One of the hardest things for beginning surfers to do consistently is the pop up. It’s one of the most basic pieces of the surfing puzzle but without it you’ll (literally) never get to your feet. This article will show you how to get yourself from a prone position to standing on your surfboard with consistency.

There are two methods for popping up:


1. The Chicken Wing Pop Up

This is a two-step go to method for beginners. It is simply planting your back foot on the board first, slowly pushing yourself up and swinging your front leg up securely. Here, you are using the strength of your legs to secure your body in the correct surfing stance. This method is feasible with smaller waves and bigger boards, and it can really help you build more confidence in your pop up.

2. The 1-Step Pop Up

An advanced variation is the one-step pop up. Here, you just push your body up and pull your legs underneath your chest in one fluid motion. This is essentially what you are working toward doing consistently in your surfing.

Typical mistakes while learning to pop up

There are a few mistakes that most beginners tend to make. Run a quick checklist of these to see if and where you may be tripping yourself up:

What the positioning of your arms and hands? 

You don’t want to grab the rails of your board or push up on your elbows.

Where are your legs during paddling?

Beginners tend to paddle with their legs spread wide open. This acts as an anchor and significantly reduces your speed.


So what is the proper form of the pop up?

How to practice the pop up at home

Popping up is one of the easiest exercise to practice, but possibly the hardest to improve. To drill it in, you can do this simple exercise at home by using masking tape or a rubber band/string to create a line on the floor. Lie down on the line in the correct paddling position, as if it were the center line of your board.

1. Assume standard paddling position and mimic paddling a bit.

-The best posture for paddling is with your back arched and your head up looking forward.

-Always keep your legs close together along the center line of your board (aka the stringer).

2. Place your hands right below your lower ribs (chicken wings).

-It’s very important to have your hands under your chest. This is the most efficient way to push yourself up form the surfboard.

3. Start pushing yourself up to the cobra position.

4. Bring your leg and place your back foot right over the center line. Bring your knee over the side (rail) of the surfboard.

-As you push up yourself turn your hip and pull your back feet on the center line of the board. Push with the arms and the back feet and bring the other knee right underneath your chest. Always keep your knee outside of the rail during the first step of the pop up

-If you are a regular foot, place your right leg up. For goofy stance, do the mirrored version.

5. Push up with your back foot and bring the other leg (knee) underneath your chin.

6. Assume the proper surfer stance (aka “The Monk”).

-You want to end up on the center line of the board with both feet.

Do the entire sequence again. Check yourself — did you do everything with the proper form as described above? It is okay to practice this very slowly. You want to make sure that you are doing everything correctly.

To help master this, I created a simple worksheet that you can download here to track your pop up progress.


Let me know if this helped you, or what you want me to cover next by emailing me at



Join The Inertia Family 

Only the best. We promise.