Doing a round house cutback

   The world's longest explanation for something that takes 1.75 seconds!!


                                                                                                   home>kneeboard index


Now I haven't read this for a while so don't roast me I'll fix it up gradually so that it makes more sense.



Originally posted under the name "Zorro".....


The enigma:

The thing that gets me about kneeboarding is that it's so hard and it looks so easy. Still, it never fails to astound me how some surfers can ride a kneeboard for years and not seem to improve.

Consequently I'm posting a little blog about roundhouse cutties. If it helps just one person enjoy their kneeboarding more then it was worth posting.

This is aimed at "beginners" or guys like myself who have problems somewhere.It is not the only way to do them. Nor the best way. Feel free to give me some advice. As advice comes in from other surfers I'll update this first post. I've already stolen, borrowed and usurped as many ideas from other surfers as possible.

Roundhouse cutbacks. Well what are they?

Simply put they're a cutback which describes a figure eight starting from the setup turn to the bounce of the the white water coming the other way to the last bottom turn out of the white water.

Or as Steve Neal says later in this thread:

"your turn should start as high
on the wave as possible and continue through the face of
the wave on your inside rail fully ingaged, hitting the bottom
as if you were doing another bottom turn and cranking it
back up the face as if you are going to rebound off a section "

or as SpOngrgoneKneelo says later

carving hard and getting the rebound affect where u still have some speed and just flowing into the whitewash and getting boosted out. I think thats when you know you have the right timing is when that whitewash just boosts you out of the whitewash and you have just as much speed as you started with

The main ideas here are:

*keeping the weight forward (Steen)
*torquing up with the arms,
*keeping the arms bent and forward and not straight, (Thanks Red)
*using expansion and contraction of the legs to change the balance of weight from the back of the board to the front (Headwax)
* going with the flow - trying to make one part of the turn flow from the other

* keep a controlled tension/flex in your leg muscles and torso constantly
* when turning use arms, head (eyes) body and legs in that order. (this point could be contentious)
* look where you are going, not where you have been (thanks Darcy and Taj Burrows)
*your arms should remain below your shoulders and your outside shoulder and arm should lead you all the way through this move (thanks Bud)

Assume we are riding a righthander.

Buildup speed, head out on the shoulder, keeping an eye (physical or mental) on the breaking wave behind you.
If you've got a wide tailed board you can afford a little more lee way here in gaining seperation from the breaking wave. Separation is good at first - as long as we can maintain speed.
Keep in mind that once you've had a little practice and get the flow happening you can do them in a surprisingly small amount of space.

   The best roundhouse cutbacks come out of a small setup turn where you flow from a bottom turn straight into the cutback.
As you come out of this setup turn wind up the body with the arms by pointing them back towards the breaking wave.
At all times keep your arms bent. Do not assume an aeroplane wing stance. (Try not to let your arms drag in the water. This only slows you down and pulls you off balance - for an oppoiste opinion see Bud's remarks later Wink .)

This will start to bring your head around so that you are looking in the general direction of the lip.
The idea is wind up the body. Be careful here because you do not want too much weight leaning backward.
At this point in time your board will still be heading in the original direction.

Now that you are aware of how much space and time you have, start the turn itself by twisting the head around to see where you want to go. Meanwhile keep the same relationship between arms and torso - ie twist them further round - keep them bent and low.

Bring your right shoulder over your left knee. (Hart) Idea
Concentrate on leaning forward. Get that right shoulder over that left knee.

Idea Note: you want to make sure that your arse is no where near your ankles in any part of the cutback (or at any other time of your life). (For the anithesis of this, see a few pages later and you'll find comments on the Steve Lis school of kneeloriding)

*In leaning forward you are increasing speed by driving down the face.
*In getting your inside shoulder over your outside knee you are setting the rail -which is the driving part of the turn.
* Having your shoulder over your knee also winds up the body, adding to the torque already stored by your arm positions -properly described as cyclotorsion.

Simultaneously you are assuming a crouching position ready for the following expansion (which occurs soon)

Summary- we have stored energy in the body with arm torque, body torque and whole body compression. We want to use our whole body as an entity to channel as much energy in the turn as possible - sitting on your arse or grabbing the rail lessens your chance if doing this.

At this point you want to have this image of simon farrer etched into your brain (photo steen)

As you set your rail keep your arms torqued up ie keep them in the same position relative to the torso (notice in the photos that the more dynamic surfers keep their arms bent - the less dynamic surfers have their arms straight and stiff).

You don't want this: (Early 60's photoshopped picture of Buttons Kalahahulah surfing Sunrise Park)

If you are not sure of the position of your hands borrow a pair of gloves. You will be much more aware of the position of your hands in the periphery of your vision.

This arm torque is important for fine tuneing your turn radius, especially towards the end of the turn where you may have to tighten the turn to get your board hitting the lip in the right place. If you want them to be, your hands can become the centre of the radius of your turn. Baden Smith uses this method -possible because he rides a quad.

If you are not sure about the value of arm torque look at this pic of a guy torquing off the top. Remember: Arms first then head/eyes, then body, then legs. (Taj Burrows: "Where your head points your body will follow")

Your other choice in fine tuning the turn is by expanding your inside (left) leg more than the other. Sparrow uses this method at times (see DVD Sparrow has landed). The best surfers do it in combination with their arm torque turn. Keep in mind that if you expand one leg more than the other you will have a tencency to take the weight off the front rail.

Try to do the whole cutback as one turn, not as a series of small turns joined together - this will give you more dynamism and drive.
(You can tell which method Baden and Sparrow use because they have an actual break in the fluidity of their turn when they "click" in that part of their particular body movement technique. This illustrates that even the best surfers in the world can improve on their technique.)

You are now heading towards the foam/lip.
It is time to start to expand from the crouched position.
This will put weight on your tail and lift the nose slightly.
Though you are puting weight on the tail you are not leaning back.
Do not lean back. Idea
Instead you are driving the tail of the board down with the tops of your feet. (see frames 11 & 12 below)
Time the move so that the board is rising as it hits the lip.
For a clean bounce you want the lip under the nose and not much water on the rail.
In expanding you are also unweighting from the main body of the board and this helps you float as you hit the lip/foam.

In a continuation of this expansion movement bring your arms up and around to the other side of your body. (This also helps you ride up and over the foam/lip. This is the only time you should think about having your arms as high as your chin)

Bringing the arms towards the beach inititaes whole body torque towards the beach as you hit the foam. Imagine your hand as the centre point of the radius of your next turn.
Be careful here that you do not put too much weight on your fins as you hit the foam.
If you try and drive off the foam with your fins they tend to cut right through it (foam being air) and you have a tendency to fall off - which, I have heard, is bad.
Remember, be vary careful to not to sit back at anytime.

Time to look towards the beach. Look where you want to go. By twisting the head we start the body torque proper

Most importantly, as a continuation of this movement (arms and head) get that inside shoulder (left shoulder) over that outside knee.
This makes you lean forward as you come down with the lip.
This keeps the weight off the fins -stopping their tendency to drift.
Leaning forward (with left shoulder over right knee now) helps set the rail so that you can set up your next bottom turn. Using the same arm head torso shoulder leg movements as before Wink .

The best surfers eg Andrew Heaton do this whole arm head torso leg motion in continous movement. This makes their style both beautiful and unique.

You have now completed a roundhouse cutback.
You can go home and have a beer.

Just like I'm doing.


Couple of pics:

(Sorry the photogs names are not attached.
If they are your pics and you don't want the pictures included ppm me.)

First Pic of an unknown warrior demonstrating for the camera that rail grabs make it difficult to get your shoulder over your knee, make it difficult to lean forward, and to use your arms together in a dynamic fashion. Sorry CC Embarassed

second pic is Rob slater showing commitment, eying the foam rebound area and leaning forward.

third pic removed as irrelevant Embarassed

4th pic shows good form but arm is dragging and the arms don't seem to be utilised to advantage. Also shoulder not over knee.

Pics 5,6,7 show varoius amounts of commitment and good style.

Making Turns Dynamic.

We can introduce our body energy into a driving turn in 4 ways;

Idea The best turn will use all four methods in unity.

  • Legs: expansion and contraction.
  • Torso a): leaning forward contracting and expanding in unison with the legs.
  • Torso b): cyclotorsion by leaning forward and getting that left shoulder over that right knee.
  • Arms: using the arms to help wind up the body. The hands can be used as the centrepoint of the turn radius.

Legs: Crouching and expanding.

* With your legs you can transfer weight from front of board to tail (and visa versa)
Important because: at the begining of the turn we want more weight on the front rail. But as we come out of the turn we need less weight on that rail -and less weight on the front of the board.
*By expanding one leg more than the other we can weigh the inside rail down more.
By expanding our legs (like a kick) we can drive against the fins and the tail rails of the board. (Note: it is possible to turn a board while only having one knee on the board.)
* Remember that our legs are our most powerful muscle. Laughing (apart from our brain)

Torso: Crouch Expand:

*Same as legs except more difficult to concentrate weight on one rail more than the other.
*Important in unweighting as you come out of the turn.
*Remember: being light on your board in some places keeps up your speed.

Torso: Cyclotorsion:

*Leaning forward and getting weight over the inside rail drives the rail.
* In winding up the body we can tranfer torsion onto the area of the board underneath the top of our foot.
* This sideways force pushes against bottom of the board and the fins, delivering (ideally) a forward component of movement.


Used to lead the head and the body, to help us load up our cyclotorsion.
Try not to drag your hand. Keep that inside hand skimming the wave face.

Idea Next time you are out the back waiting for a wave try this.
Face the horizon, twist back toward the beach with your head only. Keep your shoulders still. Note how far you can see toward the beach. Next do it and allow your shoulders to move with your head and neck. You will be able to twist slightly further. Finally use your arms and lean forward . You should be able to see directly behind you. The torque coiled up in this position is much more dynamic.

Relevant Footnotes:

Steenos said on

Wed Dec 10, 2003 1:02 pm
"the less moving body parts the better, lean forward, keep your arms in tight and let your rails do the talking. look at Simon Farrer he has a very fluent style,"

Bruce Hart wrote on Oct 4th 2003:
"Look even more closely now at'll also see his outside arm extended forward of his shoulder..putting even more body weight over the inside rail and forward of his knees. "

Red wrote: Oct 8th 2003

"If you're trying to ride over a foam section and still make the wave (floater?), throw both arms forward as you hit the section. This adds forward momentum and gets you positively positioned (head over nose of board, ass up) "[/size]

Steve Artis wrote on October 29th 2005
"i think the fun comes from the speed needed to set it all up no use powering away from the lip if you only get halfway back so speed is the essence in this as in all manouvers how you do it is dependant on the wave your skill and ability in generating the neccessary speed and maintaing that right through the cutback its not just one turn but a subtle rail to rail transfers from beginning to end with power going through knees from inside rail to outside, back to inside..."

Sincere apologies to the guys I've insulted.

Something wicked this way comes:

Last edited by zorro on Thu Jan 05, 2006 6:04 pm; edited 18 times in total