How To: The Pop Up

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Getting to your feet is the most basic maneuver in surfing, yet for many beginners it can feel like an insurmountable obstacle. We asked Adam Dufner, an instructor affiliated with the Hurley Surf Club and Skudin Surf, for a tutorial. He suggested that anyone who is new to surfing follow these steps with a longer, more stable board.

Position Yourself

You’ve paddled for a wave and are ready to get to your feet. First look where you want to go – either straight ahead or at an angle if you plan to ride down the line, along the face of the wave. Don’t look down. This is the moment when you must commit to the wave and avoid any hesitation. Place weight on your chest to make sure you have the momentum to catch the wave. Place your hands just under your chest and keep them flat, facing forward. Don’t grab the sides of your board.

Sweep Your Feet

Sweep your feet under your hips and place your front foot between your hands, turning your toes inward. Plant your back foot near the rear of the board. Your feet should now be perpendicular to the stringer, which is the line that runs down the center (to figure out which foot is the front foot, have someone push you forward. Whichever foot lands first is your front foot).

Shift Your Body Weight

Lean forward once you are on your feet, even if that feels counterintuitive. Many beginners make the mistake of leaning back, a move that typically will separate you from your board. Forward momentum is your friend.  


You can learn more about the Hurley Surf Club, which provides coaching and video analysis for surfers around the world, at www.hurley.com. Skudin Surf is based in Long Beach, N.Y., and you can find more information about their lessons at www.skudinsurf.com.