Selecting a Kneeboard

Blue and white HO sports renegade kneeboard

The HO Sports Renegade Kneeboard features a diamond tip and tail for quick and easy release off the wake.

By Tom Burden, last updated 6/7/2019

If you are looking for a unique watersport that is similar to waterskiing and just as thrilling, kneeboarding is for you. Kneeboarding offers new challenges and thrills, but having the right equipment for your size and ability is essential to enjoy the sport.

Kneeboarding requires less physical skill and effort compared to other watersports such as wakeboarding or waterskiing, and is considered a good “gateway”, or introductory sport for watersports novices. Kneeboarding is a family-oriented sport that can be fun and exciting for everyone, regardless of age or athletic ability.

Required equipment includes a tow rope, a kneeboard and a boat that can go about 15 to 20mph. Kneeboarding starts are relatively simple and the rider does not need to travel very quickly.

Types of Kneeboards

Recreational Kneeboards

Most recreational kneeboarders use a roto-molded board, which is widely available and less expensive than high-tech styles

  • The soft, wide edges of roto-molded boards are best for beginners
  • The design allows for smooth turning and good control for even the novice kneeboarder
  • The boards are relatively thick and very buoyant, so they help act as a flotation device after a spill
  • Some roto-molded boards offer fins to help make turning easier

Competitive Kneeboards

  • Compression-molded boards offer more performance and durability for the advanced kneeboarder
  • These are thinner, lighter and have sharper edges to allow more radical turning and tricks
  • Compression-molded boards are not as buoyant as roto-molded versions, which allows advanced kneeboarders to perform deep-water starts
green and black wakeboard tow rope

This 70' Wakeboard Tow Rope has an EVA-wrapped grip with a floating aluminum core.

Board Styles

Trick boards have rounded bottom and edges.

Slalom boards have sharper edges for tighter turns and better edge holding during turns.

Rocker is the measurement of the curve on the bottom of the kneeboard. More rocker allows easier turns; flatter rocker—more speed. Most kneeboards have a rocker of 5 to 6 centimeters (2" to 2 3/8").

Selecting the Right Rope

Kneeboard ropes vary in length, but most are 60' to 70' long. Kneeboarders, require a stiffer, lower stretch rope than water skiers to help perform tricks. A tighter, stiffer rope that does not stretch helps you get more air and be able to pull yourself through flips and spins.

Multi-purpose low stretch ropes are generally made from polyethylene or a polyethylene blend. These generally stretch around one percent in length when under a normal kneeboarding load. If you spend time both skiing and kneeboarding and are an occasional, recreational boarder, a low-stretch rope will give some stretch for waterskiing, with enough stiffness to pull against while you’re kneeboarding.

No-stretch ropes are constructed using Dyneema, which is very strong and has almost no stretch. They stretch less than half a percent when under a normal load.

Most kneeboard handles have a wider grip than water ski handles. Kneeboard handles commonly have grips that are 13-15" wide, and ski handles are generally 11-12" wide. The increased grip width makes it easier to perform tricks requiring the handle to be passed behind the rider’s back. Kneeboard handles include neoprene foam that keeps the handle floating.

There are two basic grips, the palms-down grip and the baseball bat grip. For the palms-down grip the hands facing downward while holding the ski rope. For the Baseball Bat grip, kneeboarders hold the handle just like a baseball bat.