Learning to surf is hard. It’s one of those things that people make to look easy. The truth is, learning to surf is tough and it takes time, a long time.
How hard can it be?
From mastering the popup, reading waves to navigating the lineup and brutal paddle outs, surfing can at times be a hard sport to become good at. Being condition based, it’s not always up to you when you get to surf making that all important practise time difficult.
Patience pays dividends, however. It may be a hard sport to master but surfing is surely one of the most rewarding.
As with anything you learn, and by the very nature of being new to something you’ll need to surround yourself with others that are more experienced than you. By learning from the wiser you, in turn, develop your skills through practice and in surfing this couldn’t be a truer statement.
Unfortunately, this comes at a social price. Wiping out, missing waves and generally ‘kooking it’ comes in many embarrassing and hilarious forms.
Here are two of our favourites.
‘Going over the falls’ – This is a firm favourite for any surfing spectator, similar to being washed over a waterfall, going over the falls is when a surfer is unexpectedly or unwillingly pitched and taken with the curvature of the breaking, often resulting in several underwater summersaults and dazed gasps for air.
‘Pearling’ – This gem is the developing surfer’s nightmare and source of constant bafflement. The face of the unexpecting learner surfer seconds before the nose of the surfboard dips into the trough of the wave, sending the participant head first into the now breaking wave with a mouth and nose full of salt water in a unique scorpion position before the remaining wave seals the deal. It is feeling we’ve all had and a frequent sight on the surfing beaches around the world.
3. It’s never too late to start
A common belief about surfing is that you need to start young, be born into it and brought up in the sand. The truth is most surfers didn’t have this type of upbringing, it’s never too late to get involved. You’ll thank yourself for it and be grateful you started when you did. It’s never too late to start surfing, despite your excuses.
4. We all started at the same point
No matter how far away your surfing ambitions seem, there is some solace in the fact we all started at the beginning, no one was born a good surfer. For all the embarrassing public wipeouts, everyone has been through the tough times, the brutal paddle outs, the big set on the head.
Try to enjoy where you are on your surfer’s path. Acknowledge you’re only ever going to get better by simply relaxing and enjoying yourself in the surf.
5. Surfing is a travelator – you never reach your end goals
One of the many attractions of the sport in which you only really grasp after many years of toiling, is your goals for surfing are forever changing.
As your skills progress, as do your aspirations. What was once the only manoeuvre you wanted to master now gives way to another, and with a vast array of approaches to surfing waves, let alone an infinite amount of wave shapes combined with the difficulty of the sport there is a lifetime of surfing goals to never reach.
Just enjoy the level of surfing you are at, knowing you’ll never be as good as you want but you’ll always be improving.
Much like learning anything else, you can pick up a lot more, a lot quicker by getting some help. Surf coaching is big business and a guaranteed way to improve your skills quickly. Being given help with technique, or explanations are only ever going to accelerate your learning.
7. There’s more to learning to surf than you think
Surfing can be divided into two halves, the physical biomechanical skills and understanding surf theory. It’s like Ying & Yang, you can’t have one without the other. The better your understanding of the ocean, its waves or how your surfboard works the better you become at catching waves or choosing the right surfboard – resulting in you catching more waves and developing your skills.
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