surf better and move better
Min Read Time

You already know how to move and surf better, you just haven't applied it to surfing yet

There’s this saying we have at OMBE, “you already know how to move, you just haven’t applied it to surfing”. Confusing right? So what does it mean?

Listen to this Episode

You can listen to this whole guide on our podcast with the player above or wherever you listen to your podcasts.

Podcast Playlist

The Full Guide

There’s this saying we have at OMBE, “you already know how to move, you just haven’t applied it to surfing”. Confusing right? So what does it mean?

The point of this is that, through everyday movements and things we do, day in, day out, we know how to be balanced, move, twist, compress, extend etc and that all we need to do for our surfing to improve, is apply those foundations of simple and effective movement to surfing.

We know the easiest and most efficient way to do that is, so why is it, that when we go surfing, it’s like we are hit with a stupid stick or feel like we are starting to learn to walk and balance again?

Just because we are now on water and moving, it doesn’t mean the fundamentals of good balance and coordination change drastically.

Finding balance and matching the direction of momentum

The water is now an unstable surface but that just means the surface you are on will respond more easily to bad balance and changes to your centre of gravity. The forward momentum you have surfing means you need to coordinate your body to match the direction of that momentum. 

Think about it this way, you’ll see a heap of surfers struggling on their pop up, as they get up violently, yes violently, nothing smooth about it, their arms are thrown upwards and behind or to the side of them. 

If your board is moving forwards and all of a sudden you throw your weight and arms in an opposite direction, what is this going to do to your balance and centre of gravity? 

What you see is these surfers falling in the direction of their arms.

What you should be doing is walking up with your entire body aiming in the direction you are travelling. Head, arms, shoulders, hips and knees all aiming roughly in the direction of momentum you are going. This will keep you balanced and in control. 

Fixing the pop up

Tying this back into you already know how to move, think about your pop up. In what part of your everyday life or other scenarios, is this explosive pop up used and does it even seem functional?

The harsh reality is no, and when you see people doing this explosive pop up, they usually have no control or balance and often end up in pooman stance as they haven’t allowed space for their body to efficiently and smoothly move into position.

Think pop up to lock up. Stuck in a bad stance and unable to move out of it.

Here’s where this gets annoying, you already know a better way to get up to your feet on a surfboard, you just haven’t applied it to surfing yet.

It’s what we call the walk up and that’s because it’s so simple and we do it all the time.

The walk up

If you’ve got space around you, I want you to try this. All it is, is you laying down on the ground, on your stomach, look up to a wall or object somewhere in the area near and simply walk to it and touch it or grab it.

That’s it, just to get up from the ground and walk forward, head held high, your entire body coordinating forwards to the direction you want to go and always looking to where you want go. 

You know how to do it, guaranteed and I would be shocked if you managed to stuff it up.

So how does this convert to surfing?

It’s the same thing, back foot first, not front foot, simply because back foot first means you get up matching the direction of momentum, forwards. Front foot or knees means you get up forwards and then to get up, you are pushing your weight slightly backwards and against the direction of momentum. It can work, but you might find it harder to balance. If you can’t do the back foot first, it may be an issue of mobility, flexibility or bad technique. Look up and lift the hips, making space for the body to move.

Anyways, to convert this to surfing, it’s the exact same movement but it’s only that first step forwards. 

So do it again but now with just taking one step forward and continue looking at the wall or object. If you look down, you will project down with your centre of gravity. If you were doing this to walk to the wall, you wouldn’t do it. So don’t look down during the pop up. I will cover this in a future episode.

This is what we mean by you already know how to move, you just haven’t applied it to surfing. Do the movements that we know and connect them to the outcome you want in your surfing.

Expanding this to the rest of your surfing

Stance, you know we want a neutral stance, back straight and this will give us good balance. We do this every day, and yet we see so many surfers bent at the hips, bent over and struggling for balance. 

You’ll also often notice these surfers doing a lot but nothing happening, then when the wave slows down and they give up and suddenly improve their stance, the back straightens and they do less. All of a sudden the balance and their control is infinitely better but they are more interested in kicking out than finally properly surfing.

From this position, we also know the best way to twist, lean, compress, lunge, lift etc.

We’ve done it a million times. Bend into the knees, not at the hips. We know it, we know it’s better bio-mechanically, we know it’s more functional and we know it has better balance.

How this impacts your surfing

So the idea of this is more in awareness of movement. You’ll notice this in other surfers a lot but where this needs to apply the most is your movement and land-based training. Film yourself moving or do it and think, is there a more basic movement to this? Can I do this more efficiently or effectively or with better balance?

Try it in the bad positions and play with it. What feels good and what feels bad. You need to play with your surfing and training to find the sweet spot. This means trying the extremes to feel and understand why it’s bad.

If you get a video of your land training or surfing and see this in your surfing, think about what would better surfing look like or analyse how you are moving and if it just looks wrong. Are you following basic fundamentals of movement? Are you even twisting, leaning, compressing etc?

Quite often with skating and surfing, intermediate surfers will move the arms a lot but the legs, the part that compresses, extends and creates lift, barely even moves. So if that’s you, bring the movement back to basics and think, if I am trying to get lower and then lift up, how would I do that outside of surfing and then apply it back to surfing and play with it.

What’s stopping us from implementing this

Yeah, I hear you, this sounds great, right, surfing is so easy...

There’s a big issue at the root cause of this and why it feels like we get hit with a stupid stick and suddenly become completely useless and it makes us just go what the fff***

It has so much more to do with where your head is at and how that impacts your actions, thoughts and movements. It’s the stimulus, conditions, thoughts, fears, tension, stress, anxiety, other surfers etc. All of these are putting you into either a freeze, flight or fight mode and this is what will control your surfing.

This will be next week’s podcast episode and diving into the Three F’s and how they control your surfing, how you move and surf the wave as well as your skill level.

Written by
Luke Hardacre
surf coaching