Lesson 5 of 22
In Progress

5 : The Pop-Up

Meredith May 15, 2022

Lesson Goals: 

  • Learn how to pop-up on your board with proper position and timing.
  • Learn how to position yourself in the pocket of the wave and aim the board in the direction you want to ride the wave.         

Before you head straight to the water…

We’re going to practice the pop-up on land. If you can’t do it seamlessly and smoothly on land, how will you be able to do it on a moving surface in the water? Find a spot in your yard or house to begin. No need to practice on a surfboard at first as you’ll put pressure dings on the board!

First, you will need to figure out your surf stance. Figure out which foot feels more comfortable forward. Try your left foot forward, and see how that feels. Then try the right foot forward. If you have ever skateboarded or snowboarded, your surf stance will usually be the same. The left foot forward is called regular stance and the right foot forward is called goofy-footed. So, are you goofy or regular?

The 3 Step Pop Up Method

Step 1:

Laying down, make sure your feet are together and your core is engaged. Place your hands alongside of your chest, and then lift your chest and hips off the board. Keep your knees on the board, with your weight in the lower half of the body. Keeping your chest lifted is important for keeping your weight back looking where you are going and the distance of the wave you are about to catch.  Most often the chest up will make it easier to stand up and keep the nose of the board from pearling the board,(nose diving).  You need the nose to stay above the water surface to make the take-off and drop of the wave.

Step 2: 

Push up and place your front foot forward under your hips. When you’re first starting out, you will naturally want to look down at your feet. Try avoiding this, because in the water if you look down you will go down! Keep your head and chest up and trust yourself. 

Step 3:

Drop your back heel down on the board, and lift your hands off the board, with your hands down at your sides.  Keeping your hands down at your side will help you with balance. Your feet should be about shoulder distance apart. Bend your knees to keep your center of gravity low and in control. Keep your chest tall and lifted while maintaining compressed knees and engagement in your core for balance. This is your surf stance!

Tip and Tricks

First, try counting: 1(chest up, head up, hands along your ribs, hips up, knees on the board and flexed feet), 2(lift your front foot under your hips), 3(look up, stand up, lift and place the back foot down near the fins.  

It is helpful to keep your knees bent, hands always come off the board last, and hands down at your side. 

Practice this pop up at least ten times on land to build muscle memory. Try to make it smooth while maintaining good form. Once you feel confident, now it’s time to practice in the water.

When paddling out in the surf, try to start out on some waves that have already broken (white-wash) before progressing to waves with a drop. Make sure to take enough strokes (paddles) to get into the wave so that you feel the momentum of the wave pushing you forward. 

Make sure to put your hands down along your rib cage to stand up.  It stabilizes your balance and the board’s position on the wave so that you keep the nose up. The most important thing in catching a wave is to look where you are going.  Make sure you are not going to run into anyone taking off or drop in on someone and get in a collision, safety first. 

Your hands need to be last to come up to complete standing for balance.  If you lift your hands before your feet are standing you will fall. If you don’t keep your chest lifted, your weight will be too far forward when taking off, which will cause you to fall or nose dive the front end of the board before you even get a chance to stand up. 

Take a second to look where you are going before popping up, as it makes for better timing on your take-off and ride. Once you’re up and riding the wave, remember to keep your head and chest up. Keep the weight in the center of your feet rather than too much toe or heel for a solid stance with more control. 

It may seem like a lot to think about at first, but with time and practice, it will come naturally!