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How Are Points Scored In Surfing?

Surfing Judges
This image shows judges at a surfing contest scoring various surfers on their runs.
Judges score waves based on:
Judgment 1Degree of difficulty and commitment
Judgment 2Innovation and progression in maneuvers
Judgment 3A combination of major and impressive maneuvers
Judgment 4Variation in maneuvers
Judgement 5Power, speed, and flow

In surfing, competitors are graded based off of a combination of:

  • Degree of difficulty and commitment
  • Innovation and progression in maneuvers
  • A combination of major and impressive maneuvers
  • Variation in maneuvers
  • Power, speed, and flow

Judges use these guidelines to determine the score of the wave. The degree of difficulty and commitment consider the ability of the surfer to try and stick with challenging maneuvers. Riders that attempt new and unprecedented tricks and maneuvers will be rewarded. Surfers should be doing multiple major maneuvers per wave. Major maneuvers include bottom turns, cutbacks, roundhouse cutbacks, floaters, and laybacks to name a few. Finally, competitors should exhibit power, speed, and flow on each wave. Flow refers to the way the rider moves down the wave, ideally smoothly and effortlessly.

Competitors are allotted a certain amount of time. During this time, they get as many waves as they can get. Each wave is scored out of 10. Judges use the guidelines listed above to grade each wave. The competitors' final heat score is composed of their two best waves. The competitor's two highest scores (out of 10) are added together. Depending on the round and number of competitors, one or more competitors may move on.