Welcome to an in-depth guide and tutorial on how to surf. Surfing is one of the hardest sports in the world to learn, but also the most rewarding, there is nothing like the feeling of riding a wave, as you will soon find out.
What makes learning how to surf harder than other activities and sports is the fact that your environment is ever-changing, unpredictable and very powerful. Imagine trying to learn how to ride a bike with the road constantly throwing itself at you.
It also takes a lot of time and practice to progress when you learn how to surf as the amount of time spent actually riding a wave in the early stages is very little.
I do recommend taking a lesson with a good surf school if possible as this can help speed up the learning process, but if you just want to get out there and learn how to surf on your own, follow these steps:
Step by step: Learning How To Surf
- First and foremost the safety aspect, the ocean can be very unforgiving to even the most experienced watermen, you only want to learn how to surf at lifeguard patrolled beaches. Seek their advice on the best place to surf and any unseen dangers. Also always take a friend so you can look out for each other.
- Next is equipment. Ignore the small, cool looking, pointy surfboards for now, they are useless for learning how to surf but they will come in time. For now size is your friend. The bigger the surfboard the easier it is going to be to surf and the faster you will progress. Thickness and width are the most important aspect as this supplies the buoyancy and stability which makes picking up waves a lot easier and staying stood up a lot easier too. The more waves you are catching and the longer you are standing the faster you will learn how to surf and improve. A good rule for surfboard length is to stand up straight and stretch your arm above your head, where your finger tips reach is the bare minimum length you should be learning to surf on. Keep the nose and tail template nice and wide too, no pin shaped tails or pointy noses. A foam surfboard is perfect, by far the easiest option to start with and can currently be picked up at amazing reduced prices. Alternatively a Mini-Mal Surfboard, especially the BIC Sport ACS is also perfect, maybe slightly more difficult than the foam board at the start but will enable you to progress further in the long run due to the added maneuverability it offers. Depending on which country you will be surfing in, a wetsuit may be essential.
- Next step as you learn how to surf is to work out whether you are goofy foot or regular foot, this just refers to your stance and whether its more natural to surf with your left foot forward or your right. This is the perfect time to practice your pop up (getting from prone position to standing position). This is a very important part in learning how to surf. Lie down on your front, as if you were on your surfboard, and place your hands under your chest just slightly lower than if you were going to do a push-up (either side of your rib cage). Now, instead of trying to jump up, you want to straighten your arms and arch your back, again like a push-up but with your hips still on the floor (in a cat stretch position). Now slide one leg up under your chest (this will be your natural front foot). Distribute your weight evenly over your two feet. You are now in a perfect and stable position to be able to slowly stand. Don't rush standing up straight, stay low and stable with your feet about shoulder width apart. Lie back down and do it again, keep doing it until it feels smooth and natural. At no point use your knees to climb up.
- Now its time to put it into practice and go surf. When you enter the sea (make sure you have your leash attached to your back foot) you'll need to get through a few lines of white water (broken waves). To get you and your surfboard through these put one hand on the tail of your board and the other in the centre of the deck. As the waves approach push down on the tail raising the nose and push the surfboard up and over the wave. While learning how to surf always keep your board pointing directly out to sea or towards land, this way you won't get smashed about as much. Work your way forward until waist deep, you'll progress further out as you become better for now you must learn how to surf on the white water broken waves, now turn your surfboard to face the shore. Wait until you see the wave you want and jump on your board in the lying position. You need to be centered on the surfboard. Too far back with the nose in the air and the tail will work like an anchor, too far forward and the nose will dig and you'll be flipped. Keep the surfboard relatively flat on the water.
- Start paddling towards the shore, hard. Before the wave gets to you, you'll want to have built up speed, the faster you are moving the easier and more smoothly the surf will pick you up. When the wave hits you, you will feel a huge speed increase, this means the wave has picked you up, give one more big paddle and don't try to stand until you are sure you have caught the wave. You are speeding toward the shore, its time to put your pop-up into action. Remember, smoothly, stay low until you have your balance, and no knees.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat. That's the only way to learn how to surf. Its going to take a while, just keep practicing. You will improve faster by watching and surfing with better surfers, and when not in the water, the best thing you can do is watch the pro's on Surfing DVD's and soak it all in.
Now you know how to surf you should find the following very useful