This short article is about correcting one of the common mistakes of beginner surfers: the nosedive. Most beginner surfers who have the experience of standing up on a board from time to time know what to do in theory. Or at least they think they know. Paddle, pop up, surf. It sounds so easy, but when the wave comes their board nosedives in the process of getting to their feet. Then they repeat this many more times until they give up from exhaustion. They may catch a lucky break here or there, but never consistently getting up and staying up on the board. There is a simple and counterintuitive reason why these nosedives happen so often.
Why you are a nosediving (“Superman”)?
Here is what is happening when you are trying to get up on a wave:
-Riding a wave requires that your board must first slide on the face of the wave. This means you will be sliding down a steep wave, head first.
-You will instinctively place your hands near your face on the surfboard to protect getting punched when you wipeout.
-The surfboard (which is now sliding down the wave) will already be about arm’s length away from your face.
-Thus, your arms would already be fully extended, giving you zero leverage to push yourself up.
This is what we call the “Superman posture
You can correct this and fight your natural instinct with the “chicken wings” technique:
-Position your hand by your lower ribs
That’s it. By simply lowering the position of your hands away from your face or chest during your pop up you’ll make it easier to stand up on your surfboard. If you place your hands right by your lower ribs on your surfboard, your arms would be at right angles, allowing you to push yourself up to a lunge position and create room for your legs to slide under your body.
To drill this in, you can do this simple exercise at home:
1. Lie down in a push-up position on the floor.
Use a broom, or masking tape to make a straight line that helps you position your hands. Exaggerate the movement of placing your hands right below your lower ribs. Stick your elbows up in the air (like chicken wings).
2. Push yourself up to a cobra position.
Extend your arms so you are in the cobra position. Notice how much easier it is to do this, as your hands are below your shoulders and not in front (this is the only circumstance when you should be happy that you are not Superman anymore).
3. Pop up
As you push yourself up, slide your leading leg underneath into a pop up position.
If you do this 15-30 consecutive days before your next surf trip it will commit to muscle memory. So, overcome that instinctive fear of falling by putting your hands by your lower ribs. You should be riding double the amount of waves in no time. Once you fix this, you will ride more waves and have more fun surfing. And that is what matters.
Enjoy and let me know if this was helpful.