The Squat – Stability on Smaller Boards
It was August when I first saw Kieran and Fisher Grant squat out the back while waiting for waves. Upon arriving in the lineup there’s that awkward moment when you decide whether to stand, paddle around or sit down. If you’ve been reading, you know I’m an advocate of sitting, assimilating into the tribe, but it’s not aways graceful to get down on your board. And sometimes there might be a set coming and you don’t want to fully commit to sitting.
In comes the squat. That perfect blend between sitting and standing, assimilating into the lineup and being ready for the set.
This is normal paddle stance, approaching the lineup.
The first movement in the squat is to move up on your board. When your squatting your nose is well underwater, tail sticking out. To move forward you’ll move your front foot first, then follow with he back foot. The picture above is front foot already up and back foot in the process. Compare photo 1 to 2 for difference in foot position.
Back foot has joined front foot forward on the board and your weight is coming forward. Your back foot should be a touch behind your front foot, but more parallel than surf stance.
The objective is to sink your board, nose first. Notice the paddle moving into a horizontal position. It will be your balance. If you have slick wax on your board, or a bad traction pad you’ll like have the board slip out backwards a few times when you’re learning this part of the technique. I prefer traction to wax in warmer water.
Nose is sinking, paddle balancing the squat.
I like this angle as it shows how to use the paddle for balance. The goal is to keep your paddle underwater. I hold the blade at a 45 degree angle so you have balance front to back and side to side.
This is the full squat. The more underwater you can be, the more balance you’ll have and less energy it will take. So play around with how far forward you like sitting. I was riding a 9.0 Hobie Longboard SUP the other day and realised I could still squat, but needed to be 3/4 of the way to the nose to do it.
Contest paddle surfers like this maneauver because it’s still technically standing. I use it constantly in our contests here in Costa Rica because our rules state you have to be standing the entire time. And riding a small board for a 20m heat and a 5 or 10m paddle out and standing the whole time is a huge energy drain.
Getting into the squat is the easy part, getting back up is a bit trickier. The move that has worked best for me (and I’d love to hear other variations if you have something that works for you) is a simultaneous push with the paddle backwards while stepping your back foot back on the board. The paddle stroke is pushing you towards your tail, getting the board up on the water. This is a reverse coming out of the hole maneauver. Read the Seated Pop-Up Breakdown to understand coming out of the hole.
The objective is to get the board back to a neutral position, with your back foot far enough back to sink the tail. Your blade will be forward and if you have your nose pointed back up you can simply pull yourself back on top of the water. I’d suggest watching the video a few times to understand this technique.
Back foot is back and the tail is now high in the water, board is near horizontal. The next step is getting the weight back on the back foot and pulling on the paddle.
Almost out of the water, nose breaching. This is the end of the pull stroke.
Fully recovered, ready to catch the next wave.