Performing Big Turns when Surfing: Tips and Tricks


Surfing can be an overwhelming and intimidating sport for the uninitiated. It might look easy in theory, but in practice, it can be more difficult than what you have previously imagined. It is not as easy as having your preferred board and riding the waves. You will fall and get bruised. Many times, you will get humiliated and frustrated. Nonetheless, these disappointments should not give you the reason to give up.

While there are many things that you need to learn when surfing, one of the most important is to know how to make big turns. The art of maneuvering your surfboard can be a complicated task, especially when huge waves confront you. It requires careful coordination of all your body parts. If you want to know how to do it right, keep on reading and learn from the insights we’ll share.

Before we start, let us first talk about why you need to learn how to turn your surfboard. This is an important skill to learn to chase the wave. This allows you to carry on your momentum and go along with the direction of the wave. If you do not do the turns properly, you will end up losing your balance and the wave will get the better of you.

1. Link Your Upper and Lower Body

One of the mistakes most beginners make is the assertion that it is the power of the feet that dictates how the surfboard will turn. The truth is that it will depend on the coordination of the upper and lower parts of your body. So, this requires a coordinated movement.

The movement of the head, specifically of your eyes, is one of the most important. You have to point your head and look directly at where you are moving. This means that whether you are moving to the right or left, your head should be in the same direction. This will initiate the turn, so you must pay attention to where you will be looking.

Once you start turning, the other parts of the body will be moving in the same direction. This is a natural chain of events. Your shoulders, hips, and feet will all move towards the same direction. The same movement will also pressure the board to dig into the water to help you turn.

2. Learn How to Open and Rotate Your Shoulders

When performing big turns, it is also critical that you know how to open and rotate your shoulders. To learn how to do this properly, here is an easy exercise that you can practice on land. Assume a full squat position. Grab your left ankle and raise your right hand on one side. Repeat the exercise. This will also allow the back muscles to work, which is what will propel your movement on the surfboard heading to the desired direction.

Because your shoulders are important when initiating big turns, you also have to work on its strength. If your shoulders are too weak, there is a higher probability that you will suffer from an injury and it won’t be able to keep up with the movement of the board in the desired direction. Besides, working on your shoulders will also help you to paddle easily.

3. Master the Movement of the Lower Body

As we have previously mentioned, making big turns requires proper coordination of the upper and lower body. For the lower body, one of the most important things is to let your feet do the work. It is the part of the body that is directly in contact with the board, so this is what will dictate the direction of the latter. The backfoot is the one that will indicate the directional movement of the board.

Some might assume that you need to exert a lot of pressure to move the board to the intended direction. However, this is one mistake that you should not commit. You have to do the opposite – to keep your body as light as possible so that it will easily move along with the board. This is also important for maintaining your speed. You will need to bend your knees and maintain a squat position to make it easier for the body to follow the board. As you get lower to the board, your body will maintain a better balance.

4. Work on Your Leg Strength

While full turns are initiated by the entire body, your legs will be doing a lot of work, so you have to pay attention to its strength. You will benefit from doing a variety of exercises. If you have weak legs, it will be easy to lose momentum and balance since it won’t be able to support the weight of your upper body.

Squats are the best land-based exercises that will help in improving the strength of your legs. An exercise ball will be a handy tool to make the exercise more intense. The best thing is that it also teaches your body to maintain your balance, which is one of the crucial skills for surfing.

Single-leg dumbbell or kettlebell exercises will also help in working on your leg strength. Stand and lift your one leg. While doing this, keep the other leg firmly planted on the ground. Touch the ground with the weight. The side of the hand that touches the weight should be the opposite of the leg that you raise. Keep your leg and your back straight while doing this exercise to prevent injury.

5. Choose the Right Board

For anyone who is learning the fundamentals of surfing, one of the first things that you will be taught is how your board affects your movement. With this, learning how to perform big turns will also require you to know your surfboard.

If you are using a larger surfboard, you will need more effort to turn on the wave. Your board will not only be heavier, but it will also demonstrate more resistance when it is on the water. You need to exert more effort for it to move. It is best to use smaller surfboards. By being lighter, they also have the benefit of being easier to turn.


We hope that the discussions above will help performing big turns when you are surfing. One of the general rules that you have to keep in mind is that where you look is where you will move. It all begins with where the head turns. Take note that this is a whole-body movement. Your upper and lower body should move together as it will initiate a kinetic chain that will allow you to ride along with the wave. From the legs to the shoulders, work on the strength of your body for making smooth turns even when the waves are big.

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