10 Ways to Improve Balance On Surfboard? Beginners’ Guide

1. Catch more waves. 

Standing on a surfboard is an experience that tests your balance, especially with the waves moving underneath you.

That’s why continual practice is crucial. Learning to balance on a surfboard is a journey of trial and error, where each attempt teaches valuable lessons.

It’s worth mentioning that balancing on whitewash waves is a whole different ball game from riding unbroken waves. Whitewash brings turbulent waters and unpredictability, with backwash adding an extra challenge.

In contrast, unbroken, green waves offer a more stable ride. Unfortunately, you must learn to surf on a whitewash before riding green waves.

Understanding how a surfboard responds is key. In simple terms, leaning one way makes the board turn the other. Yet, figuring out the right amount of pressure for turns and balance can be tricky, especially for beginners.

Trying to correct your direction mid-ride often leads to losing balance. But with practice comes improvement. So, be patient and let your instincts guide you as you learn to navigate the waves.

2. Improve speed

Once you surf on a green wave, having a good balance means not falling off a board while performing maneuvers. While many beginners assume that surfers require excellent balance, it is the speed that distinguishes good maneuvers from bad ones.

Unfortunately, boosting speed poses one of surfing’s toughest challenges.

Every surfing maneuver hinges on speed; without it, even the most honed skills cannot executed.

For comprehensive guidance on enhancing speed, delve into the detailed insights provided here.

3. Relax your shoulders and the back. 

The most noticeable contrast between novice and seasoned surfers lies in their stance on the board.

Beginner surfers often appear stiff, not just because they’re unfamiliar with standing on a board, but also due to the surrounding environment feeling entirely new and possibly intimidating.

Uncertainty tends to breed rigidity. When unsure, our bodies tense up, limiting flexibility. Consider this: with muscles in the legs already fully engaged, there’s little room for adjustment if the board unexpectedly tilts.

Walking with stiffness feels unnatural. Conversely, by loosening the shoulders and back, one can adopt a more relaxed stance, making everything feel more natural and allowing for better movement and adjustment on the board.

3. Walk on the board. 

A great way to gauge whether you’re tense or relaxed is by attempting to walk on your board.

I’m not referring to executing a full crosswalk, traversing to the nose of the board, akin to longboard surfers. Instead, try taking 1-2 steps forward and backward and observe how you manage.

Many novice surfers struggle to take steps naturally, often opting to bring their front foot forward instead.

To improve, practice on land first. This allows you to focus solely on the movement without the distraction of water. If you have a wooden floor, just pick one timber board on the floor. All you have to do is walk back and forth, pretending to practice cross-walking.

4. Lower Centre of Mass.

When professional surfers navigate through whitewash after completing a wave, they crouch right down near the board. This technique helps them maintain balance amidst the turbulent waves.

Lowering oneself reduces the impact of body and board sway on balance. It’s a simple concept: picture a tall bamboo stick swaying in the wind compared to a shorter one of the same weight—it’s easier to control the sway of the shorter stick.

For beginner surfers, who often spend most of their time in turbulent whitewash, staying low can significantly prolong their ability to stay on the board.

5. Practice Balance on heels.

Balancing on your heels is way trickier than balancing on your toes. See, your toes have joints and more surface area to work with. Plus, the way your knees and hips bend naturally allows you to squat with weight on your toes.

That’s why trying to balance on your heels always feels a bit wonky, and you’re more likely to take a tumble backward when you’re surfing.

How can you get better at it?

I’ve found that practising standing on your heels in front of a mirror can help. Picture yourself on a surfboard, facing the mirror. Bend those knees and hips, like you’re surfing, and then try to balance on your heels.

Make sure to bend more at the hips and knees while keeping your back nice and straight.

Another way to work on this is by hitting the skateboard. Turning on a skateboard gradually hones the skills you need to make those heel-side turns smoother when you’re out on the waves.

On a side note, some surfboard makers produce asymmetrical boards to tackle this heel-side turn challenge. These boards have a shorter rail on the heel side, making those turns easier.

6. Ride A Skateboard

When it comes to honing balance skills, any skateboard can be a great tool for beginner surfers. Sure, falling out on a skateboard can be pretty painful, but it’s all part of the learning process.

Skateboarding offers the kind of repetition that surfing just can’t match. All you need is a smooth surface without too much car traffic, and you’re good to go. You can practice standing on a skateboard as often as you want, building up that balance bit by bit.

7. Change your stance.

For the majority, standing sideways on a moving object is a new experience unless they’re familiar with skateboarding or snowboarding.

When standing on a surfboard, many beginners tend to remain too parallel to the board.

In typical conditions, average surfers find that positioning their feet at a forward angle of 45 degrees opens up their field of vision and improves their balance. See here for full details of feet placement.

8. Balance board.

Using a balance board or Indo board can aid in honing specific balance skills. Although it differs significantly from actual surfing, I’ve discovered its effectiveness in adjusting weight distribution and mastering balance on an unstable surface.

If you want to read my detailed review on the Balance board, read here.

9. Learn To Fall And Fall Often.

This point emphasizes the significance of maintaining a relaxed body while surfing. Surfing involves numerous factors: the instability of the board beneath you, the presence of other surfers around, potential self-consciousness, uncertainty about water depth, and even concerns about marine life like sharks. Consequently, during the learning process, these factors often contribute to stiffness and tension.

Concerns about falling can cause surfers to become rigid. Therefore, eliminating this worry can aid in relaxation.

To reduce uncertainty, it’s helpful to experience the falling’s consequences. Falling into the water is generally safe, provided the depth is adequate and collisions with the board are avoided. After numerous falls, you’ll gradually realise that falling while surfing isn’t as intimidating as it may seem, allowing you to relax.

To take another step further: Once you know the most likely injuries and how these occur in surfing, you may be able to relax more. Read here for the most common injuries from surfing.

10. Look Up.

We humans are all about vision, especially when it comes to surfing. Where you look while riding those waves is key.

Lots of beginners mess up by staring down at the water or their board, which throws off their balance. It’s way better to keep your eyes focused further down the line, where you’re aiming to go.

And hey, sometimes when you’ve got a clear and simple goal in mind, your body just knows how to adjust to get you there. So, don’t overthink it too much, and keep your eyes on the target and let the body do the work!


My name is James, the person behind SurifngHeadquaters.com. With 15 years of experience in surfing, I am excited to help you on the journey to becoming a competent surfer.

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