Monday, March 31, 2014

How to do a Bottom Turn

While we're in Mexico, I am hoping to do a lot of bottom turns. Here are some tips I thought I'd share on "the most important turn in surfing". 

Step 1: Drop straight down the face. For me, I usually have to tweak my feet a bit because I don't typically stand up in just the right spot. Instead of having my feet parallel to each other, I usually like to place my front foot kind of diagonally over the stringer, while my back foot is right on my tailpad kicker, perpendicular to my stringer (see the first image in this sequence for a visual). 
Step 2: Eye the section you want to hit. To execute a vertical off-the-lip you will want to time your bottom turn just as the lip is about the throw (like in these pictures below. Although, honestly, I think I'm a bit late). If you want to throw an on the face slash or some variety of a spray topturn, you don't have to wait for the lip to appear before you make your way up the face. 
Step 3: If you are going frontside (like I am in these pictures) lean over your toes to get your board on its inside rail (going backside, you want to lean on your heals). Sometimes I even put my back hand down in the water. This can help you keep your balance and direct your turn, but mostly I like doing it because it assures me that I am getting low enough. Keeping a low center of gravity is key. 
Step 4: Make your way up the face by eyeing the spot you want to hit and turing your body so your front arm is towards the lip and your back arm is behind your back, winding up for the hit at the top. Putting pressure on your front-foot will give you the drive you need to make it up the face. Putting pressure on your back foot, over your tail, will help you pivot.

The next step after the bottom turn is the top turn

Just about every surfer that knows what they're taking about will tell you the bottom turn is the most important turn in surfing. "It sets you up for the whole wave", they will say. Writing this post has made me realize how much I really need to work on mine more. 

Here are some other thoughts on the subject from friends in the know (mostly :)...

"[picture it like a clock] i try to go 6 o'clock, right toward the beach, then try to head for 12 o'clock. sometimes frontside I proceed this with a little speed pump or 1/2 way up the wave top turn helps, but you really gotta try to flow the speed pump str8 into the bottom turn. for some reason backhand i like to just go str8 for 6 o'clock and head for the beach right on the drop and whip right in to the bottom turn. lots of times when i look over my shoulder and it appears that the lip is 2 steep and that im way to late for the top turn, but most the time i surprise myself and get an exciting b/s hit with a little freefall. hope some of dat makes sense!" ~Dave Dorosko

"I always found that bent knees help a ton. When I was sitting in the water filming in the days leading up to the Hurley Pro, even though everyone had different types of maneuvers off the top, every one of them was really compressed off the a coiled spring." ~Chris Grant, Jettygirl Online Magazine 

"Step 1: sit on your bottom Step 2: turn!!" ~my friend Stephanie Kraft (do not do this :)

"stick your butt out really far for style" ~Darrell Gray (I couldn't tell if he was kidding or not, but this is actually kind of true).

Here's a picture of Kelly Slater doing one of the best bottoms turns I've ever seen (and sticking his butt out), plus a few more thoughts on the subject from the pros. If you have any of your own tips, please feel free to add them in the comment section! 


  1. I soooo wish I lived somewhere I could practice this! Hope you had fun in Mexico

  2. you make it look easy.
    I'm all
    STEP 1. hold on tight and don't let go - or stand up.

  3. Simples. Your athleticism is amazing Devon, I do love to see you do this fancy stuff.

  4. Oh I love this! Have an amazing time in Mexico Devon!


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