I was taught that my leading arm should stay outside my heel rail, as a general rule. Works great for going backside. But I see tons of vids and pics of surfers making frontside bottom turns with leading hand across to the inside/toe rail and trailing hand behind . . . and I've see the opposite, with great surfers turning frontside with the leading hand to the beach like I was taught . . .
What is the learning on this, I know I have to weight the back and turn my torso into the wave, look at the lip . . . Grelach is quited as saying get your body parallel to the stringer, but I don't want my arms in the middle . . .
Great thread and I'm interested in seeing thoughtful responses to this. I'm not one at all to be schooling others on surfing technique so I'll only comment on mine and offer it up for correction. I think in general, technique from one surfer to the next has a lot of variability as to "what is right" (instead on a continuum rather than hard and fast rules) and should be looked more as "what works" for differing types of athletes. Why do I think so? Because there are many mechanisms, body parts, and forces at play when we are making those bottom turns. While they're all interconnected on a kinetic chain, one surfer's powerhouse may reside in his hips while another has exceptional upper body explosiveness. The "style" will not look the same across different athletic representations of the same skill.
I also heard "front hand behind the heel rail" from day one. The Surf Simply guys are big on that. However, if it were to truly stay behind the heel rail at all times I'd think we'd lack the inertia of the pendulum our arms offer the bottom turn kinetic chain, especially if we are looking to take a dramatic one. My gathering is that there can be variance in where and how the arms are thrown and placed and the need to return to center after the throw is always there. You see different surfers executing their bottom turn differently yet they're all still effective bottom turns so the logical assessment is that there's more than one way to skin a cat.
You mention the front hand behind heel rail on backside turns being valuable and that's something I'd agree with and would say that a frontside turn will have different needs. Side note, do you guys also vary your elbow/wrist turn from front to backside? You may not be consciously doing it but still do it. I know that when I turn backside, I'm giving a "thumbs down" with the front hand with palm facing the turn and that differs when I go front. Also, do you guys consider the front hand the "lead hand" in both cases? I see how it could be argued otherwise.
Again, great topic bro. I know that several may chime in with the "just go out and surf" mantra, but leave a valid debate of this to the more kinesthetic learners as there are different learning styles across a population.
Last edited by EmassSpicoli; Feb 15, 2014 at 08:32 PM.
So funny you mention surf simply -- i posed this question to Ru Hill, and he advised that your leading hand may cross the toe rail while you rotate your body, but you get it back pretty quickly. Posted me this pic:
^Agree 100%. This fall I kept popping up with my stance too narrow going front side, but when I went backside, my feet and turning are way more powerful and balanced. Basically going right I'd be like "yew look at this face what should i do on this beauty," then I'd turn right off the top of the face! I'd get really down. But then a left would come and i don't have time to think and i surf way more fluid. So, i try and watch vids when i can't sleep and then just surf next time out. Im a completely different surfer when i "just go," then when im stuck in my own head. Overthinking ruins my day in and out of the water.
I've always coached kids on how to bottom turn like this... prefacing that your head starts every turn... your head goes around first, then your shoulders, then your hips... your feet and board will follow. At that same time your shoulders are coming around, your unweighting the board as you start to compress. Once your hips start coming round you start to press with your legs and shift your weight slightly to your back foot. By the time your knees and feet follow, your driving off your fins and inside rail and extending your legs all the way.
Ok, I'll try not to think so much. I'll think when I'm practicing on dry land, and hope that nature does its thing in the water . . . Although focusing on looking where I want to go has been a help! I surf all winter here in RI, as much as I can . . .