Surf Weight Distribution: Where To Put Your Weight When Surfing?

Surfing is a delightful pastime activity, hobby, or passion to take up. The freeing feeling of riding the waves out in the fresh ocean air on a sunny day is incomparable to anything.

However, it is also hard to master even the most basic tenet of surfing, which is weight distribution. How should you shift your weight? What do you do if you want to accelerate? And how do you stop?

In this article, we answer these questions and many more, as well as give you pointers on how you should improve your body weight control.

Why You Should Shift Your Bodyweight?

Shifting your body weight when surfing is for speed control and balancing. Your main goal is to keep up with the wave at a sweet spot, so speeding up and slowing down are keys. You will mainly use your legs to influence your speed and put your weight on one or the other.

As no two waves are the same, you need to balance yourself and be constantly ready. While riding the wave, you do not just play with your feet but your whole body. You should balance yourself according to the wave and use your hand and core to shift as the wave moves.

What Is the Optimal Surfing Stance?

To learn how to distribute your weight correctly on the board, you should first adopt the correct posture and stance to maximize your efforts.

There are two stances of surfing that you take up depending on which leg is stronger. People with a stronger right leg generally take the regular stance, in which their right leg is behind the left one. Opposing this is the “goofy” stance, which usually lefties use. In this stance, your left leg should be behind your right one.

Position both feet on the spine of the surfboard, with your front foot on the center of the board. Bend your knees slightly and arch your back a little. Once you mastered your preferred stance, you are ready to start shifting your weight.

Where Do You Put Your Weight When Popping Up?

The popup is the motion surfers make when they catch a wave and it is time to hop on the board. You lay flat on your belly and the time you feel the wave lifting you, you push your upper body with your hands by your shoulders and swing your lower body into stance.

You should first put your weight on your upper body as you push yourself up. Swing by the hip, and once you are in the stance, put your weight on your front leg. Depending on what kind of wave you ride, you might find yourself distributing close to 100% of your body weight on the front foot.

The reason you should immediately shift your weight on your front foot is that it is on the center of the board, therefore it naturally stabilizes it and you. The steeper the wave, the more you should immediately put your weight on the front.

Where Do You Put Your Weight When You Want to Accelerate?

While you are on a wave and you want to speed up, you should shift your body weight on the front foot. This is due to the fact that the lower you are, the more force you exert on your board, which in turn (according to Newton’s Third Law) will accelerate you forward.

Naturally, you need to actively be on a rail as you do it, as this maneuver won’t work on still water. If you are more experienced, you might want to try “traveling” on the surfboard to generate speed. 

Similarly to weight shifting to your front leg, stepping forward can generate even bigger speeds. An advanced technique is cross-stepping, when you step ahead of your weaker leg with your stronger one. Shortboarders also like to “pump the wave,” where they repeatedly and rhythmically push down with their front feet on the board.

Where Do You Put Your Weight When You Want to Decelerate?

To slow down on the wave, you should do the exact opposite of what you’d do speeding up. Lean on your back leg, putting more weight on the tail of the board. This will naturally both counteract Newton’s Third Law (as stated before) and lift the front of the board, creating a bigger area of resistance with the water in front of you.

If you are using the advanced cross-step technique, reverse the movement and go back into the common stance. You might also try stepping a bit back with your front leg to put even more weight on the back. Using your upper body and straightening up a little can also help the process.

The main reason for decelerating is to not “outsurf the rail.” Although most surfing is about being fast enough to keep up with the wave, you should let the wave keep up with you, as you want to ride around the area where it breaks. This part of the wave is called “shoulder” or “face.”


Shifting your weight while surfing is needed for balance and speed control. The former uses both your legs and core weight distribution, while the latter mainly relies on which leg you put more weight on. Two stances determine where you should put your body weight when speeding up or slowing down: regular and “goofy.”  While popping up, you should put your body weight on your upper body. After landing, shift most of your weight to your front leg to stabilize the board.

The more weight forward, the faster you’ll go. To speed up, shift your body weight to your front leg. This will accelerate you due to how Physics works. You might try advanced techniques such as cross-stepping or pumping the waves. To slow down, shift your weight on your back foot, slightly arching your back and lifting the front of the board.

James Davis

Written by James Davis

I'm a true California local, and I've spent my life riding the waves along our stunning coastline. Surfing has always been my greatest love, and in my writing, I try to capture its genuine essence. My words aim to transport you into the heart of the surf culture, where the ocean and surfers come together in perfect harmony.

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