Pop Up Better When Surfing

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Getting to your feet smoothly and efficiently can set you up for a great wave-riding experience. An efficient pop-up will get you into difficult waves, help you move down the line sooner, and set you up for a better opening maneuver.

Fumbling to your feet means you watch the first section break down the line, you miss the wave, or worse: you tumble over the falls. Easing from the prone to the standing position separates an experienced surfer from a beginner. Here are a few Surf Stronger tips to help improve this key surfing movement.


Break down the movement of the surfer's pop-up to train the key physical pieces. Components of a good pop-up are flexibility in your hips and back, power in your upper body, and a strong and stable core. The following exercises help make your pop-up quicker and easier.

Exercise Ball Knee Tucks
Begin in the plank position, face down with your hands on the floor and your shins on top of the exercise ball. Start by tucking your knees to your chest, pause for a moment in the tuck position, and then extend your legs back to the plank position. Maintain core control and don't let your body sway. Progress this exercise by doing a push up before you tuck your knees. Progress further by adding quickness to the movement. Try 2 to 3 sets of 10 reps.

Plyometric Push Ups
Start in a standard push up position. Lower down into your push up and then press explosively upwards. Push quickly and hard enough to get space between the floor and your hands. Absorb the landing and then repeat. Progress by adding a clap between repetitions. This exercise gives you the upper body power to get up quickly. Try 2 to 3 sets of 10 reps.

Loosen up your hips and back to help get your feet under your body. Borrowing movements from yoga, do a few rounds of sun salutations. Increased mobility helps you tuck your feet under your body with less restriction.

Surfer's Pop-Up

Now put it all together by simulating the pop-up movement. Put a piece of tape on the floor to simulate the stringer of your board. Lie on the ground along the line. Simulate some paddle strokes. Bring your hands under your shoulders. Press up, arch your back, and in one swift movement, jump to your feet as you tuck your knees under your body.

When done correctly, you land in a surf stance, centered along the tape line on the floor. Your knees are slightly bent, and your feet are slightly wider than your shoulders. Hold this stance for a few seconds and then repeat until it becomes second nature.

Pre-Surf Preparation

Before you paddle out, warm up and include a few pop-ups on the sand. Make a line on the sand and dial in your stance and foot placement. As you paddle out, watch advanced surfers and observe their timing and quickness. Get the timing in your head and visualize yourself being fluid and quick. Transform that visual into action as you jump to your feet on your first wave. You are now on your way to better surfing.

Active logo Sharpen your surf skills at one of these surf camps.