Being able to move forward and backward on your long board is one of the most fundamental maneuvers in long board surfing. We must learn how to use the entire surface before we can go to the next level, so first we got to figure out how to move around on the board to do those things.
Most beginners will shuffle their feet forward in order to get the board into trim by moving their body forward about two feet. This will work but chances are, going any further forward from there will be very difficult. The problem with the shuffle, besides the fact that it just doesn’t look good, is that it tilts and shakes the board out of trim and its too slow with no flow and it looks dorky. Have I mentioned yet that it just doesn’t look very good?
In order to move fluidly and lightly on a moving surfboard you must learn how to un-weight and step over your front foot with your back foot. You do this purposely by leaning forward onto your front foot. This shift in weight and momentum will cause the body to move forward. At the top of the step the back foot will release and will travel forward and cross step over what had been your front foot. As your back foot lands the same process takes place so you end up back in your stance. Riding the wave out of your stance, or when your feet are crossed up, while very stylish is an extremely unstable position.
After this first cross step forward is completed we need to see if our wave is cooperating fur further advancement to the tip or if a cutback is in order. We will have to cross step back if we need to turn because long boards don’t turn from the middle. But if the wave has a nice steep face and your board is holding trim then tally ho, up to the nose we go.
If your board starts to drop in closer to the floor of the wave then some quick footed back peddling needs to happen right away or else. Walking back from the tip to reset the tail is trickier to do and will provide months of tripping over your “what seem like” oversized feet.
One key to remember in all difficult surfing maneuvers is to stay low in the leg. Some additional knee bending is very necessary. It will lighten you up and the board will seem more stable underneath you. Once you start spending some time up on the nose you will develop a feel for it. For now, get better at cross stepping up and back from the tail to your trim position about two feet further forward than where you turned from. As time marches on you will become more relaxed and comfortable with cross stepping and your trips to the tip will become more frequent.
A great dry land drill is to practice cross stepping forward and backward on a parking curb. It’s like a 4 inch high balance beam. Keep your eyes on the curb about six feet in front of you and practice going up and back, up and back. Keep the knees very bent and in a short while your thighs should start burning from the constant pressure. This is good, the burn is making you a better surfer and a stronger person.