Surf theory... it's time to turn...

Whilst working overseas in Sri Lanka we met and worked with a lot of great surfers, from those hitting the waves for the first time, through to those that have spent years scanning the planet for uncrowded and untouched waves to perfect their skills on. It was great assisting these people on their journey through surfing and it really refreshed and inspired our coaching methods to get them to the next level. From using video analysis to help with timing for take-offs, right through to working with Jake Boex, ex-professional surfer turned yoga & meditation teacher, who was linking specific yoga asana's to improve backside bottom turns. 

 Jake Boex ( with a crisp backside top turn on a recent Sri Lanka mission...  Photo: DTL Photography

Jake Boex ( with a crisp backside top turn on a recent Sri Lanka mission...

Photo: DTL Photography

One thing that we did find interesting was the number of surfers that admitted they have been hitting a wall with their surfing. It was interesting to speak with people about this, as many of us just plod along with our surfing, neither progressing or really seeking assistance to understand how to hit that section a little harder, take off a little deeper, or turn a little sharper. Ask yourself the question, when was the last time I felt like I really stepped up my ability in the surf? When was the last time I honestly pushed myself? Have I thought about what my body is actually doing when riding waves? Have a tried to work on a specific turn recently? Have I attempted to ride a new surf break? How about stepping up to larger surf? What about a different surf craft to take a different line on a wave? 

 Roam guide, Chris Ranford.   Photo: DTL Photography

Roam guide, Chris Ranford. 

Photo: DTL Photography

On the back of our surfing workshops and 1-on-1 sessions in Sri Lanka we are developing a range of surf theory materials to help inspire you to up your game... This will be followed up with some practical sessions with guest coaches to help you work on each of these themes... more details to follow on this soon.

First of all though, let's start with some fundamentals that we can all go out and put to practice immediately... it's time to turn 

Carving, bottom, and top turns…

The above clip shows some basic bottom and top turn combinations, both frontside and backside, so have a look first then read on for the breakdown...

Basically, everything in surfing is a variation or extension of bottom and top turning. So, it's a good thing to get right and be clear on the fundamentals of how they work, which are broken down below:

HEAD/EYES - look where you want to go

Read the wave, angle the take-off and look where you want to go, keeps your eyes fixed in that direction, not at the board or water.

 Taj - Photo:  ASP/Cestari

Taj - Photo: ASP/Cestari

SHOULDERS/ARMS - open shoulders & raise arms in direction you want to go

For the purpose of developing good technique for bottom turns its important to keep your legs compressed and stay low to the board as you’re dropping into the wave, make sure you drop down to the trough of the wave to gain maximum speed, then raise your leading arm and twist/open your shoulders to point in the direction you want to go. This will get the torso turning which will lead to the hips…

 Rasta - Photo: Bielmann/SPL

Rasta - Photo: Bielmann/SPL

HIPS - twist the hips in motion with the shoulders and arms

Follow the shoulder twist with the hips, as that will transition weight through the legs to turn the board. (Avoid leaning the upper body over the rails, as this can lead to a common error of bogging your rail, turns come from looking, pointing and pivoting. The above images show that all body weight is still aligned with the centre line of the board.)



Surfing is a continuous movement of weight between the front and back foot depending on what you are doing. When bottom turning the weight wants to be on the back foot, so to engage the fins as a pivot point and set up the turn. Once you have set the turn you then want to transition weight on to the front foot to accelerate forwards. 

The same principle goes for a top turn, using weight on the back foot to engage fins, lift the nose of the board, and then looking, pointing and pivoting to complete the turn and then lean forwards again for speed. 

 Photo: Tom Servais   Above shows a lot of weight on the back foot to engage fins, which is then followed with head (look) , shoulders (point), hips (pivot)

Photo: Tom Servais 

Above shows a lot of weight on the back foot to engage fins, which is then followed with head (look) , shoulders (point), hips (pivot)

book a 1-on-1 coaching session to improve your surfing:

Youtube links to support the above:

Theory -

Cutback/top turn -