When you are first learning how to surf, you might feel overwhelmed with all of the information and advice you receive. Part of learning how to surf is becoming familiar with the lingo, techniques, etiquette, surfboard care and water conditions. These tips are designed to help you get off to a great start in your adventures on the waves.
Know What a Good Surf Means
You might hear other surfers talking about a "good surf." What they are referring to is the quality of the waves. The quality of the waves results from a combination of the wind and the tide.
An offshore wind, where the wind blows out into the open ocean, makes for a good surf even if the surf is a little choppy. This direction causes the waves to break cleanly and evenly, which is just what you are looking for as a beginner.
A cross-shore wind is sometimes OK for surfing, but it makes the process of catching a wave more challenging when you are still a beginner. As a beginner surfer, a good surf ends with a beach break. This means that the waves end in sand rather than at a reef, on rocks or at a cliff.
A beach break is long and shallow, which is in contrast to a shore break, which ends abruptly and is close to deeper water. A good surf features high tide, offshore wind and a beach break. These are the qualities that are ideal for beginner surfers.
Learn Your Foot Style
It's also important to learn what foot style you have. There are two main foot styles, which are goofy foot and natural foot.
Goofy foot is with your right foot closer to the nose of the board. Natural foot is with your left foot closer to the nose of the surfboard.
There isn't anything "goofy" about being goofy footed. Why it is called goofy footed, we just don't know. Regardless, you should focus on what feels natural and balanced as you stand on the surfboard, when learning your stance for surfing.
If you're not sure of which stance you are, ask a friend to push you firmly from behind your back. The foot you step forward with is your front foot.
Understand the Most Common Surfing Mistakes
There are many common mistakes that beginner surfers make. Part of the learning process is recognizing those mistakes and learning from them. Keep these five beginner errors in mind.
Not Using Enough Wax
To wax a surfboard, you need a wax comb and top and base coat wax. Put on plenty of the base coat. It protects the board and provides a surface for the top coat. The top coat is what sticks to your feet.
Waxing the Bottom of the Surfboard
Don't wax the bottom of the surfboard. It interferes with the movement of water and causes instability.
Using the Wrong Type of Board
Choosing a board that is too small will only frustrate you. A board that is too hard could cause you to experience an injury as you're just learning how to surf. Choose a board that is 7 to 9 feet long to learn on. A foam board that has a soft top is the best surfboard to learn to surf on.
Going Out on the Wrong Day
It's important to check the wave and wind conditions before going out. Find a local surf site that stays updated about the beach conditions where you plan to surf. Look for weather watches and warnings before you head to the shore.
Thinking Your Surfer Friend Is a Good Surfing Instructor
Just because your friend is a good surfer does not mean that he or she is a good instructor. Look for a surfing teacher based on reviews. Ask at the surf shop and research the teacher in advance. The right teacher should not only give you great surfing lessons, they should also inspire you.
Lastly, don't surf alone. It's safer and more fun to surf with friends.
It's important to remember that everybody was a beginner at some point. Be patient and kind to yourself. Challenge yourself to learn something new about surfing every day regardless of whether or not you go out on the water. Your investment of time, practice on the water and care for your surfboard should allow you to continually progress, develop stronger skills and enjoy the sport of surfing even more than you already do.