How to Master Your Bottom Turn

February 15, 2024

How to Bottom Turn Surfing

One of the biggest issues people can have in their surfing is the inability to move on from misplaced, slow turns that have little power, drive or flair. Part of the reason for this obstacle is that you may be neglecting your bottom turn. The purpose of the bottom turn is to set up for your turns or help you drive down the line with speed - so it is the foundation of all good surfing! For these reasons, do not overlook the steps in this blog! 

When to Bottom Turn 

A bottom turn should be performed whenever you are riding down a wave face, with the intent to propel forward down the line, or back up to the top of the wave. This may include: after a takeoff, coming down from a high line or top turn, or after banking a roundhouse cutback.  

Also, hence the name, the bottom turn should be performed at the bottom of the wave. A common mistake is to perform a mid-faced bottom turn which doesn't allow you to 

Step 1: Get Low

The lower you get one your bottom turns, the more compression and torque you will have as you turn up the wave face. To achieve this properly, bend from your knees, not just your hips. This will keep you centered on the board and will better your style. As an advanced tip, also make sure your back knee is pointed slightly forward as you turn. This will help you avoid a stink bug stance. 

Note: getting lower will allow you to push harder and go more vertical in your turns. This is well suited for snaps and off the lips, while a shallower, less compressed bottom turn is better suited for cutbacks or floaters. 

Step 2: Activate the rail

As you compress, lean towards the direction you intend to go, and make sure the rail sinks in the water. If your board remains flat above the water, you won't be able to drive through your bottom turn. The longer you allow the rail to stay activated, the more vertical up the wave face you will go (which is better for steeper sections). 

One way to ensure your rail is activated it to touch the water as you bottom turn. This creates a pivot point for you, and ensures you are compressed 

Step 3: Look in the direction you intend to go

If you want to turn to the lip, but are looking toward the shoulder, you body will follow where your eyes are looking and you'll end up to the shoulder. So make sure you are looking in your intended direction. This will fix the obstacle of misplaced turns. 

Step 4: Perform the correct type of bottom turn for the correct section

If you accentuate your bottom turn too much on a slow section of the wave, you will likely turn up and out of the wave. As a general rule of thumb, perform a deeper, more crouched bottom turn on bigger waves or steeper sections, and perform a less pronounced bottom turn on less steep waves.

How does equipment factor in? 

A performance orientated board will allow you to perform more pronounced bottom turns, while certain classic boards will favor a more upright approach. If you are looking for performance boards that will hold well on your bottom turn, check out our Ultimate longboard, Poacher, Easy Rider, ATV shortboard or RocketFish. If you are looking for boards that favor a classic, more upright approach, check out our Classic Longboard and Retro Fish.  

We would love to assist you in finding the right board! Give us a call at (800) 920-2363, or email me directly at to talk about your next board!

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