Boating Lifestyle

Boating Lifestyle

There is so much to love, and learn, about boating. That's why we created this library of articles, videos and blog posts to help you throughout your adventures.

Essential Wakeboarding Hand Signals

Communication is key in any relationship, and the rapport between a towboat driver and the rider is no exception. Since most of the time the rider and driver are out of earshot of one another, hand signals are the best way for them to stay in constant contact. Learn these essential hand signals to help ensure everyone has a safe, fun time on the water. Make sure to check out the Top 10 Wakeboarding Workouts as well!

Rider Signals

Signal: Thumb up

Translation: Speed up


Signal: Thumb down

Translation: Slow down


Signal: Thumb up or down followed by pointer and thumb pinching

Translation: Speed up or slow down a little


Signal: OK sign

Translation: Speed is good


Signal: Karate-chop hand motion in a new direction

Translation: Driver, go that direction


Signal: Karate-chop hand motion in boat\'s current direction

Translation: Driver, get it together and drive straight


Signal: Forefinger and thumb forming an "L" and then pointing to the left or right

Translation: Driver, please drive a double-up in that direction


Signal: Karate-chop hand motion on your other arm

Translation: T it up (drive a 90-degree double-up)


Signal: Smash an invisible ice-cream cone on your head

Translation: I’m done. Let’s head back to the dock


Signal: Smash cone on your head and point out to either side of the boat

Translation: I\'m done so please turn in to me and pick me up


Signal: A simple wave after every fall, no matter how minor or severe, to signal the boat if you are OK

Translation: I\'m OK. Only my pride is wounded


Signal: Cross your arms above your head, forming an X, after a fall if you are not OK

Translation: I\'m not OK. Please help


Driver Signals


Signal: A quick thumb up, thumb down and then an OK sign

Translation: Is the speed OK?


Signal: A shaka or hang-loose sign

Translation: Rider, that trick was awesome


Signal: Circular finger motion, like spinning a plate

Translation: Rider, the boat is going to turn, so shut it down


The Exception

Now that you know the essential water-sports hand signals, let\'s talk about the one exception: When the rider must communicate to the driver that he\'s ready to be pulled up. After all, letting go of the handle with one hand isn\'t the best way to do a deep-water start. When you\'re ready to go, don\'t yell "Go" or "No," because they can be mistaken for one another. Here are some good alternatives to "I am ready"


"Hit it"

The classic. Also, the title of a great wakeboard movie from 1996 that you should check out.

"Make it happen, Cap’n”

Lets the driver know that you are not only ready to ride, but ready to have a good time.


Some will catch on that you are giving a shout out to Storage Wars.


For the cowboys and cowgirls out there. 


Shaun Murray has been a professional wakeboarder and wakeboarding coach for the better part of two decades. He’s a four-time world champion, the head coach at Aktion Parks, and the creator of Wake MD, a wakeboard instructional iPhone app.

Have a look at our articles for more wakeboarding tips as well as other relevant boating information!

For more information regarding the best boats for watersports click here