How to do a superman air on a surfboard

August 2, 2021 | Surfing
Superman: an advanced aerial surfing maneuver | Photo: Red Bull

The superman is an aerial maneuver that reminds us of the ever-natural connection between surfing and skateboarding.

Although it could be considered an advanced surf trick, it is not extremely complex and has rarely been seen performed in professional competition.

Nevertheless, wave selection, speed, projection, and quick body movement are critical if the goal is to land it flawlessly and in grand style.

Surfing's superman was pioneered somewhere between the mid-1990s and the early 2000s when aerial moves started to become the next big thing.

It's a typical trick from the early internet days and DVD era.

It is not clear who pulled off the move first, but Timmy Curran was surely one of the first to present the bold air-grab to the world.

However, no one has ever performed it like South African surfer Jordy Smith, who not only perfected the trick but also added innovative variations.

The superman is basically a trick in which the surfer gets to the air, grabs the rails of the surfboard with both hands, and pushes the whole body away from the board before landing and riding away.

For a brief moment, the board and the surfer seem detached from each other. The more airtime, the more spectacular the move will look.

Wind speed and direction could make it easier or harder to complete the superman. Ideally, you'll want the wind to keep the board steady, mid-air, for more or less a second.

Jordy Smith: the surfer who perfected the superman air | Photo: Red Bull

Superman Air 101

The superman requires a punchy, three-to-five-foot wave with a good 45-to-60-degree ramp. The higher the air, the easier it will be to complete the move.

Here's how to perform Jordy Smith's signature maneuver:

1. Take off on a good-looking wave with an open face;

2. Perform a solid and gradual bottom-turn;

3. Eye a two-to-three-foot section that might be starting to peak;

4. Point the nose of the board toward the breaking lip;

5. Kick the surfboard so that the wind catches it, projecting it toward the beach;

6. Grab the rails and push the board away from you, parallel to your body;

7. Start looking for a good landing spot and initiate the descent by bringing your board back down;

8. Time to get the surfboard under your feet;

9. Bend your knees slightly to absorb the impact of the landing;

10. Land on the flats or on an open wave face and ride away;

Extra Tips

If you're practicing the superman for the first time, try it without the landing part - just get to the air, grab the rails and let yourself fall off the back of the wave.

Once you get enough confidence to land in the trough, go for it.

The aerial maneuver is more often pulled off on forehand waves, but you can always try it on your backhand.

Have you mastered the superman on your surfboard? If so, try adding a few extravagant, eye-catching variations.

For instance, while airborne, get the board above your head, perpendicular to your body. You can also mix it with a rodeo flip.