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Surfing Lessons: 3 Mistakes Beginner Surfers Make

by Jorrin Massingham

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There are many different sports in the world. For most of them, you can learn all the basics in a relatively short period of time. However, surfing is a whole different ballgame. Surfing can be challenging, there’s no denying that! It can take a great deal of patience and perseverance to master even the basics. But don’t be put off! Once you become confident in the water, your knowledge and skills will quickly develop.

When learning how to surf, the first few lessons may seem overwhelming. There is a huge amount of information to remember and consider, such as “What board should I use?”, “Do I have the right wetsuit?”, “Will the weather be suitable today?” or “Will the waves be suitable?”. Well, that's just the preparation! Then, you have to take the actual surfing and associated techniques into account! Many new surfers struggle during the first few years, which is precisely why it is so important to correct these three common surfing mistakes! Understand these blunders and you will quickly master the basics.

1. A lack of awareness of one's surroundings



Spatial awareness is a key consideration in many different aspects of our lives. This awareness is extremely important in surfing. It is surprising how many new surfers will simply charge headlong into the water without a care in the world, or having given any thought to their surroundings or the surfing conditions. In most instances, they will promptly experience a harsh wipeout.




Be aware! Check your surroundings – are the waves suitable for your ability? Are there other surfers in your close proximity?  Are you being considerate of the other people in the water? Do you understand the surfing etiquette? Keep your eyes open, your head up, and your mind switched on! 

2. Poor stance = Pooh stance




Getting your stance right is an absolute must. This is one of the most basic elements of surfing and is key to developing your surfing. The lovingly named Pooh stance is where many beginners go wrong. This stance involves angling your knees so they point outwards. In most sports, this will improve your balance and stability but, in surfing, it actually achieves the opposite.



Photo by Nathan Rupert

When surfing, your knees should be pointing inwards which improves your ability to rotate your trunk and your leading arm in the direction of travel. If you struggle with your stance, simply stand on your board at home or on the beach and concentrate on your back knee bending both inwards and down towards the deck of your surfboard.

3. Pearling



Pearling – Photo credit: blog.audreyhall.com

Many beginners will find it hard to judge a wave in their first few years. A common error resulting from a lack of experience is known as pearling. This happens to surfers as they move on to catching green or unbroken waves. When surfers find themselves catching waves that are steep and their board is not angled in the direction the wave is breaking, often the nose of the board will dig into the water. The surfer is then plunged face first with the wave crashing around them – enter pearling or the nosedive!



Nosediving/pearling – Photo credit: surfertoday.com

To prevent pearling, you must first paddle correctly by keeping the nose of your board at a slight angle to the wave (the direction you wish to surf and not facing the beach). You must also maintain a decent speed that coincides with the speed of the wave. This combination of speed and angling is key. Providing you pop up as your board just starts to dip down the wave, you should avoid that horrendous nosedive!

When you start to surf, the most important pointer is to never give up! You will undoubtedly make mistakes and have your share of terrible surfing sessions, but by correcting these three common mistakes, you will improve your skills and conquer surfing in no time at all!


Jorrin Massingham is the owner of Cornish Wave Adventure Activities. For more information about surfing for beginners and outdoor adventures, check out The Cornish Wave Blog. You can also follow them on Facebook

Are you looking to take up surfing? Or perhaps you’d like to brush up on your skills and move on to the next level? Go to BookSurfCamps.com and choose a beginner surf camp that will give you a solid understanding of how the ocean works, equipment, safety and surfing etiquette.

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