Story by The Inertia.

Learn more tips to improve your confidence in the ocean in Mark Healey's Guide to Heavy Water. Enter code INERTIA15 at checkout to save 15%.

Early in my career, I was really struggling with backside tube-riding. Backside tube-riding is a funny thing. You'll see a lot of really good surfers that cannot ride a backside tube well. While I was on a trip, I would get locked into these amazing long, backside tubes, and I would struggle. They weren't just in and out - they were really long barrels, and I would end up losing my place in the barrel, just going a little too high, then a little too low, then just end up going over the falls eventually.

It was because I would always point with my right hand, and I'm goofy foot. I'm pointing my arm nearest to the wave out towards the barrel, which is what you want to do on a front-side tube, right? Like how Gerry [Lopez] says, on a frontside tube, your board is going to go where your hand points. That's not the case with backside tube-riding.

On that trip, Pancho Sullivan, my favorite backhand tube rider, gave me the following priceless advice:

  1. Take your front arm when you're grabbing rail, and place it on the face of the wave. That does two things. Just that little bit of tension helps you to balance more, and because it leans you in, it keeps your rail engaged the whole time. It also creates more spatial awareness.

  2. Also, open up your chest, so it's square to the opening of the tube. That makes all the difference in the world. Square your shoulders to the exit.

That made my backhand tube-riding twice as good overnight.

If you look at the best backhand tube-riders ever like Andy Irons, Bruce Irons, Jamie O'Brien, and John John Florence, instead of using their front hand on frontside tubes to dictate their path, they use their shoulders. They square their shoulders up a lot more than most people do on backhand tubes.

Another thing I learned from training in Thai Boxing, is that depth perception is only correct when both eyes are equal distance from the target. That's applicable to backhand tube riding. Square up to face the exit to maximize depth perception.

Learn more tips to improve your confidence in the ocean in Mark Healey's Guide to Heavy Water. Enter code INERTIA15 at checkout to save 15%.

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