Perfecting Surf Moves

All of us have problems with particular manoeuvres. You know, the moves you can pull off sometimes, but wish you were successful all the time, or moves which you just can't seem to pull off, no matter how hard you try. It's frustrating, and it takes the fun out of some surfs.

A good idea to help perfect these problematic surfing manoeuvres is to start thinking of the manoeuvres as having a number of parts. Instead of thinking of a vertical re-entry for example, as just one action, it is better to think of it as having a number of segments. When performing re-entries, a surfer should perform a quality bottom turn to generate speed and direction [ entry phase ], followed by the impact with the lip and turn back down the waveface [ action phase ], and finally they must re-centre over their surfboard [ recovery phase ] to successfully complete the manoeuvre.

Entry Phase

Action Phase

Recovery Phase

To illustrate this, try slowing down the surfing of a number of the top professional surfers on video. You will notice that they approach each manoeuvre and move their bodies whilst performing these manoeuvres basically the same way. That is to say that there is a common pattern, or technique, which should be copied to successfully complete surfing manoeuvres attempted. Even the advanced moves like airs, reverses, slides - all have a common recognisable thread, which can be studied and incorporated in surfing performances.

If a surfer is having problems with a particular manoeuvre, in the majority of cases it is usually only one 'phase' of the manoeuvre that is incorrect, compared to the whole action. For example, it may be that the surfer is not performing a quality bottom turn before the re-entry, causing the surfer to run out of speed just before the top of the wave. Or it may be that the surfer is performing a quality bottom turn, hitting the top with speed, but their 'recovery' phase of the manoeuvre is weak. They don't re-centre over their surfboard or compress their body well enough after the hit off the top of the wave to be successful.

In one case here in Australia, a surfer I train wasn't compressing low enough on his bottom turn, causing him to catch a rail at the top of the wave, making his vertical moves inconsistent. When he fixed his bottom turns, his vertical moves improved dramatically. In fact, four weeks after fixing this error, he made the finals of the Australian Junior Surfing Titles, becaming a member of the Australian Junior Team, something he wouldn't have done without the correction work done previously.

Another major problem I see is the "rushing" of one or more phases during the execution of surfing moves. This is particularly common in the performance of developing competition surfers. In their attempt to fit in more manoeuvres per wave, they miss performing fully completed manoeuvres or they wipeout. It may be a rushed bottom turn, or not centring over their surfboard after a move. This rushing is usually caused by the surfer looking too far down the wave at possible future moves, while not completely finishing the moves attempted along the way.

Additionally, when a surfer is attempting a particularly difficult manoeuvre - floating a pitching section for example - the recovery phase should always be emphasised. Surfers too often don't get into a compressed, centred body position at the end of these manoeuvres, preferring to 'rush' into the next section, but because of the poor recovery phase, they slide out of control or grab a rail on landing. A surfer should always get into their mind:

"When performing difficult moves, make the recovery low and centred, before looking at what future opportunities the wave might offer"

By routinely breaking your problematic surfing moves into their segmented parts, a surfer should be able to diagnose where these manoeuvres break down, making it easier to fix them permanently. has done most of the work for you in this area. All the training cards available on this site have been designed to pinpoint the key phases, and moments that go into successful completions of the various surfing manoeuvres. If you want to fix your surfing errors, check out the cards available here.

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