How long does it take to learn to Kiteboard?

Kiteboarding is a Technical sport: Kiteboarding is a technical sport, you need to master the kite before you can get onto the board. “KITE-BOARDING” as the name suggests is actually 2 sports combined; Kite-Flying and Board-riding. 

Kite-Boarding is a Combination sport that has two skill sets: “Kite Skills” and “Board Skills”. Some people come with pre-existing skills from say “wakeboarding” or “Power kite flying” or even “Snowkiting”, and the progression will be somewhat shorter, but this sport can also be learned by someone with no pre-existing skills at all.

If this is your first board sport or first wind sport: However if this is your first board sport or first wind sport there is a lot to learn, so please do not give yourself unrealistic expectations. Don’t try to be a “total kiteboarding master” in just one day. There is a definite skill set that you must acquire to do this sport safely and without risking injury to others.

Kiteboarding is Not and Intuitive Sport: Kiteboarding is Not and Intuitive Sport, so you cannot figure it out on your own without going through a high-risk and dangerous learning cycle. People can and do have accidents teaching themselves to kite. Having instruction helps reduce the risk, However only Professional IKO certified Instruction is the best way to ensure that risk is managed, and minimized as much as possible.

Learning to kite is not just about steering the kite: Learning to kite is not just about steering the kite and getting on a board, it is also also about learning the common hazards, risks, and risk-avoidance measures that you can use while kiting. IKO Pro-instructors will ensure that your knowledge and risk awareness is on par with your riding ability.

Self-taught kiters are dangerous kiters: Self-taught kiters tend to be dangerous kiters, as they do not know the limits of their abilities and they are not trained to handle the incidents and accidents that are less frequent but inevitable. Just because someone can “ride”, does not mean that they are safe.

How many Lessons Does it Take to Learn?  Learning to kite is a continuum. How well do you want to kite, will determine how many lessons you need. We find that the average person should do 15 hours of training spread over 5 days (3 hours per day) This is the Classic basic Course. After this they should be able to: Assess the conditions, select the proper kite size, set up the gear correctly, launch with assistance, ride out and back, and get themselves back to shore safely, and know the safety technology, trim settings, safe weather conditions, and Emergency self rescue procedures. These are the core Fundamentals of the Sport. However people doing this as their first sailing sport or first water sport will prefer to take a 10 day Course (30 hours of training). 

Is there a faster Way to learn? There is a fast track course for water-sports-people with previous sailing experience and maybe some wake-board experience. We have a 3-day Short Course (9 hours of Private training) designed for “water-sport-athletes”. This covers the very basics of: the function of the gear, and the basic gear handling. Water-sports-athletes will already have a base knowledge of: Sailing theory, wind knowledge, sail trim theory, a high degree of comfort in the water. Plus they will already have experience riding a board, like a wake-board and or windsurf board etc. They will probably have pre-existing  knowledge about dangerous weather and know the sailing rules too.

Can I learn to Kite in One day?  The answer is No, you can learn to steer a kite in one day, but that does not make you a kiteboarder. To be a kiteboarder you need to know how to be safe, avoid accidents, and be able to handle your kite in emergency situations, and that means you need more training under the guidance of a professional instructor. If you try to go and kite on your own, after just one day training you will be a danger to yourself and endanger everyone around you.

Can I do  single Day Lesson? the Answer is YES. you can do lessons “One day at a time”. If you are not in a hurry and do not intend on going solo, you can do your training by installments. Many people sign up for a single lesson, just to “see if they like it” and then do more lessons when they have more time/money/motivation. We also have many people passing through, who will do training for a day or two with us, and then go to another location and do more training. We are part of the exclusive “IKO International School Network”, that is set up for exactly this. You can pass between IKO schools and transfer your knowledge and training.


STEP 1 – Trainer Kites & Ground School

Trainer Kite Ground school - Maui Sports Unlimited

When trying kiteboarding for the first time we will start you on the trainer kites on the land to get all your steering skills, we call this ground school. The Trainer kites are not exactly like the kites you flew as a kid. They are mini-versions of the traction kites you will be using, to give you the simulator effect to learn the skills you will be using in the water later. Our trainers can be quite powerful, with about one half to one third of the full power you will be using later. During the ground school you will learn about the wind, steering theory, some safety skills, and visual communication that we will be using on the water. While flying the trainers you will be assisted and guided by your instructor who will give you vital feedback and information. Using a trainer kite properly serves as a functional simulator that is programming your brain and muscles to learn the kite steering so it becomes instinctive. The first sessions are the most influential in creating the correct kiteboarding reflexes.

**This stage is absolutely vital to long term success, as it will become your core programming, that all other skills will be built on.

STEP 2 –  Intro to the LEI De-Power Kite

The next step we get onto the larger LEI (Leading Edge Inflatable Kites) and show you the power system. You learn the setup and function of the kite and control system. Also how to handle and carry the kite. The larger kiter have more power, but they can be adjusted to vary the power you use. These kites are what we take into the water because they have the ability to  float and relaunch from the water. These LEI kites are inflated with air so that they can float, and you learn how to relaunch them from the water. The LEI Kite has a 4line control system. You will learn how to set up and use the 4-line bar system and operate its safety systems and trim adjustments. The goal is that you thoroughly understand the equipment setup procedure so that you can assemble and setup kite gear on your own without making mistakes.

**A badly setup kite can cause an accident, and the correct setup procedure needs to be mastered to avoid unnecessary accidents now and in the future. Your instructor will show you several basic setup procedures, and the specifics of the system you are using. be aware that there are different systems out there, and they may require variations in setup. Your IKO instructor will teach you the best “most universal” setup procedures that applies to 90% of kites and locations out there. And they will make you aware that you will also need to familiarize yourself with every different type of system you may use in the future.

STEP 3 –  Kitesailing

Learning to Handle the LEI Kite in the water. In this step we take you into the water for perhaps the most important lesson in kiteboarding: “Kitesailing” where you will learn how to manage a kite in the water and learn how to turn your Kite into your lifeboat/rescue boat, and use the wind power to get you back to the beach. This skill could one day save your life in an emergency. This step is absolutely essential step to becoming an independent kiteboarder. If you have already done some lessons, but not done this skill, you should learn it asap. We ensure that all students passing through our school learn this and know this critical skill. if you do not know this skill then you are not completely trained and not a self-sufficient kiteboarder.

**Some kiters have only a theoretical knowledge of this skill which is insufficient, because only real hands-on practical training will properly prepare you to use this skill in an emergency.

STEP 4 –  Fly the LEI Kite

Learning to Fly the LEI Kite on land in order to have basic kite control, includes exercises in steering and power control with the kite in the air, as well as launching and landing procedures, wind angles, testing the safety systems, one handed flying, harness flying, catching and launching kites as an assistant, and self landing procedures. You will learn about the wind window and wind theory. The only way to truly learn is with hands-on experience, your instructor demonstrates and then closely supervises your practice so you do not have an accident. They also provide feedback, and interventions if necessary. They also ensure that your kite is not too big or overpowered for the conditions. Using a kite that is too big at this stage is dangerous. Even thought this is a training exercise, there are real risks involved, we are using a lot more power and we need to learn to control the power before proceeding to the next phase.

**Your IKO Instructor has special training methods and specific training exercises that allow learning with minimal risk, in addition they are adapting equipment specifically to suit the task and facilitate the learning process.

STEP 5 –  The Body Drag

Once you have mastered all your LEI kite skills on land we go into the water and do some body surfing behind the kite. This is a critical phase needed to master the kite before getting onto the board. Body surfing (aka “body-dragging”) is lots of fun, and you really get to experience the feeling of power that the kite can produce.  You will usually go in the water first with your instructor in a “tandem body drag”, this is where they will demonstrate the procedures and skills in live action sequence. after the tandem drag, they may then hand over control to you, and accompany you on your first runs as you pilot the kite in the water the first few tries. Once you are ready, your instructor will send you out Solo. you will learn to operate the kite in the water by yourself, including steering power control body positioning, and crashing and relaunching the kite, which is a vital skill as well.

In this phase you will learn how to fly the kite one-handed and body drag in control upwind in both directions. You will also learn the self-landing, and most importantly how to stop the kite (in an emergency) and depower it completely whenever you want. Your instructor will also teach you how to relaunch your kite after a crash. There are several different ways (basically 6 positions) to do this, and they are situational.

**You will first learn how to body-drag downwind using the power of the kite, and then you will learn how to use your body and kite together to sail across the wind and “tack” to a point upwind.

STEP 6 –  The Board Drag

Next step of your evolution is we add the board into the equation. we show you how to hold and carry the board into the water while flying the kite one handed. There is a higher degree of kite control needed than flying with two hands. You are essentially multi tasking, so you need to be able to fly the kite instinctively, and without consonantly watching it.

**This skill is also essential for recovering a lost board after a wipe-out. The goal is to be able to body drag with the board to a point upwind and not lose ground. And also be able to body drag upwind to recover a loose board floating in the water.

Learning to fly the kite by feel is an important step in the progression. Once in the water you will learn how to body drag using the board as a keel. This is not as easy as it looks, it is a skill that can be mastered with the proper exercises and feedback.  You will learn how to go back and forth across the wind by tacking and changing the board from hand to hand while flying the kite, and not crashing the kite. You will learn how to recover a lost board by body-dragging upwind to get it.

STEP 7 –  The Steady Pull

Waterstart Lesson kiteboarding progression - Maui Sports Unlimited

Next step of your evolution is we teach you how to put the board onto your feet and prepare for the waterstart. You will learn how to body drag with the board, and then maneuver it to put it onto your feet. This is called the “pre-waterstart position”. Before you water-start you will need to first master dragging along with the board on your feet. and keeping your alignment and balance. This step is called “steady pull”.

In this step you will learn steering with the board on your feet, and to do the “power-stroke” with the kite, that you will need to get onto the board and ride. You must learn to use the board and kite together, and balance and align the forces. You will learn dynamic kite flying and how to use your board and body to help steer as you fly the kite.

**Our instructors are in the water with you until you have demonstrated enough control and kite skill to go Solo on your own, Then you will learn how to do a successful water-start and start to ride on the board.

STEP 8 –  The Water Start

After you have completed the Steady Pull phase, you will be able to increase power and do a full fledged water start. You will generate enough power to pull yourself up out of the water and onto the board. Doing a successful waterstart is dependent on your having mastered the prior skills, as well as having the knowledge of the technique, At this stage critical instructor feedback is essential to successfully complete this task.

STEP 9 –  Riding the Board

Maui Sports Unlimited Kiteboarding School -

At this stage you will be popping up on the board and getting short rides. As you continue to get feedback and correction from your instructor your success will improve, short runs get longer and you will learn how to control speed while riding, and how to use the board to steer. You will learn how to shift your weight to edge the board, and control speed by edging and stop the board without crashing. As you get longer runs, you will get to spend more time riding the board and less time walking back up the beach.

Your success in riding will depend on having the skills to make corrections to the kite and board while riding, this phase is more subtle that the big movements needed to water-start. Another thing that you will need to learn is how to be comfortable riding fast, and not get scared when it happens. Keeping cool and making good decisions will help at this stage.

**As you repeat these runs, your muscles will be learning to automate many of the basic functions, and reflexes will form. This allows you to put more skills on auto pilot, while your brain concentrates on the finer points of doing a task. Your instructor will give you additional knowledge and feedback, and set you more complex tasks to help you reach your goals.

STEP 10 –  Riding Upwind

Maui Sports Unlimited Kiteboarding School -

Riding Upwind: Riding Upwind is a major achievement. this means that you have steering control and speed control mastered. Also you will learn the theory of riding upwind. Upwind riding is a combination of several factors that must be done together to reach a goal point upwind. This skill involves developing a strategy that includes dealing with changing conditions and making adjustments while riding. Upwind riding is a strategic skill, that involves the mastery of the basic skill sets that came before. Riding upwind means that when you launch at one place that you can return to the same point without going downwind, and then you can even go to a point farther upwind than you started.

**Usually the first time you ride upwind, may be in ideal conditions. Then you will need to reinforce this skill, and be able to repeat it in a variety of conditions, until you can ride consistently upwind.

STEP 11 –  Jibe Turns

Jibe Turns are also called transitions, and it is when you can turn around and change directions without crashing or stopping. there are many different types of transitions. The downwind transitions are called “Jibes”. Doing a successful Jibe can be learned relatively quickly (compered to windsurfing) with an experienced IKO Kiteboarding instructor. Jibe sessions can be taught on land and in the water. Usually a combination of theory and on water training is used. We often use radio helmets at this stage to give proper feedback. Jibes are usually taught in combination with other skills.

**It is important that your instructor trouble-shoots any other issues that you may have, such as body position, stance, gear setup, or technical problems, so that these issues do not prevent you from achieving success in the Jibe Lesson.

STEP 12 –  First Jumps

Jumping is going to happen when you kite, it can be planned or unplanned. When you make an unplanned jump, the outcome will be decided by your skill set. When you learn how to jump correctly you will be able to manage the kite and board in the air, and ensure that you do not have too many hard crashes. Then with these skills you can decide when and where you can jump, and enjoy the fun and function of controlled jumping. Jumping also is a vita skill when riding in rough surf, or to avoid obstacles in the water. So it has a utility and function that is ultimately essential for a complete kiteboarder skill set.

**Jumping is potentially dangerous, because the rider loses contact with the water and thereby loses the ability to control and steer the board. This can lead to hard crashes and complex failures. Jumping sessions and lessons need to be closely supervised and managed to ensure proper safety is taught. Also your instructor will give immediate feedback to stop you from repeating any mistakes, or taking any unnecessary risks. This reduces the chance of injury.

Advanced Skills Lessons:

Clarissa_raley_kitebeach Maui Sports Unlimited kiteboarding school

After you have mastered the basics, there  is still a lot to learn. Most kiters will benefit from an advanced lesson. We teach a wide variety of techniques and styles in advanced lessons. These are taught as ride-along lessons with our instructors riding close to you. Whatever skills you want to master, we have a class for that. boosting higher jumps, speed-kiting, spins, aerial transitions, handle passes, kite loops, You may want to learn wakeboard style tricks. We can help you make a smooth transition into more advanced moves and gear.

What to Expect from a Professional IKO Kiteboarding Instructor:
  • IKO Certified Instructors: Our Professional Instructors are patient and will make sure that you always have a manageable kite size, so that you will learn control and get confidence faster.
  • Pro Instructors will do a risk assessment before and during each session to ensure that safe weather, environment, and equipment is maintained.
  • Pro-instructors will also ensure that you learn to do your own risk evaluations before kiting sessions.
  • They will ensure that you learn what are the safe conditions, best winds, and hazards to avoid.
  • The risk assessment is knowledge and skill that every kiteboarder needs to be safe and not risk injuries to others.
  • Pro instructors also have the skills and experience to prevent most accidents, and can intercede in dangerous situations, and do emergency rescues.
  • Even with all of its safety innovations, kiteboarding is fundamentally and ostensibly an extreme outdoor sport. There is always the risk of serious injury and death.

Safety during and after Lessons: Kiteboarding training should be taken seriously and proper instruction from a trained and IKO Certified Instructor ensures that you will receive the proper training. Proper training makes you safer during your lessons, and It also increases your safety after your lessons, when you are kiting independently on your own.

About the IKO training Program:

UNIVERSAL TECHNIQUE: The IKO Kiteboarding Instructor will provide you with a tried and tested “Universal Technique”, that can be safely used in the widest range of conditions and locations. The IKO Ensures that instructors only teach the “Universal Techniques” derived from its Global Experience and international Instructor Network.

Teaching Method: IKO Methods are developed professionally, and rigorously tested and thoroughly proven before they are officially “IKO sanctioned”. Once methodology is officially sanctioned, then it is Approved for use across the Global Network. Thousands of the worlds best IKO Kiteboarding Instructors contribute to the development and refinement of IKO methods, and they are constantly re-evaluated and updated.

Teaching Standards: IKO trainers & Instructors are required to teach up to the IKO’s High teaching Standards using the Approved methods, to ensure consistency and safety for trainees and graduates, and all participants across the kiteboarding community.

Universal Technique: Learning the IKO’s Universal Technique ensures that students will be able to “Safely” apply their IKO training when they travel or use a variety of gear. Proper training ensures more safety during the training, but more importantly ensures that they will be protected when using the training after their lessons, during the student’s future experiences.


Beware of Imposters: Untrained, un-certified instructors will happily take you money, but they often teach dangerous techniques and often skip the most important steps in your training. This is gambling with your life, because the skill they skip, will be the one that you will eventually need, in an emergency,  and that skill might have prevented serious injury to yourself or someone else. Some untested amateur teaching techniques pass along bad knowledge, that becomes a ticking time bomb,  when used in certain conditions.

PLEASE NOTE: *There are many techniques that cannot be transferred to different equipment or different locations. We have seen many examples of amateur instruction causing dangerous conditions for kiters who attempt to re-use the bad training and methods in extreme situations.