You get up, pull out over the wave and start coming down the face and throw the rope. You accelerate towards the boat. You’re moving pretty well. Give those brakes a quick tap. You start falling back a bit on the wave. It’s cool. You know what to do. You shift a little weight onto your front foot…. It takes a second for the board to set up but BAAAMM!! There it is. You have some forward momentum again. You start catching back up to the boat. You think to yourself, Hey I got this. I am feeling comfortable. Let’s do some carving. You edge out into the flats, sink that toe edge rail, and up to the top of the wave you go. You get up to the top, pause for a second, change edges, and back down you go. You’re in the perfect position for another one. You set that rail again and do it all over. You are Shredding! And let’s be honest, are there many other things as sweet and pure as this?!
Ok, so you got the carving down and you can save yourself. What comes next? Well, that would be the 360 right?
Unless you want to fall all the time, maybe get lucky once, but then get bored and discouraged from all the falling…the 360 should not be on your radar yet!
There are a ton of tricks you should learn first that will not only improve your overall riding, but if you learn them first, the 360 will come easier AND when you start landing the 360 AFTER having these foundational tricks down pat, you’ll land the 360 OFTEN!
THAT is the goal right?! Not to do a 360 once after 50 attempts, but more than 50% of the time…right?!
Because we have all been on the boat for someone that attempts to land a 3 over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again…and it’s not fun for anyone, so don’t be that person.
Now here are the tricks and skills you should learn before that elusive 360.
We arranged them in the order we have found most effective. After all, we have produced hundreds of 360 success stories and have seen all the pitfalls along the way.
Now if for whatever reason you don’t bend the way you used too, we get that, so you can skip the balance tricks if you’re unable to do them. Now try them first, why not, it will help you improve your riding, but don’t beat yourself up over the fact you can’t “shoot the duck.”
The name says it all. It’s a turn. It’s at the bottom of the wave. It’s a bottom turn. Simple right? Well kind of. There are a ton of variations of this trick with people styling them out to add their own piece of flair, (yes, that’s an office space reference) to putting them in a combo with some other tricks.
Pros to Watch and Learn from: You will be hard pressed to find a bottom turn better or more stylish then either Jake Breedlove or Dylan Ayala. These guys are flirting with being outside the white wash. They also have been doing some pretty cool combos. Either bottom turn to ollie back in, or the new new. Bottom turn to body varial. Makes for some interesting viewing. You can check them out here and here>.
NO, it’s not an emergency bathroom stop in the middle of the lake. Get your head out of the gutter. This is where you go up to the top of the wave and “float” or stay up there for an extended period of time. It can be ½ sec or 2 minutes. The sky’s the limit. This one is huge for understanding the wave. When you first learn it’s super common to hook or turn up the wave and woop, over the top you go.
When you get this one dialed you will have a whole new understanding about how things work up there and a new found confidence that you won’t go flying over the top of the wave to be lost at sea forever. It’s also the foundation for a few tricks and combos so that’s an added bonus. Some examples are Chop hop, floater shove, chop hop 180’s, floater 360’s and whatever else you want to dream up.
Slash or Snap
This is where you get to let out your inner Kelly Slater (surfing legend). These are 2 different tricks, but we will group them together for now. People tend to think of them the same but there is some differences.
A Slash is where you bust that tail over the top of the wave breaking the fins free over the lip. 90 degrees or more is what you are looking for here. A Snap is where you complete the turn into the wave throwing up buckets of water. This maneuver is completed lower on the wave and your fins won’t break free. If you get good at this you can direct that water where you want. We would never suggest it but hypothetically you could hit that unsuspecting person sitting in the back seat looking at their phone. We really don’t suggest doing this to one of your judges in a contest. * Ask us how we know.
Ollie in the flats
Well you might as well learn to get some air and in the flats is the easiest and safest way to do it. As you progress those ollies in the flats can turn into other cool tricks. 180 shoves, 360 shoves, bigspins, gumby shoves, the list goes on and on. Pretty much anything you can dream up off the lip can probably be done in the flats.
A chop hop is a combination of 2 previously mentioned tricks. The floater and an Ollie in the flats. *See we weren’t really lying about that there is a method to our madness. A rider goes up to the top of the wave, does a floater and rather than pushing off and turning back down the wave, the rider will ollie off the top of the wave. This is not to be confused with an air. An Air is one continuous motion from the approach, to rising up the wave, to launching off the lip. The Chop hop is 2 distinct motions. Rise up the wave to the top. Initiate the floater. Pause, let the board set up like you would an ollie in the flats. The water will feel hard under your board.
Side Bar Slang: Sometimes we refer to this feeling as “positive”, or “when the wave feels positive”. If the top of wave feels softer when you are doing a trick and harder other times, you are in a slightly different spot on the wave or your body position is slightly different. This will lead to inconsistent “pop” or take offs the top of the wave. This can usually be solved by being patient and pausing for half a second. You will feel the wave get positive or the board load up under your feet. This is the point you will want to initiate the hop part off the wave.
There are some cool combinations or embellishments of this trick making it a great foundational skill. Chop hop 180’s, Grasshopper, and a chop hop grab come immediately to mind.
The next 3 Tricks are balance related. They are super rad and if you are of the bendy type try them out. You may even surprise yourself!
It is exactly what you think it is. You put one of your knees down onto the board. Is it easy? For some yes, for others absolutely not. Flexibility plays an important part in this trick but by no means do you have to be an Olympic gymnast or a seasoned yogi. Hell, Kelly Slater is 48 years old and I just watched him drop into a bomb at the pipe masters with you guessed it, His back knee down on the board.
At the school this is one of the first tricks we will teach you. It forces you adjust your feet, which is an important skill on its own, and teaches you speed control while not in your perfect stance. As you progress you will find that not every trick will have the same foot position in relation to the board and very commonly you will land a trick and your feet will be out of place. It helps to be able to quickly get them back to where you want them. We even hazard to guess at some point you won’t even notice you are doing it.
Another great balance trick is the Fire Hydrant. We are not positive, but we are guessing the name came from how the trick has a striking similarity to how a dog would relieve itself on a fire hydrant.
When standing on the bottom of the wave place your front hand down beside your front foot. Slowly start replacing the weight from your front foot onto your hand you just placed in the board. Keep transferring the weight to your hand until you have replaced it completely and have lifted that front foot off the board. You will want to lift your front foot behind you. Its not a terrible idea to try this on land first. Notice any similarity between that and your neighbours’ dog?
Once you got this nailed you can cruise around the lake marking your territory as you go. Who knows one day maybe you will even be able to hit that elusive fire hydrant 360!
Shoot the Duck
Another fun one, it is sort of the exact opposite of a fire hydrant. Your backhand replaces your back foot. Instead of your foot going behind you, it will go in front of you this time. Think of half a crab walk. This is a fun one. You can style it out and grab your toes with your front hand or take it one step further and lay down on that board and take a nap. You deserve it. You have been working hard. It’s a long day on the boat and it was an even longer week at work. Treat yourself!!
This one is a close cousin of the slash. You ride up the wave, get to the top and your back foot will go over the top of the wave when you turn your board 90 degrees. Your front foot will turn back towards the direction you just came. Essentially you are opening your hips up towards the boat. The lip line should be between both your feet. Pause, hold that trick up there for a second or two and then turn back down the wave. What usually differentiates between the boardslide and a slash is the perceived effort and how much you stall it. In a slash you are unloading a bunch of energy quickly to bust those fins over the top of the wave. It’s an explosive maneuver. The board slide is a little tamer. What you are going for is more of what could be compared to a rail slide on a snowboard or skateboard. When you explode quickly on a trick you usually over extend yourself which is then followed by a recoil motion. The boardslide doesn’t require that quick explosion of a slash so it will enable you to control it more and hold that board 90 degrees to the wave giving it that sliding feeling.
Pro tip: When doing a boardslide take a wide approach (think mini bottom turn) once you arrive at the top of the wave you will want to initiate the pivot. When doing this weight your front foot more than you think. It can be as high as 80/20 front foot. This will help keep you in the lip line and not go shooting over the wave. It will also keep weight off your back foot which just happen to be over 1,2 or 3 fins depending on your setup. Fins really aren’t designer to be ridden perpendicular to the direction of travel. This can generally be noticed when they bite, and you get flung ever so gracefully in the air onto your face. In order to avoid this, we suggest the previously recommended weight mentioned above.
Wooooo, this one is fun. It is certainly the harder of the boardslide, lipslide family but arguably more important. Essentially, it’s the opposite of the boardslide. And by opposite that means everything. The direction you rotate your body, your approach and how you weight your feet.
You are going to want to take a shallow approach and rise to the top of the wave. Reason 475795934 that it’s important to learn a floater is that when you first learn this trick you will want to do a floater before initiating the trick. This will stop you from throwing the trick too early, slipping out and you guessed it. Taking a big faceplant. Again, keeping with the theme of being the opposite of the boardslide is the rotation of your body. You will pivot away from the boat. That means your front foot will go over the top of the wave away from the boat. This one is the booty show off move as your backside will now be exposed to the boat in all its glory.
*Just like all of the tricks in this article they serve a purpose. In locking in all these foundational skills, it will help shorten the learning curve as you advance. The lipslide is the first half of a shove it. It also is pretty helpful in that ultimate goal and why you started reading this. The 360!!
Riding Switch Heelside
Well if our final goal is a 360, inevitably you’re going to find yourself turned around halfway at some point in that rotation even if it is for 10 milliseconds. We like to be prepared. You know this if you have ever read our Essential items to keep in your Glovebox>.
Learning to ride switch heelside is good for a very long list of reasons that are covered in pretty good detail in 8 Ways to ride your surfboard> but let’s recap for the 360’s sake and get you there quicker.
You will end up backwards halfway through a 360. This new position is switch revert heelside. We won’t make you ride switch heelside revert as it’s the hardest way you can possibly ride your surfboard. However, understanding how to ride switch will help.
As you progress there are a few ways to do a 360. We are a huge fan of stalled 360’s which means, you guessed it. You are riding switch heelside for a however long you stall the trick. You will be way better off practicing this so it’s not such a surprise and a foreign feeling. That is a lot of boat pickups 10 milliseconds at a time to get that feeling of riding switch heelside every time you try a 3. Please, do everyone in your crew a favour and check this one off the list before you start to try “hucking” a 3. If you follow us, you will also learn later on why you don’t need to “huck’ a 3.
Switch Heelside Floater
Just like the toeside floater this one is big and will play a pivotal role in your success on the road to your ultimate goal. One of the biggest benefits to learning a floater is you know what to expect and what to do at the top of the wave. Just like on your toeside you will no longer be climbing up to the top of the wave, going too far over that lip line and riding off into the sunset never to be seen again.
If you can learn a switch floater it will help your cause for the 360 immensely. This is probably the best single thing you can do to help land a 3. The majority of people will learn to do a 360 while using the wave. It is possible to do it in the flats but not recommended to learn it that way first.
If you are using the wave, not only during a 360 do you ride switch heelside…. You guessed It. You do a switch heelside floater. It might be for a split second but if you’re doing it correct you will end up in this position. Wouldn’t it be nice if you already knew what to expect and how to do it? We think so and its why we recommend this more than anything. Whether you are on a skim, surf or hybrid they will all inevitably end up in the switch floater position. If you know what to expect, you will start your approach, initiate your rotation, get to the 180 position – If all of this is done correctly you should have the wave feel “positive” and be doing a switch heelside floater. Feel that wave get positive under your board as you keep rotating. About ¾ of the way around as you are nearing the completion of the trick you will start to come back down the wave out of the floater and complete the final portion of the trick. You will be on edge, and moving towards the boat which means…….. You just landed a 360. All thanks to the switch floater.
The 360 is NOT the first trick you should learn, but…
We hope to see you out on the lake. Hopefully this will help give you some new things to work on and some motivation for that 360 we know you want to land so badly. Even if you never get there you will now have a ton of new tricks to keep you occupied and having fun riding that endless Wave. Or at least until you run out of gas that is…….