Pop Up Fast and Catch a Wave!

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Now you have made it out to the spot you identified on the shore as your take-off area, you are ready to ride a wave. To do that you will need to paddle into position, paddle hard to get your speed up and pop up when you feel the surfboard start to slide with the wave. Notice in surfing we don't say “slowly, move yourself from a prone position like an old man, to eventually get to your feet, by maybe putting a knee down first and tentatively pushing the rest of your body up off the board”. We don't even say “now stand up”. It's called a pop up because that is what you've got to do. Do the pop up fast and get into your surf stance quickly. New surfers who are learning how to surf can be tentative in the pop up. Sometimes it's because the beginning surfer is worried about pearling. Well, the faster you pop up the less chance you'll have of "pearling". The first thing you will need to do is determine which foot will be your front foot on the surfboard.

In the Learn How to Surf / Surfing Basics section we covered this topic. In case you missed that part, here it is again.

Natural Stance or Goofy Foot?

You will need to determine which foot is your front foot on the surfboard. There are a couple of things you can experiment with to determine which will be your front foot on your surfboard.

Think about going down a set of stairs, which foot would you put on the first step down? That is the foot you put forward on your surfboard.

Another test you can do is stand with your feet fairly close together and have someone push you (gently now) from behind. The foot that goes forward to stop you from falling would be the foot you put forward on the surfboard.

If it is your left foot that is forward on the board, you have what is referred to as normal stance. If it is your right foot that is forward, this is known as goofy foot. It sounds like an insult, it's not, so don't sweat it if you're goofy foot.

Now that you know which foot you are going to place forward on your surfboard, you will attach the surf leash to your rear foot. When you attach the surf leash, you will want to make sure that the part where the neoprene attaches to the velcro is on the outside of your leg. Don't attach it so it is facing inward, it just gets in your way when you try to stand up (pop up) on your surfboard.

Popping Up (Stand Up On A Surfboard)

As you feel your surfboard begin to accelerate with the wave take two more good hard paddles. Now put your hands on the rails just below your chest and push your chest up hard arching your back. Then swing your feet in one motion to a crouched position, with your front foot forward. You don't want to be standing erect, it's too easy to lose your balance, keep low. Your chest should be facing forward and your feet at right angles to the centerline (stringer) of the surfboard.  You  really need to focus on executing the pop up quickly and smoothly.

Before I discuss what a good surf stance should be, first take a look at the following video, it shows the correct way to do a pop up. 


The Surf Stance:

The goal of the pop up was to get you quickly to your feet on your surfboard.  The position you want to be in after executing the pop up maneuver is going to be your surf stance. Ideally, you will be in this position without needing to adjust your feet after performing the pop up.

Your feet should be at least shoulder width apart or even a little wider and at a right angle to the centerline of the surfboard.   A wide stance will give you more stability on the surfboard.  If you have ever done martial arts, you'll know what I'm talking about here.  Your stance gives you strength and stability.   Your chest  should be facing forward and your arms extended for balance. Keep those knees bent in the crouched position.  These things will give you stability on the surfboard.

So, your feet are in position, your knees are bent and you are in a crouched power position with your chest facing forward on the surfboard and your arms are extended  you're all set.  GO FOR IT!   YOU'RE ON YOUR FEET AND SURFING!!!

The surf stance is a very important part of surfing once you get to the point where you are surfing the unbroken waves (wave faces). For a more thorough look at the surf stance and some of it's finer points you can check out the page surf stance. It gives advice on improving your balance/stability after popping up and getting into your surf stance.