The bottom turn is one of the most essential moves in surfing. It’s basically the foundation for the rest of your repertoire. Once you are progressing in surfing and want to do maneuvers like cutbacks or even 360’s, you will have to do a bottom turn so it is crucial that you learn it right.
These are the basics of a perfect bottom turn:
1 POSITION & SPEED
To get maximum velocity out of your bottom turn try to drop in as late and as steep as possible while you can still make the first section. Ride down the wave with as much speed as possible towards the flatter section of the wave.
If the wave is too walled up on the first section throw a few pumps and then ride down towards the flats to perform the turn.
2 COMPRESSION & EXTENSION
Try to stay low in a squat position as soon as you jump onto your feet. Bend your knees and stay low and compressed as it will reduce wind resistance and help your balance. As you go through the turn extend your whole body and you will come out of the turn with increased speed.
The harder you extend out of the compression the faster you will come out of the turn.
3 FOOT PLACEMENT
A surfboard will not turn properly without good firm tail pressure. It is the key to sharp turning and probably the single most important aspect to a bottom turn. Your back foot needs to be over the fins, your front foot is only for the balance. When you do a bottom turn pressure is applied to the back foot. If you apply too much pressure on the front foot, the center section of your rail will slice into the water. Catching a rail usually ends up with you falling of your board.
4 WEIGHT TRANSFER
From the start of the maneuver hold your back foot pressure through the turn. If your weight is too much forward you will likely catch a rail and fall. Note that if you put too much weight on your back foot your board is likely to stall and you will lose all your speed, so it’s important to find the right balance and pressure.
Lean forward and look where you want to go. Rotate through your hips and trunk. It helps to have the trailing hand in the water to assist with your turning.
For beginners it can help to extend your arms and swing them to the direction you want to go. This will force your upper body to turn. A good bottom turn should generate a lot of speed and should be performed in one single fluid motion.