Trimming turns vs Carving turns – what's the difference?

Have you ever heard about “trimming turns” or “carving turns”? Me neither 😆. These terms don’t exactly come up in everyday surf chat so I would’ve be surprised if you haven’t heard of them either.

Either way, they do sum up different types of turns pretty well so let’s explore…


To illustrate the difference, think about a car driving along the road for a second. A carving turn would be when the car makes an actual turn left or right. It’s a sharp turn with a clear change of direction.

Some types of carving turns in surfing would be bottom turns, top turns, or cutbacks.

To do a carving turn, you apply pressure on your back foot/tail of the board to lift the nose up and apply pressure on your heels or toes to steer the board left or right & completely change direction.

Carving turns often start with the head and shoulders pointing to the direction you want to be going and the pressure in your feet follows suit which is then what causes the board to turn.


Back to our car analogy, trimming turns are more like changing lanes on a highway than they are actually making a turn. It’s when you move left or right without actually changing your general direction.

In surfing, there aren’t really any manuevers named after trimming turns but more the time and place for it – barrel riding, noseriding, or forward trim are all times you would use a trimming turn to adjust your line.

To do trimming turns, pressure is applied to the front of your board and there’s no need to lift the nose up. Pressure is still applied to your heels or toes to steer slightly left or right, but it’s much more subtle as you are still going in the same general direction.

Where carving turns start with the head and shoulders, trimming turns are done more from the waist down. It’s mostly done by shifting your weight into the toes or heels of your foot by moving your hips.

💬 Can you spot the trimming turns in the example video? Blink and you just might miss it 😉.

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