3 Tips for Better Kiteboard control

3 Tips for Better Kiteboard control

This is part two of the master your kite and board videos. Last week, I covered a new angle on how to control your kite with the edge of your board. I’m going to expand on this now, and help you really get control of your board and riding position.

Kiteboarding is funny because unlike other board sports we have a lot more going on with controlling the kite. The thing is, It seems like a lot of kiteboarders never learn how to ride a board properly and it actually holds back their progress. Even boarders who cross over from other sports pick up some habits while learning that make things harder later on.

In this video, I’m going to help you get a better understanding of board control. This is going to make all of your tricks easier, they are going to look better and kiteboarding is going to be a lot more fun and easier for you if you can get these skills down.

My weight is over the board here the kite is not holding me up 

Riding Stance

The first thing I want to talk about is your riding stance. Let me ask you, are you riding the board or are you being held up by the kite? I’ll let you think about that for a moment. What I mean is, you might be leaning back far more than you need to. Rather than leaning really hard into an edge, try standing up and actually riding the board.

Now, think about your posture. Are you in a ready athletic position? Think about how a snowboarder, a surfer or a wakeboarder looks while riding. They are in a squat position with their weight over their feet. This comes back to my first point about being carried by the kite. Now kiteboarding is different and different times call for different positions. So spend some time riding upright and going downwind a bit. Try jumping off waves or chop and landing in the athletic stance.

What happens is a lot of people spend so much time learning to ride upwind, they fall in the habit of leaning way too far back and they get rigid. If you spend your whole session in this stance, your body will actually start to feel locked up. Then when you do go for a trick, you’ll feel stiff and out of control on tricks or just awkward. If you fall on your back more often than not, its because your muscle memory is programmed for that upwind stance which is only one part of the puzzle. I see it all the time with riders who when they jump, they have this really dangly stiff look and when they come down, they are trying to land riding almost back upwind right away.

If you watch an advanced kiteboarder you’ll see that they jump, and their body shifts more into the athletic stance. They also land riding downwind in the upward stance. If you spend some time practicing riding upright on the board riding slightly downwind, it's going to be easier to land correctly when you're doing a trick. You’ll also help develop new muscle memory that will help you feel more comfortable and in control of the tricks you know or are working on. Lastly, landings are going to feel safe and you’ll look better.

Edge control

Dig an edge and shoot the kite forward.

  • Can slow momentum kite responds faster
  • How people used to slow down. You are reducing the kites' power by pushing it further forward in the window.
  • Can help with you riding upwind as the kite will sit further forward.
  • Helpful for controlling unhooked power! And for power on powered tricks

Balance the kites lift on harness vs edge of your board

  • In light winds, lay in harness more to hold your weight
  • In high winds ground yourself with the board to reduce lift
  • You can use fins for drive or dig your edge.

Balance of weight over feet maters.

  • All weight on the back foot slows momentum & reduces power
  • Balance on both feet to accelerate speed
  • More often than not the correct stance lies between these two. Set the weight near the middle of your rail not just on the tail of the board.
  • Many people lean back too far when setting their edge like we talked about.

The Approach sets you up for success or failure 

The Approach for tricks

Lastly, I want to cover the approach and how to use all the skills we covered in the last two videos. This is something everyone seems to get wrong. I’m going to use an animation to help you visualize this better.

Most kiteboarders, try to do their tricks across to the wind or even upwind. They also try to land riding across ro the wind or up wind. You can see this is the most common approach.

Not only are they taking this line but they tend to stay locked up in the rigid hanging under the kite stance I talked about.

A proper approach is more dynamic. You should control your speed with the edge techniques we covered. The faster you go, the more height for sent jumps or power for kite low tricks hooked or unhooked. Once you’ve got your speed going across to the wind, lean back and edge upwind for a powerful pop. This is the same weather you're doing big air or keeping the kite low. The only thing that changes is whether you're flicking the kite up or not.

As you release from the water, your kite is going to pull you downwind. If you watched our kite control video, you know to keep front hand pressure so the kite pulls you forward. Now, as you come off the water get into the athletic stance and orient your body to ride downwind. It doesn't matter if you are doing a roll or just jumping. As you come down, make sure you re redirect the kite forward so it pulls you way downwind. Now. rather than landing in the direction you started in, you’ll be landing in that athletic stance with your weight over your feet. Ride slightly downwind and make sure you’re redirecting the kite forward so it doesn't fall behind you. 

Quick Reference Guide to Edge Control Applications 

Jumping applications

  • When jumping, you can come off your edge a bit, and set the kite deeper
  • When you send it up, it will be deeper in the window and you’ll pick up speed for a bigger jump.
  • You'll be able to edge more tension into the lines for power too 

Balance the kites lift on harness vs edge of your board

  • In light winds, lay in harness more to hold your weight
  • In high winds ground yourself with the board to reduce lift
  • You can use fins for drive or dig your edge
  • Balance of weight over feet makes a difference
  • All weight on the back foot slows momentum & reduce power
  • Balance on both feet to accelerate speed and improve pop

Riding upwind 

  • Don't edge too hard
  • Keep pressure between both feet 
  • Don't go too fast 
  • Keep the kite forward in the wind window 

Slowing down 

  • Use back foot pressure and a hard edge to set the kite too far in the window
  • Alternatively, you can ride so far downwind that it drifts to the edge 

This is why I say land downwind to take power out of the kite. Yet, you can also edge power out of the kite. You can build speed by coming off your edge a little. Remember, agressive edging makes for an agressive kite. Slow controlled edging makes for a mellow kite.

Wave / Foiling

This is why you see some wave foil crossover kites. Regardless, these skills will help on any kite. 

I'm going to cover some basics but I want to note that I am not a wave expert. There are too many variables to draft up a step by step wave guide. You can however, take these concepts and experiment with your kite in different wave conditions. The goal is to have edge control and be able to set your kite with intention. Ideally in a place 2 seconds ahead of your surf maneuver. 

  • Use your edge to keep a little line tension and set the kite in advance
  • Think 2 seconds ahead of the maneuver when setting the kite
  • The goal is to position the kite so you can execute the surf move
  • While cutting downwind your carrying so much speed, you could almost drop the kite
  • With the right path and edging, you can get your kite to stall as you travel as you travel in the opposite direction like it's flying backwards
  • Can cheat this by downlooping the kite to stop it from falling.
  • If you use the edge method to “stall it and keep it in the air, it will be like a parachute downind
  • This will take practice with your specific kite and the wind / wave direction
  • Practice edging your kite on and off the waves so you can place it with intention
  • With foiling, you do a lot of the same things as the waves but there is less going on.
  • With the waves, you need to control the kite and position it so you can stay on the wave.
  • Drifting kites have a lot of forgiveness, all around kites you’ll need to use your edge control to set the kite in the correct position.

So, when dropping in. if the kite doesn't drift, you might need to edge / steer the board a little to regain line tension. The kite may shoot back as well staying in the sky. It’s a game of keeping just a little tension in the lines so you can control the kite.I could do very deep on this but it all comes down to getting the basics down and getting in tune with maintaining a little line tension. Keep the kite in the right position so it hangs there while you surf the wave. Occasionally, you may need to downloop to set the kite and pick up a ton of speed. Lead with the kite. Keep it ahead for top & bottom turns. Think two seconds ahead with the kite movement. For example, you might let it drift forward while dropping in, As you edge a bottom turn, the kite will shoot forward. You might need to counter that and send the kite back deeper a little as you carve up a wave. There are too many variables for me to do a detailed wave guide and frankly I'm not a wave expert. My best advice is to practice and be mindful of what your edge is doing while riding waves. 

Freestyle / Parkstyle

This is everything in freestyle or parkstyle kiteboarding. You have to use your edge to control the power. The biggest issue people encounter is a lack of understanding when it comes to controlling the kite.

You can take power out by finding the balance between edging and coming off your edge. You can also position the kite deeper in the window and allowing it to shoot forward when you pop for more slack. Something I recommend trying different drills to master the nuances of your kite.


Unhook and ride downwind at the kite. Imagine you are snowboarding & start carving edge to edge. Doing S turns. experiment with the angle and how far you edge up and downwind. Spit the control bar with your lead hand and observe how the kite responds to your edging. Make a game of keeping it in the sky at a 45 degree angle or even lower.

You’ll notice how you can bring the kite forward with your edge or set it back by coming off your edge. This is the best feeling in the world. The more aggressive you edge, the more power you’ll generate. The more mellow, you edge, the more mellow the kite will be. Experiment, loading more or less power into the kite and setting it deeper before you pop. You’ll find, the deeper you set the kite, the more room it has to shoot forward for freestyle.This shooting forward can create slack. Note, not all kites will slack. Some kites, you just need to go fast and keep up with the bar.

For features

Use a mellow edge. Keep a little tension in the lines when you unhook. Unhook early so you can set the kite. Ride downwind in the athlete stance and control your speed with the edge. This will keep the kite stable and set you on a path to stay on the entire feature. 

If you would like to be contacted for adventure kiteboarding camps and pro clinics with Rygo, Blake Olsen and Chris Bobryk, shoot us an email at: Kiteboardingcamps@gmail.com

Ryan (Rygo) Goloversic

Many people dream of quitting their job, traveling the world and pursuing their passions. Rygo is one of those people who pulled the trigger. A few years into his career, he decided to change everything and travel as a kiteboarder, freelance videographer & writer. His mission is to share the stoke & help people put the boarding into their kiteboarding. Get outside and kite!


Producer of: Ride with Blake I Sessions I Versus I Destinations I Foil Fridays

20th May 2020 Rygo

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