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Surf Better Series #3 - Better Pop-Ups

Learning to properly pop-up is one of the most vital skills needed to progress from beginner to intermediate. In the previous article the entry part of the take off was addressed so I will skip past paddling and move right to the good stuff.


Are you Goofy or Regular? If you don't know yet no worries here's a quick way to find out. Regular - left foot forward and right foot tail. Goofy - Just the reverse. If you are not sure which stance applies to you try kicking a ball, balancing on one leg or your preferred foot you use to jump. This will tell you your dominant foot, which goes on the tail.


Before mastering the pop-up ensure that you are positioned properly on the board. Too far forward and you will pearl the nose into an epic nose dive. Too far back will slow you down preventing the board from getting up to speed. In the sweet spot, your boards nose will be slightly out of the water and paddling will be the most efficient. Every board has a different sweet spot, so each new board requires some tweaks to your previous paddle style.


Everyone’s surfing pop-up is slightly different, but the technique is the same for everyone and should be a single fluid motion. Don’t worry if it's not perfect, It will come with practice. Here are the key steps to keep in mind:

  • Lie on your chest head facing the nose and feet just on the tail with your body straight.

  • Place your hands flat on the board as if you were doing a push-up, board width apart.

  • Arch back and push your chest off the board with pelvis and upper thighs still in contact with the board.

  • Bring your front foot forward under your body to approximately where your hands are located and twist your hips/torso.

  • The back foot should land about a shoulder width from your front foot.

  • Both feet leave the board and land back down at the same time.

  • Your feet should land and be parallel to the stringer/ middle of the board.

  • Keep your knees bent! Standing straight-up will make it difficult to balance or turn.

  • Center upper body & keep hips over your feet.

  • Extending your arm will help with balance and point you in the right direction.

  • As you come up into the stance, look in the direction you want go.

  • We will get into the bottom-turn next time.


It's a lot to remember when you are starting out, so the key is muscle memory. Practice whenever you can to keep refining your technique. Even a few quick pop-ups before paddling out will help. Once you get to your feet it's time to work on throwing buckets of spray, pulling into sick pits, and busting airs.

Next time we will take a look at the bottom-turn to ensure you are setting yourself up for success. Please let me know if you have any questions and I'll do my best to answer them ASAP.


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