Wakeboarding: Getting Started – Choosing Wakeboard Bindings.
Choosing the correct wakeboard binding is very important and is definitely worth investing a little time to research and try on different ones to find the right fit. The reason is simple – Wakeboarding is a physically demanding, impact sport. With catching big air and learning different wakeboarding tricks, comes the possibility of an injury. While you can never completely eliminate the chance of getting hurt, using the proper equipment (in this case, your wakeboard bindings) can help to reduce your chances.
I’ll use myself as an example. A few years ago I was wakeboarding one afternoon with a few friends. At the end of my first set I ended up breaking my wakeboard (it was a few years old, and this is not unusual if a wakeboard has been ridden hard). My friend, who had just purchased a new wakeboard and binding set up convinced me to try his out my second set. I was lazy and chose just to ride his bindings instead of putting my own (that fit correctly) on his new board. I ignored the fact that his wakeboard bindings were noticeably too loose for me and on my second trick attempt I ended up dislocating my ankle and breaking my leg in two places. I now have a steel plate with 8 screws in my leg as a result of being lazy by using his wakeboard bindings that did not fit my feet properly.
Wakeboard bindings should have a “snug” fit. By snug, I mean tight but comfortable. You should feel ‘locked in’ but still have some flexibility – balance is the key. You want them to be secure, but with no heel lift or ability to roll your ankle inside the wakeboard binding. This is what can cause an injury. At the same time, your wakeboard bindings should not be so tight where you could not possibly “eject” from a hard fall. In wakeboarding, the term “eject”, refers to completely coming out of your wakeboard bindings in the event of a hard fall. Sometimes, depending on the circumstances of the fall, ejecting from your wakeboard and bindings can be beneficial. Be sure to try on many pairs, as choosing wakeboard bindings is the same as choosing a wakeboard in that there is personal preference involved that changes from one person to the next. As mentioned when purchasing your wakeboard, your local shops should provide some sort of demo program that will allow you to try the bindings out before actually purchasing. Unlike a wakeboard however, you will be able to get some idea of the bindings and how they fit your foot by trying them on in the shop (rather than having to actually use a wakeboard on the lake to experience it). However, I strongly suggest riding the bindings first hand before handing over your hard-earned cash.
Wakeboarding has come a long way in recent years as far as product design. Older wakeboard bindings generally consisted of nothing more than a stretchy rubber material you slipped your foot into that did a poor job of connecting the rider to the wakeboard. Now wakeboard bindings are made of all kinds of material that are more comfortable and durable, and have all sorts of laced cinches, hinges, velcro straps, and cable systems that will lock your foot into place.
So in short – When purchasing a pair of wakeboard bindings:
1) A little research online before you step foot in a retail store will help enormously.
2) Choose a wakeboard binding that has both, a comfortable fit, and keeps your foot secure.
3) Try on the wakeboard binding in the shop, and if satisfied give the bindings a ‘test’ run on the water, whether that means trying out a friend’s or doing a demo through a local shop.
4) Buy the wakeboard bindings that fit correctly and you are comfortable in, attach them to your wakeboard, and hit the lake!