Updated: Jun 16, 2021
There’s a handful of common mistakes beginner surfers make when getting to their feet.
I’m not going to get too technical but hopefully one or all of these things can improve your next surf!
1- Eyes on the Nose-
As you start the process of getting to your feet, you always want to keep your eyes looking forward at the nose of your surfboard. This keeps your weight centred down the middle of the board which helps your balance. Once on your feet, you want be looking at where you want to go (the beach!). If you look down at your feet to check their placement, the saying ‘where you look is where you go’ comes into play and you’ll almost immediately be falling.
2- Hands on the Deck-
A very common error early on in your surfing career is the tendency to grab the rails while trying to get to your feet. It’s instinct to want to grab a hold of something when the wave starts pushing you quickly towards the beach. Unfortunately, this instinct doesn’t help; it hinders your chances of getting up smoothly. Placement-wise, you want your hands to be flat on the deck of the surfboard, as close as possible to your body, just below your chest. This will help with stability and also require less strength.
3 - Foot Placement-
It can be tricky knowing exactly where your feet are placed on the surfboard because you shouldn’t really be looking at them, but there are a couple of key indicators you can feel for. The problems you’re feeling for when it comes to foot placement is stability (is the surfboard stable when you’re up and riding?) and whether or not your surfboard is trimming nicely (are you too far back on the surfboard so it always feels like you're sinking the tail?).
The aim is to have your front foot land between where your hands were and your back foot between where your knees and waist were when you were lying on the board (your feet should end up just over shoulder width apart). You also want to make sure that your feet land sideways. If you stand up with your feet facing towards the beach you won't have any balance and will fall easily.
Bonus Tip- Where should you lie on a surfboard?
Before you even start paddling for the wave, you have to decide where you're going to lie on the board. Everyone knows the result of being too far forward on a surfboard (you nose-dive), ending up with burning nostrils wondering what the heck just happened! But it's a lot more common to lie too far back and the signs aren't as clear as our mate the nose-dive.
If you're lying too far back you will be finding it hard/impossible to catch waves and if you do catch one, you will lose speed and momentum very quickly once standing.
A rough guide to your placement is to have your feet around the tail of the board when you're lying on it. Remember that every surfboard and person is a different size and shape so there's no magic place where everyone can lie.
Hopefully these tips can help you improve the way you surf.
Remember Muriwai Surf School always has surf instructors in the shop to help with any questions you might have or, if you want to perfect your technique, try one of our private lessons.