Surf Tips – How to do a Forehand Cutback

We’re proud to introduce the first of our Surf Tips Series, which we’re releasing in conjunction with pro coaches from around the world.

Complete with photos and videos of pro’s in action as well as top tips and common mistakes, the series promises to get you in the water and improving your surfing in no time.

In the first of 3 multimedia instalments, Chris Bond from Ticket to Ride Surf Adventures talks us through how to execute the perfect forehand cutback.

The Forehand Cutback

The first thing you need to know about the cutback is that there are as many variations as there are surfers in the world! Everyone develops their own style, and depending on the type of wave as well as that particular wave you may need to do a slight variation. Despite that there are some great fundamentals and tips to help improve your cutback. The main things we like are spray and speed, if you manage to spray your friend on the shoulder whilst maintaining your speed throughout the turn you’re right on track!

1. The approach: Your first cutback will undoubtedly be done just heading straight down the line, but as you get better you are more likely to do a gentle bottom turn to head up the face onto the shoulder to start your cutback.
2. The entry: In order to maintain your speed turn you’ll need to get near the top of the wave, ¾ of the way up would be the lowest you want to start from. When you start your turn you need to lean onto your heelside rail, apply pressure on the back foot and most importantly compress your legs and rotate your body. Your front leg will be straighter than the front one initially as you need the back leg more bent to apply that pressure.
3. The cutback: This is where you make or break your cutback. What you really need to remember here is fairly simple, stay low and look where you want to go. It sounds so simple, but its not! This is the part of the turn where you are trying to draw that line that is going to keep your speed or even increase it if you get it right, the angle that the rail line is digging into the water in combination with the waves energy and the shape of your board all come into one magic moment, when you get it right. You need to really get good rotation here so that your arms are going where you are heading as well to help get extra momentum.
4. The completion: This is really where the different types of cutbacks come into play, whether it goes more into a carve or a full roundhouse cutback where you hit the lip. Where you look is where you will go so bare that in mind. The full roundhouse requires everything else to have been done technically correct so lets stick with that one for now. In this case once you have spotted where you are going to rebound you need to extend your legs a little to help you get up there and then lift your arms (more rotation) to help you go up the face for the rebound. Counter intuitively, when trying to do a roundhouse you don’t rush back into the pocket to maintain your speed, you actually draw a really long line down the face and then around and up into the rebound.
5. Recovery: The recovery for most manoeuvres is the same, compress your legs and get low over the board to help you get out of the move and into the next one with maximum speed.

Common Mistakes:
1. The most common mistake with a full cutback or roundhouse cutback is to push too hard at the beginning of the turn. Remember, you need to maintain that speed, and there will still be plenty of spray if you get it right!
2. The next most common mistake links directly to the first one and that is trying to do a cutback with your legs too straight. You need to stay compressed through the turn so that you can still control your board, the second your legs are too straight you can no longer control its speed and choose where it is going to go.
3. The third one is maybe the easiest to change but the most common in people first learning to do a cutback of any type, and that is NOT looking where you are going. If you want to hold your speed through a cutback and be able to control where you are going to go you have to look there.

1. Using your hand as a pivot point helps control your turn as well as helping with balance, and touching the wave always feels good.
2. Don’t try and rush the cutback by heading straight into the pocket, really draw it out carving down the face and then back and then up into the pocket.
3. Make sure that you bring your back arm with you otherwise you will never get all the way back into the pocket.
4. Always go about 1-2m further into the pocket of the wave than you think you need to, don’t be afraid of the white water! You’ll fall a few times but then you’ll start to get it, make the white water your friend, just watch Slater, Knox and Curren for examples.
5. (for shorboarders) If you are struggling with the roundhouse then try it on a slightly bigger board than your standard, you’ll find out why!

If you have any questions or want to tell us what is or isn’t working or any suggestions then feel free to ask below.

Surf tips #2: The Perfect Pop Up – coming 8/08/14
Surf Tips #3: The Aerial – coming 10/08/14

Words and Photos Chris Bond @seabond

Ticket to Ride run Surf Courses, and Surf Breaks in South Africa, Mozambique, Indonesia, Costa Rica and Morocco. All their trips include surf coaching to the highest, with most being run by ex-WCT and WQS surfers. They cater for all abilities, and are widely regarded as the best organisation to improve your surfing dramatically in a short period of time.