So you’ve decided you want to learn to surf? I mean really learn to surf? The first thing you might be thinking is “I need to find the right surfboard, which one is best?” but you might be jumping the gun a bit. Here are the top 5 KEY surfing tips for beginners to consider when thinking about learning to surf that will help you to get into the right mindset from the start.
1. Getting Comfortable in the Water
Before you even pick up a surfboard, you’ve got to be comfortable being in the water and the waves and it’s more important than what kind of board you choose. In reality, if you are not a fair swimmer you might need to work on that. Swim in the ocean, in the waves, learn to body surf. This will dramatically help with how quickly you can take to surfing.
2. The Time & Effort Factors
Once you actually get on a board the first thing you’ll need to master is simply gaining comfort paddling around on that surfboard, paddling out through waves, and that is purely a factor of time spent and experience gained in the water.
I don’t even want to think how long I spent paddling around in the surf before I was confidently surfing waves. It takes time! It’s getting to know the mechanics of waves and different spots and making incremental improvements. Once you start riding waves you need to keep doing that, hundreds and hundreds of times to refine your skills.
And that is probably the crux of learning to surf (or learning anything at all to a high level really). A commitment of time and effort. You won’t learn to surf in a day, or a week, or a month. You’ll learn over months and years of repetition and the more you put in the more you’ll get out.
3. Choose the right board to learn on (one that can float)
There’s nothing more cringeworthy than a learner surfer trying to paddle around on a paddle pop stick sized surfboard that only a pro surfer could make look good. Firstly you won’t be able to get anywhere paddling it and secondly, it will prove very difficult to catch waves. It’s a stereotype but a longer, more stable surfboard is going to make the above (getting comfortable in the water) much easier.
Not everyone wants to ride a long learner board and that’s fair enough. If you’ve got the swimming skills and feel like you can jump on something a bit smaller and less stable then there are plenty of options there for you, just don’t jump on a full on short board.
A higher volume board with more stability not only will be easier to try and learn on but you will learn the basics quicker and progress faster. Check out our articles: what size surfboard should I get?and Best Surfboards for Beginners (The Definitive Foam Surfboard Buyer Guide).
The other question that you will have is what type of surfboard you should get: fibreglass, epoxy, soft top…there’s many variations of surfboard construction. Here at Get Foamie we are obviously big fans of softboards and for many reasons. For learners, we think they are by far the best choice. They’re high volume, light and less dangerous than other boards.
4. Find an appropriate surf spot
Don’t go to the most popular crowded surfspot filled with experienced surfers and great waves. You’ll get the stink eye, you’ll get in people’s way and probably won’t have the best time! When you are learning to surf you need to catch as many waves as you can and they don’t need to be amazing so there’s no point to try and surf at the most popular spot. It’s all about quantity over quality of waves at this stage of your surfing career. You need small waves with limited crowds.
5. Find someone you can learn from
When you are starting out, if you can have someone who knows what they are doing show you the ropes that will really help. If you don’t have any friends or family who could give you some pointers I would suggest taking a few surf lessons. That will help you to get the basics, point you in the right direction and once you have a feeling for it you can practise on your own from there.
Once you start surfing more confidently, your learning can really be boosted by surfing with a friend who is better than you. At the beginning you are having to concentrate so hard on the simplest part of surfing – when you get past that you can start tweaking things little by little and improving your technique.
It took me a long while to go from beginner to intermediate and the best thing I ever did for improving my surfing was regularly surfing with a group of surfers who were better than me.
Repeat, Rinse, Repeat
As I mentioned before, once you get started and if you really want to improve your surfing it’s about time spent in the water and time catching waves over and over again.
One of my surfing buddies started surfing in his mid to late 30’s. When he started he was so goofy and everyone had to laugh at him in the water but the one thing was clear – he had caught the surfing bug. From those early days he surfed whenever he could.
Living an hour from the closest beach he would leave the city at 3am almost every weekend, sometimes for early sessions before work during the week consistently for years. Some people thought he was crazy but his surfing got better and better. Here we are almost 10 years later and he is a great surfer still with as much passion for surfing as a 10 year old grommet!
You may not be able to surf every day or even every week but you can still make the most of it and if you put the time in, you will learn to surf!
Hope you gained something from our top 5 surfing tips for beginners. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us!