Brett Simpson, finely tuned. Photo: Joli

We’re not gonna sugarcoat this one: surfing well doesn’t come easy. An entire lifetime could be spent in the lineup with nothing more to show for it than a mediocre cutback and an awkward top turn. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It really doesn’t. You can change. With the help of Brett Simpson, we’ve outlined a few easily correctable mistakes that’ll have you surfing better immediately.

Keep Your Head Centered Over Your Body. “It may seem like such an easy thing to do, but one of the most common mistakes that most of us make is not aligning our head with our body,” says Brett Simpson. Not only will this compliment your style, but keeping your body aligned with your head will do wonders for your balance as well.

Shoot Yourself. Or better yet, have someone else shoot you. There’s nothing more frustrating—but nevertheless necessary—if you want to improve your surfing than seeing yourself on video. To be blunt, catching yourself in the act can prove to be quite humbling, but it’s also one of the easiest ways to identify what you’re doing wrong. “Yeah, it can be tough to watch yourself on video,” says Brett, “but it’s still a must if you want to improve.”

Surf off Your Backfoot: “A great deal of the maneuverability in a surfboard lies in the area surrounding your tail,” says Brett. Although it’s protocol to shift your weight forward while you’re pumping down the line for speed, it’s equally important to keep your weight—and your attention—on your back foot as you go into most maneuvers. “With your back foot firmly planted at least between the back two fins, you’ll get a good idea of just how responsive your board can be.”

It’s All in the Hips: Putting an emphasis on how your hips pivot as you begin a move is crucial to getting the most out of your surfing. This is especially important for your frontside top turn. “A good turn shouldn’t come from your arms, head, or legs, but from the center of your body,” says Brett. If you keep a focus on pivoting off your hips and core, your top turn will thank you.

Bend at the Knees: Possibly one of the most common but easily correctable mistakes made in surfing, keeping your knees properly bent is the foundation for instant improvement. According to Brett, not only will you be able to spring out of your bottom and top turns with more power, but you’ll also be adding some polish to your style by taking on a lower center of gravity.