The one thing we all want to do when we’re learning to surf is to simply get better at surfing. Not only that, we want to do it as quickly as possible. One approach to accomplishing this that’s often overlooked is is getting the basics right first in order to speed up your progression further down the track.
Solid foundations are the mark of all good surfers and one of the key fundamentals you absolutely can’t afford to overlook is the pop up. It’s not the most glamorous of topics but you’d be surprised how many surfers I see every day stunt their progress by making simple mistakes. So before planning ahead to the day when you’ll be hucking clean cutbacks and sticking floaters over closeout sections, take a moment to make sure you master the fundamentals first.
MISTAKE NO. 1: LOOKING DOWN AT YOUR FEET
Looking down at your feet naturally pushes your weight forward and makes it difficult to keep your balance.
Practice by lining yourself up with a marker on the beach. When popping up you’ll keep your eyes on that marker in front of you, developing muscle memory. Eventually, you’ll naturally look where you’re going rather than down at your feet while popping up.
MISTAKE NO. 2 | USING YOUR KNEES
Bringing both knees up to the center of the board will slow down your pop up. As your surfing progresses, you want to be able to get to your feet as quickly as possible. Using your knees also creates an imbalance over your board, giving you another challenge in getting to your feet.
Take a look at my walkthrough to avoid placing your knees on the board:
Step 1 – Place your hands on the deck of the board near your pectorals. Make sure your back is arched.
Step 2 – Bring your toes to the tail of the board and push up. Begin to bring your back foot forward, closely followed by your front foot.
Pro tip: Lift your knees up as you move through the pop up.
Step 3 – Keep your hands on the deck until both feet are in the correct position.
MISTAKE NO.3 | LEADING ARM PLACEMENT
Placing both arms on the same side of your body makes it very difficult (virtually impossible) to maintain balance. It’s also very resistricting to any of your middle and lower rotations in your body once you begin turning or carving.
Make sure you place one arm either side of the body, bend your knees and stay low with your center of gravity.
Pro tip: Leading arm is on the outside of your front heal