Making your pop up more consistent and reliable starts with a solid foundation. Laying good foundations early is a key to your future progression.

Poping up requires one continuous explosive movement of balance and skill. As with any skill, it takes practice. The more you practice the more muscle memory you will store.

What does this mean? The more you practice at home, on the sand or in the water the movement pattern, force, and timing will be hard-wired into your brain.

If you are landlocked or you’re caught up in other commitment the good news is, practicing in the privacy of your home is an effective way to perfect you pop up. This with the right mechanics will smooth out the learning curve even just a little bit.

Let’s break down some of its components.


This is the first explosive movement of the pop up. This is difficult because it’s more about your strength rather than your technique.

√ Placing both your hands on the deck towards your chest, your arms are bent similar to chicken wings

Extend your arms and lift your chest up and away from your board creating space between you and your board to eventually be able to bring your leg through

 Looking forward, keeping your back arched and your feet together


Too much weight on either side and you will topple your board. Your weight has to be evenly distributed on the board

X Too much drag. If your body isn’t in the correct positioning on your board, you will create too much drag for the wave to collect you

Incorrect timing. Placing your hands straight away on your board without finishing your paddling. You’ll find your in position but without any speed

Pro tip: The more leverage you have the easier it will be to bring your feet through


Lean forward with your chin down moving your weight forward


Lean back, arching your back and extending your arms


Go left: Place all your weight on the left rail

Go right: Place all your weight on the right rail

After a long time in the water, your muscles will start to tire. If the explosiveness and movement deteriorate your pop up will look…average.



The Pop Up can be done in multiple ways. The technique below is the one we’ve had the most success with at the House of Surf.

So let’s break down each step in detail:

1.Paddle until you catch the wave. Only stop once the wave has completely collected you and your board. Ideally, you want to be gliding with the wave

√ Feel the momentum – Learn to feel the wave hitting the back of your board. Once you get better at this your timing will improve with your pop up

 Paddle TWO extra stokes –  A lot of surfers tend to stop paddling as soon as they feel the wave take them. Often that isn’t enough and you are likely to always need TWO more paddle strokes

 Prone position – Be ready for your pop up by placing your hands near your chest on the deck

 2. Push up. Rising up with your body, extend your arms. Your toes are on the tail of the surfboard and your hands remain in the same position as your prone position

Look forward – If you look down you go down, so remember to look up when you pop up

 Leverage – your need to create space between your body and your surfboard. This will allow enough space for you to bring your feet through

 3. Slide back foot forward to the position of your opposite knee

 Simultaneously as you push up, move your back foot forward into position

 Position your back foot in line with your opposite knee. Roughly 40-50 cm forward on your board

 Rotate your hips as you bring your front foot forward so that your chest is side on

4.  Bring your front foot through between your hands

 Keep your hands on your board until you have the correct balance – once you have the correct balance you are able to let go

 Look forward – maintain eye contact forward, during the entire pop up process

 Maintain low center of gravity as you come up

Pro tip: Do NOT place your knees on the board at any time

5. Bring your arms up for balance. Knees bent and ride the wave 🙂

 Use your arms for balance. Make sure they are out in front of your chest away from your back foot

√ Stance – Shoulder width apart or maybe a little bit more

 Feet arches over stringer or the center – Back foot is parrel to the tail, your front foot is at a 45-degree angle, max


X Placing your hands on the rails will create more drag and instability. Keep your hands on the deck towards your chest

X Don’t push up with your hands in front of you. Its impossible to pop up like this. Remember to push up near your pectorals

X Do not use your knees. Don’t be lazy and start to bring your knees up first rather than your feet. This is a really bad habit that takes years to get rid of. Never, ever start. When you progress in your surfing to bigger, steeper waves this technique will hold you back from making some of the takeoffs

X Don’t bring your front foot forward first. You lose your speed and ability to stay with the wave

X Don’t straighten your legs. Maintain your lower center of gravity to absorb any lumps and bumps in the wave

X Don’t fold at the hip and have your chest too far over your board, you are likely to fall. Bend your knees and lower your hips

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