It is a subject we surfers often think of as mindless, but perhaps the most crucial and unique action to the sport of surfing is the pop-up. If you are a beginner, practicing a proper fundamental technique will be a must to avoid developing bad habits throughout your surfing career. Though it will be tasking at times and challenging to master, putting time into your pop-up will pay off big-time when learning more advanced skills in the future.
Figure Out Your Stance
First things first, you’ll need to learn which stance is more comfortable, ‘goofy’ or ‘regular.’ Learning to surf is like learning any other board sport in that regard. If you have trouble figuring this out, picture yourself running and sliding across a hardwood floor. If your right leg is back, your stance is ‘regular,’ and if your left leg is behind, you’re ‘goofy’ footed. Neither direction is better or worse than the other. It determines what the brain tells the body feels right and varies from surfer to surfer.
Back Leg, Front Foot
Once you have your stance in mind, begin to repeat this to yourself, “Back foot, front foot.” In my years of surf coaching experience, I most often have newer students attempt their pop-up moving only their front foot forward on the surfboard, leaving their weight well behind the “sweet spot,” or what I refer to during surf lessons as the “gas pedal.” Moving your back foot forward into position under your pelvis before bringing the front foot will force your body weight over the entry point, which allows the surfboard to drop into the slope of the wave.
Keeping your hands in a point on the surfboard that provides both leverage and stability while beginning the pop-up sequence is critical. I’ve always told new surfers to keep their thumbs tucked under their chest with their palms flat on the board. When surfers place their hands wide or too close to the rail, the distribution of weight dominant hand to off-hand will cause the board to rock side-to-side, making it difficult to gain control on the way up.
If you feel like your pop-up is not progressing or as though you are developing bad habits, you may want to consider the professional insight that comes with a surfing lesson. Using a trained set of eyes, an experienced surf instructor will pick up on the errors you may not feel while popping-up. It’s not a step back to seek assistance in a sport that has no limit to improvement. Pacific Surf offers surfing lessons for all levels of individuals with professional surf coaches committed to refining your surf techniques and fundamentals so you can feel more confident in your abilities on every wave.
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Written by: Caleb Dolloff