Learning about surfing doesn’t have to be hard for the newbie! All you need to do to get started is do some research. The best way to research is by learning the basic rules of surfing. Approaching surfing in a reckless way can be dangerous. Poor surfing posture, an ill-fitting surfboard, weak balance and safety can make surfing a life threatening sport. The number one thing a surfing newbie should remember is to stay safe. Surfing is essentially a game of balancing and manipulating your body and board against the unpredictable waves of the ocean. Just the slightest slip off your feet or center of balance can cause you to wipe out.
Create a Good Sense of Balance
Creating a good sense of balance is the first important tip you’ll want to remember. Different types of surfboards float on water in distinctive ways. A surfboard won’t change its position on water surfaces when resting in relation to the water underneath. Lay on your surfboard in the water to test your balance. Lying on your board will test its buoyancy against the water. It should dip enough to know you’re being supported by the board’s strength. Find a spot to lie against on your board and memorize it. This keeps your board at the same level when resetting your surfing position on flat water.
Posture isn’t just for formal occasions. It’s an important keyword in surfing too. Poor posture equals instant first aid or a trip to the emergency room. Three even more important posture related keywords to remember are paddling, sitting and standing. Paddling propels you and your surfboard through the water. Sitting lets you distribute your weight across your surfboard while moving it. Standing is the most important—it tests your center of balance as you slowly force your body to distribute its weight on your moving board. Knowing all three is necessary and all three work in relation to each other: paddling gets you out there, sitting keeps you on your board, standing naturally happens after sitting once the waves start approaching.
Paddling, Sitting and Standing
You start paddling by lying down on your board and moving your arms one at a time like a crawl stroke. Moving both arms at the same time causes your board to become unstable against the water. Shift from a laying position into a sitting one. You’re going to want to keep calm and balance your weight the best you can. Don’t get frustrated because it takes good practice to sit right in the beginning. Standing comes after sitting. Beginning surfers should not rush into it! Shift back into a laying position with your head looking straight to the front. Take on a push-up position and bring your body upward while you shift your feet underneath. Center your weight at the middle of the board. When you come up, stay in a crouched position. Grip the board with your feet and keep your arms and head held up.
Beginner surfers need to practice paddling, sitting and standing on their surfboards before they can surf like the pros. It’s best to have someone with you while practicing. Always have someone demonstrate for you if you don’t understand. Surfing can be fun if you take the time to learn. Rushing into advanced surfing tricks won’t be as fun. And quite frankly, you’ll risk injury if you rush too soon.
There are many small details to using a surfboard out on the waves. But, the good news is that with patience and practice you will be out there feeling the awesome power of the ocean beneath you and the warmth of the sun on your head.
Photos courtesy of Nathan Rupert