Here at Learn to Surf, we’re a firm believer that there is no one right way to learn how to surf. Sure, there are popular programs and rules of thumb to follow. We’ll introduce you to some of the major things to watch out for. If you can afford it, the best way to learn is from a professional, attentive instructor with one-on-one private lessons. But not everybody can afford this, and if everybody could there wouldn’t be enough instructors available. Group lessons for beginners are a more common way to get that very early instruction, but it’s also true that many people can learn to surf on their own—at least with extensive learning and practice.
It’s different than skiing, snowboarding, or wakeboarding. Water and ocean waves in particular are inherently unpredictable, even when compared to lakes and mountain slopes. Expect to struggle with surfing long after your peers have more or less mastered these other disciplines. Surfing is harder. There is no point in which you outgrow wipeouts and embarrassment, but there is a moment that occurs for most people—something akin to beginner’s luck—before they’ve given up entirely—in which they do catch a wave and fall in love with the combination of luck and skill needed for surfing.
- This passion will provide a lifetime of joyous frustrations, but it’s also fair to say, as this YT video shows, that with the right situation you can introduce yourself to surfing in a single day. Note: Even these one-day learning tutorials emphasize that the first step occurs out of the water by learning how to situate and balance yourself on the board. On the other hand, there’s no reason you can’t practice these postures and movements, long before you ever hit the beach.
- There’s nothing out there that says you can’t learn the “right way” on your own or even learn in your own right way, BUT there is something to be said for seeking out the guidance of someone who can help you refine your technique, before you hardwire an inefficient method for surfing, or some aspect of surfing. Check out #4 on this Top 5 list, and think about this: Maybe it’s not your first day of surfing that you buy professional lessons. Maybe it’s the second or third or fourth day—it’s that moment when you’re hooked and you know you need to learn the fundamentals, but all of the fundamentals and recently well and as soon as possible. That’s the day you should buy lessons.
- Looking for tips geared for adult beginners? Because we didn’t all grow up next to the beach and with a surf shop membership card in our wallet. Here’s a solid read from com. And please understand that 9 times out of 10, kook is a term of endearment—or at least not an outright slur. It’s NEVER TOO LATE—and this is coming from someone who now has physical limitations that make it too late to take on certain kinds of surfing challenges. But it’s the spirit of the saying, and if you can surf, you should surf. Only not that preachy. More waves for the rest of us, as it were.
Things to Know, Things to Avoid
So, what are these rules you need to observe and be on the lookout for as you introduce yourself to the insatiable love that is an honest surfing habit? Almost all the biggest and most common blunders that beginner surfers make involves over-reaching, if not outright false bravado.
It starts with your choice of surfboard. You gain nothing, and set yourself back from the start, by opting for the more highly skilled short boards. In fact, you should avoid hardboards altogether and start rather with a softboard, also known as a foamie. Seriously, so long as you don’t drop in and try to steal someone else’s wave, nobody cares what sort of equipment you’re riding. Once you’ve fallen in love with surfing, it’ll be easy to learn about waxing your hardboard, long and short, and how to use the versatility of a shortboard to challenge yourself and take your surfing skills to the next level. And a new round of learning frustrations.
NEVER Steal a Wave
The most common mistake may be the choice of board, but the biggest sin of all is the aforementioned “dropping in.” Before you try to catch that perfect wave, you need to make sure someone else isn’t trying to do the same and with the inside track to get into the wave. At first, this can be confusing and with an unexpected turn, beginners even with the best of intentions can make this mistake. Once you’ve gotten out a couple times and looked around at others, this is something you should be able to easily and consistently avoid. And do avoid it because there are few things that will get you shunned in the surfing community, but this is one of them. This also helps explain why the most popular surfing destinations aren’t necessarily the best ones for beginners. The quality of the waves aside, what you really need is space to explore what catching a wave looks like. You want some experienced surfers around to take cues from, but you don’t want huge and hugely crowded beaches, either.
Now, Learn to Surf!!! Go find the right time and the right place!! With a quick review of online tutorials and a foamie rental, you can introduce yourself to surfing for hardly any cost at all!