The rocker refers to the shape difference between the tip and tail of the wakeboard and the center of the bottom of the board. This is easiest to see when the board is laying on a flat surface and viewed from the side. There are two main types of rocker lines (with a few hybrids in-between): 3-stage and continuous. The differences between the two are fairly simple and relatively intuitive. A continuous rocker is just like it sounds, one uninterrupted curve from tip through tail. A continuous rockered board will provide a smooth even ride which will be very predicable and consistent. This type of rocker will also slice through the water with a minimum of friction and will ride much faster allowing the rider to generate a greater amount of speed when heading into the wake. This will result in a wake to flats type of pop off the wake.
The 3-stage rocker on the other hand will ride quite differently. When the board is laid flat on the ground you will notice that through the center section part of the board (length of section can vary greatly by model) will be flush with the ground, or flat. At the end of each boards flat spot you will see the tip and tail suddenly raise off the ground at an angle, forming a ‘kink’ in the boards shape (think dinner plate, flat in the middle, angled edges). When a three-stage board hits the wake the angled tip rides up it similar to the continuous, but instead of continuing to slice through the flat spot of the boards hits the wake next and pops the board up off the wake creating a wake to wake type of pop. Due to the shape of the board more friction is created while riding through the water so some speed is sacrificed in order to gain this extra, explosive pop. In general continuous boards are great for beginners, people looking for a smooth carving, ‘soul’ ride, or people who like to generate a ton of speed and pop way out into the flats. A three-stage board is best for people who really enjoy the high arcing wake to wake pop.
You’ll also see boards advertised as ‘mellow 3-stage’ or ‘hybrid continuous’, these are all variations on the two classic rocker lines and try to maintain the on water ride of the continuous shape with the pop of a 3-stage. These boards tend to make great all-around crowd pleasers.