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Pumping for Speed

"How do you pump for speed on a surfboard in small mushy waves ? " 


Well if the waves are too small or already "broken", meaning there is no face on the wave, just white water, there is nothing you can do to pick up speed.    Shortboards need to be ridden on rail not going straight.  Also looking DOWN brings the nose UP, causing the board to not plane well.  


Timing of the pump and too much pump.   Just like riding a swing at the playground, you need to have timing and rhythm to be done properly.   Squatting and asorbing the waves energy locks out the power of the legs that needs to push against the wave.  


Not enough pressure on the inside rail /edge.   Pressure and resistance causes the board to move forward.  Not enough, and the outside rail drops and you catch a rail and get flipped backwards.     ( note, when the back hand goes up, the board leans outs )


Stay close to the curl.  That is where the power of the wave is most.    That is also why you need to cutback ( or actually Come Back ) when you get too far out on the shoulder.


Use the whole waves surface, especially top to bottom.   Use the angles of the face to rise up and fall down to gain speed.   You can not only stay high as you might get pitched.  You can't  only stay low because there's more energy up by the lip.  


Most important, a good bottom turn.  If you have a weak bottom turn, you'll lose the chance to put your board in the power zone.  No amount of pumping well help you get back  ( unless you're a really advanced surfer ).  


On land the best thing to help you learn pumping is a Carver skateboard.   Just getting a regular skateboard with loose trucks isn't as good.


Pumping for Speed isn't so much the HOW, but the WHERE and WHEN.    


please check out  and my friends photos on Matsunosuke Kugenuma.    




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Big board, Big guy in Big waves

My friend Toshiyuki Kobayashi is the general manager for "No Brand" surfboards.  He's a big guy and likes to surf big waves.  


Let's look at a sequence from his trip to Bali.  


Taking the drop straight down.  He is NOT taking off at a angle. He wants to get down quickly and not get hung up on top of the lip.  He does however loads his weight back and over the inside Right rail.  


At the bottom turn, he leans over the inside rail but keeps the body line strong from head thru the board.  Back hand acts as a pivot point.  Eyes the turn down point.  


He falls up the wave and then turns down to pressure of the rail and adjust the line he wants to take on the face.


Now the board is in full TRIM.  Notice the board is flat in this photo, while the photo above the rail is down.  


Down, Up and Around.  Toshi escapes the curl and gets out onto the shoulder of the wave.  He now cuts backs to the curl.  Back arm come across the chest to twist the torso.


Now rolling back over from outside rail to flat bottom ( then onto the inside rail to go to trim again ).  Back arm swings back to rotate the body clockwise.  



Some people say Longboards are "only for Old guys, Beginners in Small waves or Girls who want to dance on their boards".  Toshi shows a big guy can surf big boards in big waves.  


If you are ever in Kamakura, Shonan, Japan,   go visit Toshi at his shop "Blue Horizon "

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"When one door CLOSES another door OPENS"

As we go through life, things change.  New job, new school, new relationships. etc.    As a door closes another door opens.


Think about that as you surf.   As you turn and cutback.  Think OPEN CLOSE OPEN CLOSE.  


Coming off the bottom turn, his chest rotates to the wave. Back hand goes behind his back.    CLOSED.


At the top, his shoulders rotate towards the beach.  Back hand comes in front of the chest.   OPEN.


Half way thru a round house-full wrap cutback.   Front acts as a pivot point as the back hand rotates around.  OPEN.


After rebounding off the white water, she twists her body clockwise.  Back arm goes behind.    CLOSED.


Again off the top, Back arm rotates forward in front the chest.  Front arm is the pivot point.   OPEN.

( She sits her butt down,  legs rotate around the  pivot point.  Body line looks broken but it's actually good )  


To do good surfing, you need big directional changes.  Left to Right and Up to Down.   The way to do that is remember to OPEN and CLOSE  your chest, shoulders and arms to the wave.  


Photos from  Matsunosuke Kugenuma.   




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Surf Paddling - Unilateral or Bilateral paddle ?

"Just paddle hard and stand up" some instructors say.   But how do you paddle ?  One or both hands in the water ?


The left surfer is using a Bilateral paddle. One hand enters the water at a time.

The right surfer is using a Unilateral paddle.  Both hands enter the water at the same time.


Some people say using BOTH HANDS has more power.  But it's better to paddle one hand at a time.  WHY ?



Just like peddling a bicycle, as one is going down the other one is pulling up.  Making for a smooth rhythmic motion.  


If the pedal are aligned together, there's a lot more torque, but a big pause/delay until the next down stroke.  Imagine peddling a bike set up like this ?


That's why pedals / crank arms are set up opposite of each other.  Makes sense right ?


Having both arms IN the water during the power stroke means both arms will be OUT of the water during the recover stroke.   It makes the board jerky. Power on power off power on power off.  


But remember, even if you paddle correctly, you ALSO need your body postioned properly on the board.  


So use a Bilateral paddle.

1) It keeps one hand in the water for the power stroke phase.

2) It helps speed up the recovery stroke.

3) It makes the board glide smoother ( less herky jerky movement )


please check out the daily surf site to see more paddling 




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Single fin long board

A long time ago, surfboards had only one fin ( and the boards were really long ).  Now boards have 3, 4, 2 fins.  So why go back to a single ?


#1 Singles make you a better surfer.  It teaches you how to work with the waves power.  You have to keep pumping a Thruster ( 3 fin ) for speed.  For a Single, you have to "wait" and let the power load up, then release it.  


#2  Singles teaches you Timing and Balance.  If you fight the fin, it'll throw you off.  You have to be more in tune with the wave when riding a single.


Oh and remember, Cross-Step never Shuffle like Wing nut says.  


You don't have to get to the nose when riding a single, but single fins smooth out the lines drawn on a wave, whcih leads to better noserides.


#3  Singles develope more lower body power.  You can't just swing your arms like on a multi-finned board.  You have to use more leg and proper weight transfers to turn a single.  If she can turn this, she can turn almost any shortboard, funboard, or fish board.  (But most shortboarders can't turn this longboard)


#4 Singles are simple.  Girl, Guy, Young, Old anyone can ride a single fin and get back to the basics of surfing.  Learning the Glide and Trim makes you a better surfer.  


But remember, there are many types of Single fin templates/shapes  ( I like the Greenough A-4 shape )


Spend a few weeks riding a Single fin, and you will definitely improve you surfing technique.  Then when you get back on that Thruster or Twin or 2+1, you'll see the difference it makes.  


Please check out  to see more Singles  

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How to Pop Up for surfing

There are many version of the surfing "Pop Up".   It sometimes depends on the surf instructor, the students flexiblity or  dexterity, type / size of wave and type /size of board.  But here's my 5 point pop up.  


#1 Arms straight, chest up, thighs on deck (Hands started behind the arm pits )
#2 Butt rises up to its highest point while still be able to look forward, ( body forms a triangle from side view )
#3 Pick up Front foot and place down at 1-2 o'clock ( 10-11 o'clock for goofys ), at that moment the back foot 
should lay down on its side.
#4 Slide/Drag the back foot a bit, then pick up ( a little bit ) and place down at 3 o'clock
#5 When both feet are planted firmly ( make sure the heel is NOT up in the air on your back foot ) and butt under the 
head as much as possible, forcefully push off the deck and rise straight up. 


It's important to have the hands start behind the armpits when you push up. ( also notice she is looking up and out )


This shortboarder's back foot planted first, then her front foot moves forward after.  Because shortboards are shorter than what beginners should ride and also where on the wave the shortboard takes off and his/her ability /experience,  it's okay for her to pop up that way. 


Some notes to think about:

1) "Chicken Wing" pop up is  "Crawling up" on the board which takes too much time when taking the drop. I never teach that version or the "Up on One Knee" first take off.
2) Butt up high clears up the area under the chest so the Front foot can move forward and plant firmly, Then the 
Back foot can move. This allows the board to plane down and glide instead of stall/wheelie out and having 
the weight lean back as you fight momentum to place the front foot later. ( but you have to keep your eyes up ! )
3) Most people have their hands too far forward. Place behind your arm pits
4) Look at a far away landmark. Where you look is where you go. Do Not check where your hands and feet are.  Feel don't stare.  
5) It's really hard ( and takes time ) on the back to lean over and straighten up. So get your Butt under your 
head and RISE straight up to the sky like some pulls a string connected to the top of your head. Just like 
lifting a heavy box or 
weights, get close and under it.
6) Don't just let go of the deck, EXPLODE off the deck. That force, propels the upper torso back and up ( again, 
less work for your Back )


Getting the feet closer to the hands help you to pop more straight up vertically


Notice the nose is pearling.  But she paddles hard and keeps her eyes up. If she looked down, the nose would go MORE down. 


As the waves steepens, she pushes up and weights back, the momentum pulls the board forward, the nose POPS back up and out off the water.  She knows from experience that they'll make it.  


Looks like he's trying to do three things at once.  Hard to pop up when your foot is over your head.  


Every beginner pops up differently. Every instructors teaches a bit differently.  If you're catching waves fine, getting to your feet quickly and smoothly and riding the wave,  then however version you use to Pop Up is fine.  



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strong structure in Surfing. Getting SQUARED

Just like making a Table or House, for the structure to be strong you need the components to be SQUARED.  If the angles are off, the form will be weak.    Same goes for surfing.


He is leaned over but still squared up to the board.  He is NOT reaching down, but using his finger tips to feel the depth of his angle. ( just like a moto-gp rider dragging his knee )


Knees are bent and Chest curved, but power line is still strong thru the body from toe to head.  


Coming off the bottom turn, pushing hard off his heels, his front arm creates a Pivot Point. Back arms coming around in front of the chest to twist the torso.  


Straight off the top, notice he turns off the breaking lip.  He pushes against the wave as it pushes back against him.  Shoulders Squared to the Feet, strong form.


Coming down from the closeout, he keeps the board FLAT to the wave. If he landed on the rail, it would catch and flip him off.  


Good structures are SQUARED up.  Good surfing require strong lines from body to board, head to toe and wave to surfer/board.  


please check out to see more.  



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Front foot at 3 o'clock is bad.

If you surf with your front foot pointed to the rail, Regular footers at 3 o'clock and Goofy footers at 9 o'clock, there are multiple problems that happen.


When walking to the nose or just steping up to make the board glide more or make soft sections, the front foot blocks the back foot.  ( see how her knees are pointed together )


Definitely, a 3-1 stance is bad for walking.  The front leg blocks the back leg during the cross over. Which leads the body line to break and the arms to counter the awkward motion.


But another problem of the front foot "closed", is when the foot rolls on its side. ( which is not good for stability and power ).  


Front foot here at 9 o'clock is "Strong" for going front side ........  but ...........


When she turns to go backside, the feet has to roll instead of twist and pivot.  ( You can see the back knee trying to twist, yet the frotn knee is locked the other way )


Hard to go back side ........  ( again, back knee trying to turn )


But strong going Right.


Surfing is 50/50   50 percent Right 50 percent Left.  Even if you surf to the Right, you have to cutback/turn Left.


Better to have your front foot at 1 to 2 o'clock and your back foot at 3 o'clock.  NOT the other way around.


Please check out to see more


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More than just "where you look is where you go".

To help you turn your surfboard, it's good to remember " Where you look is where you go".  But it takes more than that to turn.

If you look down at the board, you CAN NOT look down the line to the shoulder of the wave.


You should always be looking to the next move.  Here she is looking down the line even before she pushes her hands off the deck to bottom turn.


When you look down, it's harder to turn. You become stuck in the present,  not looking to the future. 

( also notice her back hand is bracing against an invisible wall, she is too in the middle of the board and pushing too hard for the size/power of the wave ) 


Eyes looking ahead, allows room for the shoulders to open, waist to twist and drives the legs to turn the board. 


It is not enough to just look with your eyes.  Your body needs to be in the proper position too.  She is looking Right, but her body is showing ( or leaning back ) to the Left.  ( she is bracing against a invisible wall )


Eyes are looking ahead, but the feet/knees are too close together and too much in the center of the board to turn properly. Head getting way past the rail, will make you feel unbalanced.  


So look where you want to go, but let the body follow.  


please check out to "SEE" more

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Surfing is a SNAP

Cutbacks, Topturns and SNAPs are a snap is you have a couple of things:




3) DIRECTIONAL CHANGES ( rolling from one rail to the other )

4) Making that turn in the Right Spot of the wave.


Front side SNAP.  He goes:

1) Down on the bottom turn.

2) Up the face.

3) and Around.  

He hits the "thinnest" part of the wave's lip.  He did NOT hit the oncoming breaking lip as it might slow him down or send him out into the flats. 


Big Spray of the Top Turn.  He is still looking down the line.  He pushed the tail thru the thin lip of the wave and sent the spray off his fins, rail and tail


This is the moment right before the Snap.  

Spray coming off the Outside rail during the bottom turn.

Then a Direction change / rolling  of the board from Inside rail to Outside rail

The Back Arm ( the power arm ) ripping around his back to twist the board clockwise.  

Eyes looking down the line, not back at the curl if he were to do a Round House cutback.  


Down, Up and Around.  

Arms rotating the shoulder, chest, waist, knees, legs and feet thru the board.  

Apex of the turn at the Thinnest part of the lip.  

Eyes still looking to the next move.  


What you can't see in these photos is the SPEED they created before the Snap. That is very important to almost any maneuver in surfing.    Without SPEED it's going to be hard to SNAP.  


Photos from my friend Matsunosuke Kugenuma.  




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