30 Apr How to Master a Cut Back Like a Pro
Women + Waves have teamed up with British professional surfer and surf coach Alan Stokes, to give you the pro tips on how to master a cut back. Don’t know what a cut back is – let me explain.
What is a Cut Back?
For a normal cut back you do a bottom turn and come up the face of the wave changing direction towards where the wave is breaking. As a result, this creates a wide ‘S’ shape. If you are looking for tips on how to master your bottom turn first, check out these posts:
The Perfect Frontside Bottom Turn
Mastering Your Backhand Bottom Turn
Find Your Feet Sweet Spot
Find out where your feet need to be to execute the perfect cut back.
In any surfing manoeuvre where you need to turn your board, your feet placement is important. Your back foot needs to be over your fins. As your back fin is your board’s pivoting point, having the correct foot placement will help turn the board nice and easy. Anything in front of that point is going to create more drive but also make the board quite hard to turn.
This is why grip pads are really good because you can position your foot directly over your fins and know your foot is in the right spot. Some grip pads have kick tails that act as a guide for your feet. This is the raised bit at the back of the grip pad.
Depending on your board size you may need to move your feet back. This would be the case for any 7ft+ sized boards.
Look Where You Want To Go
The head weight is important in a cut back because it is a long drawn out turn. You must look where you are going to go and as a result, you will turn in that direction.
To cut back you want to lead with your arms, your eyes and your head.
Fly Like a Bird
What is your favourite bird? You might think that sounds like a silly question but this is one of Alan Stokes top tips on how to master a cut back. He asks his students “what is your favourite bird?” and then tells them to act like that bird. The reason why?
The key to a perfect cut back is to open yourself up to take yourself off of your centre of balance.
By telling people to be a bird they are opening their arms like they are flying. This stops you from reaching an arm across which is fighting the turn and not leaning into the natural gravity of the turn.
Alan says you want to get your wings open. Ultimately you want your arms open and chest open.
How to Master a Cut Back?
For a normal cut back you do a bottom turn, come up the face of the wave with your arms open, which aids rotation in the upper body, making sure to use your core to transfer it all down through the legs.
Setting up for a Cut Back
Now you know where your feet should be, where you are looking and what you are doing with your arms. Let’s set up for the cut back.
You want to go into a shallow bottom turn and you don’t want to be too compressed (too crouched down). You want to be mid-faced on the wave and have less compression than a normal bottom turn with no cutback.
For the cut back, focus on keeping the rail engaged. Smooth, fluid movements are good for this.
You do that by keeping your arms open, using the head weight and using the speed that you have just generated to push into the wave.
Board Size Matters
Tips for 7ft+ board riders
You will want to shuffle your feet back and know that a cut back will be harder than on a shortboard. To set up you will come through your bottom turn, make a decision on how far your cut back will go before you reach the white water. You then break out of your cut back straight into a bottom turn again.
Rinse + Repeat.