Reasons Surfers Fall Off the Surf Board


Ashley2.410When I teach new students in Oceanside Surf Lessons, we do a dry land session then take it to the water. Going from the prone to the standing position is called a pop up in surfing. It is much easier on the beach than in the water because it doesn’t require as much strength on the beach.

Kids don’t usually have enough upper body strength to do a pop up, but if they are under 70 pounds, they can climb on the board and assume the right position and ride. Adolescents or young teen agers sometimes don’t have sufficient upper body strength. Adults lose their strength as they start spending too much time behind a desk.

The idea of the pop up (as demonstrated in the video at the bottom of the landing page) is to pop the front foot to the middle of the board (nose to tail) and in the middle of the board (width) with the shoulders facing forward and the head facing forward. From this posture, the student only has to rise a few inches to ride the board to the beach.

Students without enough strength usually want to put a knee on the board first. This throws off the balance of the board. The board wants the body always to remain so weight is distributed evenly on both halves of the stringer running up the middle. When a student is prone they are balanced, and when standing in the proper stance, the board is balanced. Everything in between is unstable.

Students like to swing their weight up on the board because it is easier than driving the front foot under the body so the knee touches the chest. Swinging it rotates the butt over the side rail and the head is facing the other rail instead of facing the nose of the board. With the back shoulder parallel instead of perpendicular to the rails (sides of the board),  the student falls in backward in one second.

Students also like to keep their hands on the board after their feet are on the board thinking the board will stabilize if they hold on for a few seconds. Once the feet hit the board, the hands have to be up or the student goes in head first.

The most important condition is that the front foot has to be angled in the middle of the board, the back foot flat perpendicular to the rails at the back of the board, and the shoulders facing the nose of the board. If the pop up is not performed properly, Plan B is to rotate or adjust on the fly to get the feet and body in the right spots. The butt has to be over the middle of the board and not hanging over one of the side rails. If the butt is not in the middle, the body is weighting the rail causing the board to flip over.

I use a four count to do the pop up. Paddling is one, putting the hands under the chest in a man’s push up position is two. In this two position you rest a second. Then three and four happen at the same time with pushing the body up in a push up as the front foot is driving under the chest and landing between the hands. As the feet hit the board the hands are rising so you can see both of them in front of your body.

The hands have to remain in front. As soon as you allow one hand to swing back and high toward the rear, it pulls you over backward into the water. The hands have to be in front on the pop up or rotated to the front quickly, and remain there for the entire ride to the beach.


“I’ve read and watched so many on-line tutorials and I’ve gotta say your book is the coolest, most succinct and comprehensive I’ve seen. So good!” A. Parker, OR.

Surf Instructions 

Beginner to Advanced E Book   $5.95    Add to Cart     

Illustrated 80 page E Book  by Mark Kaplan, Surf Instructor Download Immediately Learning the Physical, Technical and Psychological stepping stones to becoming an Advanced Surfer

See Sample Pages


See all my posts and social media on one fun page

See more activities, events, specials, new openings, big opportunities and more in Oceanside at (like my page). Its like the Community “Activity” Newspaper.

See Harbor Restaurants at

Get the Bonus CardOceanside Bonus Card that gives you 10% to 30% off on Restaurants and Outdoor Activities for $5.  Free Shipping. Never expires. A merchant service. Bonus Coupons: 20% off first surf lesson with private, family, or group Surf Lessons in Oceanside and a second hour Free with rental of a kayak from Harbor Boat Rentals. More Coupons coming and will be sent to you if you purchase card


Please follow and like us:
Categories : Learning Techniques

Comments are closed.