When it comes to surfboard “types,” there are generally two categories: longboards and shortboards—though some may argue a third, mid-lengths. The basic principles of riding these two, or three, categories is the same: to turn, you need to be back on the tail over the fin(s), and to control your speed, you need to shift your weight forward onto your front foot (GAS) or back onto your back foot (BRAKE). However, because the boards differ in size, the way in which these basic principles are executed will vary.
To control speed on a shortboard, a subtle weight shift is sufficient. On a longer board, you will need to cover more distance to achieve the same end result of controlling your speed. The term commonly used to describe the movement of maneuvering across the length of a long board is known as cross-stepping. It’s the motion of crossing one leg over the other to move up to the nose of the board and back again. Literally like walking, or dancing, on water! To learn some tips for cross-stepping on a longboard, continue reading.
Where to Begin?
Before cross-stepping, you must have a solid, stable stance on your longboard. Keep your feet about shoulder-width distance apart and bend your knees slightly. The main thing to remember when riding a longboard, or any board for that matter, is to keep your legs relaxed. Staying loose and relaxed will improve your ability to maintain balance on the wave when interacting with the unstable nature of water. Keeping a relaxed stance also allows for more fluidity when moving up and back on your surfboard (i.e., cross-stepping).
Executing the Cross-Step
With your weight evenly distributed between both feet, or favoring your back foot, begin to move up the board. At this point you should shift your weight over your front foot and unweight your back foot.
Next you can bring your back leg in front of your leading leg. The key for accomplishing this step is keeping your weight over and grounded in your stationary foot, while the other foot repositions.
Next shift your weight forward, centering your weight over your back leg (now front leg), keeping your hips open to the direction you're traveling.
Then slowly begin to remove weight from your leading leg (now back leg). Like before, keep your weight over and grounded in your stationary foot. Last, move your (now back) leg forward in front of your other leg. And that’s the cross-step!
This movement can be repeated as many times as needed depending on the wave, how much speed you're trying to gain, or how far up the board you are trying to go. It can also be flipped in reverse when moving back to the tail of your board to turn or redirect.
If you’re interested in practicing these tips for cross-stepping on a longboard but can’t make it to the water, consider investing in a longboard balance board. Ebb & Flo specializes in rail-to-rail surf balance boards that mimic the movement of trimming down the face of a wave. Our balance boards are designed with surfers in mind and are ideal for enhancing stability, fluidity, and strengthening key surfing muscles so that you can perform better in the water. For more information regarding our products, contact us today.