How Does Scoring Work In Wakeboarding?

How Does Scoring Work In Wakeboarding

Wakeboarding is a lake sport where athletes strap a board onto both feet and ride on top of the water as a rope attached to the end of a boat pulls them. Professional wakeboarders compete by doing tricks as they are pulled behind the boat. Many use the wake created by the boat as a ramp to launch themselves. Judges determine players' scores by noting their skill, style, and tricks while riding on their wakeboard.

How Do You Score Points in Wakeboarding?

Judges score points in wakeboarding based on their discretion, experience, judgment, and knowledge. There are two main ways that judges score players:

  • They give a player a score out of 100 based on that player’s execution, intensity, and consistency.
  • They give a player a score out of 20 based on a run’s difficulty, consistency, size, and creativity.

Judges then use these scores to rate the contestants in a wakeboarding competition. The highest-rated player wins.


Judges entirely determine a wakeboarder’s score. There is no handbook that details how certain tricks and faults must be scored. Instead, judges use their judgment, experience, knowledge, and discretion to determine a player’s score.

Each wakeboarding match requires three or more judges. The judges then score a wakeboarder based on the quality of their tricks. The quantity of tricks means nothing in a wakeboarding competition. Judges score players based on the quality of the trick alone. A trick’s score is independent of others.

Judges calculate a rider’s score for the heat or match based solely on their one run. Past performances and personal fame do nothing to improve or undercut a rider’s score. While tricks are independent of others, they have an effect on the player’s run as a whole.

A couple of very poor tricks could sully an otherwise great run. For this reason, judges emphasize quality over quantity. Every trick is used when determining a player’s score on the run; thus, eight massive great tricks are better than nine equally great tricks and two fails.

Judging Criteria

While there are no set rules for judging particular tricks, judges do have an outline with which they organize their thoughts. Then, judges give or take away points, at their sole discretion, based on the criteria below.

Standard Three-Category Judging Format

One method that judges use to score contestants is the Standard Three-Category Judging Format. With this outline, players are able to receive 100 total points for a run.

  • Execution: Judgements made regarding the difficulty of tricks completed, how well a rider executed their tricks, and the cleanliness of the ride as a whole (number of falls or errors).
  • Intensity: How difficult was the performance as a whole? Judges use this category to organize their thoughts regarding a run’s difficulty and strenuous nature. Here, they may ask questions about the size of the tricks completed and how much air a contestant got while performing.
  • Composition: Judges use this category to score the run as a whole. The best scores go to the runs that involve tricks that flow well together in a coherent sequence. Choppy runs would get a bad score in this category.

Four-Category Judging Format

Another outline that judges could use when rating a wakeboarder's performance is the Four Category Judging Format. With this outline, players are able to receive a maximum of 20 total points for a run.

  • Difficulty: Judges rate a contestant on their mastery of the sport of wakeboarding. They judge a rider based on their technique, skill, and ability.
  • Consistency: This category relies heavily on the uniqueness that a rider brings to their run. Riders that vary their tricks and customize them with their own unique style score high here. Also, this category pays special attention to the run as a whole. Riders who consistently land tricks and have few errors will score higher than others.

Judges use the Difficulty and Consistency score to give a rider a Technical Score out of 10, accounting for half of their overall performance score.

  • Size: A larger Size score is given to the riders that blow the judges away with their tricks. Bigger and more impressive tricks yield the best Size scores.
  • Creativity: Judgements made involving how well a contestant uses their time. Contestants that utilize suspense and interweave tricks together score best in this category.

Judges use the Size and Creativity scores to give a rider an Artistic Score out of 10, accounting for half of their overall performance score.

Falls and Scoring

One fall during a run does not negatively impact a rider’s score. However, it can harm their overall performance because it may throw off a rider’s next trick or mess with their overall time. More than one fall will hurt a rider’s Consistency or Composition scores. Some competitions place a quota on the number of falls allowed.

Judges score a contestant by observing their run and making marks on their outlines. They may place a number near each category or put pluses or minuses on their paper. Those markings do not mean anything in particular; they are only there to help a judge tally the overall scores at the end of a rider’s run. The contestants with the best markings will receive the highest scores.

Final Scoring

The judges put all of their markings together and give each rider a placement. The riders are ranked with these placement numbers. The best is given the highest number, and the lowest is given the lowest number. These placement scores override all the previously made numeric scores.

In the case of a tie, judges then take an average of the tied players’ numeric scores and compare them. The higher score wins. If this also results in a tie, the judges look at each of the tied players’ median scores (the score in the middle of the range of scores). The player with the higher median score wins.