Transition from a longboard to shortboard smoothly

You’ve spent countless hours cruising the waves on your trusty longboard, but now find yourself looking to make the transition down to a shortboard. We get it. We do! Longboarding is a fun, laid-back and exhilarating sport. But there’s just something about shortboarding that makes it so appealing. 

Not only does it look ‘cool’, but there are many benefits of learning to shortboard - from riding steeper, faster waves to making quick, responsive turns.

In this guide, we’ll talk you through how to transition from a longboard to a shortboard in the most seamless way possible. This switch can be difficult and often leaves surfers feeling frustrated due to its difficulties. 

By following our guidance, you’ll have the best chance of making the switch over to a shorter board, from honing your technique to embracing the challenges that come with the sport, unlocking a whole new realm of surfing possibilities whilst pushing your skills to the next level.

A surfer surfing a wave on a shortboard




First things first, let’s make sure you’re ready to start making the switch over to a shorter board. If you’re a beginner, then we’re sorry to say that the time is probably too soon, my friend. Learning to ride a shortboard as a beginner will most likely crush your confidence and leave you feeling frustrated and discouraged - ultimately leading you to give up. 

As a beginner surfer, it’s easier to hone the fundamentals of surfing on a longer, more sturdy board. Longboards can allow surfers to learn the basics and fix any bad habits they have, which, if not ironed out, will come back to bite you when trying to ride a shortboard. With a longboard, you’re more likely to catch more waves, and with more waves comes more learning, more lessons, and ultimately faster progression.  

Our previous blog below can guide you on whether you’re ready for a different board.


How do you know you’re ready for a different board




Switching over to a shortboard can be a slow and tricky process, and it’s essential that you don’t downsize too quickly. Hold on to that excitement you have, but just do it slowly.

It’s not the best idea to jump from an 8ft longboard to a 5ft shortboard - that’s a recipe for disaster! You’ll find yourself catching little to no waves and struggling to have any enjoyment. After all, that’s what surfing is all about - having fun. 

We recommend downsizing gradually. So, perhaps don’t take off more than a foot when jumping down, as this will give you time to get comfortable at each stage of your transition whilst still having fun and catching waves.


Two surfers walking towards on the beach towards the water




Before investing in a shortboard, why not try your friend’s shortboard if they ride one? You can get a feel of what it’s like, how you get on with it, and whether you could do with something slightly longer and shorter, more volume or less, for example. 

Trying as many different boards as possible will clarify what works well for you - then you can look at getting a similar board. 

By doing this, you also avoid buying a brand new shortboard that ends up being no good for you, allowing you to save money and disappointment. 




On a longboard, you have the freedom to catch a wave well before it starts to peel, allowing you a relaxed and mellow take-off. In comparison, a shortboard requires the ability to take-off at the steeper and faster part of the wave, which can be intimidating when you’re not used to this. 

Being able to ride a shortboard means having quicker, seamless reactions as you’re at the more crucial point of the wave. Without this, you’ll find yourself going over the falls and struggling to pop-up, as it’s all happening way too fast!


A group of surfers sat in the lineup


Of course, practise is very important to transitioning over to a shortboard. But it will be helpful if you learn to take off at the steeper part of the wave, which you can do on your longboard. 

Timing is crucial with this, as you don’t want to be taking off too late, where you end up nose-diving, and the whole wave closes out, but you don’t want to be taking off too early, where you have enough time to gradually ‘climb-up’ on your board. So, try to push yourself a little outside of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to steeper take-offs.




Another way to help you take-off at the steeper part of the wave is to have a fast pop-up - a skill you should most definitely be perfecting on your longboard. Developing your pop-up comes with time and practise, but if you keep working on it, you’ll eventually have a seamless and swift pop-up. 

As soon as you feel the wave pick you up - boom! Make that explosive pop-up! A good pop-up also requires you to be flexible and have a strong core. Our guide below explains how yoga can help improve your surfing, ultimately allowing you to have faster reactions and improve balance.


Check out our guide on how can yoga improve your surfing




Shortboards are designed to sit in steeper waves, courtesy of their rocker. Longboards have a much flatter rocker, allowing you to catch more mellow, thick waves. So, when learning to take-off on the steeper part of the wave on a longboard, it’s helpful to angle your take-off, too. 

Angling your take-off is a vital skill that’s needed when riding a shortboard, as it allows a surfer to drop into steep waves without being eaten up by it. This also enables you to engage the rail as early as possible and helps you gain the momentum needed to draw a nice line down to the face of the wave whilst generating speed.




By angling your board, you also encourage yourself to look down the line rather than straight down the wave. Combine this with rotated shoulders pointing in the direction you want to go and a put-together pop-up, and you have the perfect combination to start a great ride!


A surfer popping up on their surfboard




If you’re ready to transition down to a smaller board, you’d know that foot placement is crucial - with both your feet centred on the board's stringer. When riding a longboard, however, you have the room to place your feet closer together without much consequence. But try this on a shortboard, and you will fall straight off!

A shortboard is more sensitive to slight movements, so correct foot placement is crucial. Your back foot needs to land on the tail on the board - placing a tail pad there can help with this - and your front foot needs generally needs to be on the middle of the board, about shoulder width apart, or slightly more if it feels right, but certainly no less. 




There’s always progress to be made on the current board you ride. Remember, you don’t need to ride a shortboard to ‘progress’ or ‘look good’. If you feel frustrated and the transition is too difficult, why not return to your old board for a few sessions for guaranteed fun?

If you’re finding it too hard, returning to your longboard with the specific things you know need improving, such as your pop-up or foot placement, can be a massive help in the long run.


A longboarder cruising on a wave




Most of all… do not be hard on yourself! Most people struggle with this transition, and that’s because it genuinely is difficult. Give yourself a break, and cut yourself some slack. Learning to ride a shortboard can feel like taking on an entirely new sport sometimes, so relax and don’t stress over it. 




No, they’re not ‘better’. Some people may think shortboards ‘look cooler’ and want to look like a ‘pro’ whilst walking down the beach with a 5ft board, but this doesn’t matter. What matters is having fun and catching waves - that’s what people really think is fantastic!

Shortboards and longboards each have their own advantages. Shortboards can come in handy when you see a monster set rolling in, as they allow you to duck dive them and avoid getting smashed up. 

Whereas longboards are faster to paddle, and you can get on the wave a lot earlier for a longer ride. Neither one is better than the other, so don’t pressure yourself to make the switch just because of how you want to look.




As we said earlier, transitioning from a longboard to a shortboard can be extremely challenging. But, with much practise, patience and perseverance, you’ll get where you want to be. Just don’t rush yourself!


Shortboard Surfboards for all surfers


We hope our guide has given you some valuable tips and guidance on transitioning from a longboard to a shortboard in the most seamless way possible. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our team today; we’re always happy to help!