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PSCo. Tutorials: The Pop-Up

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Welcome to another PSCo. Tutorial! Where we breakdown surfing technique, etiquette, forecasting, and more in the surfing world, so that you can learn and improve even when you aren’t in the water. 

In this tutorial I will be breaking down the “Pop-up” technique. This is the motion of going from lying prone on the surfboard and jumping up into a surfing stance once you have caught a wave.

Reading this blog and practicing the pop-up motions along with it will help you to solidify this technique. The pop-up is a fundamental technique that is often overlooked once we move  beyond our first beginner lesson. 

When we teach this on the beach we break it down into a few key steps, but, before we get into practicing the motions you want to make sure of a few fundamentals:

  1. Choose a good wave: powerful enough and appropriate for your ability level. Too steep and you will get pitched “over the falls” before you can even get to your feet, too mellow and it won’t have enough power to float your board.

  2. Efficient paddling to allow you to catch the wave. Thinking quality over quantity for paddles. Long, full extension front-crawl a.k.a freestyle arm strokes

  3. Proper positioning on the board is key before you pop-up. 

  4. Good entry: your entry is the line that you take as you catch the wave. This is the moment that your paddling has paid off and your board has begun to plane along the face of the wave.

Once you have these fundamentals in place, you will have more effective pop-up practice. Now that you are prepared to get some waves, use the four P’s to dial in your pop up.


The Pop-up four P’s:

  1. Prone: Lying down, centered on your board, feet together. It is important here that you are looking up and in the direction that you want to go. For example, if I know I want to go left as I pop up, I am already turning my head and looking that way in the prone position.

  2. Palms: So I’ve made my good entry into the wave and it’s time to get to my feet. To initiate this, place your palms flat on the deck so that your thumbs are in line with the bottom of your ribcage. Hint: Don’t grab the rails!! This is a common mistake because we often want to feel more stable on the board by literally holding on to it. Trust me on this one and let go of the rails and you will notice a huge improvement.

  3. Proud Seal: I would like to thank former PSCo. instructor Denie for coining the term for the upward arched position that makes you look like you are indeed aproud seal deafening your rock. This position is so effective because it creates a lot of space underneath you to allow you to get your feet into position.

  4. Pop! This is the moment that you engage your core and legs to spring into the surf stance. The key in the pop is that the front foot should drive up to right in between the hands, and set down at a 45 degree angle to the nose of the board. The back foot has less distance to cover, and should land slightly more perpendicular than the front, about a foot to two feet up from the tail of the surfboard, depending on the length of the board. 

Hint: When you pop-up, stay compressed by bending at your knees rather than your hips. This will lower your centre of gravity and improve your balance.

All the while, your upper body should remain upright with eyes and shoulders facing in the direction of travel.

Now you’re up and it’s time to enjoy the ride. I recommend that you practice this one in your living room or backyard, or on the beach before you head out as part of your warm up. Bonus points if you practice on the bus on the way to work!

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