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Surfing is regularly described as a dance, and few things we do while standing atop a board and a wave resemble dancing quite like the cross step. The comparisons are plenty and they’re logical. A good cross step is fluid, it looks and feels natural, it’s instinctive, happening without thought or hesitation when the wave requires it. And of course, like a lot of other things we do on a wave, it’s functional.
“The idea of the cross step is getting comfortable with the whole length of your longboard,” says Kassia Meador. “Really, cross stepping is your way to get up and down your surfboard and utilize every inch of your surfboard, utilize every piece of your rail, utilize everything between the nose and the tail.”
Meador uses the dancing metaphor in the cross step segment of her Definitive Guide to Longboarding, pointing out two of the common mistakes made while walking your way up and down a log: The first is that shuffle. We’ve all seen it, a natural compromise the first time you get the instinct to redistribute your weight across your surfboard. But the shuffle is slow and it’s mostly born from a lack of balance. The second is looking down at your feet.
Meador’s course actually lays out a simple and practical way to perfect the cross step at home. All you need is a television set and a two-by-four.
-Place a 2” x 4” on the ground.
-Pretend the two-by-four is your board’s stringer and cross step up and down it.
-Keep your head up. Remember, your body follows your head, so the television is actually an important part of this drill. It will keep you from looking down at your feet.
“That’s really going to help you take that fluid motion to the water,” she says.