Photo: Little Bantam Trainer.

A solid pop up sets you up for the entire wave. Are you getting off on the right foot? Photo: Little Bantam Trainer.

The Inertia

Editor’s Note: We’ve collaborated with Surf Style Training founder Elise Carver to offer a 12-week, surf-specific course designed to increase your wave count. The course is typically a $380 value, but it’s available to The Inertia readers for $189 until June 15th, 2019. Check out the course page to learn more.

In Oz, the surf is starting to remind us of what this time of year is really like. Cyclonic swells, looming winter waves, and hopefully a few tubes!

Regardless of what continent you’re on, we all experience the “off-season” and return of the “on-season.” However, most of us don’t realize until the first hectic surf of the “on season” that during the months off, our pop-ups got lazy and slow. We all know that bigger, faster waves require a more efficient takeoff, but how do you make that happen?

You break it down, analyze it, feel it out, improve, and build upon it. Here are my recommendations for breaking down your pop up.




Yep, I know it sounds silly. But this is NOT a selfie! This is for the benefit of your surfing, so if you want to get tubed buck up, get a recorder (most likely an iPhone as it’s the 21st century!), and start filming. Filming your pop-ups allows you to see the finer details in your movement like lagging hips, weak or rolled shoulders, and your foot placement.



Photo: Little Bantam Trainer

Photo: Little Bantam Trainer.


Lazy Hips

This isn’t actually about your hips; it’s about your core. If you’re not engaging your core properly during the push-up, your hips get left behind. Trust me, you want the hips to lift at the same time as your chest does to allow for more leg room.

Chicken Wings

Pretty self-explanatory. If your “wings” stick out when you are preparing to pop up, reign them in! You have much better control and drive if you tuck your elbows in at your side. We’re not doing push-ups, we’re doing pop-ups.


Leg Pop Up

When you practice pop-ups on the ground sometimes you need to watch out for the “Air Ass.” This happens when you push back instead of UP, and you put weight into your legs so they do the pushing up. Always try to drive through your chest and arms when practicing your pop-ups. Your legs won’t be much help when you’re out in the water.

Locked Knees OR Poo Stance

Neither are very attractive in the surf, but it’s not just about looking good. It’s about engaging the right muscles. Locking the knees makes it very hard for you to react to the wave’s shape, and it prevents you from using the legs like springs as you should. Poo Stance (which I’m notorious for!) is when you’re seated too low: making it difficult to extend and compress for more speed. You need to be able to extend the legs their full range of motion when you’re pumping down the line.

Foot Placement

Do your feet land directly under your hips, or do the land behind towards the back of the board? In what direction are your feet facing? Forward, sideways, turned out? This will determine the effectiveness of your follow through after getting up on the wave. Does it feel good to stand the way you do? Do your hips feel mobile? Check your feet.


Line of Sight

Again this one is more about the follow through as well as your balance on the wave. Where are you looking when you pop up? Get in the habit of looking straight ahead, this encourages focus, so you can look down the line when you’re actually on a wave. Look at your feet, and you’re more likely to eat them!


This is where the fun really begins! Once you have identified what it is about your pop-ups that you feel needs improving, it’s time to put a plan in place. You should try to schedule at least 1 training session a week solely focused on improving your pop up strength. Whether that’s through upper body exercise, explosive core strength, or line of sight practice, you should be getting working out your pop up muscles regularly. I also recommend doing 10 – 20 pop-ups a day on the ground trying cement the new and improved habits you’ve just developed!

Editor’s Note: Check out our new course with Surf Style Training founder Elise Carver for a sure-fire way to increase your wave count. It’s available to The Inertia readers at a steep discount until June 15th, 2019. Check out the course page to learn more.



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