How To Do A Backside Air with Matt Meola

Matt Meola throws a little rotation into the mix. Maybe wait until after you land a straight backside air before trying this at your local break. Photo: Dein

When well-executed, a solid backside air is a thing of pure beauty. Trouble is, there aren’t many of us doing them properly. Maui’s Matt Meola, one of the highest flying young surfers alive, wants to change all that. Give his suggestions a read below, and be sure to thank him when you stomp your first one.

Speed is everything. The faster you go, the higher and farther you go. The problem is being able to control it, because the higher and farther you go, the harder it is to land.

Every waves is different,so you have to be ready to change your bottom turn depending on the section. You usually wanna start your bottom turn mid-face to maintain speed. When you’re doing a standard backside air, you usually won’t do as steep of a bottom turn as you would if you were trying to get inverted and rotate. If you’re launching out of the pocket and off the lip, you can have a bigger bottom turn. If you’re launching off a little whitewater section, the bottom turn should be pretty subtle.

When pumping down the line you wanna stand on your board where you can generate the most speed. Usually that’s with your front foot in its normal position and your back foot between the front and back fins. When you’re about to hit the section, you want to slide your back foot a tiny bit farther back, but not totally on the kick. Chances are you’re gonna slide a bit forward on the board when you’re in the air. If you can land in your normal stance, that’s always good because you’re ready for the rest of the wave.

My favorite spot to project off of is a super steep lip that’s just about to crumble. Those seem to give you a lot more pop than a whitewater ball. If the section is throwing it will launch you in the flats. If you hit it too late, you’ll end up landing out the back of the wave.

When I do a standard backside air with no rotation, I always like to do a backside grab. This will naturally make your knees bend properly and will make the air look much better.

The landing is always different depending on the section you hit. It’s easiest to land on a fluffy white water ball, but in my opinion, that makes the air look boring. I feel like if you’re launching a huge air and can stomp it in the flats, it’s gonna look way sicker. But it’s not easy.

The biggest mistake I see people making is trying airs when the wind is wrong. You should only be trying airs if the wind is blowing in to you, onshore, or no wind at all. If you try an air when the wind is wrong, your board will blow away every time. Also landing the air is a problem a lot of people make. So many people can launch, but when it comes to landing, they bail out. You have to commit and try to pull everything.