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"Correct foot placement" for surfing ?

Where should your feet be on the surfboard ?

Is there a optimal place your feet should land on after popping up ?

What is the ideal weight distribution between you front and back foot ?


There are "Rules" in surfing and a lot of unwritten "Rules".  One rule, which is mainly dictated by physics,  is ..............

" When TURNING your back foot should be over the fin(s)".   The fin(s) are like a rudder on a boat and from there the board pivots/turn.  


Here my back foot is in the front 1/3rd of the pad, probably between the front fins, on roundhouse cutback or full wrapping TURN.  


His foot is way far back stepping on the kicktail of the pad. This is during a top TURN.  


But if you ARE NOT turning, your foot does NOT need to be on the pad.  


Here on the takeoff/pop up, here foot is just infront of the pad.


Easier to see in this photo.  When she bottom TURNs in the next milli-seconds, she'll move her back foot over the pad to TURN.


Takeoff and pop up.  Again back foot is infront of the white tail pad.


Another surfer with his foot at the very front of his green tail pad.  Taking the drop, you don't necessarily need your foot on the pad.  In some situations yes, some no.  Sometimes on the front of the pad, sometimes at the rear of the pad.  


When hard angles and power come in to play,  your foot needs to be on the pad to turn your board.  The rider does almost a karate kick off the kick tail of the pad. 


But when you are not turning, like taking the drop, trimming, pulling into a barrel, moving forward for speed down the line,  you DO NOT need to have your foot on the pad.  ( but when you do turn, make sure to step back )


Your surfing should not be RIGID and stuck to pre-determined numbers and marks. Your surfing should be smooth, flowing and every changing just like nature and the wave itself.  


So what is the "correct foot placement" for surfing ?   There is none.   


Please check out ,  Philippines surf report and Hope Cheng on FB to see more.  








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Surfing Grab Rail Do or Don't

Last week we talked about how a extra helping hand - Grabbing Rail - can help your surfing technique.  


BUT............. like in any sport, it is not so much the How ( to grab rail ) , but the When and WHY ( to grab rail ).  


Especially when riding Backside in a pitching barreling wave, grabbing rail helps to set your inside rail into the wave.  

1) back foot is way back on the pad to keep the fins engaged.

2) front foot is forward by the nose to keep the speed/angle going foward. It is also on the right side of the stringer. 

3) front hand is dragging in the face to draw up the board high.

4) back hand lifts up the outside rail


Look how much of the surfboard IS NOT in the water, it's mainly only on the right rail.  

1) Rider doesn't drag his hand but drags his inside hip/butt.

2) Front foot is leaned over on it's side, forward.

3) He is grabbing rail, but neither pushing down or pulling up. He is constantly adjusting the leverage.   


Sometimes too much , is TOO MUCH.  Here the rider needs to let go of the rail.  ( and not look down )


You steer and control a surfboard with your FEET, not your hands.  Sometimes grabbing makes your bodyline break and squatted over, that's not good.   Let go of the rail and stand up. 


Here she maybe is pushing down with her hand so the rail doesn't come up.  


Just like in Motorcycle racing, you don't need to get leaned over if you're going SLOW and STRAIGHT.  It's when things get critical and fast that you need to grab rail. 


So yes, grabbing rail can HELP or HURT your surfing.  Know When Where and Why to grab.   


please check out Philippine Surf Report on FB to see more.  

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Need a extra helping hand in surfing ?

Sometimes in life, we all need a extra helping hand.   Same for surfing.  


To help you Turn, Hold a line, Lift the outside rail, or just make the board more stable, a surfer can GRAB RAIL.  

( notice only one hand is grabbing the rail ) 


If the wave is too fast, too step, if you are too light or too much in the center of your board,  grabbing rail can help you turn.  


One hand grabs the rails and lift it up and pulls the rail in to help engage the opposite rail into the wave's face.  The other hand creates a pivot point.  


Sometimes you literally have to grab the rail and YANK the board away, so you don't collide with others.  


I don't recommend to grab with BOTH hands. 


But she is holding a fast line and makes it.   But usually ONLY grab with one hand. 


Here she is backside bottom turning WITHOUT grabbing rail.  Especially when surfer go backside you see a lot of RAIL GRABS.  But if you're too light, your boards is too big, your're in the wrong place on the board, you might need to grab rail. 


Sometimes we need a little help to turn our surfboards,  Try seeing if grabbing rail will help.  


please check out and Hope Cheng on FB to see more.  

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Surfing is not what you think it is. #2 It is Opposite of what you think.

Surfing is sometimes OPPOSITE of what you think it should be.

If you really want to go high UP,  first you need to ....................


go really low DOWN.


To go faster and farther RIGHT, you need to go LEFT first........


then crank it over to go the other way.   


To Speed Up, sometimes you need to SLOW your board Down, to let the wave's curl catch up to you.


Being tighter in the "pocket" is the more vertical powerful part of the wave, thus faster. Here the rider does a speed check to fade back to the power.  


Wetsuit are NOT suppose to be DRY inside, wetsuits should be W E T .  It is that thin layer of water trapped between the neoprene and your skin that keeps you warm.  



CUPPED hands are slower than paddling with OPENED hands.  Open hands are more relaxed ( and so are your forearms, shoulders, neck etc. ) and they move more water, thus faster and more powerful.   


Gloss finished surfboards are hydrodynamically SLOWER than Sanded finish surfboards.  They are better looking and leave less finger prints but are more expensive to buy, more expensive to repair, heavier and not as fast as a sanded finish board.  


And one of the most important OPPOSITEs in surfing...................

"If you WANT a wave, then you should GIVE a wave first".  


please check out to see more opposites.  


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Surfing is not what you think it is.

Surfing is not what you ( or specifically first timers or newbies ) think it is.  It not riding waves, hanging-ten on the nose or busting huge airs.  As a legendary Waikiki beachboy taught me, " Surfing isn't "surfing", surfing is paddling". 


The lady in the foreground is riding her board. To get there, she had to paddle into the wave, take off, pop up and balance on her board.  Without the Paddling there is no riding.   ( the surfer in red straight arm paddle is very inefficent and probably won't catch the wave  )


90% of the time a surfer is PADDLING.  Paddling "In" to catch the wave, Paddling "Out" back to the break, paddling "Around" to stay out of others way or to get into position.   Only 10% of the time a surfer is actually on his feet.  


And the other times you're not paddling or riding, you're waiting for waves.  My hotel guest have said "I see a lot of surfers out there, but they're not riding any waves".  I say to them, "well, that is why they call fishing "FISHING" and not "CATCHING".   


Even if you can paddle "okay" and catch the wave, you have to give up priority to those in better position and already on the wave.  


So sometimes the percentage for catching and riding for beginners is less than half, due to more advance surfers at the break. . Meaning a lot of wasted paddling and then being even more out of position for the next wave.  


If you need to stand-up with you feet on the ocean floor with your board to your side and not take-off properly by laying on the board and paddling, YOU should not be riding a shortboard like these 3 beginners.   Doing the "Standing Jump" onto the board will hinder you surfing progress.  It's also dangerous, because you are in the way of others further out. And at some breaks ( like Waikiki which is a Reef break ) it's not possible to do without cutting your feet.  


If you can't position your body correctly on the board like this shortboarder, it doesn't matter how "hard" you paddle. Get the proper board for the surf break,  position you body right, know HOW to paddle, Where to paddle, and When to start and stop paddling.  Then you can be happy and smiling like the lady surfer actually surfing.   


Surfing is not "surf-ing", surfing is mainly "paddle-ing".  If you want to be a better surfer, you need to learn how to paddle better.  And that doesn't mean, grit your teeth and paddle harder.  It means learn the wave and paddle efficiently ( move a lot of water a short distance rather than a small amount of water a long distance ).  Paddle smarter not harder.  


No one has ever said " Man, that guy surfs unreal, BUT his paddle sucks".  Good surfing and paddling go hand in hand.  


please check out and Hope Cheng on FB to see more.  



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Taking the drop on a wave - straight down or angle in ? Part #2

So last week we showed you these 3 photos.

Rider taking the drop straight down. ( not at an angle )


Rider (seemingly) stuck out in the flats and about to get runned over by the crashing lip.


BUT .....  ended up trimming on a high line across the wave coming out of a barrel ride.  


How did he do that ??


Here is another wave.   Again a straight drop.


Run out all the way to the bottom of the wave. Eyes on down the line.  


THEN .......Cranks the board over. 

1) Strong lean angle ( but body is not bent over ).

2) Pushing hard against the tail/fins.

3) Inside rail fully engaged ( strong spray coming off the outside rail )

4) Front arm steering / pointing down the line and twisting the waist/torso into the wave.  

5) Board/Body resisting the energy flowing UP the wave's face.  

6) Timing the bottom turn/crank over to right before the crashing / curling lip.


This all leads to the drive and propulsion to escape the lip and get flung out onto the wave's face.  


Another wave.  This time taking off almost directly in the peak.  


Waits till he hits the bottom almost into the flats.


This time he really waits for the wave to build and unload it's energy BEFORE he cranks the board over.  On every wave, he pushing the limits more and more and making adjustments each time.  

* notice the back hand "feeling" the lean again and not reaching. *


The rider made an adjustment from the wave he took off on a angle and got throw over.  He made the decision INSTEAD to now drop straight down, gain speed and do a SQUARE bottom turn. 


Should you take off at an angle or dropping straight down ?  It depends on many factors.  But you do need a good paddle and the proper board.  But more importantly you need good knowledge of the ocean/wave and know WHERE to be and know WHEN to do it.   In the RUSH to go faster, sometimes you need to show more PATIENCE. 




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Taking the drop on a wave - straight down or angle in ?

A question was asked " Do I paddle straight, drop down to the flats, then bottom turn ? Or angle in and turn on the face of the wave ? "  Well, it depends.  

Here the surfer paddles in at angle to the beach and immediately turns as his feet touch the deck. 


Bit of hand drag, sets the inside rail and trims down the line. Never going past half way down the face, he rides only on the upper half.  



And gets a nice barrel ride.  


Here another surfer does the same, he does a turn right off the top. 


BUT........ gets tossed over and smashed by the lip.   What happened ?   

1) Not quick enough to his feet ?

2) Not enough momentum ?

3) Too strong wind coming up the face ?

4) Wave was pitching too hard ?

5) Too strong an angle in ?

6) Bump on the face of the wave bucked him off ?

We really don't know exactly why he wiped out.  


Remember the first surfer ?  Same day, different wave, different drop down technique.  This time he drives straight down the face.  


Then he will bottom turn right before the flat THEN drive up the face.  


So it really depends on many factors if you should:

1)  Paddle at an angle and immediately turn and stay on the uper half

2)  Paddle straight down and wait to bottom after hitting the flats. 


But let's take another look at the second surfer.


He's up to his feet and not really going at a angle.


Oh Oh ! Looks like he got straightened out without much speed and the wave is going to mow him down (again ). 



But WAIT !  He made it !!   How'd he do that ?  What happened ?  How did he go from going straight ahead to going across the wave ?  What adjustment did he make ? 


Stay tuned until next week when I reveal the technique he used.   

In the meantime,  please check out Philippines Surf Report on FB to see more.    


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Turn sequence

Surfing is simply riding a wave.  But what makes surfing amazing is we can turn on water.  But there's more than one type of turn.  



Fins out -tail slide cutback at the start of the wave.  Front foot becomes the pivot/balance point as the tail swings around it.  


Coming out of that turn, He goes to the bottom and angles up ( bottom turn ).  Eyes look back, shoulders/hands twist back before mid way up the face.  ( notice the front foot is flat )


Now at the top, his front foot goes back on it's heel by raising up the toes. That "gives" power/leverage to back foot over the fins.  Speed Check top turn since he wants to keep going down the line.  


Now back onto the inside rail and twisting coming off the bottom turn.  ( bodyline strong inline with the angle of the board )


Which sets up a  snap turn.  He gets his butt past the outside rail to stop short his momentum ( see the spray coming off the left rail ? )   Also notice the turn over point by the fins/rail/tail making a gouge in the wave's face.


Performance surfing. Progressive surfing. Advanced surfing envolves Turns.   But it also envolves Speed, Power and Flow.  It's the Flow part that links all those different turns together in one smooth ride.   


Please check out Matsunosuke Kugenuma on Facebook to see more surf photos.  



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Turtle Roll or Rolling Thru

If you don't have the ability or your board is too big to Duck Dive,  you need to Turtle Roll to get past waves on your way out to the break. 


Basically, you paddle up to the breaking wave, grab the rails with both hands, spin the board over, let the wave past over you, then flip the board back over.   Simple ............  but it's not.  


Like in Sumo, Rugby, American Football,  you have to match power with power.  Don't just wait for the wave to come to you.  Paddle full speed up to it.  If you just wait, it will just run you over. 


Go straight into the wave, perpendicular to the waves face at a 90 degree angle.  If you go in at a angle, there's more area for the wave's energy to hit. There's less of the board that the wave "sees" if you go straight.


If your board is at an angle, it is more likely that it will get ripped out of your hands, then maybe hit the people on the inside of you ( girl in purple ).   Also never follow others up the face, since they block you from going straight over sometimes. 


One secret to Turtle Roll, is timing.  Flip over at the very last second, almost to when the white water touches the nose of your board.  Most people turn over TOO early and just wait under the water.  You need to paddle hard, flip at the last moment AND kick hard under the water with your feet.   


( also notice her hands are in the middle of the board.  She should grab further up to create a V-wedge under the water )



But maybe the best way to get out isn't Turtle Rolling ?

"Best way to avoid a punch, is not be there"  is what Mr. Miyagi taught.  In other words, don't put yourself to be in a position to get hit in the first place.


If you can, paddle AROUND the break.  It might take longer, but it's safer. 


If you are in whitewater, YOU can get hit by Spray of a Rider or the crashing lip of the  wave. Don't be there.  


Long boards can take off earlier.  Shortboards can take off on deeper steeper waves.  Be careful when you mix the two.  If you are a longboarder, better to stay where the longboarders are.  If you are a beginner, stay where the beginners are.  If there's no longboarders or no beginners out, there's a reason why.  


If you don't have the paddling technique, speed or stamina to get out to the break, you shouldn't be out there. If you are getting tired Turtle Rolling then maybe:

1) the beach break waves are too hard to get out.

2) the swell has waves that are too close to each other

3) you don't have good enough paddling technique

4) you don't trim and ride to the side of the wave. If you go straight, you end up in the line of fire. 

But most important,

5) you don't undertand the ocean / waves.  

To get out past waves, use more of your BRAIN and less of your BRAWN.  Sometimes wait on the inside, then paddle back out.  Count the waves of each set.  If you catch the 1st wave of the set, 3 more are likely to after that, so wait until they pass.  Maybe sometimes it better to paddle in more, then around, than trying to fight your way back out.  


In Aikido, you use the opponents energy against themselves.  In surfing, we CAN NOT fight Mother Nature / Waves.  You can not just keep forcing you way by brute strength.   Learn the waves, work with the waves so you have less problems getting out.  


please check out Hope Cheng on FB to see more great surfing.  





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Small secret to Backside Bottom turn and Backside Cutbacks

To turn better on your Backside Bottom turn and Backside Cutbacks, make sure your to turn your palm UP and OUT.


Notice his palm is open to the wave.

Front leading shoulder turns into the wave. 

Lots of space for the head to turn and look around.  


Open palm opens the shoulder to the wave. Which allows the torso to twist around.  More twist = more turn.


Palm Down and Closed leads to the shoulder pointed inwards.  It rolls the upper body forward and to the right, when he actually wants to go left. 


Palm facing the wave, locks out the elbow, throws the shoulder forward and blocks the chin/head from turning.  

Back hand is bracing off a invisible wall, when it should be coming around the chest. It's hard for it to come forward because the front arm is restricting the movement.  


When good techinique of a Open and UP palm, it allows more freedom and movement.  Here his hand and shoulder are going up.  His head is just turning back the other way.  


He OPENed the door going up the wave. Now he CLOSES the door shut.  His board was on the inside rail, then rolls over to the outside rail to finish the cutback.  Shoulder points in the direction of where he wants to go.  


To bottom turn  and cutback backside, have your palm open and up.  The small change makes a big difference.  


Please check out more surf photos form Hope Cheng on FB.    



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