Top Surf Tips from Kelly Slater

Top Surf Tips from Kelly Slater

Known as one of the best surfers on the planet, Kelly Slater is an 11-time champion, was awarded two perfect scores under the ASP two-wave scoring system and was the youngest surfer to ever win a championship. Slater’s technique and style is known to be completely different from most surfers on the circuit.

With more than 20 years of experience, here are some tips that helped Slater become who he is today:

Top Surf Tips from Kelly SlaterPre-Paddling

Before you even hit the ocean, Slater recommends that you count to ten. Paddling is what’s going to make or break your run. He notes that the goal of paddling is to gain momentum so that you can pivot into a successful launch stance.


His approach to paddling has become one of the most popular techniques in the surfing world today. With this technique, the surfer will have to lie on the board with their nose only a few inches above the water. Arching your back and feet away from the waves, the rider will want to stretch their arms as far as they can toward the nose of their board. As you bring yourr arms through the water, a small “S” motion will be made underneath the board. Slater recommends that surfers who haven’t done this technique before should practice in calmer waters first.

Slater also recommends these tips when paddling:

– Use fluid strokes when using the “S” motion.
– Always feel relaxed.
– Try to angle your board along the wave.
– Always keep your head up.
– Keep the board flush with the waterline.
– If the nose of the board is going under, your body is too far forward.

Gaining Speed

Slater notes that the surfing speed is entirely based on the body position, the size of the wave and the type of surfboard used. According to a Surfing Magazine article in the past, he claimed that to achieve the most speed possible, one must think of their legs like shock absorbers. As long as the surfer can push that energy back into the board and keep control, an increase in speed should be noticed. 

As most professional surfers will tell you, your legs aren’t the only thing that keeps you flowing on the waves; your positioning will affect your speed as well. For greater speed, Slater recommends that the shoulders should always be ahead of the line of the board, with the rear shoulder dropped slightly lower than the front. When you make turns, the shoulder should rotate with every turn.

Top Surf Tips from Kelly SlaterHow to Catch a Wave

Kelly Slater shows would-be surfers how to catch a simple wave:

1. As the wave approaches, use the paddling technique above. Using your strong strokes, pointing the board in the direction you want to go.

2. When the wave starts to pick the board up, push the board down slightly below the chest. In one quick motion, jump to your feet.

3. Once on top of the board, stand sideways with the feet spread a shoulder-width apart. With the knees slightly bent, the front foot should be under the chest and back foot should be over the fins. As the wave pushes forward, use the shoulder to aim the board.

New or experienced surfers can’t go wrong when learning from the best of the best. By taking these tips to heart, there’s no reason you can’t become a better surfer over time.

Casey Simms wants to be a pro surfer and recommends getting some quality gear to get ahead. Check out  Fellow, where you can get custom made surfboards and also grab some unique apparel. 

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About Douglas Smythe

Wet Shaving Software/Hardware Developer. Podcaster, Blogger, Man About Town.

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