6 Advanced Surfing Skills You Really Need to Learn

Honing your beginner surf skills is just the start but there are several maneuvers and techniques that all surfers need to start developing if they plan on making it to the advanced level.

Here are the most important surfing skills a surfer can evolve to become a top-notch athlete.

Floaters

Floaters refer to when a surfer rides the cresting edge of a wave as if it’s the coping on a halfpipe. This maneuver not only looks incredibly smooth, but feels that way, too.

When you have some good speed, and the wave is just about to begin breaking, you’ll want to make your move.

Your goal is to ride up on the frothy lip and drop back in from the highest point of the wave. To get up there, you have to use your arms.

A surfer’s arms generate the speed and force necessary to propel surf turns. As you aim toward the lip, throw your arms upward and lean in while bending your knees.

If you do it correctly, it will be a little bit like jumping a curb on a BMX bike – riders throw their arms upward while bending their knees and letting their lower body follow.

Big Drop-Ins

To up your game, you need to increase the size of waves you ride. That is only possible once you learn how to take on advanced chest- and head-high waves, and above.

A common mistake when wave-catching is putting too much weight on the nose. The obvious sign this has happened is when the board nosedives – referred to as pearling.

To avoid this, place your hands as far back on the rails as possible when you are popping up. It takes a little practice to get this chicken-wing movement down because it can feel slightly awkward.

It makes a difference, though, and it’s well worth wiring into your muscle memory. In this training video, Evan Valiere demonstrates some huge drop-ins.

Barrels

This classic move consists of a surfer tucking in tight and holding a straight line through the cylindrical maw of a perfectly barreling wave.

The idea is to maintain an ideal trimming position where you’ll have tons of speed. This will cause you to shoot out of the end of the barrel before it collapses.

You will still need to stay above the bottom of the wave to maintain your speed. You don’t want to drop too low on the face and lose momentum.

Remember to crouch – bend your knees and duck if you have to. If the barrel begins to narrow, it could curtail your ride by pushing you over.

Bottom Turns

The first type of turn any surfer should attempt to perform is a bottom turn. The bottom turn is the change in direction you make back toward the wave after dropping in. Bottom turns require a lot of speed, so you’ll want to execute it when you know you’re going fast.

In addition to speed, turning power on a surfboard comes from either placing your weight over your back foot or digging your rail into the water. On bottom turns, you want to do both.

Keep weight over your back foot and lean down toward the water’s surface.

Top Turns

Top turns are the sharp, water-spraying turns done on the face or at the top of a wave. These advanced competition-winning turns kill your speed, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Top turns allow you to drop in over and over again. Like all surf turns, top turns begin with speed.

Get some speed by dropping in or trimming, then point the nose hard toward the top of the wave. Drive up the face and then initiate the turn with your upper body. You’ll need to throw your arms a bit, maintain pressure on the back foot and whip the board around.

It is always helpful in surfing to look where you want to go. Don’t focus your eyes on your board, as it will come around if you know where you want it. Focus on your destination and you’ll be able to top turn like a pro.

Airs

Who says surfing is a water sport? The modern form of technical surfing begins when a surfer launches, or “punts,” off the face of a wave and into the air. Airs are really similar to floaters. As with a floater, you’ll need to point your board toward the lip.

When you get there, hopefully with massive amounts of speed, you need to use your upper body to force your weight upwards. At the same time, you need to jump off your back foot while pulling your knees to your chest, all while guiding the board with your front foot.

If you time everything correctly, the board will hold its speed off the top of the wave and send you skyward. Shift your weight forward to land. At first, try punting on wide shortboards. They’re more stable on take-off and landing than a skinny high-performance shortboard.

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