The perfect frontside bottom turn




Turning is a fundamental part of surfing, no matter what level you are. Whether it’s learning your first turns so you can manoeuvre around someone, to mastering your bottom turn and snappy top turn. 



The most important detail of surfing is ‘look where you want to go’. It’s taught right from the beginning, if you look down, you’re going down. It’s the same with turning. If you’re not looking in the direction you want to go, you’ll never be able to go that way. You need to trust you pop up and your foot positioning, don’t look down to check during the take off. If you’re looking at your feet, even if they are in the perfect spot, you’ll fall 99% of the time! If you look down the line as you take off, you’ll head down the line. You can adjust your feet later if you need to.



At the same time, you want to bring your arms round to point in that direction too. This will tell your whole body, and the board, that’s where you’re travelling. It’s helpful if you have something to aim towards, such as a harbour wall, landmark or building at the end of the beach.





The bottom turn – taking the drop on a green wave and manoeuvering to travel along the face of the wave instead of straight towards the beach. You have to master your bottom turn as it’ll set you up for future manoeuvres, whether it’s a top turn, cutback or even an air! The bottom turn is the first real move that most surfers learn and the most important as it is the linking move for all aspects of your surfing. A solid bottom turn defines a good surfer.  




It’s easiest to start on your forehand (face to the wave). Paddle into the wave, board aiming for the beach (don’t forget those extra paddle strokes!), but eyes looking down the line, this is super important. Then pop up. As you take the drop, look across the green face, bend your knees and compress. Put your weight over your toes and move your arms and upper torso round so that you’re leading with your shoulder and facing the wave. 




It’s instinct to lean back as you take the drop but this will kill your momentum. Lean forward and into the turn. Point with your leading arm where you want to get too and it will be a huge help in directing your body. Be fluid in your movements, the more jerky you are the slower you will move. Compression is key, if you can go low on your bottom turn (by bending your knees) then extend through the turn you will gain speed and inertia. Even on tiny waves you can practice this technique of compressing, then extending and feeling the increase in down the line speed.


Bonus tip:

It’s easy to think that if you have a smaller board, it’ll be easier to turn. But in fact, if you have a bigger board, you’ll be able to catch waves earlier, giving you more time and often more wave face to play on. You also don’t have to work as hard to generate your own speed, which makes executing manoeuvers easier. Bigger boards really iron out the creases in your surfing and help you find your flow. Don’t be tempted to move down onto a smaller board until you are really confident with your bottom turn using a longer board. It is only then that you should look to downsize.


Check out Youtube videos of Steph Gilmore. She has the best bottom turn in the business, which surfers the world over (male and female!) use to draw inspiration from.

Join us in Newquay, Croyde or Wales on one of our Surf Coaching Weekends to learn to how to master the bottom turn!

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