How to Stall a Surfboard


Stalling is one of the crucial skills you need to learn when surfing. This is a surf technique that allows you to slow down the surfboard. It allows you to generate drag and go slower, making it possible to match the speed of the wave. It requires a deep connection to the wave while also involving your body. This helps you to pull out of the wave without being wiped out.

If you want to learn how to stall a surfboard, keep on reading and we’ll let you know some of the best tricks. Knowing these techniques will help you to gain better control of the board against the barrel while minimizing the likelihood that you will fall off.

Stalling Techniques You Need to Learn

In this section, we’ll talk about five of the best tricks that will allow you to stall a surfboard down the barrel. These tricks may not be straightforward, but with constant practice and determination, it won’t take long before you can master these techniques and surf like a pro.

1. Arm Anchoring

If you are dealing with a vertical wave, it is easier to not be overwhelmed by its power and stop the surfboard through arm anchoring. To do this, all that you have to do is to plant your inside arm in the water, which will allow you to pivot your body. Your arm will act as the anchor to slow down the board and pull through the wave. To do this technique right, one that requires attention is the duration at which you bury your hand in the water. If you leave it anchoring longer than necessary, this maneuver can do more harm than good.

2. Hand Dragging

Got a barrel that is approaching too fast? Don’t panic! Put your hand into good use! The best thing you can do is to drag your hand through the wave. Dragging one or both hands will slow down your surfboard. This helps you to create friction on the wave so that you can control how the board cruises to slow it down. Keep your hand at the back so that you won’t create splashes all over your face, which can affect your clarity of vision.

3. Butt Dragging

As the name implies, this technique involves the use of your butt to drag your body in the barrel. Aside from controlling your speed, it allows you to remain parallel to the wave as you wait for the barrel to go above you. This is especially commonly practiced in back tube riding. You will also need this in steep take-offs or any situation when you need to stay as close as possible to the face of the water.

4. Knee Dragging

This is similar to the stalling technique mentioned above, with the most obvious difference being the use of your knee instead of your butt. Your front knee will act as the brake to slow down your surfboard. For this technique to work, make sure that your knee is slightly bent. If you are riding hollow waves, however, this can be quite difficult. Especially for inexperienced surfers, this can also put too much pressure on the knee and can cause someone to easily lose balance.

5. Foot Pressure Over the Tail

Another common way of stalling the surfboard, this technique involves using your foot. As you practice this maneuver, one of the most important is to make sure that you keep the proper stance, which is also what will prevent you from losing your balance.

All that you have to do is to use your foot to apply pressure on the back part of the board, which will act as the brake. With enough pressure, you can control the speed. However, the secret to its effectiveness is to do it slowly. Otherwise, you will end up losing a lot of speed, and the ending is that you will be wiped out. This is one of the classics when it comes to stalling. Anyone who has surfed in the 80s will most probably know this. It is also called the wheelie stall. By placing all your weight on the back foot, the nose will move up and this allows the board to move slower.

Pro Tips

Aside from the steps that have been mentioned above, below are some stalling tips that can help you to do things right.

  • Regardless of the way you choose to slow down the surfboard, you must watch out for your stance. The right position of the body is crucial to prevent losing balance. Especially when you are using two hands, legs, or arms when you are trying to stop the board, it can be easy to apply too much pressure on other parts of the body and forget about your balance.
  • Keep your head up and look forward. You know that you have to pass through a barrel, which is why you are slowing down. Nonetheless, this does not mean that you can turn your head somewhere else. For your safety, keep looking in front of you. This prevents bumping into another surfer. It also gives you presence of mind, making it easier to act accordingly depending on the situation you are in.
  • Choosing the right board is also important when it comes to stalling. If the board is too long for the user, this might make it difficult to control its speed. Especially if you will use your foot to apply pressure on the tail as a braking mechanism, it may not be as responsive. Make sure to choose a board that suits your body type and your surfing style so that it will be easier to control, especially when it comes to speed.
  • You can also try fading as a way of slowing down. This way, you won’t be using your hand, arm, butt, or feet. Instead, the technique involves fading your take-off, elongating your bottom turn, and waiting until the wave catches up. Timing is one of the most important to do this maneuver with finesse and to prevent being wiped out.


Learning how to stall a surfboard is crucial for every surfer. This helps to control the speed of the surfboard as you cruise through a barrel, minimizing the likelihood that the wave will wipe you out. With the right stalling technique, you can use your arm, butt, hand, leg, or feet to control the speed of your surfboard.

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