When to Pop Up While Surfing?

As you start your surfing journey, everything you need to learn can seem daunting. And one of the most challenging aspects of learning to surf is the “pop-up”, or the transition from your stomach to your feet. It takes an immense amount of balance combined with upper body strength to complete the move. To hopefully aid in learning how to pop up, we have created a detailed guide for all levels of surfers below.

On Land

Before going out, make sure you know which foot is your dominant. Goofy-footed surfers have their right foot forward and their left foot back. The opposite is true if you are regular-footed.


  • Have a friend stand behind you and give you a gentle nudge forward. Whichever foot you step with first is most likely your dominant foot.

How to Pop Up

Once you have paddled out to the break and turned your board towards the beach, begin to paddle towards the shore as the next incoming wave adds to your momentum. When you feel your board moving at the same pace as the wave, pull your arms back in and position them underneath your shoulders. Keep your weight far enough forward that you are staying with the wave and lift your upper body.

The transition of moving your feet from laying on the end of the board to underneath you needs to be quick. Your dominant foot will bend and move forward while you plant your other foot firmly toward the end of the board.

If you find yourself goofy-footed (right foot forward and left one back), push off from the board and pivot your body so your right foot is forward and your left is towards the back of the board. Bend your right leg’s knee as you pull forward and pivot. Complete these steps with the opposite foot for regular-footed surfers.

As you pop up and stand, surfing becomes a balancing act. You don’t want to put too much pressure forward and nosedive. Conversely, putting too much pressure on your back foot will slow you down and the wave will pass you.


  • Your body will follow the direction you are looking towards. If you are looking down the line of the wave, your body will follow.

“When to Pop-Up?” Conclusion

To answer the original question of “When to Pop Up?”, it is when you begin to feel the wave push you and your board. You need to first build up momentum and start to surf down the wave before initiating the pop-up we detail earlier.

Thanks for taking the time to read and we hope you gained something from the article! If you are looking for some killer surfing playlists, check out our blog post on surfing playlists!

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