How to pop up on your surf board

When To Pop Up on Your Surfboard

Are you looking to improve your surfing? Learning when to pop up on your surfboard is one of the most important things to master. It can mean the difference between catching a wave and getting left behind.
The surfing pros at South Bay Board Co. are here to cover the essentials of popping up, from finding the right timing to avoiding common mistakes. With our tips, you’ll handle this move like a pro in no time. Let’s get started!

When To Pop Up in Surfing

Surfing conditions vary widely depending on the time of day, tide, and swell. These conditions affect the height of the waves, how fast they move, and how much power they pack. This is why popping up at the right time requires a bit of intuition.
When you’re a beginner, a good rule of thumb is to wait until you reach 2/3 of the wave’s height. This timing ensures you can get on the wave before it becomes too steep. Do it too early, and you will only partly get on and suffer from limited momentum; too late, and you might have a wave break behind you.
If you can’t seem to get the timing right, we recommend the following tips:
Record yourself. By recording yourself, you can watch back and analyze your performance frame by frame. This is a great way to identify whether you pop up too early or too late.
Train your body. There’s a chance that you have the proper timing but lack the strength or coordination to execute the move. In this case, doing some exercises to improve your upper body and core strength can make all the difference.
Practice. Muscle memory significantly affects your surfing performance. The more you practice, the more natural the sequence of movements will feel. You can even start with a foam board out of the water until your motion becomes fluid enough to catch a wave with confidence.

How To Pop Up on a Surfboard

Do you want a refresher? Check out our guide on how to pop up on a surfboard.
1. Start Paddling
Learn to surf and pop up by paddling properly first. We recommend a longboard for beginners as it can help you paddle and catch waves more easily.
When ready, raise your chest, arch your back, and look straight ahead. Keep your legs tucked and your feet off the water. Start paddling with broad strokes until you catch the wave.
2. Assume the Pop-up Position
Keep your upper body arched upward while placing your hands flat on the board. Then, carefully slide yourself on the back of the board to free up the nose.
In this position, you won’t need extra force to move your board as the wave propels you forward. You’ll also have a better idea of your place in relation to the wave and where you want to go.
3. Push Your Upper Body Up
Push your chest and shoulders up. Your core should only stretch while your pelvis and upper legs remain firmly on the surfboard. By performing this move correctly, you should be able to spring without losing balance.
4. Take the Chicken Wing Position
If you surf on a longboard, skip this step. For shortboards, where you lack length to accommodate your feet, you need to assume the chicken wing position for a surf pop-up.
Bring your back foot (generally the right foot) forward on the board by bending and sliding your back knee until it reaches the rail. You know you did it right when your back leg has a chicken wing shape.
5. Spring Up
Make space between your body and the board, only touching the surface with your hands and back foot. Then, start bringing your front foot forward and your knee toward your chest. Your foot should stay on the stringer line at shoulder’s width from your back foot.
6. Maintain Balance
With your pop-up successful, compress your lower body and bend your knees. Keep your feet parallel and arching right on the stringer line.
What Are Common Pop-up Mistakes in Surfing?
When surfing, popping up can feel like the most frustrating part—especially when you can’t seem to get it right. Watching out for these common mistakes might help you achieve a good pop:
If you have taken surf lessons in the past, you might already know the consequences of over-paddling. Paddling too hard will only tire you out, making it difficult for you to catch a wave.
Not Looking Where You Want To Go
It’s easy to forget to look where you want to go while concentrating on pop-up surfing techniques. Once you’re up on your feet, it’s crucial to know where the wave will likely take you and adjust your stance and board accordingly.
Sticking to Flat Parts of the Wave
If you try to pop up on a surfboard while on a flat wave, there won’t be enough force to lift you. Get close to the pocket, where the wave is steeper, to achieve a successful pop-up.
Not Feeling the Lift of the Wave
Pop-up surfing requires you to “feel” the pocket’s energy to time your moves with the wave. Regular practice will develop this skill and help you pop up on a surfboard easily.

Thoughts on When To Pop Up on Your Surfboard - South Bay Board Co.

Whenever you fail a pop-up, assess what went wrong before trying again. Many times, it could be as simple as not paddling enough or being too far from the pocket. With a bit of practice and understanding of the waves, you’ll get a feel for it in no time.
While surfing, when to pop up on your board can feel challenging without the proper gear. If you want an extra edge, visit our shop for cutting-edge boards that make paddling and catching waves a breeze. South Bay Board Co. has various models to choose from, so you’re sure to find the perfect one.