The take off or entry into the wave is commonly overlooked as an important part of improving your surfing. Former WQS surfer and surf coach Blake Johnson shares a few tips to ensure the foundations are in order. Thanks to these advices, you will catch more waves and continue to develop your surf tekkers.
Beginners will get more waves in the white water
Learning to stand up the correct way is key to setting the foundation for good habits as you progress with your surfing. As a beginner, you can get a lot of repetition in the white water to help develop your skills.
Once you start negotiating the drop and open faced waves there’s a lot more decision making needed. This is when a surfers improvement tends to slow down due to simply less time riding the wave. My advice for beginners would be to focus on the technique in the white water for an extended period, where you can catch more waves and where wave selection or timing isn’t your main focus.
Use the rock climber technique to pop up:
Step 1 – Toes on tail and hands on deck directly under your arm pits. Chin high off board to enhance you vision of the approaching wave.
Step 2 – Before lifting to stand up, use your power foot (your back foot) by bringing it up the board where it will stay for you whole ride. We also call it the ‘chicken wing’ as you knee should poke out the side.
Step 3 – In one movement, use both hands and your power foot to separate your body from the board. It will give you space and distance for a correct stance. Swing your front foot through so your knee comes to your chest as you release your hands from the board.
Equipment and awareness for intermediate surfers
So you want to tackle some more sucky waves, a reef break, or maybe you’re having trouble building speed in fatter conditions? A lot of the time, the entry into the wave is a major hurdle for those aspiring to achieve more consistency and radical. On a wave, you may spend most of the time catching up to a section and not keeping up with the waves pace. The 2 key elements here are equipment and awareness.
The equipment. Understanding what works for YOU is key if you want to catch more waves. Most people want to go shorter in board length and think the volume is enough to paddle. But then there is more drag at the tail end of your board. This makes paddling slower and timing the entry to the wave more difficult. So less waves, slower progression and less fun. It also means that your board requires a steeper face for you to constantly maintain speed, which requires advanced technique and timing to be functional.
The awareness. When learning to make better decisions in the water, we want to keep our thoughts simple and concise. When paddling for a wave, to help with selection, ask yourself two questions: “Can I catch it?” and “Is it a good one?”. This will ensure you’re paying full attention to the approaching wave and enable you to be on the good ones, with more opportunity to shred.
As you progress and your decision making improves, you’ll find yourself simply becoming more consistent. By being comfortable with your entry, you should begin to understand how the wave will break down the line, feel like you have more time on the face of the wave and love surfing even more.
A crucial part for advanced surfers
For the advanced surfer, the entry or take off is the crucial part to setting your line for the first section of the wave. Every wave requires a different approach as does every turn. If you take off the same way every wave, you also notice a repetition in what your first turn is. Take note of the angle you are paddling in to the wave on and try mixing up the angle so it helps set you up for a strong first turn.
A straight deeper take off will allow you to attack from behind. The angled take off will bring you the face and force a rail turn to maintain speed.