Noseriding, also known as "hanging ten", will always remain as the core of surfing's soul, the delicate dance a testament to both time and the softer side of surfing, a means to embrace and to portray the history of surfing in the present to further preserve it for the future.
Where progressive surfing is running away with incredible advancements in board technology and surfing never before thought to be possible, noseriding a longboard is like the classic older brother, not as willing to change the old ways and who will always choose to keep things mellow.
And if you have ever wanted to learn how to noseride a longboard, then we are stoked for you, because not only is noseriding one of the most chill, most style-oriented, and fun ways to surf; it will improve your surfing as a whole, providing to you a newfound knowledge in your ability to understand and read the waves and the board of which you ride.
This will make you an all-around better surfer, and it will teach you an appreciation for our lifestyle that digs deep into the roots of surfing. So stick around, check out our guide on how to noseride so that you can clock some serious hang time in your next session.
It is essential to first understand how a noseride works so that you can know how to implement the right techniques to properly lock into your own when surfing.
It all comes down to the waves, the board, and your body.
A noseride requires you to navigate three main mechanics so that you can lock into that perfect hang ten. To get those toes dangling off the nose, a surfer must balance wave choice and wave personality while maintaining control over the proper noseriding longboard, using their body as the driving force behind board trimming, turns, and of course, the center of balance as one walks up and down the deck.
When a surfer catches a wave and begins walking up towards the nose, their weight inevitably shifts forward. One would think that this would make the nose of the board sink down into the water and cause the back end to lift out of the wave. And if it wasn't for proper wave choice and positioning, as well as innovative board design, then this would indeed be the case.
But as a surfer cross-steps forward, when in the right position the braking water from the lip of the wave will continuously crash onto the tail end to the upper half of the board. Between the weight and downward pull of the breaking wave, the hold from a large fin, and an air pocket created by the concave on the front of the board; this allows the surfboard to remain horizontal and cruising down a line as a surfer stands tall on the nose without nose diving.
How to choose the best wave for noseriding?
Both your choice of the wave in general and your positioning when riding said chosen wave have a profound effect on your ability to noseride.
Although talented surfers can noseride rather massive waves, for our sake let's agree that this is more for your average Joe, weekend warrior type of surfer. And with that, the best waves for noseriding are usually small ones, between knee to chest high, and that maintain a very small degree of steep face to help keep the board locked in.
Mushy waves are great and are easy to learn how to noseride on, but remember, if the wave is too fat and mushy there may not be enough lip and drive to keep your nose from digging and diving into the water; so you will have to work on finding an in-between of mushy and steep that feels good without smashing you and your longboard onto the sand below.
You want to start paddling further out the back than shortboards, as you need the extra time to adjust your board, considering it is quite long so that you can turn into the line well before you get stuck behind the whitewash.
Look for waves that have some push but that aren't too aggressive. Sometimes the best longboard waves aren't even the set waves, and the lineup will appreciate you letting the aggressive ones go by as you take advantage of the smaller stuff. The more open a wave looks down the line the better, and you definitely want to avoid closeouts at all cost, as there's not much you can do to get in front of them on a longboard.
How to get in position for a noseride?
Bottom turn. Photo: Izzy Hobbs.
When you catch a wave on a longboard, it might feel like the board just wants to ride straight towards the shore. Because the board is so large, it is going to take an aggressive and intentional bottom turn right after the wave has been caught to immediately lock into the face and maintain momentum down the line.
Your best bet is to angle your nose in the direction you plan on riding when paddling into the wave to help promote this turn and to best beat the race of whitewash.
When you begin paddling and stand up, use the tail of the board and the weight of your body to help with your bottom turn. It's going to take some umphh, and if your board is a genuine classic noserider then you might need to drop your back knee down to push the tail of the board into the water to pivot it into any direction changes. This is a type of classic longboarding turn called a ‘drop knee.’
Once you are cruising down the line, then you want to perfect your positioning on said line. To noseride, you need to stay on the upper portion of the wave, closer to the lip than to the flats. Riding too low on a wave will reduce speed, and you won't get enough of that water crashing behind you to keep the board locked in.
After your bottom turn, your weight will be close to the tail and the middle of the board, and as you are cruising you can implement a style of turning known as ‘trimming’ for smaller positioning adjustments that will help bring you and your board higher up the face and close to the lip.
To trim your longboard, simply adjust your weight by leaning on your feet towards the direction that you want to go, and your rails should respond by ever so slightly following the direction of your weight adjustment. Real style points come when you can trim your board whilst standing with your chest facing the nose, feet shoulder width apart.
Just like how someone probably said ‘you will feel the wave take you when it's time to stand up’ as you learned how to surf, it is the same for noseriding. You will feel it when you are in the right position to begin walking, and you will know because the board will feel nice and stable as it sits right in the pocket (the power source) of the wave.
And then when you are maintaining balance and speed down the line while effortlessly cruising along, it's time to start your cross-step!
How to cross-step a longboard?
Cross step. Photo: Izzy Hobbs.
You must learn how to cross-step a longboard with elegant ease, as the cross-step is the key to any good noseride.
Cross-stepping is the act of walking towards the top of your board while staying in a sideways, riding position. As your front shoulder stays aimed towards the nose, you will make a step by crossing your one leg over the other so that they cross into an “X”.
To cross-step, you must take your back leg and wrap it around the toes of your front leg, and then to bring them out of this twisted “X”, you will take your front leg and swing it out from behind the heel of your back leg. Your back leg always goes over the toes, your front leg always swings from behind the heel.
This allows you to move your body forward without any balance changes on the deck of the board that would cause it to sink or catch an edge in the wave, and noseriding would be impossible without cross-stepping.
To perfect your cross-step, just practice it on dry land!
I like to make two marks in the sand exactly the length of my board. This allows me to cross-step in the sand and learn exactly what kinds of strides are necessary to best reach the nose depending on my placement on the board. Sometimes your cross-step may start from the tail and sometimes it may start from the middle of the deck, and understanding your cross-step stride length relative to your board length will allow you to direct exactly how far and how many steps you need to reach the nose.
Learning how to cross-step a longboard comes with time, so If you are struggling with your cross-step then don't worry, just keep perfecting the walk on dry land, watch a ton of videos, and a longboard skateboard or a balance board are great tools to allow you to work on balance and cross-stepping when not surfing.
How to balance on the nose when noseriding?
Perfectly Balanced. Photo: Izzy Hobbs.
When on the nose, things are going to feel a little weird at first. Like walking on water, there is nothing like the feeling of hanging your toes off the nose. Before getting into a full-on hang 10, you might want to start first by stretching your front leg out for a hang five to get the feel.
When you reach the nose of the board, you want to maintain the slightest bend in your knees for balance without exaggerating anything, and overall your body and back should stay nice and straight.
This will grant you style points and will allow you to easily begin cross-stepping backward when finishing a noseride, and bending too low can cause the board to slow and the nose to sink.
Always remain cognizant of your arms when noseriding. Arm style and control comes with time, but simply thinking about them while you are riding will help you remember to not let them flail around. Not only will you look better, but steady arms also improve balance.
What are the best noseriding longboards?
Nothing will help or hinder you more when first learning how to noseride than your board choice.
To noseride your best, get a board made for noseriding! This means a big ol’ classic log with a chunky single fin, a trip back into the timeline of surfing.
Think a heavy longboard that hovers around the 10’ft range, nice and wide (23.5” to 24.5” for the width) with a big round nose and a tail on the larger side for increased hold and stability. Thick rails (2.5”-3” in) will make for easy wave catching ability thanks to a large overall volume, and when it comes to contours you want to find a board that is rounded or flat.
Something like the Coda model from Album Surfboards or the Axis from Stamps. Classic outlines with soft rails and big noses to satisfy your noseride desires in a wide range of potential conditions and waves.
The fin and placement are equally as important as your board choice, as big single fins help to promote hold in the wave as you noseride. There exist a plethora of longboard fins now available, and again we have made it really easy for you to understand and find a fin that is best for noseriding with our Longboard Fin Guide.