Surfing is an excellent way to enjoy the ocean and the thrill of the waves while taking in breathtaking scenery that will create lasting memories. If you’re just learning how to surf this is a great place to start. Taking the time to understand the basics will go a long way to help you surf safely, enjoy the learning process and ultimately progress to a seasoned surfer.
Choose your Spot on the Beach
When you’re just starting out it is very important that you choose a crowd-free area where you’ll have some space to practice. Although your heart may be aching to hit a reef break your goal for now is to look for easy, spilling, mushy break waves that are in the 2 - 4ft range.
Practice your Paddling
Practice makes perfect and this is exactly what you want to keep in mind as you learn to paddle. To begin you need the correct position. Lie, belly-down on your board with your body weight centred. There should be a couple of inches between your feet and the back of the board. The right position allows you to glide easily through the water.
Next, cup your hands and paddle with both arms using a crawl stroke. As you gain experience you will be better able to balance the right and left sides of your body, and learn to handle “chop” or rough water by slightly lifting your chest to decrease the weight and keep your board from going under.
Practice your Pop Up
When you quickly move from a prone or lying down position to standing, this is called popping up. Popping up is another essential skill to master when you are learning how to surf. It’s good to practice on the beach to gain skill. You start the motion by doing a push up and once your arms are fully extended the next step is to quickly pull both knees in and hop to your feet.
Catching a Wave
Once you’re ready to catch a wave paddle out until you are waist or chest deep. Then lie down and paddle straight into the waves, not at an angle. Next, you will turn around by paddling hard on the side that you want to turn away from until you are facing the shore. Turn your head to watch for waves and when you see one that is about to break that is the time to start paddling. When you start to feel the momentum of the wave moving faster than you are paddling it is time to firmly grasp each rail and quickly pop up onto the board, just like you’ve been practising.
When standing on your board aim to keep slanted slightly forward and keep your weight centred. Firmly place one foot near the tail of your board and the other just above the middle. Crouch down to keep a low centre of gravity and keep your arms out as you look forward and maintain your balance.
Remember this is only the beginning. There is no limit to the excitement you can have learning to surf. Work hard to practice the above techniques and above all stay safe and have fun!