How to Stand Up on a Surfboard

If you're new to surfing, standing up on a board that's rushing straight toward a beach may seem tough, or even scary. But don't worry, standing on a surfboard will get easier with time. The right form combined with a lot of practice on a moving surfboard can eventually make popping or standing up second nature.

What is the proper form? How do you pop up or stand up on a surfboard? Nothing substitutes getting lessons from a good instructor, but reviewing the basics about the steps necessary to stand up can get you ready for a first lesson. Here's a rundown on those all-important basic steps.

Wait for the Right Wave and Paddle With It

You need to get up to speed with surfing. You can't stand up on the board until it starts moving. Paddle out to the waves while lying face down on the board. Use long strokes with your arms, and be sure not to open your fingers. Cupped hands work better because water running through open fingers cuts down on speed.

Once you are a decent distance from the beach, wait for your wave. You'll want a breaking wave with a whole lot of white water. Once the breaking wave drives your board into the direction of the beach, start paddling to get the board moving faster. Keep your back arched while you paddle, too. It's also important not to look down. Keep your eyes straight ahead so you know where you're going.

Go to Your Feet Not Your Knees

When you get up on the board, you'll want to go to your feet instead of your knees. Performing this step may take a little work. If you were sitting on the beach, you wouldn't hop up to stand. You'd likely go to your knees first and then stand. Doing so is a natural movement. On a surfboard, though, going to the knees first would be way too slow. You must go right to your feet or else you won't get up in time, or you may fall off the board altogether.

Getting Up on the Board

The two most common ways to get up on the board involve popping up or standing up.

With a pop-up, you position your hands near your chest line with your elbows in. When the momentum of the wave reaches a peak, you will perform a pushup-like movement. Perform the pushup dynamically while springing off your toes. This takes you straight up on the air to pop up on the board into the proper position.

Standing up is a bit less dynamic and slightly slower. Some people find it easier, though. When standing up, you should follow most of the same steps as popping up. Instead of jumping, though, you slide the front leg forward into position and then stand up.

With both approaches, always plant the front foot first. The back foot must go after the front one. Otherwise, it could slow your movement down.

Proper Foot Positioning

Correct foot positioning is necessary to avoid falling off the surfboard.

As you stand or pop up on the board, your feet must land in the best possible position. Don't go more than shoulder-width apart; otherwise, your balance will suffer. Your balance will also be totally offset if you lock your knees too straight. Poor balance usually means a dive into the water, so keep your knees slightly bent while maintaining more weight on your front foot.

To get a little more specific with foot positioning, your front foot must be positioned at a 45 degree angle while the rear foot rests at 90 degrees. Be sure the toes don't "drift" and point toward the front of the board. This exact positioning creates a strong base, which makes balance stronger. Better balance keeps you from falling off the board.

Yes, Standing on the Board Takes Time

Sure, beginners fall off their boards a lot. That's often because they don't have the basic points of proper foot positioning and balance down pat. Newbies also need to time their stand-ups and pop-ups a little better. All that comes with practice and an attention to detail.

The whole process of learning to surf is fun! Eventually, you'll get up on that surfboard like a pro.