Aiming at amplifying the energy productive motion of wave energy converters (WECs) in response to irregular sea waves, the strategies of discrete control presented here feature some major advantages over continuous control, which is known to require, for optimal operation, a bidirectional power take-off able to re-inject energy into the WEC system during parts of the oscillation cycles. Three different discrete control strategies are described: latching control, declutching control and the combination of both, which we term latched–operating–declutched control. It is shown that any of these methods can be applied with great benefit, not only to mono-resonant WEC oscillators, but also to bi-resonant and multi-resonant systems. For some of these applications, it is shown how these three discrete control strategies can be optimally defined, either by analytical solution for regular waves, or numerically, by applying the optimal command theory in irregular waves. Applied to a model of a seven degree-of-freedom system (the SEAREV WEC) to estimate its annual production on several production sites, the most efficient of these discrete control strategies was shown to double the energy production, regardless of the resource level of the site, which may be considered as a real breakthrough, rather than a marginal improvement.