Everything About Learning to Surf
Learn to Surf Tips for Beginners
A quick learn to surf guide
for newcomers to the sport/lifestyle/obsession of surfing
Learn to Surf Instructions- The Art of Surf Boarding
'It's like the mafia. Once you're in- you're in. There's no getting out.' - Kelly Slater
Excitement, fear, relaxation,meditation, being one with nature, pure fun are all part of the addiction to surfing.
Where to Learn to Surf
The right waves for learning to surf
In general, a surf boarding beginner wants to find a break with waves that look crumbly and slow. Try to find small waves and a sandy beach; you'll be walking around a lot. Don't paddle into a crowded break; you'll likely be a hazard.
Don't surf alone either; there will be nobody to help if you're in trouble. Surf where there are people present but not right on top of them where you'll be in the way.
Ask around for good beginner surf breaks when you're shopping around for your surfing equipment. Most shop proprietors will be happy to assist, especially if you're making a purchase.
You could also look for surf schools giving surfing lessons. Where they are teaching others is probably a place that has good beginner waves. Or get your first lesson with a surf school and they will teach you what are good waves for learning and many other important tips that will take you a long time to learn by trial and error.To find the right break for you to learn on. Phuket has become known as a place with gentle and easy waves, which are ideal for learning to surf.
Websites like Global surfers also have plenty of information for surfing destinations all over the world. You could also check out some of the beach cams in your area to see if the waves are suitable for surfing beginners.
Here are some tips on reading the surf and rip currents
Read about how to catch and ride your first wave
It's always a bad idea to just paddle out into the waves without first getting a good idea of what the conditions are like.
In December, 1978, a young surfer did just that at The Farm in Australia, paddling out into what he thought was head-high surf when it was twice that size and getting bigger, an hour of being thrashed around paddling aimlessly into oncoming walls of whitewater the surfer was exhausted and lay on the beach for another hour just getting his breath back.
Oh yeah....that young surfer was me.......I quickly learnt my lesson though, and these days I always sit watching the surf, channels and rips to work out where the best spot is to surf and paddle out.
Watch the waves for at least twice as many minutes as the waves are high on the face in feet. On a waist high day, that means watching for about 5 or 6 minutes. On a double-overhead day, that means watching for about 20 minutes. You should watch long enough to see at least 2 lots of set waves roll in.
Get a feel for where everyone is sitting in the water, where the waves are breaking, and where they're not breaking. Look for rip currents, rocks and hazards. Watch a few larger 'set waves' roll through. Think about where you can paddle out into the surf, and where you can swim in if you get into trouble.
Also, take some time while watching the waves to stretch. Focus on your neck, shoulders, triceps, back, and legs. Swing your arms and get your pulse going. Get into a calm state of mind.
Put some sunscreen on your face and some wax on your board and get out there!
Here are some tips on stretching exercises before you go surfing
Paddling and Laying on Your Surfboard
Paddling a surfboard is one of the most essential skills for surfing. It is what you will be doing most of the time in the water. It is what gives you your fitness and what makes you tired. Paddling correctly will help you catch waves and progress in surfing better, quicker.
Read more about how to paddle on a surfboard
Goofy or Regular Foot?
Before you get on your surfboard, or put on your surf leash you need to know whether you are Goofy or Regular foot. This means which foot you put at the front of your surfboard.
Goofy footed- right foot at the front
Regular footed- left foot at the front
Here are some tests:
The linoleum slide test -- wear socks and run and slide across the kitchen floor. Which foot is first? Plant it front on your board.
The push test -- have someone push you (gently) from behind. Which foot goes forward. That is your front foot.
The stair test -- which foot leads on stairs, down? Front foot.
Bike test -- When you ride a bike and coast, which foot leads on fast downhills? Front foot on board.
The best way to figure this out is to try riding a skateboard; your back leg while skateboarding is the same as while surfing.
Really the tests above are for people who really can't work out which foot to put forward. Most people when practicing to stand up on a surfboard, just do it without thinking.
Read about how to 'pop up' stand up on a surfboard
Your First Surf Boarding Waves - Whitewater Waves
By now you have found a good place to learn to surf and have gotten used to paddling around on the board without falling off. The next step is to catch and ride your first surfing waves.
Read about how to ride your first whitewater wave
Read About how to fall off your surfboard
Surfing Real Waves - Green Waves
Now that you've mastered the whitewater foamies and are well-versed in the rules of surfing, you're ready to catch some real waves.
The idea is similar to catching the whitewater. Start paddling early as the wave approaches. You should be reaching full speed as the wave comes underneath you and lifts you up, this is the time to give those last few power strokes. The time to stand is when the board starts to plane on the surface of the water, as you are sliding down the face of the wave.
There is a moment where there is the feeling of weightlessness as the board starts to drop down the face, this is the time to stand up.
Standing to early, you probably will fade off the back of the wave, standing to late you run the risk of pearling/nose diving or if you do get up the momentum you had going down the face has gone and the wave will probably outrun you.
Now you're really surfing!
Read about how to ride your first green wave
Now you're ready to do some turns and maneuvers
Practice, watch others, ask for advice, and check back here for more updates to the page.
The Rules of Surfing
Become familiar with these rules of surfing behavior in the lineup before heading outside of the whitewater.
These are well- established rules throughout the world and bring order to what would otherwise be a nightmarish and chaotic sport, with everyone running each other over, lots of dinged-up boards, and lots of waves going by unridden because everyone is getting thrashed in the soup.
Read more about the rules of surfing and surf etiquette
How to Duck Dive
- Duck diving
- correctly is an essential technique for surfing. Duck diving allows you to get through/under the waves with the least amount of energy and also gets you out the back of the waves quickly.
Learning to duck dive takes a lot of practice it is not as easy as it looks. If you don't duck dive correctly the wave will push you back and you will probably lose your board. The worst scenario, on bigger waves, is that the wave will pick you up and suck you over the falls inside the wave! This is not a pleasant experience! But we've all been there!
Read more about the steps on how to do a duck dive and a turtle roll
Your First Surfboard
When you learn to surf there are many different types of surfboards to choose from, and for a beginner the features and characteristics can seem confusing.
The best surfboard for a beginner is a funboard or an egg, which is a fairly wide and thick board from 7' to 8' in length, typically having a blunt or rounded nose. A good rule of thumb is to get something 14-24" longer than you are tall, and at least 20" wide.
Read more about which surfboard is suited for learning to surf
Your First Wetsuit
Far and away the single most important thing to look for when purchasing a new wetsuit is how it fits.
Shop around as much as you can. Make sure the suit has a comfortable feel. All suits will be tight by design but it shouldn't be totally restrictive of motion.
Read more about choosing a wetsuit or a lycra rash vest
The leash is a cord of polyurethane that straps around the ankle of a surfer and is attached to the surfboard. Attach it to your back leg. Never tug on the leash when your board is being held under as the board can come snapping back at you. Practice removing it quickly in case it gets caught on a rock or pier piling.
Most leashes have a quick release tab, a large piece of webbing that is easy to grab onto and pull. Treat your surfboard as if it was not attached, doing conservative exits and hanging onto it at all times.
Surf Wax / Traction Pads / Deck GripsSomething to keep your feet on the board once you learn to stand up.
Surfboard WaxWax goes on the deck (top) of the board. Usually comes in two coats, a base coat which goes directly onto the deck in a thin layer and is quite hard, and then a sticky coat over that which beads up to provide traction.
Traction Pads / Deck Grips
These are expensive traction pads that provide some extra grip as well as padding for the deck of the board. They can limit the movement of the feet and can result in discomfort to the chest and stomach while paddling.
Tail patches are grip specially designed for the rear of the board, and provide good traction for the rear foot needed in most turns on a shortboard.
Read more about how to use and apply surfboard wax and traction pads
Read about Surfboard Fin Selection Tips from FCS
Some other useful resources, opinions and tips for the beginning surfer on how to surf board.
Learn to surf with Merrick Davis in Noosa, Australia
Learn to Surf surfing lessons in Phuket