25 Useful Tips for Beginner Surfers
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Is surfing something you’ve always wanted to try, but you weren’t sure whether you’d be any good at it? You’ll never know unless you try!
We have put together 25 tips for beginner surfers that will help you start your awesome new journey.
However, these tips alone don’t guarantee success. You should expect to put some hard work into it. After all, nobody ever jumped on a surfboard for the first time and caught a gnarly wave. Just like any other sport, you need to dedicate time and effort into learning and becoming better at it.
But don’t worry – we’ve got your back, future surfer!
Surfing is one of the most complex sports out there and a wonderful way to relax, work out, and meet great people. If you follow these tips, you’ll be on your way to catching your first waves all by yourself and, perhaps, find a lifelong passion!
Before you get in the water
1. First of all, don’t learn to surf all by yourself
No matter how easy you think it looks, never, ever approach surfing by yourself. Either get an experienced friend to teach you or go on a surf camp for beginners. This way, you’ll avoid injuring yourself or even putting your life in danger.
» READ MORE: What Will You Learn on a Surf Camp for Beginners?
2. Find a good teacher
If you decide to take surf lessons, research the teachers in advance. Make sure they are experienced and have good reviews. Sometimes, a good teacher won’t just teach you how to surf; they’ll also inspire you and make you fall in love with surfing.
3. Find a beginner-friendly surf spot
Going to a beach that is appropriate for beginner surfers is crucial to your surfing success. Learn to surf on a beach known for good, steady waves and the whole learning process will be smoother. You’ll be upgrading your beach in no time!
» READ MORE: The World's Best Surfing Destinations for Beginners
4. Warm up
It is essential that you do a little warm-up before you enter the water. Stretching out your muscles and tendons will decrease the chances of muscle cramps and it will also increase your heart rate, thus oxygenating your blood and pumping you up for the action!
5. Spend some time on dry land first
Now that you’re at the beach, don’t rush into the water. Spend some time on the beach and go through all the moves you plan on doing in the water. Check your surfing equipment and also…
6. Observe the water
Before you make your way into the water, look at the waves and study them. See how and where they break. Keep your eye on the other surfers and see what they do. You should do this every single time before you go into the water, not just as a beginner surfer.
» READ MORE: Surfing 101: How to Read a Wave
7. Use a big surfboard
This is one of the best beginner surfing tips you could ever follow. A large board will offer you a bigger surface to learn on and they’re also much better floatation devices.
8. Soft-top surfboards also help
For some beginners, soft-top surfboards also help with the learning process. A large and soft-top surfboard is going to be gentle on your feet and posterior. Make no mistake, in the beginning, you’ll be spending a lot of time sitting on it, rather than standing!
9. Always use a surf leash
This is more of a safety requirement rather than a tip. It will take you a while to get used to it and it might get in your way a few times, but a surf leash can potentially save your life, so make sure you are never without one!
10. Don’t be afraid
We know that learning new stuff can be quite overwhelming, but take a few deep breaths, even do some light meditation, and center yourself. Remember that this is something you want to do and something that you will most likely enjoy doing for a long time.
In the water
11. Pace yourself
Once you get into the water, you will need to pace yourself. We know how excited you may feel, but if you don’t pace yourself, you can risk injury. Remember, you have all the time in the world to learn to surf. The right way!
12. Start small
We know this may be a piece of commonsensical advice, but it needs to be said: start small.
Tackle small waves before you attempt larger ones. Even though you may feel ready, unless your teacher says you’re ready, you’re not! Also, don’t even dream of tackling big waves until you’ve mastered regular surfing.
13. Don’t get tangled with the big dogs
This advice ties in with the previous one: don’t get tangled with the big dogs, which means pretty much to stay away from where the experienced surfers are surfing. As a beginner, you’re prone to making lots of mistakes, and you want to avoid getting in people’s way or, even worse, causing trouble.
14. Practice sitting
As weird as it may sound, sitting on a surfboard, while in the water, isn’t the easiest, nor the most comfortable thing in the world. You can either sit on the surfboard with your feet out of the water, which is not so comfortable, but safe; or you can dangle your feet in the water, which offers a lot more stability, but then you’re a bit more open to ocean wildlife. Which brings us to our next tip…
15. Master the prone position
The prone position – lying down on your belly as if you’re paddling – is something you will need to master.
First, you need to get comfortable with it while on dry land. Lie on your surfboard, balanced and centered. Feel the surfboard, move around and try to master it before you venture out into the water.
16. Practice your pop-up
Once you’ve mastered the prone position, you will need to learn how to pop-up. The pop out from the prone position should be swift and seamless. Think of push-ups, as the two are very similar. Practice while on land and continue to improve your technique in the water.
17. Keep your feet moving
While in the water, you need to keep moving your feet. Shuffle them, move them around, while swimming or on the board. Just don’t let them dangle away as if they weren’t attached to your body. If you keep moving them, the chances of being stung, bit, or something along those lines is reduced.
18. Work on your paddling technique
Paddling is another thing you will need to practice until you get it right. The key is to find a rhythm and to keep it. This also requires you to be in shape, because it will be quite exhausting the first few times.
19. Learn how to avoid nosediving
Before anything, you should know that you will probably nosedive (aka pearling) – when the nose of the surfboard dives underwater. It has happened to every surfer out there, and it’ll happen to you too! But you can learn to avoid it.
In order to avoid nosediving as much as possible, it is really important to learn how to position yourself on the surfboard. For example, if your weight is too far forward on the board, you’ll most likely nosedive. But this happens quite often during take-offs too, as well as when adjusting to a new surfboard.
20. Get used to falling
If there’s one certainty when learning to surf, it’s the fact that you will be involved in a lot of wipeouts. You will fall, and fall, and fall… and then you’ll fall some more. Just remember that falling isn’t failing.
The waves will knock you down, you’ll get confused, and frustrated, and you’ll even get some bruises. All you need to remember is that it’s all part of the game.
21. Learn how to wipeout
That being said, now that you know that you will go through some wipeouts when learning to surf, it’s really important to learn how to fall. While you never know how a wave can knock you down, you can learn how to wipeout. Your instructor or an experienced surfer friend can teach you how to fall and hold your breath, when to surface, and when to stay under.
22. Don’t bend your back
When you’re on the wave, it is imperative that you bend your knees and not your back. If you bend your back, you’ll not only lose your, but you’ll also look like you don’t know what you’re doing.
23. Stay perpendicular to the whitewater
This is probably one of the most useful tips you’ll ever need. When a breaking wave is ahead of you, then you can duck under it or go over it. No matter which one you choose, you need to stay perpendicular to the whitewater, the part of the wave that is breaking (which is white, hence its name). If you don’t, then you will be pulled under the wave and dragged to the shore.
24. Listen to your body
Whatever you do, remember to listen to your body. If you are tired, bored or you simply aren’t feeling the surf session anymore, stop what you’re doing, head to the shore, and relax. You can always pick up where you left off the next day. No use in pushing yourself when you’re just starting off.
25. Last but not least, have fun!
No matter what you do and where you are, if you’re not having fun, it’s not worth it. Always remember that awesome quote by Phil Edwards: “The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun!”
Now that you have the know-how, book yourself a spot on a budget-friendly surf camp and get all the help you need to become the surfer you’ve always dreamed of being. Without breaking the bank!