Whether you have recently learnt to jump, are boosting massive kiteloops or launching into powered handle passes, there is one way to add a little more difficulty, create heaps of style and make every trick just feel way more awesome – throw in a grab!
In this post we’re going to cover some tips and inspiration for improving your tricks by adding a grab, no matter what level of rider you are.
Section in this post:
- Hands and holds
- Jumping and grabs
- One footers and board offs
- Popping and powered grabs
Hands and holds
Before we look at actually adding them in it’s worth covering some of the main grab positions and the odd names that accompany them.
Grabs are named differently depending on whether it is your front or back hand that comes off the bar and then what part of the board you grab.
- Crail : back hand – toeside rail – front section
- Indy : back hand – toeside rail – between feet
- Nuclear : back hand – heelside rail – front section
- Roast Beef : back hand – heelside rail – arm is in-front of rear leg and between feet
- Stallfish : back hand – heelside rail – arm is behind rear leg and between feet
- Tail : back hand – tail of board
- Tailfish : back hand – heelside rail – back section
- Tindy : back hand – toeside rail – back section
UPDATE: Grab Faux-pas
Since originally posting this article we got some feedback regarding the inclusion of the Tailfish and Tindy grabs with out any mention of their “bad” reputation in most board sports. Historically in snowboarding and wakeboarding – Tindy = Bad Indy, and Tailfish = Bad Stallfish. The general consensus is that both of these grabs happen when the rider rushes to grab the board and leads to bad style – they just don’t put your body and board in a great position. But like everything in kiteboarding we will leave this up to you to decide. If you are looking to get maximum style points and push your kiting you will probably want to avoid these grabs and go for the indy or stallfish options. For many people learning to jump and performing their first grabs just getting your hand on the board anywhere is a personal accomplishment, and you might want to just use these grabs as stepping stones to get you closer to those which will look and feel better.
- Lien : front hand – heelside rail – front section
- Melon : front hand – heelside rail – arm is behind front leg and between feet
- Mute : front hand – toeside rail – between feet
- Seatbelt : front hand – tail of board
- Slob : front hand – toeside rail – front section
- Nose : nose of board
Jumping and grabs
For your first attempts at a board grab just try and touch the board. Then the aim is to work up to holding on for longer and longer. You’ll find this is a big motivator to improve your jumping technique, as getting more height and hang time will allow you to make the grab, hold it and twist a little to give yourself some steeze!
As you start making the grabs more regularly then you will find it starts to make your jumps more stylish automatically. You body is forced to hold a position for longer and with a grab you start forcing your body to twist in slightly different positions which can feel great, look more stylish and give you a great ab workout too!
Start with a tail grab
The easiest grab for most people will be a tail grab. Its easier to take your back hand off the bar (so you can still control the kite with your front hand as you come into land) and even for the less flexible among us, getting one end of the board close enough to touch should be possible.
The best tip is to remember that it’s easier to bring the board to you, rather than reaching off into the distance. Extend your front leg, bend your back leg and you should be able to grab the tail of the board.
As you get more confident, twist and give it some style, drop your head over your back shoulder, and push your hand backwards. Or lean back, point your front foot into the air and pull the tail into your back hip.
Indie grabs are a great next step and require you bend both your legs.
Of course if you are super bendy, you’ll find grabbing significantly easy and can grab with straight legs
One footers and board offs
If you want try a board off then you’ve got to get some decently floaty jumps and a solid grab but before that one footers are a great first progression and can look really stylish. Once again the tail grab is the easiest place to start with your back foot coming out of the strap. Just kick it out to start with but build up to extending your leg and holding the position for extra style points.
For a board off having your back hand just on the toeside edge, wrapping your fingers around the top of the fin can give you a secure hold and is a good place to start. An indie grab is also popular for board offs and allows you to control the board as it will be balance better in your hand.
Back rolls, whether as boosted sent jumps or powered popping jumps, go nicely with a tail, indie grab or even a seatbelt grab.
With front rolls start with a simple tail grab but try and work up to the inverted front roll with a tail grab.
Grabs during rotations are a great way to get inverted during the rotation and stall the rotation in bigger jumps, opposed to the flatter back and front roll spins.
Multiple rotations can be made far more stylish if you can hold a grab through the majority of the rotations as it stops your body dangling and spinning uncontrollably. The hard bit is controlling the kite with just one hand for the whole time. You need to be getting bigger, floaty jumps and keep your hand on the bar right up close to the centre depower rope.
Aerial transitions were made for grabs – the extreme movement of the kite as you change direction means a grab can get your body into a more stable tweaked position, keeping your body in control as you change direction in the air. It also means your can grab with your front hand, normally needed to control the kite, but not so much now as your back hand can be used to send the kite in the new direction. So now you can grab in different ways.
Popping and powered grabs
If you’re into powered popping styled airs, whether you are riding hooked or unhooked, grabs are an essential way to spice up a plain old raley!
First off just try tail grabs and then indie’s, start twisting and you’ve got yourself a batwing!
As you get more confident the nuclear grab is a must but will need some more skill as you need to be keeping the kite powered and have confidence getting your weight forward.
Here you can see the same crail grab for both the hooked-in and unhooked variation:
If you want to start adding grabs into your kiteloops, then you want to be getting some reasonable height.
First up is probably going for the grab after the kite has completed the loop. Below we have a back roll kiteloop (F16) and after the loop he then reaches across his body with his back hand for the crail grab:
Alternatively, if you more comfortable adding extra high loops of the kite after the first big loop, then take your front hand off, grabbing the nose of the board and twisting your body frontside, will feel pretty good and allow your back hand to continue the kite looping.
Any mention of kiteloops has to include a video from the King of extreme kiting, Ruben Lenton – here with his trademark Boogie Loop, Front roll with a tail grab:
There are so many grab options for those of you who are riding unhooked and performing powered wakestyle tricks. Adding a grab to these type of tricks, particularly if you can hold the grab for a second, will force the trick to be way more stylish.
Another popular grab is the front roll to blind with an tail grab. You can see that this is super stylish and top riders often include this in their repertoire because it feels great and looks good, even though it’s not as technically difficult as others.
If you want even more of a challenge then a grabbed Back Mobe 5 is pretty nice!
Or stretch through a back mobe with a seat belt grab:
These days pros are adding one or more grabs to tricks or using them in more advanced tricks to help change the direction of rotation mid trick. Below Sam Light is throwing a nose grab in after a KGB, allowing him to change direction and then go into a frontside 180 to land wrapped!
Hopefully you can see that there is a huge amount that a simple grab can do to spice up your kiteboarding. So get out there and try adding grabs to any trick you can already land consistently and let us know how you get on.