Build Rotational Strength for Better Carving

Good rotation makes good surfing. If you want to improve your rotation, here are three exercises that help. Get these right in training and you'll feel a difference in your surfing performance.

Good rotational strength equals powerful turns
Patrick Gudauskas putting it on rail. Turns like this are the result of good training and lots (and lots) of practice. Photo: Nelly

The Biomechanics

First off, how do you generate rotational surfing power? According to Martin Dunn, founder of and coach to many of the top pros in the world, it's all about proper sequence (above image): Turn your head first, then your shoulders, then your hips, and then your board. The fitness elements that help achieve this sequence are hip and mid-spine mobility, a strong and stable lower spine, and integrated surf-specific movements. If a surfer can train these fitness elements and achieve the right sequence on the wave, he'll achieve more rotational power in his turns.

Three moves: Stability, Mobility, and Power

1. GET STABLE with Anti-Rotation Split Squat:
Cord anchored at mid body

Before you start rotating with speed and resistance, you must be able to resist rotation with stability. Using a Powerstroke cord (one cord for light resistance and two for a challenge), step away from the anchor point until you feel the cord tighten. Lower into a split squat with your right foot in front and tighten your core muscles. Reach the left arm straight out in front of your body and hold for 10-20 seconds (image 1). Keep your arm at the midline of your chest, keep your shoulders level, and don't move your knees. If you can't keep good alignment, step closer to the anchor. Bring the cord back to your chest, stand up, and relax. Switch feet and repeat with the same arm (image 2). Change sides and arms. Keep your abdominal muscles braced and maintain tall posture.

Anti-Rotation Split Squat

2. GET MOBILE with Drop Knee Pivots:
Cord anchored at mid body

Start in an athletic stance with knees slightly bent. Hold the handles of the Powerstroke cord in front of your chest (image 3). Lead with your head and shoulders and rotate your body toward the anchor point (image 4). Reverse the movement, rotating in the other direction (image 5). Pivot on your toes. You will feel a stretch in the hip that you are pivoting towards. Once you have mastered the movement, find a good rhythm and rotate 10 times in each direction. Keep your core braced. Pause to switch sides, and repeat 10 more times. When doing this exercise, visualize the sequence of a surfing turn: Head, shoulders, hips, board.

Drop knee pivots with power stroke cord

3. GET QUICK with 180 Jump Squats:
Cord anchored at mid body

This exercise builds quickness. Stand sideways with your left foot closest to the anchor point and set your squat position. Holding the cord(s) in both hands, turn your shoulders to the right to pre-load the movement (image 6). Make sure your cord has some spring in it. You do not want the cord to stretch too far and lock. Start the move by turning your shoulders toward the left. Time your jump so that the cord leads your 180-degree turn (image 7). As your arms come around, jump quickly and stick the landing. Once landed, turn your shoulders to the left to load the movement on the other side (image 8), and then quickly jump back to where you started. Do a few reps to figure out your band tension and then go for it, moving as quickly as you can with good form. A solid effort is 3 sets of 15 seconds. Rather than doing more reps to work harder, get more reps within the 15-second window. Visualize yourself on a wave snapping through a turn. Rest for 60 seconds before repeating the set. Your jump doesn't need to be very high, so think quickness instead of height.

180 Jump Squats with Power stroke cord

Add these exercises to your training routine and you'll notice a difference after a few sessions. Once you nail the workout in the gym, your new fitness level will transfer to your surfing skill set.

We are currently out-of-stock on our resistance bands but check the Surf Stronger store as they will be back in stock soon.

Stay healthy, and we'll see you in the water!

Coach Scott

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Disclaimer: Always consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program. The suggestions here are in no way intended to substitute for medical advice.