How to Surf : Everything You Need To Know

How to Surf

Have you ever wondered how it’s like to surf with the wind blowing in your face while basking in sunshine? Well lucky you! Surfing was once reserved for royals in Hawaii, but it is now a popular activity that can be enjoyed anywhere in the world where there are wave breaks. Some people describe vividly how it’s like to catch a wave very passionately and treat it as a once in a lifetime experience. So, if you want to learn how to surf, you better get the right gear and practise your skills and get ready to catch your very first wave. Get your surf lessons right here.

Getting the right gear

First things first. If it’s your first time, don’t invest in a board yet. Try renting it out. This will save you cash when you opt to rent surfboards rather than buy one outright. Remember that you will need to focus on your skills first rather than focusing on buying surfboards. Rental spots can be found close to the beach which is reasonable and can be rented per hour or per day.

There is a lot of great gear that can be chosen from including soft surfboards known as “foamies” or foam boards or fiberglass boards. Beginners can make use of these “foamies” as they make excellent novice surfer choices because of the lightweight, not to mention extreme buoyancy and durability features. If you are on the go to buy one, it is also a good choice for the pocket because it is cheaper compared to fibreglass or epoxy boards.

Aside from price consideration, did you know that your size and weight play an important role when selecting the right type of board? For instance, if you weigh heavier, then you will need bigger board volume. If you are not sure which board to choose, you can always ask someone from the surf shop to give you advice. Make sure you tell them you are a first-time surfer. Don’t forget to ask about wetsuits or rash guard, board leash and surfboard wax as well.

Getting ready to start surfing

Getting ready to start surfing

Hold your horses! Don’t rush to the popular surf spots even as you may get very excited to try to get on your first waves. First, practice on the ground. Get your back foot leashed to the board’s tail. Then lie on the ground with your belly flat on the board. Make sure your body is positioned straight at the centre of the board. Then, you can begin paddling while continuing to be in the same position. Using both arms, paddle and sense which muscles you will be working on.

Remember this for your first surfing lesson. Generally, your back foot will be your right foot if you’re right-handed. This is called a regular stance. Meanwhile, if it’s the opposite, then it’s called goofy when you’re making use of your left foot. Novice surfers will notice which stance they are comfortable with as the proper stance will come naturally the moment they put their feet on their own surfboard.

Another important thing to remember is to not jump into the water right away. Many beginners get frustrated quickly after rushing into the water. Practising on the sand or even in your backyard before hitting the beach is a better idea.

Ready to catch a green wave?

Ready to catch a green wave

Now that you’re ready to start surfing, it is important to catch the next wave. Here are some steps to help you ride the next big wave that comes along.

  1. Start surfing by paddling to the lineup. Be comfortable with the motion you are doing and be confident with your stance.
  2. When the first wave you are aiming to catch comes, get the board’s nose facing towards the shore by turning around. Then start paddling after laying down. The nose of the board should be grazing the surface and not too submerged underwater. A surf instructor would suggest starting with small waves.
  3. Slowly gain momentum. Keep your energy from bursting as you observe proper timing. From your knees bent, switch to the right position by utilizing 30-50 per cent of your paddling power. Hit 80 per cent when the wave starts to be near your tail. Save your last few strokes when you’re going in for those bigger waves.
  4. After doing a few strokes, continue paddling even as the wave is already behind you. You have to be not too far outside nor too far from the wave’s front. It’s all about good timing and this can be done through constant practice.

So which wave will you ride? It depends on your skill level. More experienced surfers will always watch a wave coming and ride it. When they see the possible swell that can they ride, they have to paddle quickly to catch the waves when they rise. This is the moment of catching “green waves”. It means paddling fast enough to match the waves’ speed so you can catch its momentum to be able to pop up and surf. Here are four types of waves that you should look out for.

  1. Rolling Waves – they are the most liked by surfers because they break in a stable pattern and they are usually the most familiar wave that appears on the horizon.
  2. Dumping Waves – these are unpredictable ones that can be utilized by the most experienced surfer.
  3. Surging Waves – these are considered dangerous and are often found instep or a rocky shore.
  4. Standing Waves – known as stationary waves, are constant and do not lose strength.  

Catching the wave is the point when the wave hits the tail of your surfboard and starts pushing you while you are still paddling. Learning to catch unbroken waves is the first step in surfing after paddling out. There is a correct technique to follow to ensure a successful take-off on the swells without falling. Beginners are usually taught on the beach, the pop-up technique before they can apply it when surfing on the water. 

How can I teach myself to surf?

How can I teach myself to surf

One wave is not the same as the next. If you are trying to dip your toes in surfing, you are in for a treat, or not. Surfing can be one of the most difficult and complex sports to learn. Every day your playground changes with all the elements such as wind swells and tides joining forces to give you many waves scenario. Unlike snowboarding, where after a few days of practice, you can stand and rarely fall. In surfing, you will be wiped out when larger waves start crashing.

The beginner’s phase is always the challenging period of learning as doubts can creep in and you will always wonder if you can be as good as those people effortlessly gliding wave after wave at top surf spots. If you are driven to learn surfing, hang in there and continue practising surfing. There’s always a first time for everything and getting to ride your first green wave will totally hook you to surfing. 

Getting Basic Surfing Lesson with other surfers

Getting Basic Surfing Lesson with other surfers

If you seriously want to learn how to surf, then start it the right way and learn basic rules through surf coaching. Have a friend or a coach teach you the correct basics of the sport. Surfing can be a very technical and complex game and learning the wrong basic techniques will not help you progress to the next level. 

You can try talking to a professional surfer to be able to get firsthand information that can help learn to surf faster. You can also practice under a surf coaching lesson to help you learn techniques and wave reading. Ask your friends who surf for feedback and advice. They can give you tips and can even recommend you where to take your first surfing lesson.

Learning to Surf on your Own

Learning to Surf on your Own
  1. Learn in the shallow waters about chest deep and don’t leave until you can pop up and your stance are solid rock.
  2. Watch out for the small green wave “reforms” in the shore break or out the back and use to surf them using your rails.
  3. Learning to paddle efficiently is very important and also how to read surf spot and where waves break and don’t break and where to paddle are important techniques to learn.
  4. Be very observant and work on your positioning when trying to catch bigger green waves and do it as soon as possible so they are not too steep. 
  5. Your fitness will gradually improve and your actual wave riding skills can eventually take off if you stick to it and continue to enjoy the momentum of learning. 

Catch waves with Surf etiquette

Catch waves with Surf etiquette

Keeping it harmonious out in the open waters while surfing is a good way to make the experience more fun. You have to be a good surfer and observe good manners with fellow surfers. Here are some safety rules that you have to keep in mind:

  1. Respect the right of way of every surfer. If smaller waves are coming up and you want to catch it, make sure that there are no other surf riders close to the peak. Otherwise, whoever is closest has the right to catch that wave and you ought to give way. But don’t worry. There are other waves coming for sure and you will eventually catch one.
  2. It is very dangerous to try catching a wave when another is already close to the peak. It is also considered rude. That’s why you have to watch the wave line up in case another surfer is already getting a go for it.
  3. Popular beginner spots do not usually have strict rules. Just remember that whoever is near the peak of the same wave should be given the right to ride it.

Is learning to surf easy for beginner surfers?

Is learning to surf easy for beginner surfers

Frustration and confusion can be the feelings of beginners learning to surf. You need a lot of effort and commitment within yourself in order to progress from the whitewater surfer to the immediate level. When you were having lessons under your coach, you are more dependent on what he decides for you. The thing is, not all the time there will be someone to provide you a sheltered surfing environment. Learning the basic techniques is a must during your lessons and will help your progress if you apply them when you are surfing on your own later. And always be wary of your surfboard to prevent board hitting incidents.

Getting a Good Surfboard

Getting a Good Surfboard

Getting the right surfboard can help you change your surfing experience completely. Don’t be deceived by the “new and latest” model. The surfboard is about having the right volume and rocker. Volume refers to the measurement of the boards’ floatation including the function of its length, width and thickness. You need lots of volume when you are a beginner surfer. You can choose a longboard or foamboard. These boards are wide, thick, long and have a flat rocker.

Balancing Skills

Balancing Skills

Having a good balance is a good start when learning how to surf. What you learn during your surf coaching lessons you must continuously apply when trying to practice riding your surfboard. But the moment you are able to do it on your own, take a standing position on the surfboard and navigate across the water even for just a couple of seconds. Take a deep breath and enjoy the exhilarating feeling of being able to do it on your own while you maintain balance. This can be a pretty strong driving force that will propel you to practice more and more. 

When you start to surf make sure you are in a spot ideal for beginners. Before you venture out in the wide expanse of the water, spend at least 30 minutes before you stop paddling. Observe where the other surfers paddle out and where the waves are breaking. Be on the lookout for other surfers and try to see if they happen to be on the advanced level or like you, a beginner. 

Remember that everyone has their own pace when learning. But in the sports of surfing, they are quite sure about one thing: the younger you are, the easier it is for you to learn to surf. If you’re not in the “younger” age band, don’t worry. If you work harder and give more effort to learn, your dedication will reward you with a lot of enjoyable experiences. The secret to successfully learn how to surf is to try and get up on every wave you catch. If you were wiped out on your first 100 messy waves, just keep on surfing and enjoy the experience. 

How do I start surfing?

How do I start surfing

When you are starting to surf, it is important that you know where the ideal surf spot is. This can determine the best surf session you will have or the worst. If you rely on other surfers’ advice, they will often say to start surfing on a beach break because it is safer. This can be true for that day but not on other days. Some spots can be perfect for today but will not be ideal for surfing on other days. Some sandy beach breaks are ideal for advanced surfers and some rocky point breaks for newbies. Overall, this can all depend on the wave conditions. 

If you want to find the ideal surfing spot, you can start looking for information on the internet. There are numerous websites and forums that are loaded with information regarding ideal surf spots. Although surfing the internet can be a starting point for you, nothing can beat the experience and knowledge of knowledgeable surfers. If you can talk to experienced surfers, they can probably point you to their own ideal spot or can advise you where to surf according to your level. 

Observing surfing ethics

Observing surfing ethics

Like any other sport, surfing also has rules to be observed by those who want to enjoy it. Some of these may be totally unknown to you but you need to observe them in order to blend in and be a part of the surfing crowd. 

  • Don’t Drop In – it means stealing someone else’s wave. This is the main violation in surf ethics. Quality waves can only be ridden by one surfer. The lone surfer can enjoy the specific powerful areas of the wave. You have to know how to read the signs if the wave is meant for you or somebody else. When you paddle for a wave, be on the lookout for both your sides before you take off. The surfer who is catching the wave further inside close to the peak will have the right to ride that wave.
  • Choose the Right Spot According to your Ability – this particular surf ethics should be given emphasis and importance. Let’s face it, being a newbie means you are still wielding a sharp surfboard you cannot yet control on the waves you haven’t get to know yet, which can put everyone in danger. 
  • Respect the Locals – being new to surfing, you need to be more sensitive to the “vibe” around you. A spot you might think is open for everyone might turn out to be a “localized” spot. It means local surfers are more “inviting” to strangers than others. You have to observe or ask around since these surfers might already be a part of the local landscape and been surfing these parts of the water since they were kids.

Just remember that you’re not home. When you find what you think is the ideal surf spot for you, feel and analyse the vibe around you. Stay respectful, positive and unselfish. Share the waves and remember the main rule in surfing ethics: Don’t drop in even if you see the first waves coming.

Starting your surfing journey

Starting your surfing journey

1. Don’t learn to surf all by yourself.

You need to acknowledge the fact that surfing can be dangerous if done without prior knowledge of the sport. Start with an experienced friend to teach you or go to a surf camp for beginners in order to get the basic techniques and information.

2. Find a good teacher 

You can do research online to see the available instructors with good reviews. If you’re lucky, you might find a teacher who will not only teach you surfing but also will inspire you to fall in love with the sport.

3. Look for a beginner-friendly surf spot 

Look for beaches that have steady waves. This is the type of beach appropriate for beginner and can help in your learning process. The crucial techniques you will learn in this kind of surf spot can help you upgrade to another beach level in no time.

4. Warm Up

Muscle cramps can be avoided if you do a little stretching before entering the water. This can also help increase your heart rate and pump an adequate amount of blood to get the body ready for action. 

5. Take Time to Think Over Your Plans while on Dry Land

Don’t rush into the water upon reaching the beach. Warm-up and go through your plans and moves that you’re going to do in the water.

6. Observe the water

Studying the waters is the primary thing any surfer would want to do regardless of level. As a beginner, make sure you apply this basic rule until you level up later. Observe the waves and see how and where they break. Look at your fellow surfers and notice what they do. Always apply this rule every time you go surfing.

7. The Bigger the Surfboard, The better

This rule can be applied to newbies in surfing as they need a bigger surface to learn on and a big board means a bigger floatation device which can make it more fun and safer.

8. Having a Leash String is a Must

A surf leash can take a while to get used to, and it can get in your way at times, but a surf leash has the potential to save your life. So for your own safety, make sure you always have one when you surf.

9. Pace Yourself

Always remember that you have all the time to learn how to surf. Don’t push yourself too much to learn at once. Pace yourself and take it one step at a time. You can risk hurting yourself if you don’t.

10. Lastly, start small

Start small, aim small. Tackle the small waves first and when you are good enough then bigger waves can be your next target. You need to master first regular surfing before taking on the bigger wave. Learning how to surf can take a lot of effort but the enjoyment and health benefits you can get out of this water sport cannot be completely equated. 

How to duck dive when learning to surf

How to duck dive when learning to surf

The technique used when learning to surf wherein you dive under waves using your surfboard is called duck diving. This may take years of practice to be able to perfect and taught by a surf instructor. Even as it may take a while before you will be able to perform it, don’t get discouraged because you can practice it in many environments.

Learn how to do a duck dive in a lake, an ocean or even a pool. Once you are able to waste less of your energy and you can paddle more to catch those unbroken waves, then we can say that you have already perfected the duck dives.

Is your board small enough or too huge?

Meanwhile, think if your board can properly sink underwater. Heavy surfboards are hard to push underwater. This makes duck diving impossible at times especially when your surfboards float too much. Choose small fish type boards or hybrid ones. This will make dives easier and keep boards down underwater although turtle rolls are easier done with bigger boards.

Going past a white water wave is possible when you perform a duck dive. Sometimes, these types of waves are difficult to get through because of the amount of energy that goes forward to you. Also, it can extend up to the surface. This is when learning curve techniques become helpful. When you start learning curve tricks, you will be able to control and manoeuvre smoothly. Make sure your upper body is slightly leaned and keep that leash strapped to ensure safety.

Are you now ready to hit the waters and start surfing?

Are you now ready to hit the waters and start surfing

Is there anybody that you want to go surfing with? Can someone teach you how to surf? Continue reading to start surfing sooner than 24 hours.

After getting all your gear ready including your board, rash guard, leash and all that, it’s now time to check your equipment. Make sure that the board you chose is correct for your weight and height. Check the size that best fits you by using a surfboard size chart. There’s a variety of surfboard sizes, style, height and weight to choose from so you can be sure there is always something just right for you:

For starters, you should make use of big and thick surfboards. This will make you float easier compared to the smaller ones which are used more often by more experienced surfers. Get the leash strapped to your ankle and prepare to start your first lesson.

Choose a good spot including low tide beaches, summer swelled and protected beaches. Small waves are available any time of the year so you can always go for a surf any time. Catch your first wave from a foam break and get ready for a more enjoyable experience.

Every surfer is on the lookout for the epic session. You can avoid missing this one by learning which part of the day is the best time to go out to the water. The best time to surf is generally early morning. This would usually be during the summer or autumn season. Another perfect time of the day is around sunset due to the presence of swell in the water.

Beginners should also learn how to read surf forecasts to be able to catch that almighty wave everyone is looking out for. If you are new to reading surf reports, concentrate on three main areas that hold vital pieces of information. These include:

  1. The average height of the wave that you can encounter while in water. Many sites offer forecasting reports that are usually measured in feet. Do not confuse wave height and wave swells as these are two different things. Be on the lookout for swell reports as well.
  2. Keep track of the wind and wave direction. You can find an arrow icon in surfing spots that can indicate wind direction. This is important since you will be able to determine favourable sessions that are coming. The direction of the wind is important to surfers because it affects the surf type that is created.
  3. Tidal movement reports are something that you should also know. High and low tides are changing in a 24-hour cycle. These movements affect how a wave is formed. Since you deal with waves and the eagerness to catch a good one, make sure you are updated with the tidal movement schedule.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

An avid Skier, bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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