How to improve your style in surfing

By Lily Plume

As you progress on your surfing journey, you’ll soon realise that you don’t just want to surf well – you also want to surf with style. But what do we mean when we talk about style in surfing? 

Surfing style is all about how you choose to approach a wave. It’s in the way you move your body, the board you choose to ride and how you use that board to draw lines across the face of a wave. Each surfer has their own personal expression of this experience. The most stylish surfers allow their personality to shine through in the creative flourishes that add an extra pizazz  to their surfing – look at Mikey February’s jazzy hand jives or Honolua Blomfield’s fancy footwork! It’s something that makes a surfer recognisable even in silhouette.

Kelia Moniz

What does good surfing style look like?

Style is pretty subjective; everyone has their own preferences about which kind of surfing they enjoy watching. But ask anyone who their favourite surfer is and you’ll probably hear the same names popping up: Steph Gilmore, Dave Rastovich, Torren Martyn, Kelia Moniz (among many others)… So what do these style masters have in common? They all surf with an effortless ease, an insane sense of flow and a seamless blend of power and grace. Their style is smooth as silk and fluid like water. And they make it look so easy!

So, are you ready to shred like Steph and glide like Honolua? Here are some tips to help you on your journey to more stylish surfing!

Get inspired by your favourite surfers 

Start a saved collection on Instagram or Youtube of surf clips, then dive into this library of inspiration before you go for a surf! Watch how your favourite surfers approach a wave and analyse their movements. Look at Craig Anderson’s cocked back knee, Leah Dawson’s soul arch bottom turns, Steph’s beaming smile. Try to mirror their approach in your own surfing by playing back those videos in your mind’s eye and embodying their movements as you surf.

Leah Dawson

Nail your pop up technique 

To make your surfing look and feel smoother, you can start with your pop up. Avoid using your knees, as this will only slow down your pop up progression later on. Try to spring straight to your feet in one smooth movement, or slow it down and make it into more of a ‘slide up’, bringing your back foot onto the board first, then sliding your front foot forward between your hands. 

Learn to flow with the wave instead of fighting against it

The most stylish surfers make surfing look like a dance, and in a way, it is! To surf a wave, you have to move in time with its rhythm. Think of the wave as your dance partner; if the wave is going fast you have to speed up to make the section, and if it slows down you’ll need to cut back to the pocket to find power again. Learning to read the wave in this way takes practice, but it will allow you to respond to what the wave is doing rather than forcing what you want to do onto the wave – which will make your surfing more fluid and flowing.

Steph Gilmore

Pay attention to your posture

Style isn’t just about looking good, it’s also functional. When you’re folded over with your head leaning out to the side and your knees pointing apart (hello ‘poo stance’), it’s harder to stay balanced, move your hips and twist your torso for turning. Instead, try tucking your back knee in when you’re doing a turn to allow your hips to twist more freely.

Ask someone to film you surfing and look at how you carry yourself on a wave. Are your limbs flailing about or are your arms controlled? Are you bent over at the waist or standing straight? In general, you want to keep your arms relaxed, your spine straight and your knees bent.

Honolua Blomfield

Relax and have fun!

The best surfer is the one having the most fun, and that’s the energy you want to embody when honing your personal style. Be playful, experiment with new boards and manoeuvres, keep smiling and pursue the style of surfing that brings you the most joy!

In the end, it all comes down to the sensations you’re searching for on a wave. Whether you want to experience a smooth glide or fast and powerful turns, your personal style will develop as you chase these sensations.

Want some help with your style? Join us on one of our Intermediate weekends or international trips!

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