Surf Tips - Learn Basic Surfing Turns

The problem with breaking down surfing turns and manoeuvres is that you lose the feel. When you hear surfers talk even the likes of the great KS. They know that having fun and not thinking too much is the key to surfing.

Ask most surfers and they will tell you if you look there you will go there. Keeping this in mind we will try and break down a few maneuvers for surfing.

Getting Speed

One of the problems surfers find when they are starting out is how to keep up enough speed to ride the wave to the end. The secret is to ride high. This means try and stay as far up the face of the wave as you can, not too far though, or you will feel the real power of the wave as it sucks you up and 'over the falls' this hurts!! I know!

Generally just above half the height of the wave. It always feels like you are higher than you are, so make sure you are up there.

Staying higher up the face gives you the momentum to do those manoeuvres you've been dreaming about. Staying high is very important when you are surfing smaller waves, which don't have the power of bigger ones.

Staying High on the Wave


The Frontside Cutback

The cut-back maneuver is used when you need to get back to the power source of the wave and done right it can look good too.

cutting back surfing

The cutback, like with most surfing manoeuvres, the cut back needs to start with speed, so you can get your board on it's rail.

Imagine a point on high on the face of the wave that you are going to do a circle around, as you go towards the high point, bend your knees and transfer the weight from your toes to your heals,

Your back foot heal should be pivoting/guiding your board, as you straighten your knees.

With speed you can get the board on its rail, but you need to control this to make sure the nose doesn't go under or you bury the rail too far for the speed you are going.

Cutting Back

Once heading back to the breaking part of the wave straighten your back leg and lean forward, using your toes of your back foot to bring the board around again.

Things to remember when cutting back

Try not to go too low on the wave, because if you go into the trough you will lose all your speed and the wave will overtake you.

Don't put too much weight on your front foot, or stand too far up on the board, or you will bury the rail and stall the surfboard.

Ensure you have plenty of speed when entering your first turn

Look where you are going, I can't stress this enough, it is fundamental to all surfing maneuvres.

Back-Hand Cutback

Back Hand Cut Back

Is simply the front side in reverse. The secret of any cutback is the heal and toe pressure and control, particularly of your back foot and compressing your body during the first turn. Not getting these right usually results in digging your rail.

Check this video on How to do a Basic Backhand Cutback

The Re-Entry

A re-entry is when you turn up the face of the wave vertically and hit the lip of the breaking wave, as you turn back into the wave face.

Aim your board towards the lip/top of the wave. Pick a point where you want your surfboard to go. Once at the top, look back down the wave and using weight on your back foot and your front foot guiding the board back around and down the face of the wave.

The re-entry and the more aggressive version hitting the lip (below) need to be done with a certain amount of speed, or you will find yourself falling mid way through the turn.

Surfing manouvre - re-entry hitting the lip

The Bottom Turn

The bottom turn is usually done, after you take off and/or to set yourself up for your next maneuver. The idea of the bottom turn is to get on the rail of your surfboard to gain speed. It is also used to get around sections of the wave in front of you that have already broken.

Bottom Hand Turn

The bottom turn is done in a curve by putting pressure on the inside edge of your surfboard (frontside: toes, backside: heels). Firstly, take off straight, or at a slight angle and head to the bottom of the wave,

Keep your eye on a point on the wave in front of you where you want to go. When going into the bottom turn bend your knees and get low, as you push through and out of the turn, extend your body which compresses the water flowing under your surfboard and creates speed and you should be able to accelerate onto the face of the wave ready for your next turn.

Bottom Turn
Bottom Turn

Practice, watch others, ask for advice, and check back here for more updates to the page.

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1 thought on “Surfing Turns

  1. Thanks for the tip that having a lot of speed first will ensure a good turn when surfing. I’d like to look for a good custom surfboard shops soon because I’m interested in the process of making a new one. That way, I could appreciate better hot to maneuver one once I start learning.

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