How To Do A Bottom Turn On A Wave In Surfing

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Surfing, the exhilarating sport of riding waves, requires a combination of skill, technique, and style. One of the fundamental maneuvers every surfer must master is the bottom turn. This essential move not only allows you to maintain speed and control on the wave but also sets you up for more advanced maneuvers. In this comprehensive guide, we will break down the mechanics of performing a bottom turn and provide you with valuable tips to enhance your surfing experience.


What is a bottom turn in surfing?

Before diving into the techniques, let’s understand the essence of a bottom turn. A bottom turn is a pivotal maneuver performed by surfers to redirect their momentum, generate speed, and change their line on a wave. It involves carving a smooth arc at the bottom of the wave face, utilizing the energy and power of the wave to propel yourself back up.


How to position yourself for a bottom turn?

To initiate a successful bottom turn, proper positioning is crucial. Paddle out to the lineup and identify an approaching wave that suits your skill level. As the wave approaches, position yourself slightly ahead of the breaking section. Maintain a low stance on your surfboard and keep your eyes focused on the wave’s face.


What are the key techniques for executing a bottom turn?

Executing a bottom turn involves a series of coordinated movements. Here are the key techniques to master:

  1. Generating speed: As you approach the bottom of the wave, pump your legs to generate speed and ensure a smoother transition into the turn.
  2. Weight distribution: Shift your weight from the back foot to the front foot while keeping your body low and centered over the board.
  3. Engaging your rail: Gradually transfer your weight to your toes or heels, depending on the direction you want to turn. Use the rail of your surfboard to carve a clean arc along the wave face.
  4. Looking and leaning: Turn your head and shoulders in the direction of the turn while keeping your gaze focused on where you want to go. Leaning into the turn helps maintain balance and control.


How can I improve my bottom turn technique?

mproving your bottom turn technique requires practice and fine-tuning. Here are some tips to enhance your execution:

  1. Timing is everything: Anticipate the wave’s energy and initiate your bottom turn at the right moment to maximize its potential.
  2. Start with small waves: Practice on smaller, slower waves to master the mechanics and build confidence before progressing to larger, more powerful waves.
  3. Use your upper body: Engage your arms and shoulders to create additional torque and power during the turn.
  4. Visualize your line: Mentally picture the ideal trajectory of your bottom turn and focus on executing it with precision.


What are common mistakes to avoid when performing a bottom turn?

Even experienced surfers can make mistakes during a bottom turn. Here are common errors to avoid:

  1. Rushing the maneuver: Don’t rush into the turn. Take your time to set up, read the wave, and execute the turn with control.
  2. Over-reliance on the back foot: Avoid putting excessive pressure on your back foot. Instead, distribute your weight evenly and transition smoothly to the front foot.
  3. Lack of upper body engagement: Neglecting to utilize your upper body can result in a weaker and less dynamic bottom turn.
  4. Failing to look ahead: Keep your focus on where you want to go. Neglecting to look ahead can disrupt your balance and affect the quality of your turn.


How can I progress beyond the basic bottom turn?

Once you have mastered the basic bottom turn, you can explore more advanced variations and combinations. Some options to progress include:

  1. Top turn: After completing your bottom turn, continue the momentum and transition into a powerful top turn to release the stored energy.
  2. Cutback: Instead of completing a full turn, execute a cutback by redirecting your momentum back towards the breaking section of the wave.
  3. Off-the-lip maneuver: As you ascend the wave face after a bottom turn, perform an off-the-lip maneuver by hitting the lip and redirecting your momentum.
  4. Combination maneuvers: Link different maneuvers together, such as a bottom turn into a floater or an aerial, to showcase your creativity and style.



Mastering the art of the bottom turn is a vital skill for any surfer. By understanding the mechanics, practicing the techniques, and avoiding common mistakes, you can enhance your surfing abilities and unlock new possibilities on the waves. Remember, progression in surfing takes time and patience, so keep honing your skills, exploring variations, and enjoying the incredible experience of riding waves. Happy surfing!

Josh Mitchell

Josh Mitchell

"I live and breath boardriding"

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