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Phuket Surf School


A quick learn to surf guide
for newcomers to the sport/lifestyle/obsession of surfing


Catching Waves Before They Break-Green Waves

You'll never forget your first real wave!

This is probably one of the biggest challenges for people learning to surf. Timing is everything! I always tell our students to watch the waves, when you are in the water and out. Imagine where you want to be on the wave at the point when you are ready to stand. Get really familiar with what a wave looks like during it's stages of approaching the sand bank, building up and breaking.

The good thing about this is that surfing is one of the only sports that you can look at your playing field for hours and not get bored (someone famous said that, I just can't remember who!)

The 3 important factors for catching a green wave are timing, positioning on the wave, paddling speed and practice. OK 4 factors, I was never really good at maths.

Positioning on the wave

Sit on the beach and look at a wave as it is starting to break, notice the 3 areas of too steep, gliding area and not steep enough (too fat or full), the gliding area is where you want to be. Because waves move, the gliding area does too, a split second too late and your beautiful gliding area will become too steep, causing you to nose dive.... Lots of fun :)

positioning on a wave for surfing

Timing of Waves

Timing is making sure you are not going too early or too late. Starting to paddle too early can cause you to be out in front of the wave with 2 fun possibilities. Being on the too steep part of the wave and nose diving, or getting so far in front that the wave breaks on your back.

wave to steep
Too steep-nose diving

Paddling too late will cause you to miss the wave, or nose dive, because you are not going fast enough and the wave sucks you back up the face instead of you gliding down the wave.

Too late-missing the wave

Paddling Speed

How fast you paddle is about getting yourself gliding down the wave. When you feel yourself going up the wave it is not the time to stand. It is the time to give 2 or 3 more power paddle strokes to get you gliding down. The best way to know if you are going fast enough is to lift your chest off the board, if the surfboard starts gliding, pop-up, if the surfboard slows down, you need to paddle more.

Being in the position of standing on your board as the wave passes you by is very uncool and should be avoided at all costs.

More things to Consider

Timing and paddling speed are difficult to separate, as the consequences of poor timing, or poor paddling speed are similar.

One consequence is nose diving. If you are nose diving, when trying to take a wave, don't make the common mistake of thinking you are to far up on your surfboard.

When people think this, they move back on the board. By doing this you have now made it even more difficult to catch a wave as now your body weight is at the back of the surfboard, which is essentially like putting on the brakes, making it even more difficult to get the speed you need to be gliding

In fact we actually try and lay as far up on the surfboard as possible, without nose diving. Your fast paddling will help give some lift to the nose of the board. We are trying to go down a wave, as we no longer have whitewater pushing us forward.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Getting the concepts of positioning, timing and speed takes practice and lots of it. You will fall off a lot, nose dive and miss many waves, but the more you practice the better you will get.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and start practicing!

Other FAQs

How to fix your surfboard

How to spray paint your surfboard


How to forecast the surf

How to ride a body board


Where can I find Learn to Surf Books & DVDs?



All About Surfing::Saltwater Dreaming::

mailing/postal address

Saltwater Dreaming
108/3 moo 3
Cheongthalay, Thalang
Phuket 83110
Tel: +66 76 271050
Fax: +66 76 325629
URL: www.saltwater-dreaming.com

Surf Shop (location map)
Surin Beach, Phuket, Thailand