Why Should You Be Training Kite Skills To This Level?
The Four Training & Kite Exercises Below Can Potentially Keep You From Hours of Face-Plants, Exhaustion, and Frustration...
Welcome to Advanced Training Kite Exercises Pt. 1 The kite skills that you learned in the previous pages are going to be challenged and perfected. The few skills left to learn will push your flying ability to new heights and challenge you in new ways.
Building upon the handling basics you already know, these skills will teach subtle but critical habits. If you aren’t good at them you can expect to encounter exhaustion and wipeouts. If you don’t know them at all, you won’t even get your board on!
The skills that I am talking about are:
- Proper Posture – If you try and balance your trainer’s pull improperly, you’re in for one heck of a workout. If you have bad posture with a board on your feet, you probably are going to face plant over and over again.
- Controlling the Kite with One Hand – There are times when you will need to use your free hand. Learn this skill and you won’t have to re-launch every time you take your hand off the bar.
- Simulate Putting on Your Board – The best way to learn something is to do it…or simulate something just like it!
- Fly Your Kite Without Looking – If you constantly stare at your kite you will miss all the scenery (and might even hit a boat). Learn to ‘read’ the pull of the kite and you should always know what’s happening!
These four skills will fine tune everything you have learned this far, plus begin to ingrain some of the finer yet equally important habits that all kiteboarders must know.
Proper posture is all about effectively leveraging your body’s weight against the pull of the kite. With proper form you control the kite and not vice versa. You will be able to kite longer, handle more power, and convert that power into motion more effectively when you have good posture.
What to do:
To get the feel of the proper posture I recommend holding onto a railing or something similar. Grab on and do the following:
- Keep your legs straight with only a slight bend at the knee.
- Lean back until your arms are straight. Keep your body in line with your legs (like in the picture).
- Focus on keeping your legs and body in line.
If you lean too far backwards and loose your balance when flying your kite, bend at the knees (This will reduce the leverage you have on the kite), regain your balance, and stand up. Lean back again, but not as far this time.
What Not to Do:
I don’t normally like to point out the wrong way to do things, but for some reason most people make this mistake (including myself when I started).
What you don’t want to do is crouch.
This feels like it works because it reduces the leverage the kite has on you (i.e. the kite is less likely to pull you over). But what you have to do when you crouch is flex and fight with the kite. You have to use all the muscle power you can muster, and if you get tired, you have to crouch more! It’s a loose-loose situation.
In addition, when you have a board on your feet, you can’t dig in an edge (called edging) unless you lean backwards. If you crouch, you’re very likely to bury your front edge. When this happens you will either sink or face plant; neither is fun.
Advanced Training - Kite Exercise #1
If you haven’t yet tried leaning back with proper form while holding onto a railing, do that now. If you have, try it with your kite. Fly the kite through the power zone and focus on leaning back properly. I like to make a game of seeing how far I can lean back without falling over. If you do fall over, use a power stroke to help you get to your feet.
Fly the Kite with One Hand.
Lets face the fact that there are going to be times when you need a free hand for something. It may be tightening a strap, putting on your board, or picking your nose. Whatever it is, you need to know how to control your kite with one hand. It’s not necessary to fly the kite one handed in the power zone, so don’t worry about that.
To develop this skill, do the following:
- If you don’t have a harness on your trainer kite:
- Grab the bar in the center with one hand (See the pictures).
- Practice steering the kite by twisting your wrist to move the bar. (If this hurts your wrist, don’t do it. There are always creative ways around things like this – one would be using a harness with your trainer.
- If you do have a harness:
- Hook your kite into your harness.
- You can keep your hand anywhere, but it’s best to place it at the end of the bar for more leverage.
- Steer the kite by pushing/pulling the bar away/towards yourself.
Advanced Training - Kite Exercise #2
Fly the kite one handed. Start by parking the kite at 12 o’clock, and see how long you can keep it there with one hand. When you get good at that, try and maneuver the kite from 12 to 2, and then over to 10 o’clock (again, one handed). If you master all these things, try a gentle Figure 8 at the very top of the wind window.
Simulate Putting on and Taking off Your Board
This skill is a combination of several others you have already learned (this is going to happen a lot from this point forward). If you plan on towing any type of board behind a kite (kiteboard, land-board, snowboard, surfboard), then you must learn this skill.
All you need to do is this:
- Park the kite at 12 o’clock.
- Sit down.
- Take hold of the bar with one hand (make sure the kite stays parked at 12).
- Reach down and remove your sandal or loose running shoe.
- Pause – make sure the kite is still under control.
- Put it back on.
- Repeat with the other hand.
- Once you are done, use a power stroke to help you back to your feet.
Advanced Training - Kite Exercise #3
Perform the steps described above. If you are wearing running shoes, loosen the laces before hand. Practice taking off and putting on your shoe until you feel comfortable with the movement.
Flying Your Kite Without Looking
I’m going to be upfront: this skill was my least favorite to learn. Thankfully I did, and I am sure glad now. The truth is that your attention can’t always be 100% focused on your kite - you don’t even want it to be, you’ll miss all the cool scenery! You’re always going to be on the lookout for other kiters, obstacles, where to turn, etc…, so getting used to controlling the kite by feel is a necessity.
Here’s what you want to do:
Eventually you will want to have control of the kite while looking at it as little as possible, but when first learning, keep the kite in your peripheral vision. Pay attention to what you are doing to the control bar as well as how the kite is pulling on it. Try and learn to read the bar’s feel.
Start by trying this:
- Park the kite at 12 o’clock.
- Look away, but keep the kite in your peripheral vision.
- Try to keep the kite parked as long as you can, while making any corrections needed.
Advanced Training - Kite Exercise #4
Practice the exercise described above. When you can do it well, do it with a Figure 8 at the top of the wind window. When you master that, try doing some power strokes! Your goal will be to accurately fly the kite to where you want it with just your peripheral (or no vision). Like I said above, try and learn to read the kite based on how it pulls on the bar.
In the end, consider yourself good at this when you can walk around your flying area while talking to a friend (and keep your attention focused on them).
This concludes Advanced Training Kite Exercises Pt. 1 . You are beginning to develop the subtle yet extremely important skills that are absolutely necessary as a kiteboarder. Practice these skills until you master them. When you are ready, move on! The next four skills are the most exciting of them all; we cover harnessing the kite’s power, jumping, and more, so get ready!