Arm Use when surfing

Arm lift when surfing is a necessary movement skill required for success in a number of surfing situations. Lifting the arms is usually coupled with the straightening of the whole body to generate maximum power – power that can be applied for the creation of speed or lifting up into critical sections of waves.

There are three times when lifting the arms is important:

When a surfer wants to generate horizontal speed. Lifting both arms up to shoulder level as part of the overall straightening of the body will unweight the surfboard and as a result the surfboard with jump horizontally forward, maximizing acceleration when required.

When a surfer comes out of a backhand bottom turn or when performing a forehand cutback, lifting their leading arm up above their head will direct their force towards the lip, creating a harder and higher rebound off the top.

When faced with an already broken lip or when climbing the foam ball, lifting both arms up above their head as the surfer straightens out of their bottom turn, will create a “lift force” that allows the surfer to climb the section and re-center effortlessly over their surfboard.

Many surfers don’t develop these arm techniques correctly. In actual fact, in my estimation, 80% of all surfers in the world could improve their surfing by learning to use their arms more correctly. It is one of the major technical flaws in surfing as a whole.

So if you can’t generate speed in small waves, create a high rebound when performing cutbacks, or hesitate to throw it up when faced with an already broken lip – it probably indicates that your surfing could be improved by working on your arm use. Understanding what these arm movements are, is the first step in the improvement process.