How to Steer a Surfboard

Your back leg determines which direction your board will go.

Your back leg determines which direction your board will go.

Surfing can be an exhilarating, adventurous and intimidating sport to start. To observers on the shore, those who ride the waves can make it look it easy. Once you get out there, just riding the board can be a challenge. Take your time and get comfortable with steering your board.


Lie stomach down on your surfboard once you are into waist-deep or chest-deep water.

Paddle your surfboard with your arms and hands at the sides of the board.

Use your right arm to steer your board to the left and your left arm to steer it to the right. Keep the board level. If too much comes up out of the front, whitewater can flip it, and if the nose is too far under it can become submerged and hard to move.

Riding Waves

Stand on your board once you are ready to ride in a wave.

Bend your knees on the board and use your legs to push the tail of the board and fins into the wave. Your back -- or balancing leg -- will be doing the majority of the steering.

Place your body weight over your back foot, allowing the board to rise in front of you a little bit.

Twist your body in the direction of the wave. If your right foot is in the rear, you'll turn to the right.

Adjust your weight so that some of it is over your front foot. As you twist and adjust your weight, the board should swing around at an angle with the wave.

Recenter your weight over the middle of the board. With practice, this will become a frontside turn into the wave, allowing you to ride the wave at an angle, instead of straight in.

Items you will need

  • Surfboard

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About the Author

Michelle Hogan is a writer and the author of 13 books including the 2005 bestselling memoir, "Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (With Kids) in America." Hogan studied English at American University and has been writing professionally since 1998. Her work has appeared in "The New York Times," "Redbook," "Family Circle" and many other publications.

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