Surfskate Bowl Riding Tutorial: How to Compress & Extend Through Transitions

by | Jan 6, 2022 | Tips & Tutorials

Want to learn surfskate bowl riding? It starts with learning how to compress and extend through transitions. This surfskate bowl riding tutorial will teach you how.

Watch My Surfskate Bowl Riding Tutorials on YouTube

“Transition riding” in skating means transitioning from a horizontal to a vertical surface, and it requires a lot of body coordination and timing.

When I first started learning how to surfskate in bowls, I was clueless how to ride transitions.

I didn’t even watch any surfskate tutorials on bowl riding or transition riding. I just showed up at the park and started throwing myself into transitions. As a result, I looked ridiculous for about the first week of surfskate bowl riding practice.

I had no idea what I was doing, my timing was all off, and my body didn’t even seem to work for transition riding.

However, once I unlocked the four-step sequence of compression and extension through transitions, I was able to go from what you see in that video above to this video in just 30 days of practice:

Read on to learn the four-steps of compression and extension to make surfskate bowl riding much easier for you.

For more surfskate tutorials with live video instruction, get my video course, “Surfskating for Non-Surfers.”

The 4 Steps of Compression & Extension in Surfskate Bowl Riding

 When I first started surfskate bowl riding, I had it all wrong. I hadn’t even watched any surfskate bowl riding tutorials.

For some reason, I had it in my head that it was only a two-step sequence: extending while approaching a transition, then compressing as you come up the transition.

But I was wrong on two fronts: first of all, it’s a four-step sequence, not two. Secondly, I had the order wrong.

The proper sequence is:

  1. Compress going into a transition.
  2. Extend coming up the transition.
  3. Compress going down.
  4. Extend again coming out of the transition.

“Compression” means to compress, or crouch, your body into itself by bending at the knees and hips. “Extension” means to stand up and extend your body.

Let me break this down for you visually:


Step 1: Compress going into a transition.

As you approach a transition, bend at the knees and hips to compress your body into itself:

Step 2: Extend coming up the transition.

As you start coming up the transition, lift your arms and extend your body. You should be fully extended by the time you get to the top of the transition.

Step 3: Quick compression coming out of the transition.

Immediately after hitting the top of the transition, you want to quickly compress, or crouch your body into itself to come down the transition. It feels like you’re gathering your body up into itself as you come up around the top.

Step 4: Extend coming out of the transition.

Once you hit the curve of the transition coming down, you want to extend your body—in other words, stand up.

How to Gain & Maintain Speed in Surfskate Bowl Riding

 That final extension coming out of the transition is critical, because that’s how to gain and maintain speed when surfskating in bowls. Without speed, you can’t even get up the transitions in the first place.

To gain speed, you stand up and extend your body as you come out of the transition.

But there’s an important detail in that. As you stand up, you want to push down hard on your back foot. You’ll feel that propelling you out of the transition.

Make sure you’re weighted more on your front foot as you do this, or you will push the board out from underneath you and it will fly out in front of you.

Backside and Frontside Turns in Surfskate Bowl Riding

 In surfing terms, a backside turn means your back is facing the wave as you make a turn, like so:

A frontside turn means your chest is facing the wave as you make the turn, like so:

As I was learning surfskate bowl riding, it was way easier to learn backside turns, and way harder to learn frontside turns. So I had to spend a lot of time focusing on frontside turns.

Regardless of which one is more difficult for you, the compression and extension sequence is the same.

Learn Surfskate Bowl Riding in Stages

 The final thing I want to say about the process of learning surfskate bowl riding is that you want to take it in stages.

Start on a 45-degree angle ramp and practice backside and frontside turns over and over.

Then move up to a quarter pipe.

Once you feel comfortable on a quarter pipe, then find a scenario like a half pipe where you can ride back and forth and get more repetitions in, like this:

Once you’re comfortable with that, then you can start surfskating in the bowl.

For more surfskate tutorials with live video instruction, get my video course, “Surfskating for Non-Surfers.”

Wear Protective Gear when Surfskate Bowl Riding

 Any time you’re learning something new on a surfskate, you want to make sure you’re padded up to avoid serious injury.

This is especially true with transition riding and surfskate bowl riding. From personal experience, I can tell you that you’re guaranteed to fall.

So I strongly recommend that you wear full protective gear when starting out, including a helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, and knee pads.

But I also strongly recommend you add something to the standard protective gear: hip pads.

In all the time I’ve been surfskate bowl riding, the only thing I’ve ever hurt is my hip. I’ve bruised my front hip so many times. That’s why I never surfskate in bowls without wearing hip pads, along with all my other protective gear.

For more surfskate tutorials with live video instruction, get my video course, “Surfskating for Non-Surfers.”