Beginner Surf Tips | Part One

A short guide of beginner surf tips for those just starting out on the surfers path. Covering the obvious, not so obvious and down right annoying. Simple easy beginner surf tips to help you enjoy surfing and get a head. After all – no one wants to be a beginner for ever!

Unintentionally ‘dropping in’ on surfers 

As a surfer there is nothing worse, no higher crime, than dropping in on a wave that isn’t yours. 

And as a beginner or intermediate surfer – there is a lot going on in. Catching a wave is the hardest and most frustrating thing in surfing. Let alone popping up, keeping your balance and of course actually surfing the wave with style and intention.

Being new to anything means that you are needing to focus much of your attention on the task at hand. Being a new surfer means your’e not just effortlessly stroking into waves like you see some people do. 

Don’t forget, we’ve all been there. It’s the momemnt you’ve been waiting for, finally the right wave comes along, you feel the wave lift up the back of your surfboard, the nose dips and your up on your feet, ready to feel the exhilaration of catching a green wave, you hear muffled shouts, you look to your left and there is a mean looking surfer staright out of nowhere charging towards you at mach speed – suddenly all your hard work goes out the window.

It’s colision at first sight.

Instantly you have a feeling of guilt in your stomach mixed with embarrassment and frustration as you realise that you didn’t see the surfer catch the wave at the peak as you were too focussed on your own surfing.

You had that wave right where you wanted it, worked hard and had been patient but neglected the all important golden rule of checking both ways.

Beginner surfer tip:

Be mindful of tunnel vision or ‘having the blinkers on’ as it’s likey going to end up in some awkward entanglemt with a strnager.

Treat catching a wave much like you approach a traffic round about in your car.

Surfing right – Give way to your left (but still worth a quick look right)

Surfing left – Give way to your right (but still worth a quick look left)

Always take notice of the other surfers in your surroundings and be prepared to give way or stop,  whether you have the right of way or not.

Check out our Surf Priority – The Simple Rules blog post for a detailed look at surfing rules.

2) Go Pro’s

We’ve all seen them, maybe you’re one of them. It’s the surfer with all the gear and no idea. 

The surfer that no doubt has the surfing bug. The surfer so new they’ve since gone out and spent more time purchasing surf related toys than learning about the sport, the history, the etiquette and the science. 

You’ve seen the you tube footage of the surfer getting barrelled in Teaops in pristine turquoise waves. Whilst there’s nothing wrong with wanting footage of yourself surfing – there is something wrong with faffing about so much with turning on the go pro or checking if it is on that you consecutively miss waves. Waves that need to be ridden, waves which plenty of other people would love a chance to ride but, we’re all governed by the rules of surfing etiquette and by and large we stick to them. 

For the average Joe surfer, surfing everyday waves, filming yourself using a Go Pro isn’t going to produce any kind of footage you hope for or will be useful for neither your social media posting or self coaching – it’s more than likely going to produce shaky front on wide angled footage which doesn’t accurately depict the wave or your surfing and end up lost on a hard drive never to see the light of day. 

Beginner surfer tip: If you’re wanting footage of yourself surfing (we all do) whether its for your own personal collection of sporting moments or for the few who would like to review their surfing in a bid to improve – use a local photographer. For every surfing beach there’s a local photographer thats more than happy to snap images of surfers. 

Before heading onto the waves, stop and speak to the photographer and ask if he’s taking images for his site to sell or are they focussing on the local pro. You’ll often find they are more than happy to keep an eye out for you. 

Leave the go pro at home and concentrate on surfing when you’re surfing. 

3) Wrong board 


Using the wrong surfboard for your ability and the surf conditions is one of the most common mistakes that beginner surfers fall foul of.

From the eyes of more experienced surfers the error is easy to spot and immediately identifies you as a learner surfer.

Theres plenty of reasons for wanting to use a shorter board. Admittedly they look good, you feel cool with one under your arm. And practically they fit in the car easier and surely its easier to get get under the waves with a smaller board you tell yourself.

Yet, once you hit the waves things become apparent all too quickly. Hmm my arms are tired suddenly, I don’t seem to be able to paddle this that fast you think. But you made it out back a little easier! Now to catch a wave. Oh, wait.

Yip many of us have been there and most of us have seen the poor surfer struggling to paddle, with wave after wave rolling under them or finally catching a wave and either being pitched over the nose, bogging in the trough or simply not being able to surf the wave. It’s hard to watch!

Beginner surfer tip: The lure of the shortboard is strong, but try your best to stick with something which will help you surf. Ask yourself, what size surfboard do I catch the most waves on?what board do I have the most fun surfing?

The bigger the board the easier it is.

One of the biggest factors in slowing down your surfing progression and more importantly limiting your wave catching (fun) is dropping down in surfboard size too soon.

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