Surfing is challenging but fun. When guided by a reputable coach, you could be paddling and riding a wave on your first surfing day. The right board, the right surf spot, and a positive mindset are key when beginning your surfing journey.
Surfing might be one of those things you plan on doing when you are on holiday. You want to be a badass surfer and experience the waves first-hand. Engaging in the risky, complex sport is thrilling. But you should know that your first day out can be intimidating.
This post is for beginner surfers who want to know what to expect. It details what you should know about surfing, how to pick a surfboard, prepare your body, choose surf spots, and most importantly, the silent rules of surfing.
What to know about surfing
Surfing is an exhilarating, rewarding sport that shapes your thinking and body. Before you get into the water, here are surfing beginner tips to make your life easier.
Things you should know about the sport
Surfing is addictive. It is one of those sports that becomes your way of life when you get started. You crave for more. You’ll find yourself traveling the world to experience surfing in Bali, Portugal, Spain, Costa Rica, and other famed surfing spots.
It is an intricate sport that requires dedication and resilience. There are thousands of techniques to learn, and no wave is similar to another. You can never be 100% sure you are an expert. With surfing, you learn every day.
Learning how to surf takes time. Even the best surfers get wiped out by waves. It is one of those rare sports where the learning curve is humbling, and the playground is constantly changing. Don’t be in a rush to learn the sport, but catch as many waves as you can.
How you position your feet is essential. It is best to put your feet together when paddling a wave. Resist the beginner’s urge to hang your feet over the tail loosely.
Know your spot. Make use of professional apps to search for beginner-friendly surfing spots. Sand breaks with mellow waters are best for beginners, and what’s beneath the water – sand, coral reefs, or rock – influences the wave. Interestingly, a surfing spot keeps changing depending on the wave.
Engage an experienced surfer or coach to learn the basics. Riding waves in the ocean is a dangerous sport. So, you want to know the right tactics from an experienced coach. You could also register for a surf camp for a wholesome learning experience.
Tommy Tsunami Surf School is for all ages and all-level surfers. They also have a surf camp, private lessons, group lessons, and packages for corporates looking for team-building activities.
As a rookie, standing on your board is challenging. To do it right, you should put your hands on the board and push your body up, and swiftly sweep your feet to stand.
As a safety measure, always surf with friends or in a group of surfers, never without a leash. Maintain a safe distance from other surfers when surfing, and observe surfer manners such as sharing waves. Also, improve your swimming skills in the ocean.
Things to know about surfboards
There is a surfboard for everything, and the right board will determine how many waves you catch. The more the waves, the quicker you’ll learn.
Your first surfboard will influence your confidence in the ocean. As a beginner, there are basic surfing skills you want to master. Posture (pop-ups and balance), positioning on the board, and tolerance in the ocean.
Surfboards that are easy to paddle, have a high buoyancy (flotation), and are stable are ideal for novices. Therefore, as a rookie, volume is critical when choosing aboard.
Surfing beginner boards that are thicker, wider, and longer will have you catch waves easily. Bigger boards don’t require much effort to paddle, and they’re better at catching waves.
Go for more than a seven-inch board if you weigh 70 kg and 7.6 inches if your weight is between 70 and 90kg. Above 90 kg, an 8-inch board is best.
Also, foam boards or soft boards are safer and more stable than conventional ones.
Waxing. Yes, surfboards need good waxing to help with balance.
Experiment with surfboards. Rent or take them for a test until you find the one. Don’t be in a rush to buy or give in to the temptation of purchasing second-hand surfboards.
Second-hand surfboards pose a danger. They may have broken before and repaired the wrong way, or they may have the former owners built them to tackle more brutal waves.
Take care of your surfboard. Let it lie flat and not stand when not in use. Also, please keep it away from the sun in a cool area. Ensure you clean it or rinse it after you surf.
How to prepare your body before you start surfing
Your body will determine your posture and positioning. Before you start surfing, it is good to eat healthily, do plenty of stretches, and often swim in the ocean.
Good surfers are acrobats, which helps improve their flexibility and agility. You can follow a cardiovascular and resistance training workout before your first day in the water.
Also, stay positive and meditate. Riding waves can be frustrating when you start, but you’ll learn.
If you can, stay in shape. Most beginner surfers complain of sore arms after a whole day of paddling. Others have sore hips. If you are fit, the full-body workout at your first surf lesson won’t take a toll on you.
When wax rubs against the sensitive belly skin, it causes a nasty rash. Get a rash guard or an old T-shirt and put it on before going. It never hurts to be prepared.
Also, find out the weather conditions of where you want to surf and figure out how to keep yourself safe from the bad stuff. Waves are unpredictable; if you have a good instructor, the better.
Things to know about surf ethics
Like any other sport, surfing has etiquette rules that all surfers must observe. It would be best if you didn’t drop in on a wave. Say sorry when you drop in unintentionally, do not interfere, share and keep in mind safety measures while in the water. Let’s expound on some.
Do not drop-in
Give precedence to the surfer closest to the peak (where the wave will begin to break first), and the first surfer on his feet has priority.
If you do something dumb when surfing unintentionally, stop communicating and apologize.
Do not interfere with another surfer’s run, even when the wave comes up to you, because the other surfer has priority.
Do not wave hog, share
Do not paddle continuously to the next peak and take on all the waves. Share the waves and wait out a bit before riding the next wave.
Don’t be a hazard
Observe all safety measures like using a leash, not letting go of your board, and surfing within your skills so that surfers don’t need to save you from drowning.
Even if other riders are responsible for you in the ocean, it is upon you not to pose a risk to yourself and other surfers.
How to choose surf spots
Identify a beginner-friendly surf spot when you’re ready to take your first ride.
Choose a spot with soft waves that ideally break into deeper water. Sand bottomed beaches are best but note that some places keep changing in the tide, current, and waves. It could be beginner-friendly now and on a higher surfing level later.
In an emergency, a beach patrolled by lifeguards will provide you with a sense of security.
Steer clear of popular spots frequented by crowds of surfers and swimmers.
Before taking your first surfing lesson, look for an instructor to help you navigate the complex sport. Be patient when learning and expect spills and falls. Also, do your research on beginner surf spots and get a big and soft board to start with.
Lastly, familiarize yourself with surfing manners and prepare your body. Don’t forget the wetsuit and sunscreen.