Surf Tips: Improve Your Turning
Effectively turning your surfboard can both extend the length of your ride, and allow you to explore more parts of the wave.
Here are 4 tips to improve your turning (and your surfing in general).
1. Get your back foot as close to the tail as possible.
There are no ifs-ands-or-buts about it, surfboards turn from the tail. If you want more control over the board beneath your feet, get your back foot right on top of were the fin(s) are.
On a fish or small board, that might only require shifting your weight to your back foot.
One of the main benefits to a board like the Secret Menu, is that the short, wide outline makes it very easy to have your back foot right on the tail, where you can impose maximum control over the board.
On a longboard that may require taking a full cross-step back toward the tail. I wrote about the different styles of longboard tails (and the different types of turns each is capable of) in Almond Surfboard Guide to: Noseriders & Longboards.
2. You can't start a turn from the bottom of a wave.
Down in the flats, at the bottom of the wave, is the place with the least amount of energy to harness. However, far too often I see surfers attempting to initiate a turn from down there.
In order to have enough speed and momentum to carry you through a turn, you want to initiate your turn from further up on the wave face.
In general, try to ride higher up on the face of the wave at all times. Then flats is a dead-zone for wave energy and should only be ventured into for purposeful bottom turns.
3. Unlike the pros, a turn isn't one move... it's a continuous motion.
This is an observation from years of watching folks in the surf lineup. We have all seen so many bucket-throwing hacks performed by top level pros, that we can fall into the trap of thinking that a turn is a single, abrupt effort.
The types of turns we are talking about today aren't the "snaps" of Kelly Slater & company. We're aiming for flowing, continuous, arcing turns like the one Nathan Adams is doing on a 6'4 Pleasant Pheasant here:
As you can see, Nate starts his turn about 1/3 of the way from the top of the wave, and uses his rail (and fins) to push through an arcing cut-back. He ends the turn right back in the pocket of the wave, where he recovers and continues his ride.
4. Your feet follow your eyes.
Your feet (and your direction of travel) will follow your eyes. As you start a cut-back turn, turn your head and look back in the direction that you wish to go. This will inherently make your turning radius tighter and your turn more effective. As you reach the pocket and need to rebound, the same rule applies, get your center of gravity low and fix your eyes down the line of the wave.