Bottom turn: the most important maneuver in surfing | Photo: Quiksilver/Rabejac

The bottom turn is considered the most important maneuver in surfing. Whether negotiating a late drop or eyeing a falling wave lip, you must master the bottom turn. It's a key performance move.

Rail game: have you got it? Bottom turning is the art of burying the surfboard's rail in the slowest part of a wave.

The moment you decide to turn will define the rest of the wave - it's the surfing slingshot.

Simultaneously, the bottom turn is what separates the beginner, who rides a wave straight toward the beach, and the intermediate surfer, who can trim a wave down the line.

"The bottom turn is where it all begins. It's the foundation for the rest of your repertoire." These words are from the master of style, Tom Curren.

An effective bottom turn will project you into the speed zone. It will drive you to the trick arena, no matter how large the wave is.

Bottom Turn 101

So, how do you get your body fully aligned and parallel to the face of the wave?

  1. Take off as steep and late as possible to gain maximum speed;
  2. Time your bottom turn: delay it as long as you can without losing speed;
  3. Keep a low stance: bend your knees to keep balance;
  4. Get your feet well centered over the stringer: your weight must be evenly distributed;
  5. Steadily apply pressure on your toes and let the rail of the surfboard find the surface of the water;
  6. Once you've started climbing up the wave face, pump for speed, stall for tubes, kick out, or get ready for a roundhouse cutback;

Extra Tips

One of the most common mistakes with bottom turns is digging rail.

Don't lean your body too much forward (in frontside mode, with the chest against the wave). Otherwise, you'll wipe out.

Power bottom turns are activated only when you've reached the flats. Some surfers like to feel the wave and dig their interior hand into it.

If you're being chased by a mountain of whitewater, your bottom turn is your escape button. Do it fast.

Don't forget that an excellent bottom turn will only be successful once you've concluded the rail-to-rail game, in the pocket or on the oncoming section.

Train your frontside bottom turns before trying it with your backhand.

The perfect bottom turn will throw buckets of spray. Go for it.

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