How to Perform a Drop Knee Cutback! Tips from a Pro


The drop knee cutback is a traditional longboard manoeuvre from the early 60's, when surfing was all about “style and grace”.  The sheer weight of the longboards of this era combined with the deep single fins glassed right at the back of the board and virtually no rocker, made these boards great for trimming, catching waves and nose riding, but extremely difficult to turn.  Therefore it was necessary for a surfer to shift their weight back over the fin by dropping their back knee and pivoting the board around; thus performing a classic drop knee cutback.   Ray Gleave in Photo Above courtesy of Al Ashworth

With today's modern lightweight equipment, this manoeuvre has become more fashion than function.  However, surfers from Nat Young to “The Godfather of Soul”, Ray Gleave, have made the drop knee cutback their trademark.  With the traditional heavy glassed-in single fin movement making a comeback, this classic manoeuvre is here to stay!

“Drop knee turns allow you to open your shoulder more to rotate your board easier in small waves.” Ben “Skindog” Skinner, 2009 European Champion

So want to try one?  Here's how to perform a forehand drop knee cutback

Stage 1

You've run out of wave face and need to cutback into the pocket to let the wave develop in front of you.  Start by rotating your hips and feet in an anti-clockwise direction, and gently shifting your weight onto your heels.  Then rotate your upper body, by looking over your left shoulder with your arms extended for balance, and your leading arm pointing in the direction in which you are travelling.

Stage 2

With your legs in a slightly wider stance than normal for balance, slowly shift your weight onto your front leg, allowing your back leg to rotate 90 degrees on your toes. Now lower your back leg towards the deck of the board, (but not touching it), and shift your weight back onto this leg, increasing the pressure over the fin to pivot the board around.  Continue to rotate your upper body and arms bringing the board smoothly around looking for the point-of-impact with the white water.

Stage 3

As the white water approaches, extend your back leg keeping your weight on the tail.  As you hit the white water, swiftly rotate your upper body and arms in a clockwise direction, lifting your head to bring the nose of the board up.  Now shifting your weight onto your toe edge, bring your board around so the inside rail is locked in the wave face.  The wave should hopefully have formed in front of you and you can continue down the line.

“You don't just do a drop knee cutback because they look good.  It's still a functional turn.” –Josh Constable.

“You don't need as much speed to do a drop knee cutback as you do for a full roundhouse cutback.  So it's a good manoeuvre to change direction quickly.” –Taylor Jensen.

“Very effective turn when you have little speed.” — Harley Ingleby, 2009 ASP World Champion

Want to learn how to perform this manoeuvre and many more top tips from the best pro longboarders? Then surf to

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  1. Thanks a bunch. Been practicing on my skateboard.

  2. You should note that your directions would be exactly the opposite for a goofy footer.

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