass.

From this description we can work out the progressions up to this trick:

  • Powered Unhooked Back Roll
  • Powered Unhooked back Roll with ‘frontside 180’ (which is effectively just landing toeside)
  • Powered unhooked backroll with a ‘frontside 360’ landing wrapped (without passing the bar) which is also called a ‘Back to Wrapped’
  • Then you can make the final step by passing the bar – and voila, you have nailed a Back Mobe.

Check out this ‘Trick Progression’ video for the Back Mobe that we filmed  at the awesome spot brandvlei

As I said, essentially this is ‘Progression’ in a nutshell.  Breaking down the tricks into smaller elements so you can learn it easily, methodically and safely.

In addition to our core trick coverage on the DVDs we are slowly building a huge online library of every trick (its at about 500 now!) that can help you understand the composition and relationship of any trick you can possibly want to learn.

So there really is no excuse to be doing those same tricks session after session any more!  Get the most out of your session and learn more with Progression.