How To Balance On A Surfboard
How to Balance On a Surfboard
Surfing is all about balance. Learning how to balance on a surfboard while standing up, sitting, or lying on the board is not easy and takes some serious skill. Balancing the body requires you to have a lot of flexibility and strength, mainly in your legs and core.
The good news is that once you get a feel for it, it quickly becomes second nature. The bad news is you do need to exercise these balancing skills quite often to keep them sharp. It’s best to keep consistently paddling out as much as you can.
Balancing While Riding A Wave
1. Foot and Body Positioning
The first thing you need to consider when it comes to how to balance on a surfboard while standing is where your feet are on the board and how your body is positioned. You want your chest facing the side of the board, not the front. Having a sideways stance is very important to maintaining proper balance.
As for your feet, your back foot should be six inches to two feet away from the tail of the board. Depending on the type of board you are on. Your feet should sit perpendicular to the board at a 90-degree angle or very close to it. And your front foot should be far enough away from your back foot that it forces your knees to bend slightly. This puts you in an athletic-minded, maneuverable stance. If you have your feet too close together, balancing will be very difficult. The goal is to find a relatively low center of gravity that feels somewhat natural.
When addressing your stance and your knee position, one tip that I found to be useful is to keep your knees bent at more of an inward angle. Many of us were taught in sports to keep our knees pushed outward as we get into a slight crouch. But keeping our knees bent inward will keep our body mass more compact, which will give us more control of the board.
The next thing to focus on when trying to learn how to balance on a surfboard is where your feet sit in relation to the sides of the board. You basically want to be dead center. If your board has a stringer or a line that runs down the center of your board, you want your feet to be dead-center on that line. If there is no line, create an imaginary one in your head and use it to center yourself up.
2. Upper Body Rotation
Once you get a feel for a crouched stance that is comfortable and flexible for you, we need to start adding your upper body. Your chest, shoulders, and arms play a crucial role in how to balance on a surfboard. When you’re riding a wave, your strength and power are driven by your legs and core. But your upper body is what does the directional guiding. That means your upper and lower body movements must be in sync to maintain balance on your board.
Learning how to balance on a surfboard using your upper body can be practiced at home or on the beach. It does not need to be perfected on a wave. You can start getting the hang of upper body positioning by keeping your shoulders squared with your hips and your hands out to either side for balance. Next, you’ll want to twist your chest toward the front or back of the board. This will mimic a front-side or backside turn. You’ll want to master the technique of shifting your weight and moving your chest in either direction while keeping your lower body as stable as possible. As I mentioned, learning how this feels before you’re actually out in the water is probably a good idea.
Balancing While Sitting
Balancing on a surfboard can be challenging from a sitting position as well. As surfers, we spend a lot of time sitting on our boards in the water while we wait for good waves to arrive. Sitting on your board gives you a better look at the waves and can also keep you warmer, but it looks a lot easier than it is.
Getting into a seated position starts after you are lying on your board paddling. Once you are comfortably balanced while lying in a prone position, grab your board with one hand on each rail. Almost as if you were getting ready to do a pushup. As you push the board down into the water, slide your legs to the side to straddle it and pull the board forward through your legs.
As the board is sliding into position underneath you, bring your knees up and arch your back into a sitting position while you keep ahold of the board. This is the part where knowing how to balance on a surfboard while sitting really takes practice. Finding the perfect position will take some time. You’ll quickly learn that leaning too far to the left or right will throw you right off your board. If you lean too far forward or backward, the surfboard will shoot out from beneath you. To make matters worse, you’ll need even more balance as you float over waves that are rolling by.
The best way to find the perfect balancing point is to sit just below the middle of the surfboard, which will help you to avoid falling back when waves pass by you. The longer you do this, the more comfortable you’ll get with finding the perfect balancing position as soon as you pop up from paddling.
Balance is Key
As with most things in life, practice makes perfect. Learning how to balance on a surfboard is no different. The bottom line is that surfing is one of the most difficult sports to master, and even the most mundane parts of it are still very challenging for most people. Building up core and leg strength will help in every aspect that we discussed above, and the rest is up to the amount of time you are able to practice and perfect the techniques.