Indy Pop to Toeside Kitesurfing Technique

Indy Pop to Toeside

Technique / Intermediate


This one shouldn’t take to long to master as it is really just a way of adding some extra style points to something you can already do, that is of course assuming that you can pop to toe side without a moments thought. Realistically though to make the grab, especially after the indulgences of Christmas, it’s more about polishing your pop than learning something new.

Here’s why. Unless you’re one of those fast nimble types, the only way that you’ll fit in a grab or a cheeky tickle, whilst switching to toe side, will be to have some extra time in the air. And as you’ll not be using the kite for this, the solution is extra pop for extra height. Admittedly you could just scream out towards a kicker and boost off it, but the landing will be considerably harder and you most likely will think twice about it just as you’ve left the water – so back to polishing then.

Also you need to accept that as well as adding a grab, the order in which you do things will affect your hit rate. So start off with the idea to pop up and get yourself turning to toe side before adding the grab, as if you go for the grab early you’re more likely to stop turning, and half way to toe side is no way to land.

As we’re accustomed to let’s commence with looking at a few of the key points that’ll make all the difference if you get them under your belt.

The Approach and Pop

If repetition and practice make you luckier then banging on will hopefully make you pay attention. We always repeat this but the way in which you bear off the wind and your body position at this time will make all the difference to the amount of pop you’re able to get. Make sure as you bear away that your hips are moved back towards the tail of the board, thus straightening the front leg, and that you’re shoulders are lined up behind them. From this position you can efficiently and effectively carve up onto a mean edge, giving you a perfect platform to kick off from with your back leg. If you’re over the board, with your shoulders forward and front knee bent it’ll take you an age to get back onto a decent edge, from which you can pop and therefore you’ll loose speed, power and ultimately pop.

Take off and Turn

This picture shows Karine just after popping. You can see that her original back leg is still extended from the pop as she focused on popping up as much as possible to gain maximum height. Her original front leg is already pulled up towards her. By bringing this leg up as she pops Karine helps to initiate her turn to toe side. This is helped by the fact that she turns her head and releases her front hand. It’s important at this time not to pull on the bar for support. If Karine pulled on the bar, not only would the kite rise, but also the resultant pull from the kite would pull her off balance with her weight downwind of the board. Karine is also reaching forward with her free hand. This is as much about balance as preparing for the grab, as it keeps her weight forward and stops her turning into an involuntary half back loop!

The Moment of Truth

To reach the grab Karine has pulled her new front leg up to get the board closer, pulled her toes up to keep the board on, and bent forward from the waist to reach down. Try and reach down in between your legs as otherwise your back knee will be in the way, and look at the part of the board you want to grab. With no pull from the harness this should be fairly achievable, hence the need to get the time and height from your pop. Due to the fact that this is a pop trick, you won’t have much time to hold and enjoy the grab, but as long as you get it that’s what counts.

Coming Down

Once you’ve got the grab you can lift your head and look where you’re going. As long as you’re aware of where you’ll be landing you can hold on until you thinks it’s a sensible time to get your feet down and ready. Here Karine is poised in grab land, but concentrating on her landing. As soon as she feels herself dropping, which can be quite immediate she’ll release her hand so that she can stand up over the board to land balanced and controlled.

Top Tips

As with all things pop if you can find yourself some relatively flat water you’ll have more time to prepare for this move. As mentioned at the beginning you’re best off to practice your pop to toe side first, concentrating on the pop, height and not supporting yourself on the bar. It’s a good idea to have your kite sufficiently high to help with the pop, so start with it around 1 or 11, any lower and you’ll be making life hard for yourself as you won’t have much time up there, and any higher it’ll be difficult to edge efficiently. Once you’re consistently getting some decent air between you and the water, then it’s time to start reaching down for the prize.

Following Sequence 1 for the full explanation.

  • Pic 1. With good speed and her kite a 1 o’clock Karine bears off the wind by bending her back leg and pushing her front foot away, keeping her hips up and positioned over the tail of the board and shoulders back. Her hands are centred on the bar.
  • Pic 2. Karine turns the board sharply upwind onto its edge, concentrating on keeping her front leg straight, weight low and resisting with her back leg.
  • Pic 3. And then as the kite starts to pull pops hard by stamping her back foot hard against the board, extending her back for maximum pop.
  • Pic 4. As Karine goes up she lifts her front leg and releases her front hand to start her turn to toe side.
  • Pic 5. With the board nearer Karine reaches forward to keep balance and releases all tension from the bar by letting her back hand lift.
  • Pic 6. As the board turns, Karine lifts her back leg up towards her and breaks at the waist to reach down towards the board in between her legs.
  • Pic 7. Now toe side in the air, Karine grabs the toe side edge of her board.
  • Pic 8. Karine looks forward to where she’ll land and holds the grab.
  • Pic 9. Dropping down Karine releases the grab and extends her legs to get the board back underneath her.
  • Pic 10. With her weight over the board and undercarriage down Karine can soak up the landing.
  • Pic 11. And finally stand back up, getting her weight onto the toe side edge of the board, and pulling the bar back in for power.

Common Problems

Turning too much into the wind and falling back is a classic when trying to pop hard to toe side. The main reason for this is turning to far into the wind and this is generally a result of not bearing away enough before the move and starting from an edge. Another root of this is using both legs to pop as you won’t get the forward impulse from the back leg, so make sure that the front leg stays straight and you bear away first.

Getting the grab, getting to toe side but landing on your face. Because you’ll be going into this with speed you do need to land on a flat board, not on an edge. If you land on an edge the board will slow down very quickly and you’re likely to pitch forward into the drink. Also make sure you release you grab, so that your legs have time to fall back underneath you.


  1. Speed
  2. Weight back, hips up
  3. Pop hard first
  4. Then turn to toe side
  5. And finally grab

This technique article was in Issue 31 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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