Never nosedive again.

Without a doubt, one of the most common errors for new or beginner surfers is nosediving or pearling your surfboard. What is nosediving you ask?

Nosediving your surfboard is that magical moment when the unsuspecting surfer transitions from catching an unbroken wave to being pitched by the wave. That split second in time where the nose of the surfboard sticks into the still-forming wave face and sends the occupant scorpion style head over heals. Saltwater up the nose and bewilderment in the eyes. 

Here’s how you stop yourself from nosediving when surfing. 

1. Body Positioning

First and foremost make sure your body is in the correct position on your surfboard. It’s obvious and hardly worth mentioning but without the proper body to board positioning the rest is pure luck. 

Remember tiny adjustments can make a huge difference to your paddling, entrance onto a wave and where you stick your feet.

Too far back and you’ll be slow when paddling, out of position once you’ve popped up and most likely off balance and looking all weird. 

Your board should feel and look like it’s plaining through the water efficiently. 

Take the time, every time to get your body positioning right. 

2. Keep Your Eye On The Wave

Keeping your eye on the wave is a key point to remember, without this it’s all just guesswork and delayed reactions. Often all too late for any saving grace. 

Like anything you catch, keeping your eye on what you are catching is paramount! 

By having a constant eye on the wave you’re able to take in all the little signals and accommodate for the subtle changes and nuances that each wave goes through.  

Adjusting your paddle speed as the wave forms, watching the wave angle increase, or checking if another rider has the right of way, are all indications that need to be gained as early, often and as quickly as possible. 

Full steam ahead paddling with eyes on the beach doesn’t get you anywhere but closer to the beach. Take the time to keep your eye on the wave and your surroundings and watch your wave count rise. 

3. Notice The Nose

The final key area in avoiding the dreaded nosedive is to pay attention to the nose of your surfboard. This is your last indicator before making it or eating it. 

 Once the nose dips – get off your stomach. That’s the golden rule!

Guided by sense as well as what you see, you’ll feel the tail of your board lift, the wave becomes steep and the nose begins to dip. Having matched the pace of the wave, gravity is now pulling you down the wave face. It’s time to pop up!

If you manage to get off your stomach before you reach the trough, you’ve no doubt made it. 

Popping up gives you the freedom to move your weight backwards and forwards around the board. Weight over the tail and you’ll slow down, weight over the front and you’ll speed up until you nose dive.

So with the correct timing and weight in the right places you’ll be happily catching waves and smoothly making the transition from top to bottom every time. 

*Much of getting a handle on surfing comes from feeling, feeling that is learned over time and blended into one silky sequence. 

Those feelings initially come from tiny signals that are all around you. Taking the time to notice, acknowledge and learn from these through deliberate and purposeful practice will see you master your surfing in no time, whether you’re just starting out or a few years deep in the game.

Caveat: Surfers often pearl or nosedive due to poor speed or positioning for the wave. Even if you are applying all of the above points, not having enough speed as you enter the wave face or just plain bad positioning (too deep) will often lead to being dumped by the wave.  

For further guidance on how to avoid nosediving,  take a look at the Angled Take Off’s section of our Beginners Guide to Surfing.

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