Learn to Surf the Short Board


New students are often inspired to learn surfing from watching movies and when they take lessons they want to learn to surf the Short Board.

Don’t Buy a Short Surf Board Before Learning to Surf a High Volume Board

A surfing short board is an advanced piece of equipment for experts. To become an expert, the average surfer who visits the ocean once a week will take up to a year before he is ready to ride the short board. The short board is defined as a surfboard that is 6’10” or shorter.

The length is only one aspect. The narrower width and thinner thickness of the expert boards is what makes riding them more difficult.

Learn to surf the short board

Surfers learn to surf the short board

Movies are filmed using experienced surfers who have practiced their skills for years. When students want to learn to surf the short board, they think that surfing is easy because the experts make it look so easy.

When we have tried other board sports like snowboarding, skiing, or skateboarding, we learn that there is an apprentice period before we become advanced. Surfing is the more difficult board sport because of the dynamic of the moving surface. In snow sports, a mogul won’t roll over you and crush you.

Why High Volume Boards Train Students for Short Boards

A high volume board can teach the techniques that first have to be mastered before students learn to surf the short board.

Before students can ride bigger foam waves,  real waves or ride shorter surf boards, they have to master the several techniques of surfing.

Students also should consider if they are strong enough to paddle out to bigger waves through more turbulent surf and whether they have the stamina to make it back to short after getting wrecked by a wave or when they are tired. Everything can be tested on the high volume board which gives a margin of safety.

The first thing that occurs to new surfers on short boards is they are more difficult to paddle and hence surf sessions will be shorter. The second thing they notice is it is harder to catch real waves which the short board needs for power. While foam will push a high volume board, it won’t push a short board. A short board has to be ridden in the pocket of a wave to stay with the power.

The third thing a new short board surfer learns when they learn to surf the short board is it is not stable if the pop up is not perfect. The board will get “squirrely” under foot which would be like trying to walk with street shoes on black ice. This is why it is crucial to learn a perfect pop up on bigger boards.

After new surfers have paddling stamina, can catch real waves and drive the pocket, they can consider moving to shorter surf boards.

The First Maneuvers You Need When You Learn to Surf the Short Board

learn to surf the short board

Surfer making a cut back carve

There are three main maneuvers or techniques students need when they learn to surf the short board.

  • Accelerating in the Pocket
  • The Bottom Turn
  • The Cut Back

A high volume board can be driven in the pocket which means once you are in the pocket surfers can remain steady on the board and they will fly down the pocket to the end of the wave. Short boards have to be accelerated or pumped to maintain speed. Accelerating is achieved by moving the front foot on the nose of the board so that the nose rides up and down the pocket of the wave.

The bottom turn is used to get off the face of the wave, to ride up over the back of the wave when it is closing out, and to begin a rip the lip or other trick on the face of the wave. In each instance, the surfer pressures the toes or heels (whichever are on the side of the turn) and rotates his upper body in the direction of a turn. To make a more radical turn, surfers will lower their gravity by dropping lower on the board and applying more foot pressure on the turn.

The cut back maneuver is for style and practicality. Breaking up a routine by reversing direction looks good. When the wave loses power, doing a cut back to the power of the wave helps create a longer ride. To do a cut back, the surfer places pressure on the toes or heels, which ever are on the outside rail and rotates the upper body to reverse direction of travel.

When you learn to surf the short board, you need all three techniques.


Practice Makes Perfect

When you learn to surf the short board, you should practice, watch other surfers, read books, and watch videos. The more surfers learn the more they can observe when watching other surfers. The techniques are often fine adjustments that books don’t describe. Each time a surfer goes into the water, they should have a goal on what they want to practice. Keep learning what the next step would be. Ask more advanced surfers how to do techniques. Watch for what you want to learn on videos and from surfers in the waves.


This YouTube video is one instructors excellent style for popping up on a short board


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