Surfing is one of the most rewarding sports on the planet. Riding waves formed by storms hundreds, if not thousands of miles away is an amazing experience. The sport can be learned by people of all ages, but that doesn’t mean there is anything easy about learning. Mastering the sport can take decades of persistence and hard work. Read below for some tips that will make your initial surf sessions just a little bit easier.
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Get a Lesson
There is no better way to jump start your surfing skills than to book a lesson. Even a single 1.5-2 hour lesson will give you the basic skills needed to put yourself on the track to surfing success. In your first surf lesson, you will learn the basics to standing up. Standing up, also known as the “pop up,” is the most important thing to learn for beginning surfers. Without a functional “pop up,” it will be impossible to efficiently catch and ride waves. After learning the “pop up,” surf instructors will guide and push you into waves until you have mastered standing up on the board. From there, they will teach you the basics of catching waves on your own. It may sound simple, but selecting the correct wave and timing the speed of that wave is the most difficult thing to learn in surfing.
Steps to a Proper “Pop Up”
- Lay centered on the board with your toes touching the “tail” (back end of the board).
- Place your hands beside your chest as if you were doing a push-up.
- Extend your arms as if you were doing a push up but with the bottom half (waist down) of your body still on the board.
- Replace the spot where your chest was with your front foot. Your back foot will naturally follow. After all, it is attached to your body!
- Hold on to the “rails” (sides) of the surfboard until both feet are planted under your body.
- When you feel stable, stand all the way up.
- Practice repeatedly. Make sure your toes are pointed in a perpendicular direction to the noes of the board, not forwards.
- Bend Your Knees.
Find the Board that is Right for You
After your initial lesson, the decision of whether or not you would like to book further lessons is up to you. However, finding the right board to use when not using the surf school’s surfboard is critical. If you plan on purchasing one board for the long term, find a fiberglass board in the 7’6” to 9’0” range, depending on your size. Remember, bigger surfer=bigger board. A longer, wider surfboard is much more stable and easier to paddle than a smaller surfboard. Soft-top surfboards are a fantastic option for those beginners who want to prevent potential injuries caused by being hit by their surfboard. Most surfers do eventually purchase a fiberglass surfboard after they have learned the basics.
Choose the Right Spot
For beginners, a wave that breaks on a sand bar further off the beach and in slightly deeper water (at least waist deep) is ideal. Waves that break on these types of sandbars tend to break in a softer fashion, giving you time to stand up and balance. Furthermore, choose a spot that isn’t too crowded. Uncrowded spots will give you your own space to surf to avoid colliding with other surfers.
Carefully Choose Your Days
Choose the smallest possible days in which the waves are still surfable, and work your way up from there. It is much easier to learn on a knee-high day than when the waves are large. Also, take advantage of days when the wind is calm and the water is warm!
Watch Other Surfers
Like many other sports, the best way to learn is to watch experienced surfers do their thing. Choose a good surfer and watch him/her from a distance. Take notice of their timing catching the wave, how they stand up, and their weight distribution.
Enjoy the Small Victories
Don’t expect to immediately be a surfing expert. Surfing has a major learning curve and has its own way of being difficult, even for extremely athletic people. Try to enjoy the positive moments that occur in every session and learn from the bad ones.
The best part about learning to surf is that the entire process is fun. Get out there and try one of the world’s best sports!