9 things every beginner surfer should know
Entering the world of surfing can be a stressful, but yet rewarding learning experience, we want you to not only learn how to surf, but information about surfing that will assist you in getting underway.
It's not uncommon to feel scared when heading out as a beginner, we were all there at one stage or another. Knowing the facts before you go out, or learning to surf is super important.
1. Surfing isn't a sport, It's a way of life.
Now, I'm not saying here that surfing shouldn't be in the upcoming Olympic games, or celebrated or referred to as a sport, It most definitely is. However, surfers, athletes in the surfing scene will agree that unlike any other sport, you don't finish a game or event and that's that.
Surfing is known as a way of life, whether an everyday surfer or a casual rider, you choose to go out, you choose to go in the freezing cold water and ride, and compete, and although this statement is relative to many other sports. Surfing is different.
The way your life, attitude, emotions and mentality changes when you have the surfer lifestyle changes drastically. Whether in or out of the water. The people you associate with, the community, and the freedom of surfing, you'll notice you're a little different.
You gain this "surfer" title, this unique slang and "cool" persona which surfing has associated itself with.
Unlike many other sports, surfing gives you the freedom to pick and choose when, and where you feel like going, whether overseas on a surfing trip, or one of Australia's beautiful surf beaches. The choice is yours.
2. Free up your time, you'll need it
Surfing is one of the most complex sports in the world, it seems strange right? paddle out, ride in. It's just not that easy.
As a beginner or an experienced rider for that matter, you know it's not easy to catch that wave, read the tides, and swell to determine when a wave is coming your way worth your time.
Getting wiped out is frustrating, and learning you'll know this is a common occurrence, you'll wipe out hundreds of times, if not thousands of times before you get good. Even the best of surfers hit the unexpected wipe-outs.
It's important whilst learning, to never give up, get back on your board, paddle back out and catch the next good wave in. Surfing takes time, and if you're teaching yourself, or going to a surf school, you'll need to invest countless hours out on the waves before getting comfortable.
Not to mention, simply going to your local beach, hitting the waves and waiting for a wave to come in itself is time-consuming, be patient and enjoy the relaxation of surfing.
3. Fitness, balance & movement
Fitness plays an absolutely massive part in surfing, It's rare to see someone who isn't fit out on the waves. The surfing lifestyle is typically healthier alternatives and hard workers.
Being fit is a huge advantage in surfing, the fitter you're typically mean the stronger your core is, which reflects your balance, and movement. Knowing where to position your body, bend your back and your knees and quickly pushup makes surfing so much easier.
Core, shoulder strength and upper back strength are all keys to good balance, and positioning on your board.
The best part of it, unless you're a professional athlete, or looking to go professional, you don't need to hit the gym to work on this, just enjoy going out and the fitness that surfing gives you will strengthen these naturally.
4. Understanding water flow and understanding waves.
There are numerous terms surfers use to identify different aspects of surfing, and waves. Understanding them will make you're learning experience so much easier.
Start off, by never looking at the beach, always face out towards the horizon, that's where the waves are coming from, it's easier to be looking straight on, rather than over your shoulder.
Some of the things to learn are:
- Set breaks
- Clean up set
Knowing that your surroundings are constantly changing, from new surfers in the water to water temperatures, swells, rips, size and an ever-growing list of variants to learn. You cannot control a wave, you can only ride it. Don't try and change the waves you're facing, understand them, and make the most of it.
Waves are not like your local skate park, snowfield or dirt track. Every wave, whether the first one of your session or the last and everything in between, nothing was the same, leaning the ocean will improve your surfing experience.
5. Don't be Ignorant
It's an actual fact that surfing is one of the most dangerous sports in the world. It's not until you have your first serious wipe-out that you truly understand the dangers, the kind of wipe-out that keeps pushing you under, not letting you up whilst you're forced into aggressive roles along the ocean's floor.
Ignorance is not something to take lightly when it comes to surfing, waves are apart of nature, and they can make some serious damage, not only can they be powerful, but fast.
Don't go paddling out into massive waves before you're at that level, don't go out in storms, and until you're well experienced don't go out into reefs, most definitely don't swim out past your fitness level to get you back.
Any professional rider will tell you that sharks, stingers, and other riders are the least of your worries, the ocean itself, the waves it produces will cause far more damage than everything else combined.
6. Know your local rules
There are the genetic, everyday rules to surfing, there is edicate and there are rules, knowing these are important for not only your safety but how you enjoy your experience.
Nothing is worse than being out on the waves, and being abused or yelled at for dropping in on someone, believe me, you'll know what you've done when you do it.
Not only are there the rules every surfer goes by, but local rules. Your local rules will be harder to learn, but understanding some grumpy surfer telling you off isn't the end of the world. Take note, apologise and ask for tips.
Follow the rules, or very quickly you'll be pushed out of the water by more experienced surfers, you'll only drop in once or twice before they start doing it to you, with more experience, you'll find it hard to enjoy the ride.
7. Choose the right surfboard
One of the most important aspects to surfing, your board and you become one, you rely on it to not only get on a wave but for speed, stability and reliability. Learning on a shortboard isn't the go for 95% of riders.
Typically, a fun board is the best option for a newbie. For the large majority of waves, from small to large, a funboard will make learning a breeze, their longer, wider and lighter body.
Once you get better, you know what type of waves you're surfing, and your preferred style, you can look into a shortboard, fish, longboard or possibly SUP.
For each of the board style, you then have different materials, bases, fins, and a full array of variables which will ultimately impact your ride, knowing what board to buy before you know your style, is next to impossible.
8. Never go without a surf leash/leg rope
Something no one tells you, a leg rope is an important part of your board and not only that, but a high-quality leg rope is super important.
Not only that, but there are various size leg ropes, typically, a good rule of thumb, is your leg rope should be as long, or slightly longer than your board's length. They also come in a regular, or competition style, with regular being thicker, where the competition is thinner offering less drag.
Take a look at our guide to picking our a leg rope for more information.
9. Dress as if you know what you're doing
All too often you see the new rider running into the water with nothing than a pair of boardies and his board. It's all too funnier for the regulars who have their thick wetsuits on to be watching someone freeze themselves in cold water.
Don't make a fool of yourself, head to your local surf shop, pick yourself up an appropriate wetsuit, they not only keep you warm, but prevent rashes, and are quite comfortable.
You'll only ever do it one, but going out without a rashie with no shirt on, you will never feel the pain of rashed nipples until you make the mistake. Using a quality UPF rated rashie, sunscreen, and a wetsuit to keep yourself looking and feeling good.
If it's needed, get yourself a surf hat, sunglasses, and surf shoes if needed.
I hope this article has helped you out getting onto the waves, learning and enjoying yourself.
If you have any questions, need anything for your board, hit up our store.