A crucial part of your SUP Surf progression is to dial in a good bottom turn. To execute it properly you have to initiate it correctly. Year after year we see the same common hang-ups and have found that it works best for our guests when we break it down in a succinct way, tackling individual challenges. Instead of getting lost in the intricacies of all that could be perfected, we're going to point out three common mistakes.
The most repeated mistakes we see SUP surfers make to initiate a bottom turn has to do with their upper body. They either lean into the turn by bending over their waist, reach out with the paddle or twist their upper body to change direction. Here is a breakdown of each of these mistakes and the reason they don't set you up right for the turn.
In the photo below, the surfer leans with weight over his head, hinging at the hips with their backside out. The problem here is that this lean does not efficiently change the board's direction towards the peeling wave. What happens is the surfer leans in one direction while the board's trajectory and momentum continues in another, toward the beach. Unless you make a stellar recovery, your ride will either end in a spectacular face plant or you will get hung up behind the waves speedy section.
Often times a contributing cause to this is a less than ideal surf stance at take-off. Without a low and centered surf stance, the speed from dropping in can cause the surfer to loose his or her balance and bending at the hips with weight over the head is a common reaction.
A second common mistake we see is a conscious "reach out" as seen in the photo below or a “reach back” overweighting the back foot.. The positive is that the head, hips and feet are in line and speed and balance isn't a concern. A good bottom turn efficiently changes the boards direction allowing you to leverage into the turn and accelerate out of it. Initiating this transition by reaching out with your arms does not pressure the board into making a direction change.
Here below we see an example of twisting the upper body to initiate a bottom turn. The surfer keeps their weight centered over their hips again but the solo act of twisting your torso also fails to engage the board in order to effectively change direction.
To set up a good bottom turn, keep your upper body weight centered over your hips maintaining a low center of gravity. Instead of reaching towards the wave face, open your torso towards the nose of the board, as seen below. This will keep your weight centered, the ideal position from which to initiate the turn.
Drive pressure through your lower body by engaging the back foot to set your tail and then shift your weight through your hips to your front foot and toes to set your rail. At this instant, your eyes must find your target at the top of the wave. What happens next involves rotation and release but we'll save that for another time.
Get out on the water and have fun. The better you get the more fun it is. Happy surfing!