The hands are very important in surfing as part of the upper body construct that helps guide our feet and then the surfboard. As in golf where the hands grip the tool of the trade, how the hands, shoulders, and head move with the swing are crucial.
Yes, surfing is almost like golf. A friend of mine came to Oceanside to visit for a week and I gave him the basic elements of surfing in a dry land lesson. The pop up is a four count with the fingers spread and the hands near the chest before popping up. I use a four count with
2> hands on the board
3> arms extend into push up position as
4> the hips and forward knee drive under the chest placing the forward foot between the hands.
Once you are in that position in the low center of gravity position, the upper body rises slowly remaining in a bent position with hands extended to the two sides to ride a soft top board to the beach on a foam wave.
Intermediate and advanced surfers catching waves at an angle or dropping down the face and then turning or carving in the face or bottom turning will have the forward elbow close to their body and hand pointing in the direction of travel with the trailing elbow either
- close to the body but up almost at the level of the shoulder or
- straight behind the body extended toward the tail of the board
If you watch video of a smooth carver like ASP leader Joel Parkinson (Parko) you will see as he accelerates, he turns his shoulders and hands (shoulder width apart) into the wave to bring the nose of the board up and then turns his shoulders square with the front of the board and crouches into a lower center of gravity (hands still shoulder width apart) to bring the nose down the wave and increase speed.
As he initiates a bottom turn for a maneuver, he turns his shoulders, head, and hands into the wave and then perpendicular to the top of the wave as he carves up the face. To initiate the top turn or ripping the lip or cut back, he turns his head, shoulders, and hands back towards the bottom of the wave.
As he moves his upper torso as one unit, the feet and board follow. Most surfers like Kelly Slater use more hand motion as at the top of the turn they really swing their hands back toward the bottom and go from a straight up knee extended stance, back to a low center of gravity with the forward hand appearing to come down and touch the water.
Most surfers will be touching the water a lot with their forward or trailing hand depending on whether they are initiating turns front side or back side for positioning and balance.
Next time you are watching a good surfer or a video, watch how the hands can be seen to lead the action or be part of the turning motion and then start being aware of where your hands are on your turns.
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