Jamie O’Brien once said: “there is not one right way to ride a wave,” but we’d like to think that there could be ways of perfecting how to ride a wave.
One of these ways is by bottom turning, which is pretty important when it comes to surfing. So, if you really want to grab your board – maybe read on first for our best tips on how to bottom turn!
What Is A Bottom Turn?
This is a manoeuvre that you do at the trough (bottom) of the wave – which is why it is called, that’s right, the bottom turn.
This is normally the first turn you do after you have taken off on a wave.
Why Is A Bottom Turn Important In Surfing?
So, surfing is a very free-spirited sport. But, it has to be said that the best surfing comes with perfecting your bottom turn.
You might be wondering why this is and well, this move is what your surfing is built on. This very move enables you to move onto the next trick.
And, if you do this well then it will improve your surfing as a whole. Yeah, the bottom turn is the foundation of a great surfer.
So, let’s begin.
If you are a beginner when it comes to bottom turning, your level will be pretty different to an experienced surfer. This is all down to one factor: speed.
When you first learn this move, you will start by performing smaller bottom turns and you will not have gained much speed by doing this.
Once you get more confident performing this move, then you can build up more speed which will help you progress onto other maneuvers too.
This is definitely a ‘practise makes perfect’ kind of move, but once you have mastered this then you can master any technical move as you have this as your starting point.
What’s Up With The Need For Speed?
Yeah, speed is an important aspect of bottom turns. Why? Well, once you have a wave, you should try and build up as much speed as possible.
To do this, you have to head to the trough of the wave, and the bigger the drop of the wave then the more speed you will gain.
The bottom line is: if you do not turn to get back onto the wave’s face then the wave will knock you off your board… not so cool.
But good things come to those who are patient so the more you practise then the better your ability will be.
Deep And Shallow Bottom Turns
The difference between deep and shallow bottom turns is the point where the surfer takes off.
If you are new to surfing then you will most likely opt for a take off on the shoulder, which is not so steep.
You would enter diagonally on the wave so the bottom turn will not be so deep and you would be able to progress onto other manoeuvres like cutbacks.
More advanced surfers can take off on a steeper breaking wave where the entry is vertical. This will produce a deeper bottom turn and you will be able to perform more complex moves.
These are both identifiers of beginner and advanced surfers.
Bottom Turn Frontside
So, here is the step-by-step that you have been waiting for on how to get that perfect bottom turn:
- Ride to the bottom of the wave.
- Compress your body low down.
- Lean forward and put your weight on your toes.
- Dig your rail and use your strong arm like a pivot and hold.
- Push your weight through your legs to your toes so that you can tilt the board.
- Position your shoulders into the wave.
- Look where you are wanting to turn.
- Push with the back foot as you come off the bottom to steer the board.
- Keep your knees bent and drive up the wave’s face.
- Rotate your torso to follow the nose of the board, and you have yourself a pretty solid bottom turn.
Mistakes To Avoid
An easy mistake to make is leaning too hard and then falling off your board – we are not saying that you will get this perfect first time, expect to get wet.
But, once you get the hang of it, your muscle memory will improve and you will avoid diving instead of surfing.
Speed is a pretty big aspect of the bottom turn that you need to get right – if you go too far in front of the wave then you won’t have enough speed and will probably fall off, and if you’re going too fast and lean over then you will probably fall off.
It’s all about balance!
Bottom Turn Backside
Thought you had it easy with just one bottom turn? No way! There is also a bottom turn backside that you can perfect – that is of course after you have mastered the standard bottom turn.
But, learning this gives you more flexibility in which waves you can go for – which sounds like a win to us!
You can follow steps 1-3 of the bottom turn to get you started with this one, but this time you are not keeping your strong arm out of the water.
Use your strong arm as a pivot in the water and keep your knees bent and drive up the wave’s face using speed.
And at the end, you’re not just rotating your torso here, you rotate your body fully.
And here you have it!
The Perfect Bottom Turn
In case it wasn’t obvious, it really pays off to have a perfect bottom turn. Like we said before, practise really does make perfect with this one, but if you push yourself each time you go out and surf then you will definitely improve.
It is not easy, but once you have mastered the bottom turn then you will not look back. This is a gradual process, so each time you hit the waves push yourself to do that bit extra until you become a master of riding those waves.