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Post-Take-Off Body Position

This tutorial is about surfers’ body position at the precise moment they get to their feet. Once surfers fix the technical issues with their take-off, their feet land in an optimal position to ride the wave, helping them go down the line faster. This helps surfers ride fast peeling waves and get through sections they couldn’t possibly make if they took just an extra two seconds to stand up.

Small technique adjustments can have a massive impact on a surfer’s take off and this can be the difference between being able to ride a wave or getting stuck in the white water.

How experienced surfers are positioned right at the moment when they get to their feet:

  • Surfers look where they want to go
  • Their shoulders are squared towards that direction
  • Their front foot lands in between their hands
  • Their back knee is a bit lower than their front knee
  • Their front knee is in between their arms, pointing in the direction they want to go 
  • They stay compressed down until ready to release their hands & stand up

*The same elements apply for both the frontside and the backside take-off. 

Variations from the optimal body position caused by technical mistakes or bad habits:

Many surfers keep their hands on the surfboard for too long instead of releasing them as soon as the front foot is correctly placed on the surfboard’s deck. The consequence of this is often that the surfer rides the wave too low, instead of starting to generate speed right away.

The landing of the front foot and the position of the front knee right when the feet get on the deck can be great indicators of the quality of a surfer’s take-off technique. If the front knee doesn’t land in between the surfer’s arms, or if the front foot doesn’t land centred on the width of the surfboard near the hands, then surfers will need to readjust their feet once they are up. These adjustments can make surfers lose precious time or put them off balance.

Some intermediate surfers don’t always land with their feet in the optimal spots, and by decompressing too fast, they can lose their balance. Most experienced surfers keep their knees bent and pointing in the direction they are heading to with their back knee lower than the front one. They only decompress once they’re balanced and in the optimal position. 

Another way how lots of intermediates end up dropping down the entire wave is by looking down. Where surfers look is where they end up going, as the rest of their body will follow. Most likely, if a surfer is looking down, their shoulders will be parallel to the wave, instead of being square to it. 

Something to notice is that while advanced surfers pop up, their hips also twist slightly in the direction they want to go to. Without this twist, surfers can take off with the hips aiming straight to the beach without landing in the correct position with the knees pointing towards their target on the wave.

To help them twist their body towards where they want to go, some surfers like to keep one of their hands lower on the surfboard when they push up. For example, if they wanted to go left, their left hand would be lower, and the right hand would be lower to go right.

The challenge for many of these intermediates is that these small technical mistakes usually have become bad habits, which are sometimes hard to get rid of. After months or years of taking off a certain way, it’s hard to suddenly unlearn it and force yourself to pop up a different way. For this reason, we highly suggest getting yourself filmed for at least one session. You might be making some of the mistakes in this tutorial without knowing it, and videos can expose them.