Contributor Gershon Borlai has a wide range of tips for beginning surfers. Check out some of his tips and drills here.

The Inertia

Piece by piece, I’ve deconstructed the pop up sequence for beginner surfers in a series of tips and drills on this site, using everything from drills to worksheets to make your pop up smoother and more explosive. If you followed my series of tips so far, you already have the building blocks in place.

Making your pop up more consistent and reliable starts with a solid foundation. From there, we can drill with simple exercises and eventually focus on specific techniques that can make your pop up more explosive. Finally, the time has come for you to piece all those movements together for one fluid movement you can perform from muscle memory. This is where we drill in the entire pop up movement.

We’ve all seen those beginner surfers practicing their pop ups on the sand before a session. While some choose to keep those pop up drills in the privacy of their own living room, there’s certainly an effective way to practice this with the right mechanics, smoothing out that learning curve even just a little bit.


To help master this, I created a simple cheat sheet to track your pop up progress. It includes this drill and four others that will build your pop up foundation.

Do the drill in this sequence:

-Mimic your paddling strokes, arching with the upper body.
-Put your arms in the chicken wing position.
-Do the cobra push up and the double knee drag at the same time.
-Focus on landing with your feet below your chest.
-Jump back down to the starting position.

Making sure you practice the correct way:

-Exaggerate the arched position (most people arch far less than they realize).
-Your front foot should be landing between your palms.
-Stay in a deep squat position right after your feet land.
-If you feel this is already too easy, do it in switch stance too.

Typical mistakes include:

-Not pushing up enough with your arms. If your arms are still bent, you’ve left no space between the ground (your board) and your chest to slide your feet into position.
-Landing in a stance that is too wide. Your feet should not be wider than shoulder width apart at most.
-Feet pointing in a (V shape) right after landing.

Stay tuned for my last piece of this pop up series. In the meantime, go practice at home, get in the water, and have fun surfing!



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