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Surf Etiquette for Beginners (12 Things Every Beginner Surfer Should Know)

Surfing is a water sport that involves riding a wave using a surfboard on the shores of the sea or ocean. With a surfer’s cool surfing moves and tricks, surfing has been an increasingly popular water sport that gives health benefits and the opportunity to enjoy nature. 

Easy as it may look, surfing is a physically demanding sport. You have to develop skills, be physically fit, and know basic surfing etiquette. These may take time, but consistently doing this can help you level up from a beginner to a surf expert. 

Don’t be overwhelmed and afraid. The fact that you are here is one step forward in your surfing journey. Whether you are a novice or reviewing the basics, we are here for you.

This article will tell you the preparation you need for a surf, the basic rules of surfing, and tips for new surfers. 

Ready? Let’s get started!

How to prepare for a surf?

There are things to prepare before going out and riding the waves. Reading about surfing, preparing surfing equipment, and being physically fit are essential. These preparations will help you surf safely and enjoy your surfing experience. 

Read about surfing. By doing this, you can understand what surfing is and how to do it. It can also familiarize you with the words that your coach can teach in your surfing lesson. 

Additionally, this can give you insights into the surfers’ experiences and their journey towards improving themselves in this sport. 

Attending your surfing lessons and understanding your coach will be much easier. You can also ask questions or clarify things you are confused about with your coach. 

It is always the best move to know what you are getting in. With internet resources, mental preparation for surfing is easy. 

Your surfing equipment is the next important thing to prepare. Ensure that you have the right equipment for surfing. The surfing equipment may include a surfboard, wetsuit, surfboard leash, fins, and sunscreen. 

Choosing a surfboard can be challenging because different types of materials and models of surfboards can overwhelm you. It’s better to select a soft-top and longer surfboard, at least seven feet long. Longer boards are easier to catch a wave, easier to control, and more stable than shorter ones. 

A fin setup that is for beginners is a thruster setup. This setup has three equal-sized fins: two in front and one behind them. It provides stability, is suitable for everyone regardless of experience level, and is perfect for any waves. 

Wetsuits have variations that refer to their thickness. The thicker the wetsuit, the warmer it gets. It is worn as an added layer of protection against the weather and helps surfers withstand different weather conditions while riding the waves. 

Tommy Tsunami Surf School is a great place to start. It offers surf lessons, including surfboards and wetsuits. So, you can learn how to surf without spending much and being stressed in choosing surf equipment. 

Lastly, sunscreen is a must-have for your surfing. It protects your skin from ultraviolet rays and prevents you from getting skin cancer. Choose a water-resistant sunscreen made explicitly for watersports and eco-friendly. 

If you now have surfing equipment, the next thing you need to prepare is your surfing fitness. Your body should have the endurance, flexibility, balance, strength, and speed required for surfing. 

Remember that exercises that build muscles are not enough. It will be helpful to do exercises that increase your mobility and flexibility.  

Yes, surfing needs physical preparation. However, don’t be discouraged because there are pieces of training available for you. You can join surf training lessons to assist you or have a training coach design a specific training program. 

Basic rules of surfing etiquette

Surfing etiquette is the list of do’s and don’ts that all surfers must follow regardless of their level of surfing skills and expertise and where they are surfing. The etiquette minimizes the risk of injuries, ensures respect and safety, and maximizes the fun to enjoy surfing. 

Here are the surfing etiquettes:

1. Observe the Right of Way

You must know who has the right of way on the wave. They should be:

  • the surfer who is furthest out or has been waiting long
  • the surfer that is furthest inside or closest to the peak of the breaking wave. They always get priority
  • the surfer who is the first to feet or first onto the wave.

2. Don’t Drop-In

A drop-in happens when a surfer paddles and rides a wave that another surfer is already up and riding. It makes the surfer already on the wave to end up behind the one who dropped in. 

Dropping in on a surfer is a major no-no in surfing. It is the quickest way to get yourself in trouble and injure other surfers. It also can result in verbal and physical abuse, which can create a bad atmosphere in the water. 

Remember that the general rule in surfing is one surfer per wave. 

To avoid this from happening, follow the first surfing etiquette. Give priority to the surfer who is paddling closer to the peak. Most of all, always observe your surroundings.

If you accidentally dropped in, apologize and surf over the back of the wave and off it as quickly as possible. Let the surfer the priority to continue their way on riding waves. 

3. Don’t Snake

Snaking happens when a surfer paddles around one or more surfers to steal wave priority and get closest to the peak. Occasionally, some surfers snake in the last minutes to take off deeper and claim priority. 

Snaking is not an acceptable surfing behavior. Always wait for your turn.

4. Don’t Hog the Waves

Do not be greedy for waves. Even if you can catch the waves first every time you line up, don’t do it often. 

Share the wave, give a wave, and keep it fair. 

5. Do Apologize

Apologize when you run over someone, drop in on someone, or breach the surf etiquette and rules. Apologizing is a basic courtesy and good manners. It can smoothen out things and maintain a good atmosphere in the water.

6. Respect the Locals

When surfing in a place you don’t know, always respect the locals. They surf the spot every day, so be friendly and earn respect for yourself.

Don’t gang up in numbers to get your desired surf spot. Don’t rush and take your time. 

If there is an outsider that visits your home break, respect them and share a few waves. 

7. Learn the Right Way to Paddle Out

The right way to paddle out is not to ditch your board and not paddle into the path of other surfers. Observe the waves, time your paddle out, and use your judgment to avoid other surfers. 

When you paddle out where waves are breaking, don’t paddle through it—paddle wide of the peak. If a surfer is up and riding a wave where you are on the inside of the breaking waves, you can either stay put or paddle out where the surfer came from so that you end up behind the surfer. 

Focusing on the take-off area in front of you is essential when paddling. Don’t be too fixated on the approaching waves because it can get dangerous when you can not notice a surfer who is suddenly in front of you. 

So, remember to look ahead, occasionally glance sideways, and adjust your stroke when paddling. Do not hesitate to ask a lifeguard if you have any questions. 

8. Surf Spots Suitable to Your Ability

Know your ability range and pick a good spot for your level. Otherwise, you will get in the way or become a potential hazard to other surfers. You can ask the lifeguards to guide you if you are unsure where to surf. 

It is good to challenge yourself with more giant waves occasionally, but do it slowly and carefully to prevent danger in the water. 

9. Help Other Surfers

Surfing may be fun, but it can also be dangerous and fatal. So, when we are in the water, it is always good to look after each other. 

Help another surfer when they are in trouble. Even if a lifeguard is around, you may be the nearest one to rescue swimmers and surfers in distress. 

However, don’t offer your hand when you do not undergo proper rescue training. Offering your hand will only do more harm than good because it can drown you when the one you are rescuing grabs you. 

Instead, approach them carefully, offer your board, and calm them down. Once the rescued surfer has calmed down, you can start bringing them back to the shore. 

10. Respect the Beach

Respecting the beach and ocean is the essential rule in surfing. No one wants to paddle out on a beach full of garbage and dirty waters. 

Please don’t litter, make graffiti, vandalize, or do other things that can negatively impact the beach and its surroundings. Leave only your footprints and help maintain cleanliness. 

Respecting the beach also means taking care of marine life. Use eco-friendly products that are safe for aquatic organisms. 

11. Don’t Throw Your Surfboard

Surfboards are dangerous weapons that can cause injuries to you and others. So you must avoid ditching it. Please don’t throw it and don’t lose control of it. 

Controlling your surfboard takes time. That is why it is vital to wear a leash at all times. Use a leash and provide safety for you and other surfers and swimmers. 

12. Communicate What You Will Do

Since surfing is the fastest growing sport globally, expect that there will be more surfers on the beach. You have to communicate with other surfers to develop and maintain a relationship and ensure safety and fun during surfing. 

There may be times when two surfers are in the middle of a dual-peaking wave. You have to communicate whether you will go left or right to save yourself from battling for the direction you are planning on surfing. 

Tips and advice for new surfers

Set realistic expectations

When you have read and understood what surfing is and how to learn it, you must set realistic expectations. Otherwise, you may have feelings of failure, frustration, and low self-esteem. 

Some people can quickly learn to surf while others have slow progress. Don’t be discouraged if you belong to the latter group. Continue learning, and eventually, you will improve. 

Practice your pop up

A good pop-up can make your wave-riding experience great. It can get you into challenging waves, set you up for a better opening maneuver, and help you move down the line. 

However, this is a skill you need to develop by practicing. It may be physically demanding, but you will get familiar with it through practice.

Whitewater is the best place to practice and perfect your pop-up technique and stance. You can catch approximately 50 waves in the whitewater within one session, giving you more pop-up practice opportunities. 

Go to a beginner’s spot

Excellent and famous spots for surfing are usually for experienced surfers. But don’t worry because there is also a beginner’s spot that makes you learn surfing much easier and more enjoyable. 

Going to a beginner’s spot can help you build skills, improve your pop-up technique, and improve wave reading. 

Your surfing coach or experienced surfers can guide you to a beginner’s spot. 

Learn how to read waves

When learning to surf, you also have to learn how to read waves. This will allow you to choose suitable spots for your level. It also helps you determine which areas you want to try to increase your level of challenge slowly. 

Learning waves can help you progress faster. If you aren’t sure, ask for assistance and guidance from your surfing coach or an experienced surfer. 

Learn to read the surf forecast

It is not enough that you learn how to wave. You also need to know how to read a surf forecast

Once you learn how to read surf cast, you can learn to surf faster by spending much of your sessions in waves suitable for you. It can also help you predict conditions and schedule your surfing time. 

Ask local lifeguards

If you are not sure about your knowledge of surfing, like the wave reading and surf forecast, you can ask the local lifeguards for assistance. You can also inquire about the details of the place’s safety, rules, and conditions. 

Surf regularly

Surfing regularly can significantly improve your surfing skills, propelling you to the next level. It can help you build and maintain the surf or paddling fitness required for surfing.

Spending more time in the ocean, you’ll make sense of and understand the constantly changing wave conditions and the different surf tops. 

Be confident

If you have been consistent and disciplined in surfing, be confident to charge on heavier waves or surf on crowded days. Confidence can help you improve your surfing skills and make you feel satisfaction and fulfillment when you surf. 

To build confidence, you must think before you paddle out. If you want to challenge yourself, ensure that the waves you want to ride are challenging in a way out of your comfort zone. Don’t go if you think it is too difficult for you. 

Also, continue getting paddle fit and practice your techniques more. 

Take surf lessons from experts

It is insufficient to learn surfing through reading and practicing on your own. Taking surf lessons can let you meet expert surfers who will teach you all the things you need to know and their experiences. Surf coaches are hands-on in guiding you and can answer all your questions and concerns. 

Final thoughts

Like any other sport, it takes knowledge, time, practice, and discipline to learn how to surf. It will not be easy, but the journey is worth it. 

We have presented the preparation, tips, and surf etiquettes for guidance. But of course, it is very different from hands-on learning. 

Tommy Tsunami Surf School can provide the hands-on learning experience you are looking for. We give private surf lessons if you want one-on-one coaching. Group lessons and corporate team-building lessons are also available. 

We can teach you to surf regardless of your age. So, if you want your kids to start surfing early, we have a five-day kid’s surf camp. 

Enroll in our surf lessons now! 

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