May 17, 2022 4 min read

One of the biggest reasons people give when you ask them why they don’t surf is that they can’t perform the pop-up.

If you’ve never been able to master the pop-up, it could be because of your timing, stance, or center of gravity. You can learn how to master the pop-up technique with these simple tips.

Beginner and intermediate surfers often mix the terms ‘standing up’ and ‘popping up on the surfboard.’ If you read the Surfers Hype Magazine, you’ll understand that ‘popping up’ is the action and ‘standing up’ is the result. To ‘pop-up’ means quickly transforming from the lying position to the standing position.

One of the requirements of standing up on surfboards is a strong upper body and the ability to spring up from a prone position. However, tall surfers have a slight disadvantage in standing up while surfing.

This is due to the higher center of gravity. The closer you are to the board, the better the weight distribution. Even if shorter surfers stand, they’re still closer to the board, giving them a greater advantage.

Common Beginner Mistakes When Trying to do a Pop-Up on a Surfboard

surfboard pop up technique

The first mistake most beginners make is lying on the board the incorrect way before trying to stand up. If that foundation isn’t strong, there is a very low chance of you ever getting successful with the surfboard pop-up technique. The second common mistake is using the knees to stand up.

While using the knees may make pop-ups seem simpler, it is bad practice. Becoming used to it can put you in the wrong spot when you’re trying to develop good form.

The pop-up technique should be performed with the hands pushing down on the surfboard in a wide position that aligns with your chest. However, don't grab the rails to control your balance. The more comfortable you become with your surf gear, the easier it becomes to perform the pop-up.

Beginners also fail to time their pop-ups well. If you’re not used to surfing, you might not understand when to take off. Timing your surf paddling and pup-up with the wave is crucial for your momentum. Other mistakes newbie surfers often make are bending their waists wrongly or holding the rail when popping up. That will make the board unstable.

A Guide to Bettering your Surfboard Pop-ups

Here is a simple guide for mastering the pop-up in surfing:

Pop-ups don’t need to be practiced on water

    If you’ve been to the beach, you would have observed surf tutors teaching students how to pop up without surfboards. The truth is that being on the water can make the pop-up process harder if you’re a beginner. On land, you have complete control and can learn the basics of popping up better. The idea of practicing your pop-ups on land is to get used to the movement. Repeatedly standing up from that lying position will help with muscle memory. This way, the movement becomes inadvertent, and you unconsciously get better at it.

    Make your body flexible

      Most sports require their players to be flexible. The recreational sport, surfing, is no different. Going from the lying position to a standing one becomes simpler when your body can make all sorts of movements. Hence, stretching could be the key to unlocking your great pop-up form.
      You can stretch before getting into the water or performing yoga once in a while.

      Place yourself poperly on your board

        Whether you’re lying or standing, placing yourself properly on your board is key. It would help if you chose the lying position you feel most comfortable with. If your starting position isn't good, you can’t learn how to stand up.

        You need to balance yourself on the surfboard by laying in the center. You might skew your body very slightly to the left or right, but it must be in the center of your board. If you want to find the spot you’re comfortable with, float your board in the ocean and try out the lying position.

        You then need to look for the point where the board gives you the best stability. Your board will move faster if you’re too far up, but you could spiral more easily into the water. If you’re too far down, there’ll be better stability, but the board will move less quickly.

        Faster paddling leads to improved pop-ups

          The faster you paddle, the better the wave launches you forward. Once this happens, you get a longer time to stand up. You’ll also be less likely to fall off the back of the wave when changing from a prone to a standing position.

          Final Thoughts

          Several potential surfers get discouraged because they may never master the pop-up. If you have a strong upper body, use the best surfwear brands, and can maintain a low center of gravity, popping up shouldn’t be a problem for you.

          Avoid making beginner mistakes like using your knees to pop up, lying on the board incorrectly, not timing your pop-ups well, and bending your waist. To make your pop-ups better, you need to practice on the beach, paddle faster before standing up, make yourself flexible, and place yourself properly on your board. Later when you do a lot of practice, you can try to repeat the same on a foam surfboard. It can be a bit different experience. 

          Author - Aleksandra Djurdjevic
          Aleksandra Djurdjevic          

          Senior Content Creator

          Aleksandra Djurdjevic is a senior writer and editor, covering surf, kayak and various watersports activities. She has previously worked as ESL teacher for English Tochka. Aleksandra graduated from the Comparative Literature department at the Faculty of Philosophy in Serbia. Aleksandra’s love for the ocean / rivers, getting out waves, season after season, seeking epic adventures across the globe helps her continue to be a top expert at CSG.

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