Pop Back From Toeside Kitesurfing Technique

Pop Back From Toeside

Technique / Beginner


Last issue we looked at the rather swanky way of popping to toeside. So it’s probably only fair to give you the equally impressive method of styling back from toeside to heelside. It’s all good and well hammering into a carve, or timidly sliding the board back from toeside, but if you’re intending to carry on in the same direction this simple hop will definitely get the plaudits’ approval.

As if Heel Popping Wasn’t Enough…

Before you start to get all hot under the collar and faint at the mere thought of performing a pop whilst riding on your toeside edge, consider this. So far we have always approached pop as a simple explosion up off the back leg, in effect an ollie. As long as you keep the idea simple, the practice will be much the same.

In Pic A. you can see Karine riding on her toeside edge ready to pop. Her hips are twisted around, her hand is centred on the bar, her knees are flexed, her body weight is both committed upwind and towards the back of the board. If she were just trying to glide upwind she’d be pushing harder by extending her legs and getting more edge, but because she’s getting ready to spring she’s bent her legs. As long as her hips are positioned over her back foot she will be able to spring up off the tail of the board even with both knees bent.

Pic B. clearly shows the take off. Because Karine has her weight back, as a result of her hips being back, when she extends her legs there is less resistance against her front leg, so it straightens and allows her to really explode of her back leg. You can also see that the board is not really on an edge, but flat, hence the parallel to a hop or ollie. All this leads to a solid wheelie take off, which will give her enough time to spin the board back around.

Pic C. Once the back of the board corks up off the water Karine can turn the board the 180˚. Because the front of the board was already substantially above the water it gives Karine plenty of room and enough time to allow her body to do what it wants to do automatically – twist back around to heel side. Much as if she were sliding around on the water, Karine scissors the board around by pulling her front leg (left) back under her derriere and pushing her back leg out in front of her. Although the image may look potentially quite rad, this really is as easy as having a few goes at it.

If you can get your head around the aforementioned three pictures then you’ve as good as got this in the bag. Try a dry run through on the beach without your board. Just jump up and around from an imagined toeside position, to a heelside position. Should come pretty naturally.

Going Live

Just like the pop to toeside you’ll need to remember the following two points:

1. The kite. Because you intend to pop up off the water you want to have your kite at 11 or 1 o’clock. If its any higher you will end up sliding as there will be no resistance to push against. Also with the kite high it will be tempting to sit down under it, and this will yet again encourage the board to slide rather than pop.

2. You also need to concentrate on keeping your bar in and on the sweet spot. If you push your bar away you’ll dump all power and therefore the necessary speed and stick to the water, so trust yourself and stay in gear. If you can do this with one hand on the bar, that’s brilliant. If you find it tricky have a look at sequence 2 later on to see it done with both hands on the bar.

Following Sequence 1

  • Pic 1. Karine is contentedly sailing along with her kite at 1o’clock, on her toeside edge, driving through her legs and pushing the board away from her. She’s looking where she wants to go as is not sneaking any cheeky peeks at the kite.
  • Pic 2. In preparation to spring up Karine has bent her legs. As a result you can see that her board has flattened off, so if she hangs around too long she’ll lose her speed, as she turns more off the wind and towards the kite.
  • Pic 3. With her weight over her back foot Karine jumps up hard to get the board airborne. She also pulls in on the bar to make sure that she will have power in the kite. To do this Karine must have her hand butted right up against the chicken loop line.
  • Pic 4. With her weight back the board rears up off the water nose first. To counteract this wheelie and get the board turning Karine must try and get her weight forward. She does this by leaning her head and shoulders towards the lifted nose. Karine keeps balance by extending her free arm.
  • Pic 5. As Karine moves her weight forward she can turn her shoulders towards the bar, which will kick-start the momentum to turn the board. In order to get the board right the way around Karine scissors her legs: she pulls her front (left) leg back and under her bottom, whilst pushing her back leg “through” and forwards. The bar is still held into the sweet spot.
  • Pic 6. With the board rotated fully around Karine lands with speed back on her heelside edge, with her weight still committed upwind and the bar still in position to keep power in the kite. Wonderful.

Common Problems

Once again the likelihood of loosing speed once you crouch in anticipation of springing up is high. So make your mind up, commit and go for it. You should be bending and exploding up as one movement, not bending and waiting. This way the board will only be flat for a split second.

Letting the bar out will also rob you of any speed so you need to keep it in. This in itself can result in the kite drifting up. If this is the case you can try it with both hands on the bar as in Sequence 2. However you can see that with both hands on the bar Karine is going further downwind, but at least she’s keeping tension on the lines.

Finally you may find yourself landing very tail heavy with all your weight on your new back foot. This will inevitably kill all the speed you’ve carried through the pop, as the back of the board will be acting as a great big sea anchor. If this happens make a real effort to get your head forward as you rotate and try to kiss the front of your board. Desperate yet effective!


  1. Speed
  2. Keep the bar pulled into the sweet spot
  3. Crouch and spring in one movement
  4. Kiss the risen front of you board.
  5. Scissor your legs

This technique article was in Issue 15 of IKSURFMAG.


By Christian and Karine
Christian and Karine have been working together as a coaching team, running improver to advanced kitesurfing clinics since 2003.

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