Progression and skills

One of the great joys of kitesurfing is learning new techniques. There is very considerable scope for ongoing progression of your kitesurfing skills. The following progressions are indicative only. Take things at your own pace.

This information about skills and progressions for kitesurfing is to help beginner and intermediate kiters to get going quickly and safely.

Buy a trainer kite that you can use on the beach or in a park to learn basic kite handling skills. This will accelerate your learning curve when undergoing instruction.


Do not learn to fly a full size kitesurfing kite on a beach or any other land - this is the most dangerous place to fly your kite. If you are a novice, take lessons and head out into the water at a safe location to learn.

Lessons with professional instruction (3 - 5 lessons):

    • Safety release drill, including "throw the bar"

    • Self rescue technique, winding kite lines in after reefing an outside line, get to the kite, secure it and float in

    • Water re-launch of kite

    • Body dragging

    • Putting your board on your feet in the water, lying back, then flying the kite keeping the board downwind

    • Water start (also known as a Board start), initiated by diving the kite into the power zone.

    • Up and going, regulate kite power (bar out!), edging the board. You will travel downwind and then do the "walk of shame" back up the beach.

    • Upwind body dragging

    • Changing direction by stopping then heading back the other way.

After you have mastered these skills under instruction you can then have a go on your own. Learning the basics is a key platform for your personal kitesurfing journey. At this point, persistence pays off! It might take another 5 sessions before you move to the next and most significant progression - staying upwind.

An additional 2-3 lessons may accelerate your learning curve at this point

Staying up wind and building skills (20-30 sessions)

    • Edging the board, flying the kite to the front of the wind window, pressure on the rear leg and foot.

    • Small jumps off waves: keep the power on, launch off the lip, spot your landing and keep going (all in same direction)

    • Keep the power in the kite when turning - avoiding a water start for each turn

    • Your first downwind tour - heaps of fun

    • Changing direction - slide turn

    • Changing direction - Heel turn jibe

    • Self launching kite (instruction recommended for this)

    • Self landing kite (instruction recommended for this)

Refresh your knowledge of the basics to keep yourself safe when you are out without an instructor by your side.

Intermediate skills: toeside riding, bigger jumps and carving (30-50 sessions)

    • Riding toeside is a good skill for improving your technique, and is almost essential when using a directional board

    • Slalom turns: change direction by carving a fast turn from heelside to toeside

    • Bigger jumps: edge the board, send the kite up and pull the bar down, pop, fly the kite forward in direction of jump, land

    • Spicing up your Jumping with Inverts and grabs - building on the basics of jumping with stable tricks

    • Downloop turns: fly the kite down through 180 degrees to generate more power through the turn

    • Kiteloops on the water in light wind and when going downwind (not jumping)

    • Beach starts can allow you to get out easier through shore breaks and avoid rip currents

Carving heelside t
Kitesurfing toeside
Andre Phillip riding toeside

Stronger winds, some basic tricks (50+ sessions)

    • Back roll (and rotations) is a fun easy trick to learn

    • Kite in 30-40 knot winds (only with appropriate small kite size!)

    • Jibe turns using a directional board (swapping your feet)

    • Duck tacks and strapless tacks on surfboards allow you to turn without losing ground.

    • Jump transition turns - air gybes

    • Riding unhooked

    • Slalom turns down wind alternating between heelside and toeside

    • Getting out through the surf

    • Getting onto a wave

    • Wave riding with the kite "parked"

For more details see Wave riding.

Advanced skills (80+ sessions)

There are a multitude of transitions and tricks to keep you occupied for a lifetime, including mega loops, riding blind, handlepasses, mobes, backrolls with a kiteloop etc.

See Advanced Skills for more information.

This early video shows what can be done by an accomplished kitesurfer.

Kiting trick bag log

Tarren Peters has created a kiting trick bag log that you can use to track your overall progress on skills and tricks.

External links

There are some excellent resources available for basic and advanced tricks - no point reinventing the wheel. iKiteSurf have some excellent progression articles and videos available, such as: