Imagine if you could pop to your feet every time your learning to surf. How good would it be?
If you could catch all the waves you paddle for, pop up with less effort and know all the nuance rules like the back of your hand. This is the dream, right?
But right now you can't catch any of the waves, you feel frustrated and you keep falling off.
You've tried surf lessons, you've listened to all the tutorials on YouTube, you've even been to a coaching camp. And while it feels every surfer around you is having the best time your struggling to catch one wave.
But, it doesn’t have to be this way...
There is a way you can start improving your surfing. And you’ve been sitting on top of at all along. It doesn’t cost you any money, and you’ll find all the answers for free right here in this article.
All you have to do to get it is scroll down…
1. It's Friken Hard
As with all new sports, they take time to master.
Surfing is no different. In fact, learning to surf is one of the hardest and more complicated sports you could master.
Surfing requires the use of a wide range of movements. Some of these movements can feel awkward and unnatural to your body.
Take the pop up for example...
When would you perform the pop-up movement in your day to day life?
Therefore don't be too hard on yourself. You are going to need to familiarize yourself with a new range of movements, a moving board, the ocean, and a very steep learning curve.
All of these factors take time.
This is the juxtapose of why we love to hate surfing or rather hate to love surfing.
Surfing is difficult but this is why it's so much fun!
2. Understanding the Learning Curve
Life is one big learning curve. Add surfing into the mix and you've got yourself a very steep learning curve.
So what is the learning curve?
"the rate of a person's progress in gaining experience or new skills".
In your first couple of session learning to surf, you will see a quicker rate of progression. Usually in the first 6 months of surfing regularly.
After this time period, your progress slows down. This is often where most people learning to surf either give up or need some form of guidance/ help.
Look at the graph above. Most sports keep you hooked and engaged longer because your rate of progress is quicker.
Surfing is an exception. A constant moving environment, unfamiliar movements and a very slow learning rate it's of little wonder why learning to surf is so god damm hard!
3. Your Board is Everything!
The single most overlooked factor of learning to surf.
Think about it for a second...
What areas of your surfing do you have control over?
But you can control what board you choose.
Right now you could change what equipment your riding and see a MASSIVE difference in your surfing progress.
Most surfers are on the wrong board.
For two reasons:
Most surfers think they are better than they are
People hate taking advice
The good news is there's a mathematical equation which determines the correct board size without your ego getting in the way.
Let's break it down a little...
To catch more waves you need momentum. Having the correct volume makes it easier to paddle.
The buoyancy of the board on top of the water helps the board to move at the same speed as the oncoming wave.
Once you have caught the wave the same buoyancy helps to stabilize the board giving you more time to assist with your pop up.
Volume = Surfing success.
Don't try and be cool and walk around with a smaller board. Change your board and you will change your surfing.
Board Buyers Size Handbook
Buying the right board for your weight, ability & preference is key to advancing your surfing and move forward in your progression.
To find out if you're on the right board or if you need help choosing your next surfboard then download this free handbook.
4. Reading Waves Takes Time
The ocean has a magnetic pull, yet very little of us really understand the ocean. This is a fundamental part of learning to surf.
Waves are created by strong winds from storm systems out at sea. These waves travel hundreds of miles to reach your beach.
As the waves hit the shallow ledge of the beach they pitch and break. Understanding where the waves are pitching will help you identify the take off spot.
On point breaks, it's easier to identify the take-off spot and consequently, they attract thicker crowds.
Furthermore, beginner surfers struggle to understand the correct angle on takeoff, as a result, they don't catch many waves. More on that later...
Hence the reason why learning to surf is best at a beach break.
Most people learning to surf fail to observe the beach conditions before entering the water. Taking a few minutes before each surf helps to identify some important factors.
What are you looking for?
- 1The rhythm of the sets? E.g Are the sets breaking every 5 minutes? or every 4 minutes?
- 2Where are the waves pitching?
- 3Find a landmark that lines up with your take off spot
- 4Which wave in the set is best? 1,2,3 etc
- 5Are the waves dumping, surging or spilling over?
- 6Are these conditions safe for learning to surf?
Take note of the best surfers and watch what they are doing.
Begin the process now and you will notice a big difference in the months that follow.
Don't rely on a surf coach, friend or blog post like this one. Practicing in your environment is the best way to learn how to read the waves.
Never underestimate the first-hand experience.
5. You Need To Be Fit
If you're having trouble with your pop up it's best to work on your push-ups.
Are you struggling to catch waves? Then work on your upper body strength.
Finding it difficult to rotate your body into turns? Then work on your flexibility.
Can you see a pattern? Or are you still in denial?
Let me explain.
To get good at surfing requires you to put the work in. This means putting an extra hour at the gym or signing up to a yoga class or even better signing up to an online surf fitness program.
Learning to surf requires good fitness levels.
The good news is as you continue on your surfing path you will build more and more residual surf fitness.
So each time you hit the water it's going to get easier and you will see better results.
6. Skateboarding Really Helps
Nothing mimics surfing quite like skateboarding.
You face many challenges learning to surf, one of them is the ability to practice the same technique or the same manouever over and over again.
Why is skateboarding so damn good for your surfing? First of all, it helps to recreate similar scenarios and mimics the same body movements you use in the water which in turn will build muscle memory.
There are many benefits to skateboarding...
- 1Grab a friends board or if you have your own place a few cones dotted around a carpark and try weaving in and out of them
- 2Try to generate your own speed using rail to rail weight distribution
- 3Bring your leading arm into your turns to help as your guide
- 4Stay low and compressed
Try skating as often as you can and see the difference in your surfing next time your in the water.
7. Know the Correct Technique From the Beginning
Surf Schools have perfected the art of teaching the pop up to beginners. The technique they teach is know as the "Chicken Wing", or "Lizard toe technique".
It's imperative to learn the correct technique from the get-go. This helps your muscle memory learn the right way from the very beginning, as a result, build on solid foundations.
Bad habits are hard to get rid of. And, you will have to go through the difficult process of 'unlearning' these techniques to move forward.
Are you familiar with the term "two steps back, one step forward"?
Yeah, it sucks.
Straight out the gates learn the correct technique and start shredding the waves.
- 110 x 3 sets of push-ups
- 210 x 3 sets of pop-ups
Increase each repetition every day by 1%.
8. Surf Etiquette
All sports have their specific codes of conduct and surfing is no exception, so it's important you familiarise yourself with them.
There's lots of politics that go on in a surfing lineup that can make things intimidating, especially for beginners. And there's nothing worse than trying to learn to surf when your feeling nervous.
But, by taking a little time to understand the rules and etiquette, you'll know exactly where you stand in the lineup. So you can then just concentrate on having fun.
Surf Etiquette Chapbook
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9. Choose the Right Surf Spot that Matches Your Ability
Surfing is naturally hard, so don't make it more difficult by surfing in places that aren't suitable for your ability.
For this reason, it's best to stick to patrolled beach breaks.
Beach breaks often have sand bottoms so if you happen to have a nasty wipeout it won't hurt too much.
If your really unsure try and find where the learn to surf schools in your area take their students. This will hands down be your best choice.
If your feeling up for a challenge then a sand bottom point break is also good.
Knowing how to read surf charts is the backbone of any surfer.
Knowing which break is pumping helps you save more time and for that reason, you can spend more time doing what you love.
10. Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice makes perfect.
We've all heard this before...
But how many have actually implemented this?
Because most people would rather procrastinate than take action.
To put it simply... Most wish to become better surfers but very few put the time into practicing to become a better surfer.
Taking action requires detemination and endurance and continuous repetition.
"The gateway to mastery is through repetition" - Omanu
So here what you need to do...
Put on your wet wetsuit or if your lucky to live in the tropics your lycra, wax up your board, and go out there and practice until your heart's content.
Phew! That was a long article.
But hopefully, you’ve walked away armed with even more learning to surf tips that will get you the results you’re looking for.
But, let’s do a quick recap to make sure you’ve taken the most important information from this article:
Okay, now I’m interested to know what are your favorite learning to surf tips?
Let me know in the comments below!