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Wakeboarding vs. Snowboarding: How Similar Are They?

New to snowboarding or wakeboarding? You may think the two are similar.

But are they really?

These two sports do have a lot in common, but they also have major differences.

Here’s what to know about wakeboarding versus snowboarding.

What Snowboarding And Wakeboarding Have In Common

At first glance, it’s easy to see that these two sports have a lot in common. 

  • Both ride a narrow board
  • Both require a strong core, legs, and great balance
  • Both are used to glide across the surface
  • Both require the use of bindings
  • Both require a specific stance
  • Both require similar movements to turn and balance
  • Both are great for doing tricks

So yeah, that’s a lot of things to share in common.

But, these two sports also have distinct differences. 

wakeboarding vs snowboarding

How Snowboarding And Wakeboarding Are Different

The main difference that most people notice right away is that wakeboarding is done on water, usually in the warm summer months, and snowboarding is done on snow, in the colder winter months.

But that’s really just the start of how these two sports differ from each other.

Gear Requirements

As you likely already now, snowboarding requires a snowboard and wakeboarding requires a wakeboard. 

Also, wakeboards have fins on the underside and snowboards do not have fins (obviously, cause they don’t go in the water).

With wakeboarding, you may need a wetsuit if the water is cold, or you can just don swimwear. You’ll also need to wear a life jacket.

With snowboarding, you’ll need full winter attire, like boots, snow pants, gloves, and goggles. You may also need an avalanche pack.

Wakeboarding also requires a boat to actually pull the wakeboarder.

Not counting the cost of the boat, it is generally cheaper to take up wakeboarding than snowboarding.

Athletic Ability

Both wakeboarding and snowboarding require that you have good physical strength, but where you need that strength varies a bit between the two.

Specifically, with wakeboarding you need to have strong arms and upper body strength because you need to hold onto the tow rope while you’re out on the water.

This means you also need to be able to keep a strong grip on that tow line since it is being pulled by the boat.

You don’t need strong arms to do snowboarding.

And don’t forget with snowboarding that you gotta learn how to use the chair lift to get to the top of the mountain. That can be a daunting task on its own.

Is Wakeboarding or Snowboarding Harder?

If you’re not experienced in either of these sports, then you may want to get started with the one that is easier to learn.

Between snowboarding and wakeboarding, many athletes point to wakeboarding as the easier of the two.

Why is snowboarding harder? Because it’s all about you and your physical abilities and balance.

With wakeboarding, you have the tow line that you’re holding onto, which helps a great deal with balance.

Basically, once you are upright and standing on your wakeboard, the sport is relatively easy to learn – as long as your boat driver isn’t too erratic with the speed.

  • It’s easier to turn on a wakeboard due to the rope helping you balance and stay upright
  • Stopping is easier on a wakeboard because you just signal to the boat operator or spotter that you wanna stop
  • Falls when wakeboarding as less painful that falls when snowboarding

One key thing to keep in mind, is that if you can snowboard then you can wakeboard, and vice versa.

The truth is that most board sports share so much in common that it’s easy to pick up other board sports once you know one of them well.

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