How to Correct One of the Most Common Mistakes in Surfing: the Pop-Up

The Mechanics of a Surfing Pop-Up 

If we're going to create a system to improve your pop-up, we need to deconstruct the motion so you can practice it extensively in the water and on dry land.  Not only is the Pop-Up one of the most fundamental movements of surfing, it’s also demands a very specific form of strength and mobility.  All of the guests on our Sea Hearts Surfaris will be asked to take the 30 Day Pop-Up Challenge before they depart because this is an action that troubles so many surfers and really determines how you will surf the rest of the wave.  A strong, consistent Pop-Up will allow a surfer to take off deeper, make steeper drops, catch more waves, and feel more confident in the water. 

So, let's break your Pop-Up down into a few steps:

Basic - Three Step Pop-Up:

  1. Chicken Wings to Cobra: Place both hands flat on the board near the rails (chicken wings) and push your chest and hips up off the deck (cobra). Do not grab the rails.

  2.  Front Foot: With you hands still flat on the rails, swing your front foot into place on the center line of your board (the stringer). Your foot should be in a surfing position at 90 degree angle to the stringer. 

  3. Back Foot: Using your arms and front leg, push up off the board and move your back foot into place on the center line.  Assume Ninja surfing stance (knees bent, hands in front of your body, shoulders open and pointing down the line.

Advanced - Combine all three steps into one fluid movement.

Now, REPEAT.  

Repetition over time should make this action automatic.  You'll no longer have to think about popping-up.  When you stroke into a wave, you'll just rely on our old muscle memory, pop-up, and start shredding down the line.  One less thing to worry about.  

Watch this video of the World's Best Surfers Popping-Up on Kelly Slater's Wave.  Do you think Jordy, Kelly or John John are thinking about each Pop-Up?  

Let Me Break It Down Even Further

If you chronically struggle getting to your feet, it's likely you need to strengthen the fundamental muscles that propel your Pop-Up.  That's why we ask our guests to do these three exercises everyday before their Surfari. Three exercises you can incorporate to strengthen your Pop-Up muscles are sets of push-ups (modify by placing your hands on a higher surface like a bench rather than dropping to knees), spilt squats, and burpees.  Try doing rounds of 10 of each of these exercises, followed by 5 Pop-Ups.  

Countless surfers have claimed that their goal is improve their Pop-Up but very few have implemented a simple, daily system to achieve this goal so that's exactly what you are going to do.  

  1. Single Leg Squats (Photos)

  2. Proper Push-Up (Modification)

  3. Burpees

Your 30 Day Pop-Up Challenge 

Everyone who comes to one of our Surfaris will be asked to take the 30 Day Pop-Up Challenge before they go. Try to do at least 10 Pop-Ups everyday for the month leading up to the trip. If you can do more, great. Do sets of 5 Pop-Ups at time to avoid fatigue and poor form. This is our 30-Day Pop-Up Challenge. All Sea Heart’s guests get a Pre-Surfari training program to get them ready for their trip, but at a minimum make sure you do this.

 Train with focus and control on each specific movement. The key is to go slow and do each part correctly rather than punch out a million fast reps.  This is why we only do 5 pop-ups at a time.  If you try to do fifty Pop-Ups in a row, you will fatigue quickly and then your form will go down the drain and you are more likely to injure yourself. I

Here’s the breakdown - start with exercises:

  1. Single Leg Squats - 10 each leg 

  2. Push-Ups - 10    

  3. Burpees - 10

Next do Pop-Ups (Use a piece of tape on ground to make sure your feet land in the right place):

  1. 5 Pop-Ups

  2. Rest 

  3. 5 Pop-Ups

That's it.  That's all you have to do to put your Pop-Up problems behind you.  This way, when you arrive On Surfari, you won't give a passing thought to Pop-Ups and you'll be ready to move on to bigger, funner things like big carving turns, barrels, and late drops!

Audrey Hills