How to Pop Up on a Surfboard

"10 pops a day will keep the flops at bay!"

Practising your pop ups is one of the best things you can do to improve your surfing without even having to get wet. Not only does it help increase your upper body strength, but practising your pops on a regular basis is a great way to keep your eye in if you don't have the luxury of surfing every day. Pop up practice is not reserved solely for beginners either - even 11 x World Champion Kelly Slater does pop up training!

Getting started, preparation is key...

The most important thing to ensure when practicing your pops is that your hands & feet start and end in the correct place, so you need a guide. Start by making a cross on the floor with some coloured tape. The horizontal line should be slightly wider than your shoulder's width, the vertical line should be a couple of feet longer than your shoulder width, see diagram below. Alternatively, if you have an Ollypop Surf Towel, simply lay this down on the floor ensuring it is not a hard slippery surface. Carpet, grass and sand are ideal surfaces.



Now follow these steps...

1. Lie on your front, body straight.

2. Hands by your side, thumbs in line with lower ribs.

3. Arch back, get ready to spring from toes.
* Short board pop ups - don't spring from the toes! You need to use your upper body strength to launch forwards. It's a lot harder, but a necessity if you're a short boarder or want to increase your core upper body strength. 

4. Launch forward with a twist to get front foot between hands (in the ACCELERATOR BOX on the Ollypop Surf Towel), back foot should land about a shoulder width from front foot (anywhere in BRAKE/TURN BOX).

5. Push up into standing position, knees slightly bent.

6. Hands stretched out either side, eyes forward.

7. Lean on your back foot for control or to initiate a turn. 

8. Lean on your front foot to go faster! 

When in the standing position, make sure your knees are bent but your back is straight. Your feet should be angled as marked on the Ollypop and it is essential that they cross the central stringer line.

NB Your stance may be wider or narrower than the one marked on the Ollypop which is why the back foot box is much wider than the front foot box. The position for your back foot will therefore be different for different surfers, but your front foot should always land in the front box where the two lines cross.

Remember your front foot is replacing the weight from your hands, so if it is too far back the weight won't be there and the board will slow down or even stall. Too far forwards and you're likely to nosedive and wipe-out head first!

Ollypop bonus tip! - You may find it helpful to practice in front of a mirror to check your stance.


See images below for how it is done using an Ollypop Surf Towel. 


Finally, the tips in the videos below should give you a clearer idea of how to perfect your pops. GOOD LUCK!.
(Clips taken from the Ollypop Instructional DVD - FREE with each towel)


Ollypop FAQ's

Some commonly asked questions...

  1. My back foot doesn't land exactly on the back foot mark; does this mean I’m doing it wrong?

No, every one’s stance is different depending on their size. Your stance should be slightly wider than your shoulder width. The important thing is to make sure your front foot DOES land on the front foot mark and the back foot can land anywhere in the ‘Brake/turn’ box as long is still crosses the centre of the board.

  1. I’m a shortboarder, should I spring from my toes?

No, you should try to spring by using your upper body strength only. This is because when riding a shortboard, your toes don’t touch the back of the board unlike a longboard or beginner’s swell board, and therefore you have no surface to spring your toes from.

  1. How many Ollypops should I do a day?

There is no set number, it’s entirely up to you and your stamina. However, I would recommend trying to do at least 10 pop-ups a day just to keep your eye in.

  1. Can I use the knees method on the Ollypop?

You can but it won’t work as well as the straightforward pop-up! It is also a bad habit to practice, if you want to progress to surfing unbroken waves, the quick pop-up method is essential. NB The Ollypop DVD that accompanies the towel now also features a free video on surfing unbroken waves.

  1. Should the towel be the same size as my board?

No. Remember you are practising a method that is universal for all surf boards. Long boarder or short boarder you still need to pop-up with your front foot landing between your hands, back foot in the ‘Brake/turn’ box and both feet crossing the centre line of the board.

  1. Can I simulate popping up on a steep breaking wave a bit better?

Yes, you can simulate the steep breaking wave by placing your Ollypop on a gradient like a sand dune or side of a hill. Be careful though, choose the gradient according to your ability, don’t go too steep or you may have a heavy wipe out on land!

  1. Do I have to place my hands exactly on the hand prints as marked on the Ollypop?

No, whatever feels comfortable to you. Again, the width between your hands will be different for different size people. The important thing is to make sure that they still cross the horizontal line going across the board.

  1. I can pop-up quite easily now, do I still need to use my Ollypop?

Yes. It’s still important to check that your feet are landing in the right place. If you practice without, you may get into bad habits which will impact on your surfing.

  1. Is the Ollypop only for beginner or bad surfers?

No, even pro surfers practice their pop-ups. The Ollypop is a fun product for all surfers to practice on and let’s not forget that it’s also a handy beach towel!

  1. What else can I try on my Ollypop?

-         Practice popping up switch foot. That’s to say pop-up with your natural back foot as your front foot and your front foot as your back foot, if that makes sense!?

-         For short board pop-ups, you can try placing your Ollypop on the edge of a step. This way, your feet will be dangling over the end and you will have to pop-up using only your upper body strength.

-         Time yourself. Remember speed is essential for an effective pop-up. Make a note of your pop-up timings from start to finish and try to beat them. After a few weeks of practice you’ll notice a vast improvement on your first time.

-         Challenge your relatives and friends! Makes great viewing to watch Granny having a go, you never know she may surprise you!


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