Many surfers find learning how to surf on their backhand daunting. One of the best ways to learn and improve is by copying elite athletes and learning from how they perform manoeuvres.
Taylor Knox is an example for a surfer with a really solid technique that can be copied by other surfers and is universally thought of as one of the best backside surfers ever.
Lets go through the early turns that you will need to improve your backhand
Wave Type: flatter faced or slower
This is a turn that most surfers breeze past and make a half turn. The best surfers and top competitive surfers always make it into a major.
Step 1: Quality bottom turn, targeting shoulder of the wave.
Step 2: Engaging toe side rail before top of the wave.
Step 3: Turning head to look to bottom corner of the foam. Head stays focused on bottom corner of the foam until turn flattens out. This is the most important step. Lengthening out the turn so it is a longer turn and committing to the head turn.
Step 4: Transfer weight to front knee
Step 5: Back into next bottom turn
Wave Type: Steep
Aside from the blow tail or progressive type turns this is your highest scoring turn (to begin with)
Step 1: Quality deep bottom turn
Step 2: Just before lip impact engage in topside pressure
Step 3: Most important step – before lip impact turn head to look to the bottom of the wave. (See where Taylor is looking)
Step 4: Try and keep your body under the lip line
Step 5: Notice Taylor’s finishing position in shot #3 (below) where he is completely compressed and his weight is transferred over his front knee. A good thing to try is to go from photo #1 to photo #3 as fast as you can when practicing a backhand vertical reo.
The weight transfer over to the front knee and that compressed front knee will help you get back down the wave, and back down the wave at speed. Which means it will be easier to go from major into major keeping that higher speed.
The below photo highlights something a lot of surfers miss – the weight transfer and compression over the front knee post backhand re-entry. This theory still applies after the carve also. Transfering the weight over to your front knee. Similar to dropping in on a half pipe. Stomp the weight over the front foot = more speed.
The above photo highlights something a lot of surfers miss – the weight transfer and compression over the front knee post backhand re-entry. This theory still applies after the carve also. Transfering the weight over to your front knee. Similar to dropping in on a half pipe. Stomp the weight over the front foot = more speed.
Every good top turn comes from a strong and solid bottom turn. Focus on Mick Fanning, Julian Wilson or Taylor Knox’s backhand bottom turns, Low, solid and strong stance comes to my mind. The words “loading up” always come to my mind.
An important part of the bottom turn that is sometimes overlooked is the front arm throw.
Notice how Taylor, Mick and Julian all throw their front arms up towards the lip line. This helps create height in their surfing and helps get that re-entry up to 12 o’clock or helps the nose of their board get up above the lip line.
Below is a clip of Julian Wilson surfing Trestles in California. His first wave in particular highlights this blog post and sums everything up well.
Low bottom turn into raised front arm. Head turn off the lip into compressed front leg and transferred weight. Straight back into that bottom turn and repeat.