How to Do a Tube Ride in Surfing

Hey there, fellow surfers! Are you itching to take your surfing skills to the next level? Do you dream of carving up the perfect wave and scoring a sick tube ride? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you’ve come to the right place!

Today, we’re going to dive deep into the world of tube riding – one of the coolest and most challenging maneuvers in surfing, and we’ll show you step-by-step how to master it.

How to Do a Tube Ride in Surfing

A tube ride is when you ride the inside of a wave as it is breaking, and you ride underneath the surface of the wave as it barrels over you. It’s one of the most thrilling moves you can pull while surfing, but it’s also one of the most challenging. So, how do you do it? First and foremost, you need to paddle out to the right spot where the waves are breaking in a way that will create a tube ride. You also need to have the right board and speed to get into the wave at the right time. Once you catch the wave and start riding it, you need to position yourself in the sweet spot of the breaking wave, lean forward to gain speed, and then crouch down low when the wave starts to tube over you. Keep your balance and focus on riding the inside of the wave until you come out the other side. Remember, tube riding takes practice

How to Do a Tube Ride in Surfing

What is a tube ride?

A tube ride, also known as a barrel ride, is one of the most exhilarating experiences a surfer can have. It’s when you ride inside a breaking wave as it forms a hollow tube or barrel over your head, creating a tunnel-like effect. This move requires a high level of skill, precision, and timing, as the surfer must position themselves perfectly inside the tube and stay balanced while the wave barrels overhead.

How to prepare for a tube ride

Before you attempt a tube ride, you need to make sure you have the right equipment and skills. Here are some things to consider:

  • Board: You need a board that is suitable for the type of wave you plan to surf. A board that’s too small will make it harder to catch the wave and maintain control, while a board that’s too big will be difficult to maneuver inside the tube. It’s important to choose a board that’s the right size and shape for your own skill level and the conditions you’re surfing in. If you’re unsure, ask your local surf shop for recommendations or check out the used surfboards for sale at your nearest surf shop.
  • Skills: To execute a tube ride, you need to have excellent timing, balance, and control of your board. Make sure you’ve spent enough time surfing and practicing other maneuvers before attempting this one.
  • Conditioning: Tube riding is physically demanding, as it requires a lot of paddling, duck diving, and quick bursts of speed. Make sure you’re in good physical shape before attempting it.

How to catch the right wave for a tube ride

Not all waves are suitable for tube riding. Here’s what to look for:

  • Wave shape: Tube rides are generally found on waves that break in a predictable and tapered manner. Look for waves that have a steep and hollow shape and are breaking at a consistent angle.
  • Wave size: The size of the wave is also important. If it’s too small, it won’t form a tube, and if it’s too big, it may be too dangerous to ride. Look for waves that are in the 4 to 8-foot range.
  • Wind direction: The wind direction can affect the shape of the wave and the conditions inside the tube. Ideally, you want to surf in winds that are offshore or slightly sideshore. Avoid surfing in onshore winds as they tend to create sloppy and unpredictable waves.

How to execute a tube ride

Now that you know what to look for in a wave and how to prepare, let’s dive into the technique for executing a tube ride:

  1. Paddle into the wave: Paddle towards the wave with enough speed to catch it. As you approach the wave, turn your board towards the shore to get into the wave’s face.
  2. Position yourself: When you feel the wave’s energy behind you, pop up onto your feet and position yourself near the top of the wave. This will allow you to drop into the wave at the right angle.
  3. Crouch down: As you drop into the wave, crouch down low to gain speed and stability. You want to position yourself in the pocket, where the wave is hollow and starting to barrel.
  4. Eyes on the prize: Keep your eyes focused on the end of the tube, where you want to come out. This will help you anticipate any changes in the wave’s shape and size.
  5. Bend those knees: As the wave starts to barrel overhead, bend your knees and lean forward to maintain your speed and balance. You want to stay as low and centered as possible.
  6. Lean or stall: Depending on the wave’s shape and speed, you may need to lean into the turn or stall to stay inside the barrel. This requires quick reflexes and experience, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t get it right the first time. Keep practicing!
  7. Exit the wave: As you approach the end of the tube, aim for the exposed face of the wave and prepare to make your turn or finish your ride.

Tips for mastering the tube ride

Tube riding takes time and practice, but here are some tips to help you get there:

  • Watch other surfers: Observe how other surfers position themselves inside the tube and how they exit the wave. This will give you an idea of what to do and what not to do.
  • Practice your positioning: Spend time practicing your positioning on smaller waves before attempting bigger ones. This will help you get a feel for the pocket and the tube.
  • Be patient: Tube riding is a challenging maneuver, and it may take several attempts before you get it right. Don’t get discouraged and keep at it.
  • Enlist a friend: Have a friend film you while you’re riding the tube. This way, you can analyze your technique and see where you can improve.


Tube riding is one of the ultimate goals for many surfers, but it takes practice, patience, and the right conditions to pull off. Follow these tips, and remember to have fun and enjoy the ride. And if you’re ever in need of a new board, check out the used surfboards for sale at your local surf shop. Who knows, you may find your new favorite board for your next tube ride!

Common mistakes to avoid

While tube riding is certainly a difficult maneuver, there are some common mistakes that even experienced surfers make. Here are some things to avoid:

  • Positioning too far back: If you’re too far back on the wave, you’ll miss the tube, and the wave will close out on you. Position yourself as close to the peak of the wave as possible without going over it, and you’ll have a better chance of riding the tube.
  • Misreading the wave: Not every wave is going to barrel, so be careful not to misread the wave and attempt a tube ride when it’s not possible. Observe the wave’s shape and behavior before attempting to ride it.
  • Not staying low enough: When you’re riding inside the barrel, it’s essential to stay low and crouch down. If you stand up too early or too high, you’ll lose speed and risk getting knocked off your board.

Safety tips for tube riding

Tube riding can be a dangerous maneuver, especially if you’re not experienced or aware of your surroundings. Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Know your limits: Don’t attempt tube riding if you’re not comfortable or experienced enough. Start with smaller waves and work your way up to bigger ones as you become more confident.
  • Scout the area: Before you paddle out, observe the conditions and the behavior of the waves. Look for hazards such as rocks, reefs, and other surfers that may pose a danger to you.
  • Wear proper gear: Make sure you’re wearing a leash, a wetsuit if necessary, and other protective gear such as a helmet or impact vest if you’re surfing in extreme conditions.

Final Thoughts

Mastering the tube ride takes time, patience, and practice. It’s one of the most challenging and rewarding maneuvers in surfing, and the feeling of carving up a wave from inside the barrel is second to none. Remember to keep these tips in mind, stay safe, and have fun out there!


Here are some common questions about tube riding:

1. How do I know if I can handle a tube ride?

If you’re an experienced surfer who’s comfortable with maneuvering inside hollow waves and has good control of your board, you can give it a try. Start with smaller waves and work your way up to bigger ones as you gain confidence and experience.

2. Do I need a special type of board for tube riding?

Not necessarily. A board that’s suitable for the type of wave you plan to surf is critical. It’s essential to choose a board that’s the right size and shape for your skill level, and the conditions you’re surfing in. You can try a shorter board and a wider tail for better control inside the tube.

3. Can I still do a tube ride if I’m a beginner?

Tube riding is an advanced maneuver that requires excellent timing, balance, and control of your board. It’s best to focus on building your foundational surf skills before attempting a tube ride.

4. What’s the difference between a barrel and a tube?

The terms “barrel” and “tube” are often used interchangeably to describe the hollow part of the wave you ride inside of. Technically, a barrel refers to the entire section of the wave that forms a hollow shape, while a tube is the tunnel-like part of the barrel where you ride inside the wave.

5. How do I know where to position myself inside the tube?

You want to position yourself inside the tube as close to the breaking part of the wave as possible. Too close and the wave will crash on you. Too far back and you’ll miss the barrel. Experienced surfers have a feel for the spot, but for beginners, it’s best to watch how other surfers are positioning themselves.

6. Can I exit the tube from anywhere?

No. You want to aim for the exposed face of the wave and prepare for your turn or finish your ride as you come out of the tube.

7. What should I do if I get caught inside the tube?

If you fall or get knocked off your board inside the tube, cover your head and protect yourself from any rocks or debris. Stay calm and swim towards the surface as quickly as possible.

8. Do I need to wear a helmet for tube riding?

A helmet is not required, but it’s always a good idea to wear protective gear, especially if you’re attempting tube riding in big or heavy surf.

9. How do I control my speed inside the tube?

Leaning forward and crouching down low will help you gain speed and stay balanced as the wave barrels over your head.

10. How do I know if a wave is good for tube riding?

Look for waves that break in a predictable and tapered manner. Waves that have a steep and hollow shape and are breaking at a consistent angle are ideal for tube riding. The size of the wave should be in the 4 to 8-foot