Kicking your feet in surfing: get that extra boost | Photo: ASP/Will H-S

It might not be cool to kick your feet in surfing, but the truth is that it works. What are the pros and cons of using the lower extremities of your legs for additional stroke power?

It doesn't look good, and it is often associated with beginner surfers and first-timers in the sport of riding waves.

Kicking your feet while paddling out the back is not elegant, but what many experienced surfers don't know is that it makes total sense.

Will you go faster if you kick your feet to catch waves? The biomechanical answer is yes, you will.

And it happens a lot: you're on a shortboard, trying to catch a fast-coming wave or a very mushy slope, but you just can't get into the surf line.

The answer could very well be in kicking your feet for an extra boost.

Pros and Cons

So, what are the pros of using them to catch those particularly demanding waves?

  1. Feet Provide Additional Stroke Power: Leaving them in the water will cause drag, but using them wisely (knees excluded) will accelerate your surfboard;
  2. Reducing Arm Fatigue: Give your upper body a rest by distributing the effort of catching a wave;
  3. Catch the Best Waves: Even if they're weak or rolling in fast;
  4. Avoid Getting Pounded by Huge Unexpected Wave Sets: Get the motor running and duck dive in time before the giants break over your back;
  5. Give a New Life to Your Old Competitive Surfboards: That extra foot propulsion will get you into the wave;

If it works with bodyboarders (even though they're also using part of their legs), why shouldn't your feet be a propelling force in surfing?

Here's another example: get into a pool with your surfboard. Don't paddle; simply kick your feet. Are you moving forward? Yes, you are.

If you still can't see yourself splashing water while paddling out or fighting for a fast-moving wave, then at least give it a go when you're really tired or entering your 40s.

Kicking your feet in surfing is ugly, unstylish, and kooky.

But it works.

If you do it correctly, coordinating feet with your head (still), elbows (high), shoulders, and arms/hands, you'll get that extra speed you need.

And forget all those social judgments floating in the lineup.

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