The Bottom Turn in Surfing


When I teach new students in Oceanside Surf Lessons, we do not get as far as bottom Bottom turnturns in a first lesson. The first lessons are about going straight to the beach on a foam wave.

As students advance, they learn how to go to the outside and catch bigger foam waves. In intermediates lessons, I start mixing the opportunity to catch small waves at an angle in with catching outside foam waves.

Catching waves in the pocket is a combination of timing, paddling, and wave recognition. Theses are not easy skills to learn for a new student and mainly come with experience.

The advanced skills after a student learns how to ride small real waves and then bigger real waves are carving waves. Carving can consist of changing direction of the board which is accelerating, cut backs, and bottom turns.

The first two items are covered in other posts. The bottom turn is an extremely important technique in the surfer’s arsenal. It is both offensive and defensive. Surfers like to catch waves at an angle so they are headed straight to the pocket which is the ultimate objective.

Sometimes the wave is too steep and you must head down the face first because taking it at an angle would cause you to get rolled and taken over the falls. So you drop down the face, but as soon as possible, in the middle of the face or at the bottom, you carve towards the pocket. This is usually achieved by turning the eyes, head, shoulders, arms and hands toward the turn as you put slight pressure on your toes or heels depending on the direction. You want to be pressuring into the face of the wave.

The second time you use a bottom turn would be to travel up the face while riding in the pocket to perform ripping the lip, a trick, or an aerial. You will observe most surfers in a low center of gravity and dragging their trailing hand in the water as they turn their upper body toward the lip.

The third time you can use a bottom turn is a defensive motion. The wave is collapsing in front of you and you need to get over the top and to the back side. You execute the bottom turn, go over the lip and avoid getting toppled by the close out.

Practice makes perfect. *


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