While surfing is enjoyable, it can be very taxing on the body. Many people want to perfect their moves, but it can be a little complicated, especially for beginners. The truth is that surfing requires dedication and practice time, which doesn’t just come overnight!
In this article, I’ll be addressing 5 essential tips to get better at surfing for beginner surfers
But before we look at the tips, let’s understand why surfing is so hard to master in the first place.
Why is Surfing so Hard to Master?
Surfing is challenging to master because the conditions are always variable. Unlike other sports, surfing relies on waves that do not come consistently. Also, Catching waves can be challenging for beginners as It takes time to get used to the timing of the waves and develop paddling power.
The character of a wave is dependent on many properties. Things like the winds, weather and tides influence the wave’s shape. Within hours, the condition may change dramatically. Also, some waves are faster or steeper, making learning challenging.
Surfers often change their boards to suit the current condition, and for beginners, getting used to different equipment takes time. The constant paddling in and out of the water can be super exhausting too.
5 Tips to Become Better at Surfing
Here are 5 practical tips to try starting now. These tips apply to beginners and intermediate surfers who wish to become better at surfing.
1. Learn To Ride Stakeboard or Surfskate to Improve Your Surfing
Practising surf maneuvers on a skateboard or surf skate is a great way to improve surfing skills. A regular or longboard skateboard is best suited for practising balance, trimming or turning, while surf skate can help you improve technical skills such as cutbacks and pumping.
As a beginner surfer, practising maneuvers on a surfboard can be tricky. Beginners generally ride beach waves for safety, and it does not offer long enough rides to practice multiple tricks. Skateboard or Surfskate will help you practice tricks on dry land, which you can repeat to master a skill.
Surfskate offers a closer feel to actual surfing than skateboarding, but it is slightly more unstable. If you have never tried a skateboard, surf skate can be a steep learning curve. We strongly recommend purchasing protective gear such as a helmet and elbow and wrist guards because, unlike surfing, when you fall off the skateboard, it hurts! So perhaps starting on a stable longboard skateboard can be a good start.
A surf skate can be a suitable option if you want to improve your surfing tricks. There are many videos and tutorials on practising tricks in surf skate. Here is one some examples.
2. Warming Up Before Surfing
A series of light exercises of about 5 to 10 minutes can unlock stiff joints and drastically improve the flexibility o the limbs’ range of motion. Another reason you should always warm up before surfing is because it will lower the risk of injuries.
Many people skip warming up before surfing because they find it unnecessary. The reality is that warming up is imperative to perform better in a surfing session.
There are many warm-up routines you can choose from, and it does not need to be complicated. Examples of warm-up for surfing include
- Gentle jogging along the beach
- Practising pop-ups on the beach.
- Practising paddling on the beach.
- Upper body push-up – where you make your back arch.
- Gentle swimming/body surfing in the swimming zone.
3. Increase your surfing time as much as you can.
Learning to surf as a beginner can be difficult and consistent practice is the only way to improve. Time spent on the tasks is highly correlated to the rate of improvement, and surfing is not an exception. More than 3 times a week will improve surfing skills and paddling endurance.
So do not wait for the perfect condition to surf and always aim to catch more waves. More often than not, when your expectation of the waves is high, you are more likely to be disappointed. I sometimes have the best sessions when I least expect them. Interestingly, surfing in suboptimal conditions is one of the best ways to avoid crowds!
Another thing to remember is that failure is the key to learning. So it’s okay if you flip yourself over and make an embarrassment out of it; that’s how you will learn.
Consistent practising will strengthen your muscle memory, making your movements more efficient.
4. Get A Surfing Lesson
A good surfing coach would be the fastest way to improve your surfing. You can use different coaches to teach you different aspects of surfing. For example, some specialise in paddling, while others can teach you general surfing skills such as wave selection and tricks.
Therefore, before choosing a coach, you must decide what to get from the lesson.
There are many high-quality online courses. However, face-to-face with a good coach will be far more valuable. It is because correcting paddling, the timing of catching waves or correctly angling the board during taking off is tough to teach online.
However, face-to-face teaching lessons have their problem because surfing condition changes constantly. I recommend focusing on paddling first and then considering hiring a different surfing coach once you can catch waves consistently. When looking for a coach, always check recommendations from other people before committing to someone.
Here is an example of a free paddling coach to get you started.
5. Pick The Right Volume of Surfboard For Your Skill Level.
The volume is one of the most important factors when choosing a surfboard. The volume is measured by multiplying the length, width and thickness, determining the floatation. Higher volume means sitting high on the water, causing less drag. This helps you to paddle faster and catch waves easier.
Moreover, a larger board is more stable. Even if you misplace your foot position, the board will still allow you to maintain your balance.
Here is a link to the volume calculator made by Firewire surfboard. Please note that it is a guide only. You must try a surfboard first to see what volume suits you.
Another thing you need to know is you will feel the difference between minimal volume changes as the board gets smaller. For example, you will not find a difference between 100L and 102L boards, whereas the difference between 28 and 30 litres is quite noticeable.
I suggest buying a second-hand surfboard with known volume first and fine-tuning from there. Most surfboards provide the volume on their board. Make sure you know the volume before purchasing it.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, surfing is a challenging sport because of the variable nature of the waves. Do not expect shortcuts; surfing will only improve if you put your efforts and hours into it. I hope these 5 tips will smooth the path a little bit.