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Mastering Top Turns and Cutbacks

Updated: Apr 25, 2018

Advice on how to perfect these staple moves

Top turns and cutbacks are a staple in the repertoire of intermediate surfers. A top turn redirects you from the top of the wave toward the bottom, which is important both to keep you in the wave and keep style in your ride. To perform this effectively, you'll need to move your weight around the board while maintaining stability. When you reach the top of the wave, transfer your weight to the back outside rail, shifting your head and shoulders in the direction of the turn. This will help bring the board around with you. As you steady out back at the bottom of the wave, you've finished the turn, and you'll want to center your weight over the board again.

Cutbacks, especially in traditional ocean surfing, are used when a surfer has outrun the breaking part of the wave and needs to get back into the pocket. While outrunning the wave is something wakesurfers don't need to worry about as much, cutbacks are still an important move to learn, as they are one of the easier tricks that will help transform you from a beginning surfer to an intermediate one. Cutbacks are performed from the shoulder of the wave, and should be done when you are in front of the pocket -- not when you are in it. Once you're in the appropriate position, shift your weight in to the back of the board, keeping most of your weight in the back foot. You want your knees bent and your hips low. Lean into the direction you want to turn the board. (If you've positioned yourself correctly at the start, the only way you should be turning is back towards the pocket). Put your weight into the outside rail of the board, before shifting your head and upper body in the same direction. Then, push your feet forward into the arc of the turn. When you've completed your turn, you will probably want to perform a mid-face turn to put you back in the direction the wave is breaking.

Don't be discouraged if these moves take you a while to perfect. They will carry you throughout all future surfing. Just remember to pivot from the waist, use your shoulders to direct you, and most importantly...


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