Learning To Surf on a Shortboard ( Easy Peasy!)

Learning To Surf on a Shortboard

Have you ever considered surfing on a shortboard but don’t know where to start? You’ve probably seen some surfers looking very cool on their shortboard and thought, “Hey! I want to try that, too.” Or maybe you have one that’s been sitting in your garage waiting to be picked up and catch a wave. Whatever your reason is, trying to surf on a shortboard is doable but is a lot more different from using a regular-sized or longer surfboard.

So, is surfing harder or easier on a shortboard? How different is it from using a longer surfboard? To know more about learning to surf on a shortboard here’s everything you need to know before you get yourself one or before you come rushing through the waves.

What is a Shortboard Surfboard

There are many types of surfboards and a shortboard is just one of them. The size of a shortboard is typically between 5 feet to 7.4 feet long with a width of 18.5 inches to 22.5 inches. It usually has a pointed nose and rounded tail or sometimes even squarish. The fins on a shortboard can be between 2 to 5, but the most common are three fins.

A lot of surfers find it easier to maneuver on a shortboard; however, it is harder to catch waves because of their shorter size. More often than not, it requires larger, more powerful, and steeper waves and should be caught before the waves break. Most shortboards are made of polyurethane, polystyrene, and wood.

Different Constructions of Boards

Different Constructions of Boards


The use of PU foam or Polyurethane with polyester resin is the oldest form of the surfboard construction method. It has been used since the 1950s. Because of its brittle material, most hand-shaped boards are made of PU. They also tend to be more affordable, although they can be toxic and non-recyclable.

Another drawback is that they are less stiff due to their flexibility making them twist and bend while in use. Even with its weaknesses, it is still the preferred material for most surf board construction. By the way, epoxy resin can also be used to build a poly board.


PS or Polystyrene foam with epoxy resin is another type of board construction. Compared to PU foam, they are not as strong but tend to have a lighter weight. To make them stronger, it needs a layer of epoxy. EPS and XPS are the two types of PS foam surfboard construction.

Boards with epoxy construction tend to be stronger. One advantage of using PS foam is that they are more eco-friendly since they can be recycled, and they are stronger and tend to last longer. However, it takes more time to create a surfboard using a PS foam board by hand.

Strengths and Weaknesses of a Shortboard

Strengths and Weaknesses of a Shortboard

All boards have their own good and bad side and a shortboard is not exempted from it. So, before you decide to learn to surf on a shortboard, here are its pros and cons.


  • Has high maneuverability due to its strong rocker, short length, and narrow width.
  • Best for advanced movements like cutbacks, snaps, and airs
  • Provides quick pivots and effortless turns
  • The surfboard’s shape makes it easier to hit critical waves


  • The rocker tends to drag more water making it harder to catch the waves
  • It is difficult to paddle when moving forward
  • More fragile compared to other kinds of surfboard
  • Can make you lose speed quickly when you are not on your rails

Tips On Learning to Surf on a Shortboard

Tips On Learning to Surf on a Shortboard

Choose the Right Short Board

Whether you are a newbie in surfing or a pro, it is important to find the short board for you. A novice surfer should go for a beginner-friendly shortboard and make it easier to learn to surf. When choosing a beginner surfboard, you may want to consider the following:

  • Choose a shortboard designed for smaller waves. As a newbie learning to surf on a shortboard, it would be wise to start to surf on smaller waves then move on to bigger ones when you think you are ready. Catching a wave is your main goal.
  • Shortboards comes in different sizes and shapes and there is nothing wrong with picking a longer shortboard. It would help you learn faster if you choose a bigger size.
  • Don’t focus too much on the surfboard design of the shortboard. You may be tempted to get the ones that a professional surfer uses, but don’t do it. Remember they are already pros and you are still on a beginner level. Riding on those kinds of shortboards will only make it hard for you to learn to surf.

Stick to your Board

Don’t try to change boards often. Try sticking to just one board, especially when you are still practicing and learning to surf on a shortboard. Since a board comes in different designs, shapes, and sizes, it would be best not to change the board just because you find it hard to use. Over time you will learn and be comfortable with your first board and have fun with it.

Switching surfboards often especially using different kinds of boards will hinder you from learning the skills and techniques to surf faster.

Increase your Wave Count

You cannot learn to surf overnight. It would take a lot of time to learn everything about surfing whether it’s on a shortboard or a longboard. The best way to improve your surfing skills is to practice all the time and increase the number of waves you catch each time.

The wave count is the number of waves you try to catch or actually caught. Try setting a goal every time you surf. Make sure that it is higher than the last time. The quality doesn’t matter when you are still learning; the quantity is more important.

Don’t be disheartened by the number of waves you missed or the times you fell. Catch waves as many as you can; just don’t get in the way of other surfers.

Improve Your Paddling and Floating Skills

Beginner surfers may take time to learn how to float and paddle using a shortboard. When paddling, you need to find the right position and placement of your body. The board should be very flat on the water.

Compared to longboards that have more glides, a short board will require you to paddle more and use your arms more. So practice how to paddle with your hands in the most efficient way and learn strong paddling strokes.

Surf Even on Less Desirable Surf Conditions

Learning to surf should not only be limited to perfect conditions. You and your surfboard should always be ready to hit the waves even when it’s not in the best condition. Do not be afraid to surf even on bad days, just make sure it is still safe to surf.

Part of learning to surf is riding in all conditions. Aside from that, it will help you improve your surfing skills, there’s a great chance you’ll catch more waves since most probably there is no other person but you in the ocean. Don’t just stick on your usual surf spots.

Riding on Waves

Find your stance when riding the wave. You do a different stance for a short board and a longboard. When surfing on a shortboard, make sure each foot is planted. You need to keep your back foot at the back pad while your knees are bent. Your weight should be on your rear foot. Use your front shoulder to steer. By doing this, you’ll be able to find the correct stance.

Some people find it hard to properly position their feet on a shortboard, due to its length. But practicing will help you improve your stance.

Get Stronger and Improve your Stamina

Learning to surf on a shortboard will require more power, endurance, and flexibility. So you also need to stay in shape in order to cope up with the physical demands of learning to surf. Speed and power are both critical if you want to be a pro in shortboard.

You need a strong core, upper body, arms, legs and feet to sustain all the physical activities required to surf on a short board. You can try doing exercises like push-ups, squats, and crunches. Try to increase the number of reps each day.

Try Yoga

One way to improve flexibility, balance, and strength is through yoga. You don’t need to enroll in a yoga class, you can do it at home by watching yoga videos.

Practice the Pop up Movement

Pop up is the change in position from lying down on your board to standing up. It’s one of the more challenging movements, especially for beginners. Keep in mind that it is harder to pop up and balance on a shorter board. Beginner surfers should learn and practice the pop up even on land to master this movement.

Did you know you can master this away from the beach? You can practice at home by placing your short board on a mat or carpet and practice moving from lying down to standing up. Just be sure to remove the fins when you try this on a mat.

Who Should Use a Shortboard

Who Should Use a Shortboard

Do you think you and your friends are ready for a shortboard? The size of a board plays an important role when surfing or riding any kind of board sport. This is why not everyone may be ready for a specific type of surfboard. But, of course, anyone can always learn as long as they have the passion, patience, and discipline. So, are you one of them?

A Person With Advanced Surfing Skill

Surfing on a shortboard is harder than to surf on a longboard surfboard. It takes a lot of practice and advanced skills and techniques in order to enjoy surfing. Riding a shortboard without proper knowledge or skill level is one thing that can slow down the skill development of intermediate or even beginners.

A Kid Learning to Surf the First Time

Since kids are smaller, the length of the board should also match the kid’s height. So, a shorter board would be the best choice for kids. Also, shortboards are lighter so kids can easily carry them. Aside from that, kids who want to learn need a board with enough floatation and stability.

Anyone Who’s Ready for the Transition

As mentioned earlier, surfing on a shortboard needs proper knowledge and the right technique. This is why, before you move on to learning to use a shorter board, you should gain enough surfing knowledge and skills, except of course if you’re a kid who is short enough for a longer board. Trying to surf on a shortboard when you are not skilled enough may hinder your overall surfing progression.

How to Choose the Right Shortboard

How to Choose the Right Shortboard

Are you still interested to learn to try riding a shortboard? Choosing the right surf board is critical in order to enjoy your surfing journey. There are a lot of things to consider since boards come in different constructions, sizes, and shapes. To help you out, here are some things to remember when choosing the board for you.

  • Your ability to surf. Is it easy for you to catch a wave or can you generate speed easily? Or are you a beginner?
  • How you surf. What is your surfing style? Are you more of a power surfer or all about graceful movements?
  • What type of wave do you like catching? Small or big waves?
  • How light or heavy are you?

Your answer to the questions above will help you decide the right board that you should get for yourself.


What can you say about shortboards so far? There is no doubt that riding on a shortboard can be learned, however learning it may not be as fun as learning to surf on a longboard. Catching a wave may be harder and it requires a lot of skills and techniques to fully enjoy this sport. If you are looking for beginner surfboards, best to start with a longboard.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a shortboard good for a beginner?

Most people do not recommend starting to surf with a shortboard as the learning curve is steeper compared to longboards.

Can you surf small waves with a shortboard?

Yes, you can but it is somehow hard to generate speed on a shortboard compared to longboards, but it is possible. You only need to paddle hard until you feel that you can catch a wave.

How do you get waves on a shortboard?

In order to get waves on a shortboard, you need a lot of skills like paddling, popping up, and wave timing.

What is a good beginner surfboard?

There are a lot of beginner surfboards to choose from whether you are interested in shortboards or longboards. However, the recommendation from most surfers would be to start with a longboard surfboard.

What size should I get?

Board sizes vary and surfers should choose depending on their height and weight.

Why is learning to surf on a longboard easier than a shortboard?

It is mainly because of the size of the boards. Bigger boards offer better stability to help you balance and they can easily carry you to the waves.

Are poly surfboards good?

Surfers find it more responsive and provide clean carving turns, although they tend to be a bit heavier.

How can one improve their pop up?

Practice will help improve your pop up on shorter surfboards. It does not always have to be on the beach, you can practice at home with a mat.

When should I switch to a shortboard?

You’ll know you are ready to transition to a shorter board when you can comfortably stand, go right or left, do turns, and keep up speed. Once you have perfected those skills, you are ready to try a shortboard and have fun.

Sharing is caring!

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.

Related Posts

Subscribe To Our NewsLetter!

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x