Surfskate Tutorial for Beginners: What To Do With Your Arms

by | Mar 14, 2023 | Tips & Tutorials

Watch My Surfskate Tutorial for Arms on YouTube
In this surfskate tutorial for beginners, I’ll give you some pointers on what to do with your arms when surfskating.

If you find this surfskate tutorial helpful, I invite you to check out my full surfskating video course for non-surfer beginners.

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Tip #1: Avoid “Clock Arm” by Using Compression and Extension

One common mistake I’ve often seen beginners make with surfskate pumping is to swing their back arm in a circle, like a clock:

This is what we call “clock arm.” Simply swinging your arms in a circle like that does nothing to propel you forward.

The way to stop clock arm is to understand that it’s not your arm that’s propelling you forward. What propels you on a surfskate is the compression and extension of your knees and hips moving up and down.

So instead of just swinging your arm in a circle, what you want to focus on is using your knees and hips to move up and down.

If you keep your arms facing forward, you’ll notice that they still swing in a circle. But this is because they’re propelled up and down by your lower body compression and extension, not just your arms.

So your first step in this surfskate tutorial is to replace clock arm with up and down compression and extension, like this:

Tip #2: Maintain Your Balance with “Coffee Cup Arm”

The next mistake to avoid with your arms when surfskating is to not have your back arm flailing around behind you, like this:

If you’re facing to the side of your board with your front hand in front of you and your back hand behind you, you will lose balance.

So the first thing you want to do is make sure you’re in the proper surfskate stance. Start by standing in proper surfskate foot position, like so:

surfskate foot position
Now, with your feet placed on the board like that, twist your knees, hips, and shoulders to face forward.

Once you’re facing forward, now place your back arm in front of your chest, facing forward. When you pump on a surfskate, you’ll lift both arms together facing forward.

To train your back arm to stay forward, you can use a technique I learned from surf trainer Cris Mills called “coffee cup arm.”

What this means is to pretend you’re holding a cup of coffee in your back arm, and you can’t spill it as you pump on your surfskate.

When I’m giving surfskate tutorials to beginners, I teach them to practice this by holding an open water bottle in their back hand and to pump without spilling it. It looks like this:

You’ll notice that to do this, you have to use compression and extension, as opposed to simply swinging your arms. Because if you just swing your arms, you’ll spill the water.

Tip #3: Make Turns More Efficient by Opening Your Shoulders

Now let’s talk about what to do with your arms when you’re turning on your surfskate.

The secret to that is to open up your shoulder as you turn, as you twist your body to look in the direction you’re turning.

To do this, as you make your turn, turn your back hand upside down and extend it in front of you, reaching in the direction of your turn. Turning your hand upside down helps to open that shoulder up, like this:

Tip #4: Use the “Lift and Pull” Technique to Coordinate Your Arms

My final pointer in this surfskate tutorial is what to do with your arms when you’re skating on transitions. By transitions, I’m referring to sloped surfaces, such as concrete wave banks, ramps, or bowls.

It’s very helpful to practice on a small wave bank because that’s truest to surfing.

You want to practice both frontside and backside surfskate pumping. In surfing terms, frontside means your chest is facing the wave, and backside means your back is facing the wave.

So when you’re pumping on transitions, the key is basically you want to just keep your arms facing forward and aligned parallel with each other. Then you want to use your arms to lift your body up on the wave, then you bring your knees up to your arms.

You want to feel a sense of your upper body lifting and unweighting off your board as you lift your knees up.

You’ll keep your hands together and throw them up together, like this:

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I hope you’ve found this surfskate tutorial helpful.

If you want more detailed surfskate tutorials, I invite you to check out my full surfskating video course for non-surfers.