This is really aimed at Level 4 surfers who have already mastered a bottom turn well enough that they are starting to be able to surf vertically up the wave. (We call this the 12 o’clock drill which means turning the board from 6 o’clock up to 12 o’clock).
Of course once you get up to 12 o’clock then you have to turn the board back down again. Most surfers find this surprising instinctive on their backhand, as they are already facing down the wave. However it’s common to struggle turning the board back down the wave when you do it on your forehand.
For this blog post we’re going to assume that you already have the principles of carving down (particularly the importance of having you back foot as far back as possible, as this is where 80% of the turn is coming from) . This post simply illustrates the three main upper body positions specific to turning off the lip on your forehand, which give your forehand top turn the extra 20%.
1. The Touch and Throw
This is a good starting drill to build from. It basically means that you should touch the water with your trailing hand while doing your forehand bottom turn, and then throw the same, trailing hand powerfully across your body, and back down the wave, as you turn off the top.
2. 9 o’clock Wrap
You begin with a touch and throw but then finish with your trailing arm thrown across the front of your body as your leading arm is thrown up to 12 o’clock. (This time we’re comparing arm positions to the clock face, rather than where the board is. Of course this could only be described at a 9 o’clock wrap for goofy footers, for natural footers this is a 3 o’clock wrap.) This ‘wraps’ or ‘hooks’ the turn back into the pocket of the wave rather than straight down the face. A touch and throw is better if the wave is racing down the line, a wrap is great if the wave is peeling more slowly.
3. The Reverse Karate Chop
A personal favorite. It feels cool, it looks cool and it’s the first step in teaching yourself how to do a layback. If you feel like the board hasn’t turned as much as you had hoped when you’re trying to turn back down the wave, try throwing your leading arm behind your head (rather than across the front of your body which is more instinctive). You’ll be amazed at what happens.
All three of these upper body movements are ‘throws,’ which means that they need to be done as powerfully and as fast as you can (they are not ‘held poses,’ like keeping your leading arm outside your heal rail on a forehand cutback is).
If you’re reading all this thinking it all sounds a bit ahead of you then remember that the first step is to master horizontal carving changes of direction, first in the white water, and then on the unbroken face, before attempting the more time critical vertical turns. Go have fun. Get better. The better you get, the more fun it is.