The Perfect Surfing Pop Up

5 Simple Tips For You To Pop Up Like A Professional Surfer

Tip No 1: Hand Placement & Weight Distribution

The first important rule to perfect your surfing pop up

Surfing Pop Up Technique

How you distribute your weight when catching a wave is going to be the first deciding factor of whether or not you are going to be able to stand up on that wave. If you place your hands too far forward, you will add too much weight to the nose of the surfboard and if you place your hands too far back, you are not going to have enough strength output to push yourself up. As a general rule, you should always aim to have your hands placed underneath the chest, inline with your arm pits. Learn more about how to catch a wave here. 

Another Reason Why Hand Placement is Important.

Surfing Pop Up Technique

Having the correct hand placement when perfecting your surfing pop up, is also crucial for the success of your surfing pop up because it is going to indicate where your front foot will land when you get to your feet. This can be broken down into two main outcomes. The first is, if you are a person that has an athletic build, or are able to go from lying down to standing up very easily, having your hands too far forward will typically result in landing your front foot too far forward on the surfboard, resulting in lack of control over the surfboard. We go into great detail about this in our Surf Basics Online Course. On the other hand, if you are someone who has trouble popping up, or are not as athletic as most people, the result will be different. Having your hands placed too far forward will generally result in your front foot landing too far back on the surfboard. Again, the details are explained in greater detail in our Surf Basics Online Course. So, to conclude, your hand placement is extremely important to get right when trying to master your surfing pop up for a variety of reasons. 

No. 2 Keep Your Head Up


Pop up surfing technique

Naturally, you will want to look down at your board when you pop up on your surfboard to see where your feet are landing. This is a big mistake for a variety of reasons. The First one is (remember this rule) where you look, is where you will go. So, if you look down at your feet, chances are you are going to fall off immediately. The first reason is because looking at your feet means you don’t have a stable horizon to look at, so your brain gets confused and makes it difficult for your body to keep balance. The best way for you to understand what I mean is, stand on one leg and try to balance, then look down at an object moving. Then, try looking up at a stationary object. What you will find is that the latter is easier to achieve because your head and eyes have a natural gyroscope. That gyroscope is thrown off when you don’t have a stable horizon to look at, so, look up!

The Second Reason Why
You Should Look Up

During The Surfing Pop Up

The next reason is a little easier to explain but harder to overcome. When you look down during the surfing pop up, it causes your hips to go higher than your head when you are done with the pop up movement. This results in an unusually high center of gravity, and going from this position to standing up is substantially more difficult than when you have your hips below your board. Essentially, you are using your lower back muscles to lift your upper body rather than using your leg muscles which is a much larger muscle group. Don’t forget to take our online course to easily avoid this very common mistake that almost all surfers make. 

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Pop Up Tip No. 3: Avoid Holding The Rails of Your Surfboard.

Here's Why

Holding onto rails of surfboard

In order to understand this concept, you need to understand how your surfboard interacts with water. Your surfboard is a buoyant object in water and when you apply pressure to it, it sinks. The second thing you need to understand is that most people favor a specific arm when doing workouts. This means that one of your arms is stronger than the other, no matter how ambidextrous you are. 

Holding onto rails of surfboard

Now That You Understand Those Concepts

You have more leverage over the surfboard when you hold onto the rails of your board. In other words, it is easier to sink the rail of your surfboard when you push down close to the rail of the board. So, go and try this, put your surfboard in the water and push down on the center of the board, what happens? You will notice that the board won’t move much and the rails will definitely not sink. Now, move your hand towards the rail of the board and push down again, what happens? This is the lightbulb moment, the rail sinks. 

But wait, you might argue with me and say, you are pushing down on both rails at the same time, so, the rails won’t sink. But, this is where you are wrong. Remember what I said before, you as a person favor a specific hand, it doesn’t matter how ambidextrous you are. So, having your hands on the rail of the board creates a very unstable platform for you to stand up on. Where as, placing your hands towards the center of the board creates a more stable platform. So, do not hold onto the rails of your board 

Top No. 4 Avoid Using Your Knees

A little Contraversial

Wrong Surfing pop up technique

This surfing pop up tip is very controversial but, you are going to want to hear me out if you are someone who wants to take surfing seriously. The wave will leave you behind if you take too long to stand up, so avoid using your knees to keep up with the wave. Does this statement confuse you? Let me explain a little further. Waves break to either the left or the right at a variable speed, this speed is determined by a variety of factors like bathymetry, swell direction, swell period, wind direction and more. This creates a very small window for you to catch the wave and turn in the direction it is breaking. Popping up onto your knees takes up too much time, in turn making it difficult for you to keep up with the wave. 

How to Pop up Like a Professional Surfer

Do this instead

Let me be clear, you will need to follow a very specific technique to learn to achieve a well timed, successful surfing pop up. This technique cannot be explained in a blog post, nor can it be achieved by reading a blog post. For most people, this technique will not even be achieved within your first surf session. This pop up technique is not for you, if you want to try surfing once, this pop up technique is only for those who want to take surfing seriously. The pop up technique I am talking about is one that most, if not all professional surfers use, and is the only technique that will get you to pop up within the right time to surf any type of wave you want. 

You can learn more about how to do the pop up technique in our Surf Basics Online Course, at one of our surf retreats, our surf club or private surf lessons. The last point I would like to add is that your senses are going to be overloaded out in the line up, you are going to be overwhelmed by the amount of things you need to remember, the pop up is generally the last thing you are going to think about, so follow this last tip that I am going to mention as closely as possible. 

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No. 5: Practice Your Pop Up
At Home!

This is arguably one of the best surf tips for beginner surfers!

Practicing surfing pop up technique at home

Are you surprised? Another valuable tip for beginners is practicing the “pop up” technique at home. This practice is all about building muscle memory, which means training your body to perform a specific action instinctively. By repeatedly practicing the pop up on land, you’ll develop a familiarity with the movement. When you hit the water, you won’t need to consciously think about the steps because your body will remember the motion. This allows you to focus more on the waves and your balance, making the overall surfing experience smoother and more enjoyable. Learn more about the pop up here.

Why Should I Practice Surfing at Home?

It’s important to note that relying solely on practicing in the water can lead to the development of bad habits. Waves are often unpredictable, and the pressure to catch a wave can make you rush through your pop up, leading to mistakes. By practicing on land, you have the luxury of taking your time and perfecting your technique without the pressure of the ocean. This way, when you do head into the water, you’ll have a solid foundation to build upon, reducing the risk of ingraining poor habits. So, dedicate some time each day to practicing your pop up at home, and you’ll find yourself effortlessly catching waves and progressing as a surfer.

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