5 ways to improve your surf pop-up

Surf pop-up

The pop-up is something that many surfers struggle with, especially beginners. If you’re fumbling to get your feet via your knees and getting frustrated, then look no further than our 5 handy tips on how to improve your pop-up.

Build strength

You need a decent amount of upper body strength to push yourself off the board from a prone position up onto your feet. It’s a movement that you’ll do repeatedly during a surf so you will need muscle endurance too.

Use free weights at home or weighted machines at the gym. Do some press ups every day and gradually build it up if you’re not used to doing them. Eventually, and if you have the strength to do so, look at incorporating some explosive push ups into your routine.

Increase flexibility

Lack of flexibility can particularly affect those who sit at a desk all day. When you pop to your feet, your front foot should land in between your hands but if you don’t have much flexibility, it may not be far enough forward on your board.

There’s a whole range of stretches you can do to increase mobility and flexibility. Yoga is a fantastic way to do this and is popular with professional surfers. If you lack mobility in your hips, postures such as Warrior II, Pigeon, and Low and High Lunge will all help.

Look into attending a class if you’ve never done any yoga before.

Do plyometric exercises

Plyometrics is about increasing muscle power and explosiveness in short intervals. These exercises mimic the explosive movements in surfing, particularly popping up, and can help when creating the clearance needed to bring your legs up and through into that low crouch position on your board.

Plyometric exercises for perfecting your pop-up include burpees, jump squats, jump lunges and mountain climbers. The great thing about them is you don’t need a gym or any equipment to do them!

Practise on dry land

By repeatedly practising your pop-up at home, it will become easier to do when you’re in the sea as the muscles used to perform the action ‘remember’ (known as muscle memory).

Set yourself a goal of doing 10 pop-ups each day. Use an exercise mat with some tape to mark where the centre line or ‘stringer’ of your surfboard and where your feet should land. You could even make a surfboard shape out of wood but we’ll be showing you how to make one soon!

Never use your own board or someone else’s for pop-up practise as you could damage it.

Get in the sea!

The best place to practise your pop-up is in the sea. As a beginner, stay in the white water and catch as many waves as you can, focussing on your technique. If you feel like you’re not improving, get some advice from a surf coach who can give you some pointers and show you where you may be going wrong.

It’s easier to pop-up on green waves due to the turbulence in the white water. If you’re not used to going out beyond the white water, go out on a small day. When the wave picks you up and you push down on the board, you should feel the board fall away from you giving you that much needed space to bring your legs through and ride that wave all the way to beach!

Image credit: Miguel Navaza

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