Contest Advice From Chris Kinsey

Dec 11, 2014

Contests are something that most would love to do, but few get the opportunity to participate in. Contests are a world of their own. Personally, I have a love hate relationship with contests. I love winning, but a contest takes a lot of preparation, both mentally and physically. No matter if you’re new to contests or a contest veteran, I will take you into the realm of competing and give you tips, advice, and perspective on how to handle these events.

Preparing for a contest isn’t easy. It takes dedication. In order to successfully compete and win in your division you’re going to have to train hard. Anyone can show up to a contest for the sake of experience and fun, but only a few will show up in the mindset of taking the win. Getting your cardio up is a huge aspect of contest. You have to be able to wakesurf at your maximum potential for 4 minutes straight. It might sound easy, but I compare contest runs to sprinting a never-ending flight of stairs for 4 minutes. No matter how much effort your style requires, cardio will always be a huge aspect. Once you’re prepared to out exercise Richard Simmons, you can begin mental preparation. Whenever I first started competing, my contest runs always seemed like a blur. The runs would happen so fast that I would forget what I did. I would get into a fight or flight mode, with no opportunity to escape the inevitable. Practice your runs religiously and you will subconsciously remember your practiced run during the contest. It will become second nature to your subconscious mind and your body. Practice your runs over and over again. Knowing your run like the backside of your hand helps whenever you can’t think while under the stress performing your best. You should stretch and warm up right before your actual contest run. This gets your blood flowing and helps you start your run off to a good start. Basic leg stretches, push ups, jumps, and light jogging are all great ways to get your run started off right. Stretching before you ride in general always helps as well. Wakesurfing and flexibility go hand in hand. Being flexible has countless perks for wakesurfing.

I talk to many riders who fear falling. I use my falls to my advantage. During this past season, I was working on a front side big spin. I landed the evasive maneuver in practice 5 times, but have yet to land it in a contest (despite getting ridiculously close, but no matter how close you get, you have to land it to receive credit). I formed my run around this evasive Bigfoot of a trick. I attempted to land all of my tricks the first time I tried them, and then spend all 4 of my falls attempting to land this evasive giant squid. Whatever the trick is that you’re working on, you should spend all of your falls attempting it (unless you fell on something you knew you shouldn’t have fallen on, then land that first). So you fall on something easy that you have landed 100 times before. It happens. Get back up and do not try the trick you just fell on immediately, warm up to it. Chances are that if you get up and immediately try it again, you will do the exact same thing you did the first time. Warm back up and try the other tricks in your repertoire. Distract your mind from the trick you fell on. Whenever the time is right and your mind is clear of your last fall, try the trick you fell on once more. The idea is to not think about the trick you fell on and let your muscle memory take over. If you think about a trick for too long, you will fall. It happens to my students and I all of the time. Overanalyzing always results in the opposite of the intent. If you find that you’re having trouble with a certain trick, take a break from it, try some other things, and come back to it. Whenever I coach, I notice that my students always get the closest to the trick they are attempting the very first time they try it. Then, the more times they attempt the trick, the more clumsy and unprocessed the trick becomes.

Your Run
Your run should show the judges everything that you’re capable of. Whenever I go to contests, I have a set run that I do. This works for me, but not some. I’ve spoken to others who go out, ride, and fly by the seat of their pants. If this works for you then continue this method, but if you’re looking for something more, you’re going to have to create a contest run. Contests consist of 2 passes. Each pass lasts 2 minutes each way. Within each pass you’re allowed 2 falls per pass meaning 4 falls in total. These falls do not count against you. I start off with my hardest tricks right out of the gate. I do this because if I am to fall on a hard trick, I have the rest of my first pass and the rest of my second pass to land the trick. If I land all of my difficult tricks right out of the gate, I have the rest of my first and second pass to rework tricks and to try new tricks that I have been practicing on. Try not to perform a trick twice as the second time usually doesn’t count, unless there is some variation. For example, if I do an air in my run I am not going to repeat it unless I perform the air with a different grab that I haven’t done before. The only reason you should repeat a trick is if you execute it very poorly the first time and there isn’t a doubt in your mind that you can do the trick again exponentially better the second time.

Contests are fun and are a great way to progress. It takes practice and patience to master. Contests are a way for some to spend time as a family or to progress at wakesurfing as an individual. Once you start competing, a new world of wakesurfing is at your disposal. You will meet people with the same interest as you, discover new perspectives, and meet people from all over. It is a great way to learn how to perform under pressure and if you get on the podium, there is a great sense of accomplishment. Visit for contest information and email me personally at if you’re interested in private lessons regarding contests or private lessons for general wakesurfing.


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