how to finish waves
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How to finish waves: You are missing the best section of every wave

Do you struggle to find sections in a wave and want to find sections so you can start fitting in more turns? This guide will break down how you are missing the best section of every wave.

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The Full Guide

Do you finish a surf thinking, I did nothing or I never found any sections to work with. 

Was it just close out after close out while you hunted for one good one?

What if I said, regardless of how much it's closing out, there are sections to hit but you're just not seeing them? Crazy? Yes, no, maybe? Either way, I'm going to show you how to find a section in every wave.

Safety surfing is boring. It’s time to get rid of it.

Closeouts are your friend

Crazy...Surely, but, how many times have you done this?

stop kicking out of waves

You surf down the line, racing ahead, looking for a section, waiting for this thing to stand up and it never does.

As far as you're aware, no magic section has stood up or you've raced ahead of the wave and missed the pocket. The wave closes out and you kick out.


Why not hit the close out or oncoming foam? That's your perfect opportunity right there!

If you're working on your turns, guess what! The foam will help redirect you back down the wave. Win-Win! What would you rather do? Kick out or the below?

Progress as an intermediate surfer
Train to do better turns

Ok so maybe not the pros, but at least start getting into this habit.

Average surfer hitting the end section

Be this guy right here on closeouts

This is some average surfer, who sees the end section coming and knows that's as good as any section to hit and will redirect them back to the foam.

Start trying to turn off these sections or float over them. Obviously, you also have when the whole wave closes out. This is just as good, but not as gentle. 

I still want you to hit that. If you're worried or scared, just attempt it and kick the board away from you. Safe.

Fail forwards

You've heard it before, we'll keep repeating it. 

You've gotta surf with the goal of falling off. Push yourself and get out of your comfort zone. 

It's too easy to kick out and you may get back out quicker and hunt for another wave, but you missed a great opportunity right in front of you. 

If you hit the end section, you allow yourself to learn. You could do a turn, nurse a turn, wipe out or do one of the best turns you've ever done.

All of those options are infinitely better. If you do not try, you do not learn. If you kick out, all you learn is how to kick out.  

Replacing this bad habit

First things first, yes there is gonna be fear of hitting the end sections, sometimes we just can't get there in time, but not even trying is a bad habit that's gotta go, and fast.

What you need is a trigger word and some awareness to help break the habit. 

If you see an end section coming, say to yourself any of these:

  • Hit it
  • End section
  • Closeout
  • Fail forwards

Anything, whatever you decide or what resonates with you. Just say it to break the pattern of bad habits and remind yourself, that the one task is to hit that section and fail forwards. 

How to find these sections

There are a few different things to look for that can give you a hint there is an easy end section to hit. One you can prepare for, so you can start getting into this habit.

You have either the close-out section where the whole wave breaks at once or you have the oncoming section that's breaking towards you.


The closeouts are always there, but if you can watch the treasure map of whitewash left behind waves and predict where the waves are constantly breaking, you can prepare and position yourself to try and take advantage of that section.

Doing this will mainly set the mindset for you to go ok, the wave will probably do this and it’s what I want to do.

It’s a way to get out of the constant racing ahead of the pocket and out onto the flats. If you want to stay in the pocket or hit that section, you need to be looking for it and responding to the wave. If all you do is go for speed or look for a safe section, you will just be pumping and going down the line, not turning.

Oncoming Sections

Oncoming sections are great and generally consistent and reliable.

Spotting these is easy, it’s two peaks separated from each other but a swell line connecting the two peaks.

The two peaks stand up and the in-between section is mellow hinting the wave won’t all break at once, it’ll stand up at the peak, run for a bit and then connect somewhere between the two peaks with two sides of whitewash meeting together eventually, or finally closing out.

Why would you want these waves?

It is a clear defined wave that will run for a bit but has an end to it. You can only race so far ahead. 

So for those surfers stuck racing ahead of the wave, there is a defined section you have to hit.

You can then stay in the pocket and surf the wave as it tells you or you can watch this end section and start preparing to time the lift and hit it.

It makes starting to hit these end sections so much easier. It allows you the space and time to prepare. It is then generally a more mellow section to hit as the whitewash often crumbles along the swell line instead of this sudden closeout that might be intimidating for some surfers. 

How to start hitting an oncoming section

Other than dealing with any fear and breaking the bad habit of kicking out all the time, this is relatively easy to start and can be done on any surfboard.

Regardless of style, skill, length, longboard or shortboard, you have options here and it’s fun. The only difference is your personal style and making adjustments to suit your board and how well it turns.

Using the foam to learn to turn

There are a few steps to do a basic easy turn on an oncoming section.

  1. Create lift
  2. Present the underside of your board to the foam
  3. Twist and look where you want to go

This is surprisingly easy and as I said, will even work on a longboard.

Creating Lift

You need to create lift first, this goes back to compressing and extending. Think of doing a box jump, you know how to bend into the knees and jump up to the box and coordinate that movement.

This is very similar. It’s something we go deep on in our training programs which you can start a free 14-day trial here.

To do this on your board, it all starts with where you are looking and a balanced neutral stance.

You need to observe the oncoming section and attempt to time this. Only one way to do that and it’s through trying.

As you time your lift, you will need to come out of being compressed in your knees and lift with your body and arms. 

Your arms and shoulders should be moving in a controlled way, not full arm swings like a box jump, you don’t want to jump off the board, but you want to tap into the bottom power zone, using the rail and the wave to push the board up the wave face while making yourself lighter.

The way this looks is your knees are extending and coming out of that compression, they are lifting you up while keeping the feet connected.

The arms and shoulders are similar, they should already be in front of you, don’t surf with your hands in your pockets. You want to be ready for action and not wildly swinging them or surfing dead.

The arms and shoulders from that position of being in front of you will kind of lift in a straight line, similar to how your knees are moving. Most of the movement comes from the shoulder, so that the arms raise vertically instead of swinging from the shoulder.

This will create your lift.

Initiating the turn

As you begin to lift and get closer to the oncoming section, you will transition from the lift to starting your turn.

For average surfers or surfers learning to turn, this is why an oncoming section is great. The foam is going to assist your turn and push you back down, but you still have to work for it. It’s just a lazy way.

The key to this, other than all the other parts of technique in turning your surfboard, is you need to present the underside of your board to the foam to allow it to push your board.

This is you starting to get on rail and go from rail to rail. 

You’ve just used the inside rail to create lift and get up the wave, now you need to use the outside rail to turn back down the wave.

Your hands that are in front of you and just help create lift will help here. The inside arm needs to raise, with the outside arm slightly sinking. Think like steering a bike.

One goes up and one goes down but they are roughly in line. 

You also need to twist and initiate the turn, the wave will help but you need to send the signal to your board to move and you need to follow the board as it turns. Staying stacked and over the board, not it going one way and you the other.

Following through to finish the turn

You should be initiating that turn before the foam hits or just as, depending on your skill and timing. But the main part happens now.

You need to follow through and finish the turn.

You need to twist, in a coordinated movement with the upper body and lower body in sync, not wild flailing and most importantly eyes looking where you want to go.

AKA, look back down the wave and twist your body to turn. 

You’ll want your twist to be connected from the eyes and shoulders, to the waist and all the way down to your feet. This ensures the movement is coordinated and the twist and power you generate in the hips is connected to your board and you are stacked in a comfortable and balanced stance.

If the twist doesn’t make it to your feet, your board won’t do much and you’ll just be flailing your arms.

This is a very simple breakdown of the movement and it’s by no means high-performance surfing, but it’s the step a lot of surfers need to start doing more turns and working through their turns as well as understanding the feeling and movement.

Learning to float

You can do this same approach to learning to do the odd floater. What you do on this section is up to you and how it’s breaking. 

If you want to try and do a floater here, just modify the before except with the attempt to high line and go straight over and along the foam for a bit.

I implore you to challenge yourself and see how far you can hold it for.

You will come to a point where you will begin to lose speed and feel that sinking feeling, falling off the back or somehow coming back down the wave.

At this point, you now need to create a bit of lift to get the board up and then twist to come back down the wave.

The best advice for you to learn this is to go and play with it. Much better than fussing and overthinking all the nuances to it. Go play with it and figure it out, be curious and think about how it feels and what you can do to change that feeling each time.

Next Week

Has this motivated you to go hit some end sections?

Do you know view crappier conditions as a good chance to work on things?

Are you going to go out and try your first couple lazy turns?

Or is this something you already do and love it?

I’d love to know, you can reach out anytime, message me in the app or send an email to anytime.

I am going to dive into how you can fix your pop up and that you don’t have a problem with your actual pop up, you have a different problem when it comes to doing it in the surf.

Written by
Luke Hardacre
surf coaching