Kiteboarding Beginner Information- Hand Positioning
Proper hand positioning on the bar is the most simple, fundamental thing about flying a kite that is often overlooked skill when learning to kiteboard. We have put together this article that is sure to help you learn faster and safer. You can simulate what's discussed here by holding any kite bar, or even using a stick. Experienced instructors call it "kook hands" and have to break many people of that bad habit so they could actually progress.
1. Before you try to fly another kite, take a few minutes and watch any experienced kiters hand position on the bar on the beach, watching videos, or in pics. You will notice their hands are close together on the bar, and not with a wide grip like handlebars.
Now, take a look at how almost all instructors teach from Day 1, starting with the trainer kite. Most everyone is taught to grab the bar with a wide grip and work the kite all around the power zone. Sure you can work that bar and whip the kite all around the power zone, but you're not learning kite control. Yes, "developing muscle memory" is and honing your kite flying skills is good, but it's already developing bad habits, and quite honestly, its the oppsite way of flying 4 line inflatables in Kiteboarding. Large kites are usually "parked" on the edge of the power zone and controlled by sheeting in and out on the bar, rather than steering it all around the sky like a trainer kite. Steering the kite is more in the wrists than anything- pull with one wrist, push with the other is also called counter-steering.
Here's the problem learning with a wide grip- A wide grip on the kite bar brings your entire upper body into steering the kite- from wrists, elbows, and shoulders, and even your hips. Then you move onto the inflatable 4 line kites and try to fly it with the same hand position and "body language" all the way though your lessons including learning to body drag, and even ride the board without even understanding that hand positioning is preventing their progress. Sure it can be done, but takes 10x longer to learn. Trying to body drag or deal with a board in the water is much harder with a wide grip on the bar. Beginners often overcompensate with steering instead of simply sheeting in on the bar to tension the lines. Controlling a 4 line kite is 50% steering and 50% sheeting.
Moving the hands towards the center of the bar eliminates the use of the shoulders, arns and elbows when steering. It puts the control in the wrists, and in sheeting the bar. The result is a faster learning experience every step of the way. We will detail sheeting the bar in our next article.
Now you know not to touch the ends of the bar unless you want to see what "grabbing the bull by the horns" actually feels like. Even small trainer kites can surprise you with how much power they create in higher winds, so keep your hands in closer on the bar and fly with your wrists to have better control. Speaking of trainer kites, they're not only fun, but can be a great training tool. Let's go over how to fly a trainer kite so you can get out and get some practice before your kiteboarding lessons. Click the button below to continue.