How to surf with more style
Min Read Time

How to surf with more style

Make this one small change to your surfing and you'll learn to surf with more style. Develop your own surfing style and learn from the best surfers.

Style, for most surfers, it's what we want more than powerful turns, we want to look and mainly feel good when we're surfing. And why not, if it felt good, it probably looked good and was good technique-wise. Is good style something you are chasing in your surfing? Do you want to avoid being that surfer with flailing limbs and bad style?

My own surfing style

Surfing with style and being relaxed are my main focuses, it's what I train every week, and I'm going to show you how you can quickly improve yours, with minimal effort.

What does good surfing style look like?

Think of some of the most stylish surfers: Tom Curren, Gerry Lopez, Dave Rastovich, Kelly Slater, Mark Richards, Rob Machado, Joel Parkinson, Craig Anderson, Steph Gilmore, the list goes on. When you think of their surfing, it all looks smooth, they each have a unique style to them, but their movements are relaxed and to most of us, that's what makes them the best surfers.

Everything they do looks effortless, and that is what style is. Not pushing hard or forcing their turns.

One quick tip to fix your style

What these professional surfers have in common is that they are mostly surfing front on. They aren't surfing side-on or in a pooman stance like many surfers, (side-on, bum out, looking like... you guessed it...).

It's super important not to surf in pooman
Pooman stance, looks bad and negatively impacts your surfing.

So I have one change to your stance that will bring more style to your surfing.

Kissing the knees....

In true OMBE fashion, of course we've got some weird name for it. How else will we remember it? The idea of kissing the knees is by bringing the back knee in and getting it to "kiss" your front knee, it will reposition your hips and upper body to now be front on. You'll notice my stance is also doing what we call coffee cup - you can learn more about getting a perfect stance here.

Develop your surfing style with this trick
My demonstration of Kissing the Knees

Develop your own trigger words

For those new to OMBE, this is a trigger word. It's meant to be stuck in your mind when you surf so if you think of it, it connects to the action and you can perform it without thinking. You can find out more of that in our free training course here.

All about the surfer's style
Free 4 Week Surf Hacks Course

How this impacts your style

By surfing front on, you're in a more relaxed and natural position, the body has freedom of movement. Contrary to what you see at Learn to Surf Schools, surfing side on is only a one-way ticket to pooman, developing a bad surfing style and negatively impacts your balance. When you have bad balance you are more fighting the waves rather than riding a wave. Being front on will give you balance in all four directions: front to back and side to side. Relaxed stance, relaxed surfing, good style.

Now, as you go to bottom turn or top turn, you're in a position to easily lean or twist, without limbs flailing or your body restricting you, and not compromising your balance and control. You have more control over your surfboard. Movements start to look effortless. Effortless movement is style and what makes a good surfer.

As a surfer, think surfing backside, if you are side on, your back is to the wave and you can't even see the wave. If you can't see where you are going, you will never get there, regardless of what boards you are riding.

How to develop your own surfing style

To train kissing the knees and to feel the difference in style, I suggest the following drill. Focus on only kissing the knees for the next time you get to the beach. After getting to your feet, think of bringing the back knee in towards the front knee and feel this position. Very slightly, move around in this position and feel how your surfing feels. Just trim, pick a line and go for it. Don't worry about turning for now. Slow it all down, less wild movements and just focus on this.

You should notice a change to your balance and awareness. As this becomes comfortable now get into this position and try adding in turns. This is now where the improvements in style really show.

Smoothly turning and kissing the knees are connected

If you are looking to develop smooth turns in whatever waves you're surfing or you're at the early beginnings of surfing this will help. Where ever you point your knees is where you are going. You can try this on a skateboard and see how it works. As you ride a skateboard or on a wave, when you move your knees, you transition how your weight impacts the board.

From the front on position, aim your knees to the left or right and you will put your board on rail, causing it to turn. When riding a wave, look where you want to get to on the wave, point the knees, putting weight on the rail and allow the board move to that point.

How to see bad style in other surfers

You'll start becoming aware of other surfers and how their flailing and wild movements is not translating to smooth, stylish surfing. They look like the opposite of a stylish surfer, their board is all over the place in the surf and it's not aesthetically pleasing.

The most stylish surfers

Want an example? Watch Craig Anderson, master of the knee kiss.

Or Mikey February, who is the one surfer I want to emulate in the surf.

There's a common thread among non competitive surfing that helps create an aesthetically pleasing style and that's being relaxed. If you notice most surfers who look bad, are tense and stressed and that is directly impacting your surfing.

Does this work for all boards?

Sure does! Regardless of your skill level, if you're learning to surf, or perfecting turns. It is all about how to take control of the board. Now different boards will move and function in different ways (you can learn about that here) but the principle is the same. A foam surfboard or longboard will turn this way slower whereas a shortboard will respond to the slightest of movements.

Average surfers with bad styles, on shorter boards tend to show the same sign. The board and their bodies constantly moving about but their not moving much on the wave. So if that's you, try this and think do less, feel more.

Your Surfing Style

Do you already do this?  Are you going to try it? How do you like your surfing style? Do you want to ride waves with more style? Let me know how it goes! I'd love to hear how your surfing is going.

Written by
Luke Hardacre
surf coaching