5 Best Surf Skills: What Every Beginner Needs to Know


Surfing is a world-renowned and dynamic water sports millions of people engage in. In fact, surfing has successfully inspired many variations that include wakeboarding and windsurfing, making it one of the most loved sports in the world. Whether you surf professionally or as a hobby, you sure would like to improve your surfing skills by acquiring a new set of tricks.

In this post, we will be discussing five of the best surf skills you can learn – longest barrel, 360° air, kick flip, backflip, and rodeo flip. While we will provide you with valuable information about these tricks, practice is still essential to be able to fully learn these skills. Hopefully, this article would be your trusted guide before you go out to try these new skills and tricks. Read on if you want to know more.

1. Barrel

Often referred to as the tube, the barrel is a surfing skill wherein you are inside a breaking wave just beneath the crest or lip of a hollow wave. The surfer does this trick by pulling in and moving inside the hollow wave. However, the surfer would be completely hidden, especially if the watcher is situated on the shore.

From the surfer’s perspective, however, he or she can see the light at the end of the barrel, the same place where he or she hopefully emerges. While the barrel is one of the most interesting and best tricks when surfing, it is also very challenging to achieve, mainly because of the changing variations in the waves.

2. 360° Air

The 360° air trick used to have a bad reputation because it was seen more like a simple flick rather than a powerful surfing skill. However, this trick has gained more popularity in the recent decade, as the reverses and spins could easily be incorporated into the surfer’s maneuvers. In fact, surfer Kelly Slater took the skill onto the next level just by grinding off the lip; thus, making it to the extended bucket, allowing him to gain more speed to perform the next move.

3. Kick Flip

The kick flip is also a very popular surfing trick, in which the surfer flips his or her surfboard 360° along the axis extending from the nose onto the board’s tail. This move is the most effective when the surfer is regular-footed, as the board naturally spins clockwise if you see it from the front, as well as counterclockwise, which is a completely different maneuver.

To perform this trick, what you need to do first is to ollie. Put your back foot at the surfboard’s back while your front foot is positioned at the center. Make sure that the alignment should not be completely straight but a little pointed instead. As you begin to slide your front foot, you would also want to flick out at the top of your ollie. This trick surely would make your board flip. Just make sure that you catch it right before you land.

4. Back Flip

Now, the back flip is a trick every surfer should add in his or her repertoire. While it is not one of the easiest skills to do on the surfboard, it has been successfully done by surfer Flynn Novak. What made the back flip one of the best surf skills is that it can be seen more of a functional maneuver, instead of a showy skill. This would mean that after you have successfully performed the back flip, you will still be able to ride the wave again, as natural as possible.

5. Rodeo Flip

Some call the rodeo flip a variation of the air roll spin made popular by Michael Eppelstun in the 90s. This trick was also successfully done by Kelly Slater in 1999, but the surfer said it more of a spur-of-the-moment trick. The only difference is that instead of being an inverted spin, he did it with a flat spin.

While the rodeo flip still can improve when it comes to higher levels of surfing, it can still exhibit surfboard control. It is also very daring while being remarkable proprioception, which is the surfer’s capability to sense the board’s body while moving.

Surfing Tips and Techniques

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a competitive or a free surfer. Trying to improve your skills is highly desirable, especially if you love doing the sport. Here are some of the advanced tips and techniques you might want to incorporate on your next surf session.

  • Learn how to pick the right wave – For beginners, all waves appear to be the same. However, more experienced and advanced surfers know how a wave will break. With this, they watch out for the highest sections, especially when they see a wave from the horizon. Another tip is that you need to notice the back of the wave the moment it passes you, and from there, check how the wave breaks.
  • You must eye your target – Once you have taken off, your eyes now serve as your steering wheel. With this, you need to move your head to where your next target is. Once you have locked your target, make sure that you get there fast.
  • You must be able to keep a low center of gravity – To be able to do this tip accurately, you need to bend your knees a bit. Staying low has been proven to increase the surfer’s stability, as well as help gain speed.
  • Check the time in between waves – What you need for this is a surf watch, a great tool to confirm the wave period. Just by its provision of easy to comprehend statistical information, you will be able to anticipate when the best wave is likely to happen.
  • Set a goal and work on your improvement – Improving one surf maneuver might be better than completing five tricks. With this, you must be able to focus on one goal and work your way to enhance your skill. You may change your commitment once you have successfully completed a trick.
  • Watch slow motion surfing videos – One great way to learn new skills and tricks is to watch surf videos and movies. Better if you can watch it in slow motion, as it will show you what to do from take-off up to the moment the surfer lands. These videos are very interesting to watch, especially if you love surfing. You may even try for yourself once you have studied the maneuvers.


Surfing is a well-loved water sport. However, mastering the skills and tricks may be a bit challenging, especially if you are a beginner. Don’t worry, as you only need to practice to be able to perform the five best surf skills on this post. It would also be better for you to consider the tips we have provided for your overall surfing skills improvement.

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