Surfing looks so easy when you watch it. Paddle, catch a wave, pop-up and off you go on an awesome ride. Reality is if you are lucky enough to catch a wave, the next question is, how do you get up and actually stay up? The ocean is moving, the board is moving and it’s not the easiest off all tasks but don’t despair gidgets…I promise there will be a point when popping up seems like second nature. Here are some tips for the beginner gidget that will help you get there with your pop-ups:
Top Ten Pop Up Tips for the beginner Gidget
DRY PRACTICE. One of the hardest parts is that every wave is different. So unlike skiing where you can practice on the same hill over and over again, no two waves are the same. You can’t change that but what you can do is practice pop ups on the floor at home before you go out for a surf. So when you are out there, you’ll still have to pay attention to what the waves and your board is doing but at least you’ll have the pop up movement down pat.
EQUIPMENT. A bigger, wider board is more stable than a little one. And stability is key to getting up on the board.
STABILITY. Your goal is to keep the board as stable as possible prior to the pop-up. If the board is already sideways before you even get up, you won’t have any chance to keep your balance. How do you do that? See next tip.
TAKE YOUR TIME. There is no reason to rush out there. It’s starts with getting onto the board. Glide onto the board rather than jumping on it (try both and see the difference. If you jump on it gets all wobbly). Breathe. If you are not ready, just let the wave go. There will be more. And when you are ready, start paddling. No crazy super fast strokes but long, even, controlled strokes. Just like with swimming the more controlled and even the strokes are the more powerful and the faster you’ll swim. All of this keeps the board stable for more balance when you pop-up.
WAVES FIRST. Many beginner gidgets get so excited about getting up that they forget to actually catch the waves first and they pop up too early and miss the wave altogether. Focus on paddling and make sure you catch the wave first, feel the tail of your board lift and only then think about popping-up.
SPACE. The more space you have between your upper body and the board, the more space you’ll have for your feet. So practice making space. How? Catch a wave. Put your hands flat on the board and start to push up. Learn to lift your upper body and get as much space between you and the board as you can. For the yogis amongst you – it’s almost like an upward dog on the board. Just practice that for a while in the white wash before attempting an actual pop up.
STAND UP. DON’T JUMP UP. The word pop-up/jump-up is a little bit misleading if you ask me. Yes, there are benefits of jumping up. With a jump you have more momentum and it’s a bit easier to get your feet on the board. However, most beginner gidgets get too much momentum, which makes the board unstable and you unbalanced. Stand up with some oomph rather than jumping up. Again stability and control are your best friends. I know everyone will tell you jump up as fast as you can. Yes, that’s right when you progress a bit further, timing gets more important at take off but as a beginner gidget, take your time. The more confident you’ll get with your pop-ups, the faster you’ll get anyway.
IT’S ALL IN THE KNEES. Try not to use your knees when popping up. It only adds another step that makes the board less stable. Once you are up, stay low with your knees bent. There is no point straightening up only to bend down again. You’ll have more balance with your knees bent as well as they absorb bumpiness in the waves.
WHITE WATER. White wash is your best friend. Get confident with your pop-ups in the white wash first before you head out the back in the attempt to catch green waves. You’ll just get frustrated if you are out the back before your time. On the other hand, once you comfortably stand up every time you catch a wave in the whitewash, you’ll probably get bored and that’s when you’ll know it’s time for a step-up and try some green (unbroken) waves out the back.
LEARN FROM MISTAKES. Even if you fall and you will – that’s all part of the fun J – notice the way you fall. If you keep falling forward you have too much weight on your front foot. Try to put more weight on your back foot (the one that’s closer to the tail end of the board). If you tend to fall backwards you are likely to lean back too much. Put some more weight on your front foot by moving your hip forward.
Hope that helps, gidgets! Have fun practicing. Let us know how the tips work for you.