How To Improve Your Style

According to Craig Anderson, Less Is More

| posted on September 20, 2011

Craig Anderson: It's all in the knees. Photo: Maassen

Although it’s often hard to pinpoint, we know a good style when we see it. From a deft stance in the tube to a subtle twist of the torso, a polished approach can take a good surfer and make him great. Recently, we rang up one of today’s the most stylish surfers, Craig Anderson, to get his take on what constitutes a good style and what it’s going to take for you to start improving yours.

Remain Calm: Although the different elements that constitute a good style are often difficult to define, above all, poise and a sense of casual carelesness in conditions of consequence are paramount. “To me, good style is about being in tune with the ocean, timing, nonchalance, vision, and just being relaxed,” says Anderson. If your surfing can make light of backbreaking conditions, you’re already building a solid foundation to becoming a more stylish surfer. According to Anderson, it’s all about simply giving the appearance of not struggling. Although it seems like a catch-22, at a fundamental level, it’s about taking the difficult and making it look easy. “Surfing is an art, not a sport. You can’t try too hard, you’ve got to enjoy yourself.”

Make It Your Own: Each surfer brings their own subtle nuances to the lineup that inevitably attribute to their own style. Although you can pore over videos of Fanning and Parko, at the end of the day, your own style can never truly mimic someone else’s, and it’s important to relish in your individuality. “Even though I grew up watching surfing vids a bunch when I was younger and I always had my favorite surfers to watch, I dont think I ever really tried to copy them,” says Ando. “I don’t think it’s really even possible. Everyone’s style is gonna be different. It’s all about being comfortable and enjoying what you like and everyone has a different take on what they enjoy.”

Don’t Overthink It: Many of the most stylish surfers appear to have an intrinsic relationship with the wave. Their surfing is explosive, in control, and unpredictable. Nothing seems planned, but everything feels collected. A good style is never forced. “For me, when I paddle into a wave, once I’m on my feet, I can’t think about anything,” adds Ando. “When I surf, I really try not to think about it too much. At the end of the wave, it either felt good or it didn’t.”

Who do you think is the most stylish surfer? Leave your answer in the comment box below.

  • Thomas

    ando or reynolds. so smooth

  • alex

    Craig Anderson, Taj Burrow, Rob Machado, and Dave Rastovich are tied for the best styles in the surfing business.

  • jsax

    What sort of board does craig ride? dimensions?

  • Chris Nomad

    These are all fine and dandy but if you really want to help yourself, have your buddy film you for a few waves and trade off. Then watch videos of the smoothest cats you know and then watch yourself. Some videos I’ve seen of myself I wonder wtf was I doing that day and others I look good, damn good. But being able to see yourself (and incorporate many of the above) will help you far more then anything else. Being able to comfortably rip the wave you want takes a certain amount of forethought and, of course, lots of practice…videoing yourself will turn you into your best critic (and can be very humbling).

  • Pedro neri

    andy is still the king.. but kolohe follows his steps.. pretty smooth n rad, n body n arms on the right places..

  • Matt

    Easily Matt Pendleton, dude is super smooth. Draws great lines and very soulful.

  • Jon

    Craig rides a 7′ twin fin funboard in most conditions.

  • Javier

    craig anderson and rob machado for sure

  • RozbernJohn

    Tom curren for all time smoothest style. Parko and that guy Kelly have it too


    dave rastovich and craig anderson both have the smooth and rad style surfing.

  • CJ


  • Ryne Spejcher

    for shortboards def craig or clay marzo.

    for longboards no doubt alex knost. he’s my favorite surfer in general

  • E

    i think you can tell true style in how the surfer exits the wave

  • Dandee

    Chris del Moro style out and inside the ocean.

  • http://DelMarSurfCamp,NosaraCostaRica! Oscar

    i think is Owen Wright, Kalani Rob and Rob Machado… Goofy footers and regular footers, Julian Wilson, Tom Curren and Andi Irons!!!……

  • Bryce

    & Mason Ho

  • Garet

    Joel Tudor, Sean Mattison, Donovan, Tom Curren are among my favorites to see, but Phil Edwards is the most stylish in the history of surfing.

  • Krl-OZ

    Shane Dorian & Beschen for sure!

  • Tyler

    Tom Curren

  • Joe Blackmore

    Kelly, he is the “King” of surfing style.

  • jeff rolls

    parko got the most easiest style ive ever wittnessed in 30 years of watching surfing never looks like he trying, body movements always in control beutiful to watch surf at snapper with him and see the power s prays and its hard to beleive hes even trying to go hard it just happens it just comes from his surfing brain

  • Christian Jensen

    Tom Curren for sure in my opinion is THE most stylish surfer of all time..also Wardo has great style and Rasta as well…

  • Robert Kennedy

    Alex Knost !

  • Nelson

    Dave Rastovich

  • Willy

    The brazilians rip. But it breaks my heart to watch them surf. Like chalk screeching on a black board. Will be interesting to see how Jon Jon’s style develops cause he can ride ’em all, big or small.

  • jc

    kelly reynolds ando julian jeremy clay chippa kerr that’s my list…… anyone know the name of the song?

  • Joseph

    Dane Reynolds, Rob Machado, Parko, Taj Burrow, Mick Fanning, Kelly Slater, Clay Marzo, Julian Wilson, Rasta, and the Brazillians…

  • Ana

    Ando for sure!! The best freesurfer ever, so smooth, laid back and cool. I think he has a pretty unique style and his surfing is a pleasure for our eyes.

  • http://facebook Rich

    Gary ‘Kong’ Elkerton Ha! irony!! Really – Gavin Beschen, Parko, Tyler Hatzikian, Joel Tudor, Tyler Warren – coz they’re not trying.

  • Christophe

    Definitely Tom Curren! ….and joel tudor for longboard

  • Randy Morton

    Jerry Lopez… By far the most stylish of all time..

  • mm

    gerry lopez, shane dorian, alex knost 😀

  • Alex Olan

    Taj, Parko, Iron brothers, Clay…. that’s my top 5 list

  • sean

    Rob Machado & Dave rasta , dont for get tyler knox old school but still sick

  • Ashden Garrett

    Julian Wilson= Sick
    Craig ando= Laid back and still radical

  • oneshowatatime

    can’t believe more people haven’t mentioned Andy Irons. still one of the sickest stylemasters in surfing history with a full bag of tricks and confidence in any size wave.

  • Ry_Slzr

    Gerry Lopez of course and Dane Reynolds

  • Mike Wilde

    Rob Machado, Tom Curren, Gerry Lopez, Joel Tudor

  • Renato

    Fabio Gouveia

  • Henry

    Tom Curran, Machado, Parko, AI, KS

  • Henry

    Move @ 1.23 is ridiculous!!! Great surfer!

  • Rippe

    Lopez, MR, Curren, Machado, AI

  • josh

    dede surya, flow with the wave and still a tugger!!

  • josh

    dede suryana, flow with the wave and still a tugger!!

  • Travis

    Machado… still hands down the smoothest, even though guys like Dane and Taj totally have their own signature styles, nobody compares to how fluid Rob is in the water…. the guy glides over sections like nobody else, throws more water on his turns and doesn’t lose an ounce of momentum

  • jackson

    Rasta, Machado, AI, Dane, Curren…. Slater is the best surfer EVER, but should not be mentioned in this conversation

  • Indy

    Tom Curren

  • olinalon

    jerry lopez and dane reynolds representing different generations.

  • coldsalt

    Occy! I remember when laybacks happened in the tube and there was a guy that did em better than everyone. Followed by P. Sullivan.

  • João Rodrigo

    Rob Machado, Christian Fletcher, Ozzie Wright

  • Blake Ostrosser

    Dane Reynolds, Craig Anderson, Rasta, Ace Buchan, Rob Machado, Donovan Frankenreiter, John John.

  • Dave

    Ok all these are big names but over time there have been some awesome surfers that just didn’t make it into the media machine. Martin McMillan world longboard champion, Michael Peterson and the original Nat Young. Guys like Ando and Rasta do a fare bit of mimicking of these past masters.
    Today the gear is better and so more is possible but style is not equipment dependent. Dave Nuuhiwa was an awesome master of the boards of the 60s and inspiration to Joel Tudor, who has duplicated the style.
    No mater what generation we are, some of us look good doing our stuff and most don’t. One of the secrets to happiness is “don’t give shit who’s watching”, just do your own thing.
    I see Ando often as he lives nearby. He is an excellent surf and good to watch but he needs to ride a long board a bit and expand his perspective, as do most surfers.

  • Dr. Jay


  • lewis

    craig anderson or rasta

  • Pedro Matos

    Can’t really copy a surfer style, but you can copy/learn body moves or techniques from other surfers

  • JayPee

    take advantage of what the wave has to offer, such as shape and speed and mushiness and stuff, use your imagination and always do the first thing that comes to your mind, don’t plan ahead. pretend no one is watching, you are on a deserted island and you are surfing for the rest of your life, you are having fun with the wave in a careless and i guess somewhat selfish way. don’t be flashy, always keep your eyes on what’s next. pop up, get speed while you glance down the line, eyes now really seeing down the line, mind thinks of what it wants the body to do, body does it while mind is looking down line to see what it wants to do next, mind/body interaction back and forth. that’s good style, not having style, but being inside your head, oh and taking risks, can’t be scared, have a determination to get the best possible ride and go outside your comfort zone regardless of the risks, try new things every day but don’t push those new things, let the movements come naturally and i promise you will surprise yourself every time you get in the water, remember, every wave is different so you have potential to do different things with EACH and EVERY wave…