The best surfing advice you’ve ever been given: Don’t look down

There is nothing more frustrating, after paddling hard and nailing your pop up, to then go and fall straight off again. The latest instalment in our ‘Best surfing advice you’ve ever been given’ series comes after a great surf in some lovely little mellow waves at Perran Sands with Kirsty from Landlocked Surfer Girl.

Mellow waves landlocked surf girl

Me and Kirsty after our surf at Perran

I really wanted to take the GoPro but my longboard doesn’t have a mount, so I figured I’d just hold it in my mouth (make sure you’ve got a floaty back door if you try this!) It’s the first time I’d done it so I was excited to see the footage when I got home.

It was pretty rubbish. Because it was in my mouth it faced whichever way I was looking. And I discovered I was looking at my feet a lot when I was riding a wave. And when I did, I pretty much fell off every time.

To show you what I mean, I’ve put two of my GoPro clips from Perran Sands together, one where I’m looking at my feet and one where I’m not. Notice how I get stuck in the whitewater on the first one and can’t seem to catch the wave up, and how much I’m looking down, rather than along the wave. Then the second one is much better, because I’m looking right along it rather than down.

I can’t believe I didn’t notice it at the time. Especially since I know it’s a bad habit of mine!

It’s quite a common problem. When we’re learning to surf, we’re so concerned with foot placement, that we look down to check it’s in the right place and often just forget to look back up again. It can be particularly bad if you practice your pop up on land a lot, because there’s no reason to look anywhere else.

When will it make the biggest difference?

It’s a common problem when you’re progressing from white to green waves. If you can catch unbroken waves no problem but find you’re struggling to turn and go along the face of the wave instead of going straight down towards the beach, this could be the solution you’re looking for. Angling your board the way the wave is breaking will help, but look

It also helps massively if you fall off a lot when you’re trying to turn on the wave.

Top tips to make it work for you

  • Look up when you pop up. It’s a lot easier than when you’re looking down at your board or the beach. Try it on land, first looking at the floor and then looking up in the corner of the room, see which feels easier.
  • Your body will naturally follow the direction you’re looking in, so once you’re up focus about 10-15 feet away from you on the part of the wave you want to be on. That’s why when you see people riding on their back side, they’re looking over their shoulder after their bottom turn to get back up to the top of the wave.
  • Get someone to watch you, or film yourself to see if that is what’s causing the problem. Try to work out when you tend to do it so you know when to watch out for it. So for example is it only on your back side turns?
  • For extreme cases when you just can’t kick the habit, stick a sticker on the deck of your board to remind you, or even write ‘don’t look down donut’ or some other message in coloured wax, or even marker if you don’t mind it not coming off… then you can’t forget!


Next time you’re surfing give it a go and see if it helps. I’d love to hear how you get on!

Author: Amy Lambert

Share This Post On

1 Comment

  1. Cheers, think this is my issue too, so concerned with being central on board and stringer, bending knees, etc etc, gunna try that tomoz as had a day off today to run instead.

    Post a Reply

Leave a Reply