"Look where you want to go and you'll go there".
Sounds easy, doesn't it? However, one of the most common surfing mistakes is not looking where you want to go on a wave. This is especially important when taking off on faster waves.
If you're finding that you often get left behind in the whitewash as each wave peels perfectly ahead of you, it is usually caused by two things…
1 > Looking at the bottom/trough of the wave as you paddle into the wave.
2 > Looking down at the board when you pop up.
If you look straight down towards the bottom of a wave (or even worse, at the board) when you first catch a wave, you will naturally go where you are looking. Which, in this case, is straight to the bottom of the wave where, if you then look across the wave, you'll have the unfortunate view of watching the wave peel away without you as you flap around in the whitewash.
Does this sound like you? Luckily, this is an easy fix.
If you want to go across the wave (down the line) in faster surf you have to make sure look where you want to go. When you feel you're about to catch the wave, look roughly 15ft or so down the line (across the wave) and high on the face - this is exactly where you want to go to make the first section and get some speed. Then with your eyes still focused on your target spot, pop up as normal keep the high line and enjoy the ride.
Coaching Tip : If you're finding it hard to not look at your board as you take off try practicing your pop ups alternating focusing your vision to your left and right on land (using the corners of a room works well) to get your body used to the new movement. Often when people practice pop ups on land they are so preoccupied thinking about foot placement they constantly look down… a good habit to get out of as early as possible!
If you manage to consistently take off on waves looking where you want to go, you will automatically stay higher on the wave face right from the start which in turn will give you more speed and help you ride faster waves successfully!
If you feel like you are managing to look down the line on take off but you are still only going straight, you probably have a foot placement or weighting issue….more of that later.
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