In recent decades, surfing has become a popular pastime in many coastal communities. Once considered a fringe sport practiced by the few brave souls willing to endure frigid water and unpredictable waves, it’s now enjoyed by people of all ages and experience levels. This growth has been accompanied by the rise of numerous surf schools that teach newbies how to stay safe when paddling out into heavy surf or maneuvering through choppy waters on their boards. With so much information available online about how to catch your first wave, there are plenty of great resources for those interested in learning more about this awesome sport!
Having Proper Equipment
You can break bones, suffer concussions, or even drown if you aren’t properly protected. Therefore, gloves with plastic knuckle protectors will shield your hands from abrasions, while thick neoprene booties will help prevent frostbite on cold days. A leash ensures that boards don’t float away after they’re dropped in the water, and a rash guard can keep your body safe from scrapes and cuts.
Aspiring wave riders should hire an experienced instructor who knows how to stay safe when surfing, as the sport can be quite dangerous if individuals don’t receive proper training. The special beginner surfboards that are available in surf shops aren’t just for kids; they can also be used by adults who want to learn how to properly balance themselves on the board. Many different kinds of surfboards can be used, so it’s a good idea to contact a local dealer and order the precise type you need.
Always Have a Spotter
Surfers should be accompanied by another person or group who can track their locations on the waves. This way, no one will be left behind if they wipe out nor will anyone get caught off guard by an unexpected wave. Spotters are also helpful when it comes to catching fragile beginners before they fall into the water.
Of course, only experienced surfers should attempt to catch boards that are being carried away by strong currents.
How to Pop-up Correctly
The first thing you need to know is that you don’t actually “stand up” while surfing; instead, try popping up onto your feet with your back facing towards the beach. This move helps balance the rider out so they don’t fall back into the water. You can either grab your front rail with one hand and push it down, or simply prop yourself up and place your weight on the middle of the board.
Also, be sure to shift your weight so most of it is on your back foot if you are about to take off. Then, lean forward slightly and quickly shift your weight back to the center of the board. You need to lead your surfing board with your weight when riding a wave or else it will most likely fall off to the side.
Wave-catching is just as difficult as it looks, so individuals who want to catch a ride should practice paddling out before they even try to pop up on the board. First step: find a body of water with waves that aren’t too large or difficult to ride. Next, paddle parallels to the shore but always try to keep an eye out for incoming waves that you can catch a ride on.
Learn the Right Way to Turn
Once you’re going, remember that a strong lean towards the nose of the board is crucial for turning; you should also put weight on your back foot and keep your knees bent if you want to go in reverse. If you lean too far back, you’ll fall off the board and if you don’t lean enough, your turn will be pointless.
Next, remember to keep your eyes on the nose of the board at all times. This way, you can easily recognize where you are on the wave, and you can make sharp turns accordingly.
Catch Your Own Wave
It’s not polite to cut people off or catch the waves before they can get to them, so once you start surfing, wait until there’s a nice open space on the wave and then you can take it. You should never paddle towards the wave until after it breaks, and then start paddling like crazy if you want to catch the wave. Otherwise, the set of waves will overtake you and wipe you out.
If your local beach has a lifeguard, they are usually there to help you with pressing problems. You can also follow the lifeguard’s directions if you’re unsure about where to put your surfboard. They usually have a good idea about the safest parts of the shoreline so you can avoid hazardous water conditions and riptides.
Always bring a leash with you, especially if you plan on entering deep waters as this will help prevent your board from drifting away from you while you’re surfing.
General Safety Advice
Surfing is a fun activity, but only when it’s done in safe conditions. You shouldn’t ever attempt to ride waves that are too large or rough because you could possibly wipe out and hit your head on the board. If you don’t know how to swim well, this could result in drowning.
Before heading out onto the shore, check for riptides and stay away from them when possible since these are hazardous undertows that can easily pull you into deeper waters. If you do get stuck in one, just keep your feet up so they don’t get caught down in the water and tread water to make yourself as buoyant as possible.
It may be tempting to drop everything and go out for your first surfing experience, but it is not advisable to take on this challenge until you’ve gotten the basics down pat. Learn paddling techniques, pop up without falling back into the water, and catch a wave or two before you even attempt to ride it.
Ultimately, surfing is not easy but there are plenty of resources out there to help you find your footing if you’re really interested in learning how to surf properly. Take some time to prepare by researching different beaches and their conditions online, or by checking with lifeguards about the best places to go.