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

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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 build.

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.

Pro tip: Taking off on smaller surfboards, such as shortboards and fishes, is commonly done with a different technique than the one used to stand up on bigger boards.

The main reason is that your feet do not touch the tail of the surfboard when you are lying down on your chest and paddling into a wave.

Therefore, you must bring your back foot up onto the surfboard’s tail, using the “chicken wing” technique.

So let’s break down each step in detail:


Also known as chicken wing technique.

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

√ Your paddle needs to match the speed of the breaking wave (remember a shortboard is harder to paddle)

√ Paddle TWO extra stokes –  A lot of surfers tend to stop paddling as soon as they feel the wave take them. This time without the extra glide from your bigger board you will always need TWO more paddle strokes

 2. Push your chest up. Rising up with your upper body, only your shoulders, and chest. Your lower body remains on your surfboard.  

3. Place your hands on the deck, near your pectorals and look up in the direction you want to go

Look forward – If you look down you do 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

 4. Slide your back foot forward and place it on your traction pad

  As you push up, you move your back foot forward into position

 Bend your back leg out to the side of the board’s rail

5.  Push up using your back foot and both hands on the deck of the board

√  Push your whole body up and over the surfboard

6. Bring your front foot forward between both hands

√ This creates the necessary space to now bring your front foot through

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

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

√ Throw your front knee forward towards your chest

√ It should land about 1 or 2 inches lower than the palm of your hands

8. Once you are stable and comfortable, stand up. Let go of the deck and continue to look up

√ Maintain low centre of gravity as you come up

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

9. Check your stance. Staying low and compact.

√ The distance between both your feet should be your shoulder’s width or slightly more

√  Your front foot shouldn’t have more than a 45-degree opening

√  Both your feet should be perfectly placed on the width of the board, with your feet arches over the stringer (the line in the middle of the board)


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

X Don’t throw your feet at the same time. Even professionals place their back foot first followed by their front foot

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

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

Don’t straighten your legs. Maintain your lower centre 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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