Surfing is about to become one of the best experiences of your life if you’re thinking of taking it up as a sport. But before you get out in the water, be sure to follow these five common-sense tips for beginning surfers. With a little thought and practice ahead of time, you’ll have a much more enjoyable time out there. Below are a few tips and techniques to practice.
1. Don’t Go Out Alone
The ocean is a beautiful and powerful force of nature, but it can be a dangerous place for those who fail to respect it. Know your limits and expect the unexpected. Ask any surfer how many times she’s been hit by her board or tossed against the reef, and the answer will always be the same: too many to count. Play it safe and always go surfing with a buddy. That’s just common sense, and it just might save your life someday.
2. Start with a Long Board
The key to actually standing up on a surfboard is balance, and when you’re just learning to surf, you suck at keeping your balance. But that’s okay! Everyone has a hard time at first. You need a surfboard that will stay as stable as possible in the water, so that means you want a board with both good length and width. Short boards are sexy cool and look great on Instagram, but if you want to look good in the water, then you’ll need a larger board to help you learn the basics and get past the beginner stage.
Too heavy for you to carry solo? Thank goodness for Tip #1. Team lift that battleship into the water and see how good it feels to actually stand up the next time you go out.
3. Find Your Sweet Spot for Paddling
Get your board out into the shallows, lay down on it and start paddling. You need to find that sweet center of balance along the length of the board where the nose is nice and level to allow for smooth, steady paddling. Is the nose popping up? If so, you need to scoot forward an inch at a time until the nose stays down. Is the nose sinking down into the water as you paddle? If so, shift back an inch at a time to find that sweet spot.
4. Practice Popping Up On Land
Speaking of standing up, the best place to learn how to do that is on the sand. Set your board down as level as possible on the beach, then lay down on it in your paddling position. Remember to set yourself up at that sweet spot. Then plant your hands in pushup position, right up below your shoulders and keep your elbows tucked in as you quickly pop yourself up into your stance. Over time, you’ll be able to pop up and plant your feet in the proper position without having to shift them around.
5. Avoid the Crowds
Once you’ve got your beach buddy, the right board or your skill level, have found your balance point for paddling and are doing pretty good with your popup practice, it’s time to get in the water. Your first several times out, it’ll be like driving a car with no steering wheel! You’ll have a hard time controlling yourself, so try to keep a good, safe distance from other surfers and swimmers.
Ready to get out there and surf? Remember to be safe at all times, use common sense and common courtesy, respect the ocean and know your limits. You’re about to have a whole lot of fun!