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Why Do Surfers Walk to the Front of Their Board?

You might have noticed surfers walking up the plank of their boards while surfing. This activity is commonly known as cross-stepping and is a fairly difficult maneuver to perform. With the right amount of practice, however, even you can walk up to the nose of your board. This, although, raises an obvious question; why do surfers walk to the front of their board?

Surfers walk to the front of their board to produce the right amount of speed so that they can ride powerful waves. Walking to the front also allows surfers to hold their posture in the right position on the wave and maintain balance. This method also helps you prepare for noseriding and other tricks on your surfboard.

It’s not easy to walk to the front of your surfboard while riding a wave. If you don’t follow the appropriate cross-stepping procedure, you can immediately lose your balance. Therefore, it is important to learn the nooks and crannies of cross-stepping in order to pave your path for a plethora of other surfboarding skills. 

surfer cross walking to nose of surfboard

Why Is Cross-Stepping on A Surfboard Important?

While shortboards only need you to shift your weight from the rear to the tip of the board to manage its speed, longboards are a bit more technical. If you’re using a longboard to surf, learning how to move around is something you really need to practice.

It Makes Riding Powerful Waves Easier

Cross-stepping to the front of the board not only looks better than dragging your feet around the board, but it also helps the nose to remain in contact with the wave. This is important when you’re traveling into the more powerful sections of the wave and don’t want to fall off your board. 

Allows you to Maintain Your Balance on the Board

Walking to the front of the board becomes essential when the wave is flowing faster than you are. This allows you to keep up with the wave by pushing your weight forward while maintaining your balance.  

Cross-stepping is also a useful skill to know when you come out of a bottom turn. At this point, since the wind is pushing you backward, you need to stroll along with the board as it travels up the face of the wave. 

Learning to Cross-Step On a Longboard

Now that you know why cross-stepping is important for you, it’s time to learn the practical side of things. We have laid out a few important steps that will make it easier for you to cross-step on your longboard while surfing any wave.

Step 1: Position Your Board

The first thing you should do is position your surfboard at the steepest point of the wave. This is usually directly in the wave’s pocket, the area where the wave is just starting to break. This is also the point where the wave is the most powerful and any misstep can result in you falling off the board. 

The reason your board should be positioned here is that the weight of the breaking wave on the surfboard’s rear will counterbalance the weight provided by you at the front. If there is no counter-balancing force, then you might lose your balance.

Step 2: Shifting Your Weight

Now that your board is correctly positioned, place your weight on your back foot and keep your entire body relaxed. Then, move your hips and your upper body forward so that your weight is transferred to your front foot. 

As there is no weight being applied on your rear foot now, you can easily take a quick step back in case you become unstable on the surf. 

Next, simply shift your hips and upper body forward onto your new leading foot to continue cross-stepping. If you want to return back to your regular stance, simply bring your leading foot behind your rear leg and resume riding the wave. 

Tips For Cross-stepping

The most important aspect of cross-stepping is maintaining your balance. Therefore, while cross-stepping, always remember to keep your knees and hips relaxed. Your knees should only be slightly bent, otherwise, it can get too hard to cross-step and maintain proper balance.

Another way that you can maintain your balance on your surfboard is by using your arms. Ideally, you want as little movement in your upper body as possible, so try keeping your arms beneath your shoulders while cross-stepping.

What Is Nose Riding?

In noseriding, surfers try to maneuver the longboard from its front end. This is a difficult surfing trick to master as it requires you to first perfect the art of cross-stepping on a surfboard. Once you’ve mastered how to cross-step like a pro, you need to learn how to balance yourself while hanging your toes off the tip of the board.

Some of the maneuvering tricks include hang-10, where the toes of the surfer curl up on the end of a surfboard. Nose riding also paves the way for you to perform maneuvers such as hang heels and front or back-foot hang, allowing you to showcase your surfing abilities to the fullest.

Best Surfboards for Noseriding 

Nothing will assist or constrain your noseriding skills more than the board you select. There are multiple surfboards that you can noseride on, varying from classical surfboards to Noseriders and even high-performance longboards.

While you can perform noseriding effortlessly on most of these surfboards, the design of some boards, such as shortboards, can prevent you from standing on the tip. Therefore, it’s best to choose surfboards made primarily for noseriding!

NoseriderHigh-Performance Longboard
Wider with a more rounded tailHas a narrower nose and less tail width
Has a single-fin setup for small wavesHas a multiple-fin setup for stronger waves
Designed for trimming Designed to surf steep waves
More stable and easier to cross-step onSlightly less stable 
Ideal for beginnersMade for professional use

Step-by-Step Guide to Noseriding

Now that you’ve picked your surfboard of choice, it’s time to showcase your skills out in the sea. Here are some general steps which would help effectively nose-ride your surfboard: 

Step 1: Practice Your Cross-Stepping

Before walking out into the water, try and practice your cross-stepping skills on the beach. If you want to be more precise, draw a rough outline of your board’s form in the sand and use it to estimate the number of steps you will need to reach the nose. This way, you’ll have a general idea of where to stand without having to think too hard about it mid-wave.

Step 2: Check For Waves 

Since every wave isn’t ideal for noseriding, you need to search for the right wave to come by around. If you want to spend more time on the nose, look for a calm point break with a frontside wave. The ideal wave would be one that is around your waist to chest height since anything larger than that can be difficult to noseride on due to less stability.

Step 3: Time Your Movement

Once you’re on top of the wave, the best time to move to the tip of your surfboard is right after a strong bottom turn that lunges you forward. However, don’t waste too much time looking for a hard turn as the more you wait, the less likely it is that you’ll find a reasonable angle to move forward. 

The ideal angle for stepping forward is right when your surfboard temporarily stalls before the wave propels you ahead again. You will find it very easy to balance yourself correctly when most of your weight is ahead of the wave at the tip of your board.

Step 4: Maintaining the Correct Posture

Being at the tip of the nose is going to feel strange at first and you’ll often feel like you’re off-balance. However, if you’re maintaining your body posture correctly, you’ll be perfectly balanced with no need to fear. 

To assume the correct posture, keep your knees slightly bent when you reach the nose of your surfboard. Your torso and back should also be as straight as possible. This setting will help you easily achieve the next step, which is cross-stepping backward after finishing a noseride. 

Step 5: Going Back

Noseriding isn’t just about riding the surfboard with your toes pointing over the edge. It’s also about being able to go back to your regular stance. To achieve that, practice your cross-step in reverse on the beach. You can do this by counting and memorizing the steps it takes for you to cross-step the entire length of the board. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Should my Board be For Noseriding?

Ideally, your surfboard should be around 9 feet. This will give you more stability while you’re cross-stepping to the tip of the board. 

Is Noseriding Difficult?

Without the proper technique and the ability to cross-step, noseriding can be very difficult. Moreover, a good surfboard, like the Noserider by Paragon Surfboards, is essential in determining how soon you can start noseriding. 

Can I Cross-Step on A Shortboard?

Unlike longboards, cross-stepping on a shortboard requires nothing more than a causal shift of body weight and one to two steps. However, you need to be careful while cross-stepping shortboards since they are relatively less stable than longboards.

Can I Noseride Large Waves?

Noseriding large waves can be difficult if you’re a beginner. This is because even the tiniest mistake can end up costing you a lot. Therefore, you first need to practice noseriding on chest-high waves. 

Which Fins Should my Board have For Nose Riding?

You can include a thruster setup on your surfboard for optimal performance. This contains 3 equal-sized fins attached to your surfboard, which powers the board while making a bottom turn. Otherwise, a single-fin surfboard can do the job for you as well. 


Walking to the front of your board is a skill that requires a lot of practice. However, if you can execute it flawlessly, not only can you perform stunning maneuvers on any surfboard, but it also paves your way to becoming a skilled surfer. 

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