You probably don’t need me to tell you that water sports can be intense—just you, your equipment, and mother nature coming together in a beautiful struggle.
But what if I told you there’s a water sport that captures that intensity without taking weeks of practice for beginners to grasp?
Take it from me:
As a guy who grew up around every water activity you can think of, kneeboarding provides some of the most underrated bliss you can experience on the water.
And while it still requires some learning by wipeout (what doesn’t?), there are many reasons why you’ll pick it up quickly and enjoy it. We’ll take an in-depth look at those, along with some kneeboarding tips and what to look for in a product.
While finding boards suitable for beginners can be confusing, I’ll help you sort that out so you can be ready to glide right into action on the waters.
Why Kneeboarding is a Water Sport Worth Learning to Love for Beginners
I was introduced to kneeboarding at a young age. While I’d already been surfing and wakeboarding for years, my young self still wanted to try out every kind of board that could float.
It didn’t take long to understand what makes kneeboarding a unique experience that continues to impress me today.
For one, kneeboarding has a lower learning curve than many other water sports, so there’s less intimidation for beginners.
Being on your knees lowers your center of gravity, which adds tighter control, especially for novices.
Kneeboarding also works different parts of the body. You’ll find new strength in muscles you weren’t aware you even had, and the increased athleticism carries over to other water sports.
Kneeboarding enthusiasts also point to safety. Being closer to the water, the impact of wipeouts is often reduced. I know my body has appreciated the softer crashes many a time.
What I truly like about kneeboarding is how the experience is so scalable.
Kneeboarding is a fine introduction to water sports for younger kids or those with little background.
But it also allows for freedom of tricks, techniques, and mastery for those who become passionate.
That’s why I recommend kneeboarding to all kinds of beginners, whether they are water-obsessed pals who just haven’t added kneeboarding to the repertoire, or newcomers who have some interest but are hesitant around the water.
Beginners and children especially will benefit from the ease of balance, friendlier wipeouts, lower learning curve, and flexible skill cap involved in kneeboarding.
Tips for Getting Started with Kneeboarding
Use a Strong Ski Rope for Proper Riding
60 to 70 feet is a good, comfortable rope length for beginning kneeboarders. In addition, a low-stretch rope with wide handle is best for recreational kneeboard riding.
Rely on your Board’s Hook until you’re Comfortable
The hook on a beginner’s kneeboard will help you get used to being pulled by boat and holding the rope.
Until you get used to gripping the rope yourself, you can slip the handle of your rope onto the hook to make it easier to get on your board while moving.
Strap Yourself in if You’re New for Extra Safety
Your board will probably have a velcro strap which can be used to secure yourself. Adjust it and strap it over your thighs as you are starting to kneeboard.
Follow these Simple Steps to get Riding
Lay flat on your stomach while holding the sides of your board and your hook in place. Move your knees into the kneepads of your board as the boat starts moving.
When ready, allow the boat to add some speed. Now, lean back into a solid kneeling stance.
Remove the handle from the hook and hold it tight with your arms outstretched and palms facing down inches apart.
It’s time to ride! Steer yourself by leaning your body in your desired direction. Be steady and patient, and soon you’ll feel comfortable.
The real fun begins as you dive deeper into the world of kneeboarding and continue to improve.
What to Look for in a Beginner Kneeboard
Recreational vs Competitive Kneeboards
Recreational kneeboards are the perfect choice for beginners. They are a nice step above being pulled by tube without advancing right to wakeboarding or something more difficult.
Recreational kneeboards feature wide edges for turning ease and a thick rotational molding. This board can withstand some punishment and also acts as an excellent flotation device.
Competitive kneeboards are designed for advanced performance only.
While they don’t serve our beginner purposes, they are typically sharp-edged, compression-molded, light-weight, and may contain rockers and fins to impact the board’s speed and turning.
Slalom vs Trick Kneeboards
Kneeboards are also sorted by slalom or trick, regardless of being recreational or competitive.
Slalom boards have sharper edges for better turns and even riding, while trick boards are more rounded to bust out big stunts and flips.
The choice of slalom or trick board depends on your goals as a kneeboarder.
Kneeboard Hooks Help Beginners
Kneeboard hooks are essential for beginners and kids so they can be pulled along by boat while safely learning to hold the tow rope.
Any quality beginner kneeboard will have this board hook. If and when you become better at kneeboarding, you won’t have to rely on it.
Safety and Comfort
Finally, padding for your knees and an adjustable safety strap should round out a respectable beginner kneeboard.
You can imagine the discomfort of poor padding when you are spending a chunk of time with your knees buried in your board. Make sure any board you consider rates at least bearable in that regard.
A safety strap won’t be necessary once you get used to kneeboarding, but it’s a good thing to have as you start. The strap will keep you secure on the board while learning.
Reviews of Best Kneeboards for Beginners
- SereneLife Water Sport Kneeboard
The SereneLife Water Sport Kneeboard combines excellent all-around performance for beginners with the lightest overall weight of our picks. At under 9 pounds and with 50” by 20” dimensions, this kneeboard is comfortable for transporting without sacrificing the durability of a recreational kneeboard. Whenever you want to go out for some kneeboarding, this handy board will be convenient to bring along.
It also comes fully featured with everything you need in a beginner kneeboard, including the adjustable strap for security, a hook for easier towing, foam padding to give your knees a break, and a universal fit so that anyone can give it a ride.
The high-grade construction should allow for years of enjoyable kneeboarding and good times with friends and family. As a pure starter board, there’s a ton of quality here for a sensible price, which is a win for interested newcomers.
- Lightest of our recreational kneeboard picks
- Padding is built to last
- Fits kids and adults with no hassle
- Convenient dimensions for storage
- Some comfort issues with longer rides
- No fins
- O’Brien Voodoo Kneeboard
Looking good and riding right are what this kneeboard is all about. With a striking bright green, blue, and black color scheme, the O’Brien Voodoo Kneeboard will leave you under a spell before dazzling with its performance, even for beginners.
You’ll be cutting through the waters with ease thanks to the small integrated fins, while the ¾” EVA foam keeps your knees snug and protected on long rides. The universal fit has no problems handling young kids to fully grown adults, even supporting taller and heavier users easily.
The hook is convenient and the adjustable safety strap is thick, which means there’s no risk of failure on even the roughest rides. The board’s roto-molding construction is also thick, so don’t be afraid to put some wear and tear on it while riding. And when you wipe out, the board will be floating along for you to grab onto and pull yourself right back on.
With style and substance, this board is a powerful tool on your water sports journey. And if or as you get better, this one still has some extra juice you can squeeze out of it before upgrading.
- Integrated fins give more steering control than expected
- ¾” EVA foam is nice on your knees
- Thick adjustable strap is extra safe and secure
- The fin style doesn’t allow for spins
- At 15 pounds it’s a little heavy
- Leader Accessories Kneeboard
Speaking of a kneeboard with great beginner riding capabilities, the Leader Accessories Kneeboard is packed with everything you need and more. Integrated fins are combined with beveled edges to give you superior control over your movements. You’ll skim through the water effortlessly, and you’ll be even closer to the surface for added balance.
In terms of comfort, a durable ¾” EVA padding awaits your grateful knees. And just in case padding for the knees isn’t enough, this board is generous enough to include padding on the strap, so your legs won’t be irritated even when locked in tight. It also includes the hook you’ll need as a beginner, as well as universal fitting and rotational molding construction.
This also happens to be a lightweight board with more compact dimensions for a recreational board. If you end up frequently using your board, your arms will appreciate the lighter load. Should you need to travel and transport by car, bringing this board along should be a piece of cake.
The Lead Accessories Kneeboard proves once again that surprising things often come in unexpected packages.
- Integrated fins and beveled edges pump extra performance
- Padding on both knee inserts and safety strap
- Lightweight and compact for a recreational board
- While universal, not the greatest fit for bigger people
- Driftsun 2018 Charger Kneeboard
The Driftsun 2018 Charger Kneeboard sets out to do something a little different from your average beginner kneeboard. Not content to settle for the minimum, the Driftsun adds a focus on performing tricks on this recreational kneeboard. With a ‘V’-shaped hull, the rounded shape you want, progressive edge, and no fins to restrict movement, the Driftsun lets you have some freedom to perform spins not usually possible on recreational kneeboards.
Besides that, the board’s built-in hook uses an Easy-Up design to aid riders starting in deeper water. The roto-molded build with EPS foam core is as solid as can be in terms of durability. The EVA foam knee pads are placed deep enough to cushion the spins and jumps you’ll undoubtedly try to perform on this bad boy. It’s universal fit means that maybe mom and dad would like to surprise you with some 360° spins too.
Beginner kneeboards aren’t supposed to be trick boards, but that’s exactly what the Driftsun accomplishes. This is a cool board for those who want to push themselves for improvement, as you’ll unlock the Driftsun’s potential and feed a new passion for kneeboard tricks.
- Round shape and overall design choices encourage spins
- Easy-Up hook for starts in deep water
- Excellent build quality for the price
- A few minor strap issues
- No fins for control
Choosing the Overall Best Kneeboard for Beginners
In many ways, you can’t go wrong with any of our beginner kneeboard picks. They all have similar construction, essential features, and fair pricing. But it’s when you look a little closer that the nuances emerge, along with a clear winner.
My suggestion for the beginner board with the best combination of performance and usability is the Leader Accessories Kneeboard.
With great pricing, design choices for advanced control, and portability for taking it on the road, it’s the one kneeboard that strikes the right balance for beginner use.
While every board had some standout qualities (and boy do I adore the beginner tricking potential of the Driftsun), the Leader Accessories board just had enough across the board to give it an easy recommendation.
You’ll be well on your way to exploring the ins and outs of kneeboarding with the Leader Accessories kneeboard, and there’s enough there to keep learning for a while before an upgrade is required.
I hope you fall in love with kneeboarding in the same way I did when I first took it up as a child.
It’s a hidden gem among waters sports, as a gateway for more difficult ventures or as something worthy of mastering for its own sake.