How to Stand Up On a Surfboard (2023)

How to Stand Up On a Surfboard (1)Kooks Only!

Take Chances. Make Mistakes. Surf More.

How to Stand Up On a Surfboard (2)

For many aspiring surfers, the pop up is the most difficult part of the learning process. Catching a wave usually goes pretty well, and even riding a wave can be easy for new surfers. It’s often that part in the middle where new surfers spend most of their time wiping out — the pop up.

To Stand Up On A Surfboard:

  1. Place your hands flat on your board under your chest, with your elbows tucked in.
  2. Press your body up with your hands, arch your back, and transfer your weight onto your feet.
  3. Push off your toes, and slide your feet into position on the board.
  4. Keep your knees bent — this will help keep your center of gravity low.
  5. Surf!

That’s the gist of it, but we should get a bit more into the details. In this article, we will discuss how to stand up on a surfboard, proper foot positioning, and some common mistakes beginners make when standing up.

The Pop Up

The pop up is the move that takes you from the paddling position to the standing position. We always suggest trying a few pop ups on the beach, in your living room, or anywhere else where the ground is stable.

Popping up is the most important move you will learn. A well-executed pop up is about getting to your feet as smoothly and as quickly as possible.

When you have done enough paddling and have caught a wave, you should perform your pop up. The popup is a very simple maneuver.

  1. Plant your hands beneath your chest on the board.
  2. Push your torso up, arching your back.
  3. Slide your legs under your body and plant your feet on the board.

Positioning on the Board

How to Stand Up On a Surfboard (3)

A good pop up starts with proper positioning on the board when catching the wave. If you are lying down in the wrong place on the board, you’re going to pop up into the wrong place on the board.

When paddling to catch a wave, your center of gravity should be slightly behind the vertical center of the board. Looking at the nose of the board will help you to determine if you are in the right spot. The nose should be sticking slightly out of the water, at about a 10-20 degree angle.

Nosediving while catching a wave is very common for beginner surfers, and can often be solved by positioning yourself slightly further back on the board.

Be sure that you are not too far back on the board. The tail of your board should not be submerged into the water. This will slow you down and make it more difficult to catch waves.

When to Stand Up on a Surfboard

A general rule of thumb is to take two more paddles on a wave than you think you need before standing up. When learning how to pop up, it is best to ride the wave on your stomach a little bit longer than more advanced surfers will.

The Proper Stance

It’s also important to understand how you should look after popping up. This will help you to pop up more smoothly.

Goofy vs Regular

There are two ways to stand on a surfboard: goofy-footed and regular. If you are goofy-footed, you will surf with your right foot forward. If you are regular-footed, you will naturally surf with your left foot forward.

To determine which is your ‘natural’ stance, have a friend give you a slight shove from behind while you have your eyes closed. The foot that you stick out to brace yourself first is the foot that should be forward on your surfboard.

Take a Wide and Low Stance

When you are standing on the board, you should have your feet slightly farther than shoulder-width apart. You should also bend your knees to lower your center of gravity on the board. Lastly, be sure to keep your eyes forward. Doing all of this will give you stability as you ride the board.

How to Stand Up On a Surfboard (4)

Common Beginner Mistakes When Popping Up

Although popping up is a fairly simple maneuver, it takes some practice. Here are a few common mistakes that beginners make when learning to pop up on a surfboard.

Looking Down

Your head is heavy. If you have your head down when you pop up, you’re going to throw off your balance. Be sure to keep your head up and facing forward when you pop up.

Practicing on the Wrong Waves

You should practice popping up on small whitewater waves. Don’t try to surf the face of a wave when learning to pop up.

Grabbing the Rails

Your hands should be planted near your chest or ribcage, flat on the top of the board. Don’t grab the sides of the board when you pop up. This will throw off your balance and slow down the board.

Using Your Knees

Avoid popping up onto your knees, or using your knees to transition between lying down and standing up. When popping up, move swiftly from your chest to your feet.

Hitting a Poopoo Stance

As you stand up on the board, avoid squatting or sticking your butt out. This can topple your balance. Keep your body vertical.

Surfing Like You Ski

When you pop up, your feet should be facing the outside edge of the board. Some beginners tend to pop into a ‘ski stance’, with both feet next to one another, facing the nose of the board.

Standing Too Early

Popping up is not part of catching a wave. Be sure that you have already caught the wave completely before attempting to stand up.

Popping Backwards

When you stand up on a surfboard, your front foot should be near the board’s vertical center. Make sure you don’t pop back on the board. If you are not far enough forward after popping up, the board will slow down and the tail will sink under the water.


How hard is it to stand up on a surfboard? ›

It takes a little bit of coordination and balance but…just like a bike…with some practice… I think most people could surf. I learned on a short board. It was a bit hard for me but not for too long.

How long does it take to stand up on a surfboard? ›

How much time do you need to stand up on a surfboard and glide across the glassy waves? Learning to surf requires between two hours and one month of practice. If you're struggling for more than two months to ride a wave, then there's something wrong with you.

How do surfers not slip off their board? ›

Surfboard wax provides a layer of grip on the surfboard deck (the top of the surfboard) to prevent the surfer from slipping off of the board when riding a wave or paddling. Surfers wax their boards to apply this layer of grip on their surfboards,” says Miley-Dyer.

How do your feet not slip on a surfboard? ›

Hack: Wax the top of your feet. Then as you're paddling out, rub the bottoms of your feet on the ridges for some added traction.

What is the hardest thing to do in surfing? ›

Paddling out

Many people will tell you that this is the hardest part of surfing. Depending on the conditions, paddling out can either be a walk in the park or it can feel like the most intense workout you've ever done.

Is surfing the hardest board sport? ›

Here again, riders generally feel surfing is harder. It's no secret that learning to surf takes months of sustained efforts to begin to master – it's often viewed as the hardest board sport to learn.

How much weight can a surfboard support? ›

As a general rule, a beginner should be riding the equivalent of 100% of their body weight in volume. I.e. A beginner weighing 80kg should be riding a surfboard around 80 litres in volume. Alternatively, an experienced surfer can ride a surfboard that's 35% - 40% of their body weight in volume.

What is the easiest surfboard to stand up on? ›

For beginners, use a foam surfboard on the right beach.

A foam surfboard will be lightweight and easy to use. Make sure you're on a beach with waves that break far out instead of waves that break right on the beach – these waves are ideal for surfing.

What is it called when you stand up on a surfboard? ›

Standup paddleboarding (SUP) is a water sport born from surfing with modern roots in Hawaii. Standup paddleboarders stand on boards that are floating on the water, and use a paddle to propel themselves through the water.


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