Surfing Tips & Advice For Beginners & First Time Surfers

Newbies and beginners of any sport don’t know what they don’t know. When it comes to surfing not knowing a thing or two can make surfing frustrating for a beginner surfer, or worst case, it can turn a fun afternoon of surfing into an unsafe situation for a fellow surfer.

Here are some surfing tips and advice we thought we’d share with all the beginner surfers out there.

We also included some common mistakes to avoid that we see beginner surfers make all the time. In particular order, here they are:

Not Using Enough Surf Wax

Some beginner surfers don’t use enough wax on their surfboard. This results in easily avoidable slips and wipeouts when you are in the water.

It’s way better to over-wax than it is to under-wax a surfboard.

Not Bringing Your Own Surf Wax

Don’t be that guy. Bring your own surf wax. Be responsible for your own good time.

Watch Where You Are Going

This is a three-parter:

  • Know how to paddle out. Don’t paddle out straight through where surfers are riding.
  • Don’t paddle for a wave blindly with your head down. Look both ways and in front of you before standing up on a wave. You don’t want to drop in on a surfer who is already up and riding and you don’t want to run someone over when you are dropping in.
  • Look where you are surfing when you are on the wave. Don’t get lost in your own little world or you may end up running someone over.

Waxing the Bottom of the Surfboard

I know, you don’t believe it, but we have seen it. You only need to wax the top of your surfboard. You don’t need to wax the bottom.

Catch Every Wave You Can

The more waves you catch the better surfer you will be. Don’t worry about wave selection as much as you worry about a high wave count each and every session.

Catching better waves will come later.

Commit To The Drop

Not committing to the drop. This is a big one for beginner surfers.

The only way to make the drop is to commit to it. You do that by paddling hard and throwing yourself over the ledge even if it is a 2’ foot ledge.

You won’t make all of the drops you commit to. That’s not the point.

The point is that you try to make all of the drops. That is how you get to be a better surfer.

Buying A Brand New Surfboard

We’ve all seen this surfer. The one with the brand-new surfboard and brand-new wetsuit who doesn’t know what they are doing in the lineup but still had $1,000 to drop on new gear.

Do yourself a favor and avoid some glares from the seasoned surfers by buying an appropriate surfboard for your talent level, not the new hot model from your favorite surfer.

Paddling With The Nose Of the Surfboard In The Air

You want to paddle your surfboard as flat as possible. If you are too far back on your surfboard when you paddle you end up pushing water when you paddle.

You will never catch a wave cleanly like this. The only wave you catch will be when you accidentally go over the falls with the white water.

Instead choke up on the surfboard so that the nose of the surfboard just skims across the surface of the water when you paddle.

If you end of nose diving when you try to drop in, you may need to push yourself back an inch or two.

Paddling To The Peak

Never paddle to the peak as a newbie surfer where all the experienced surfers are sitting. You will not get the better waves. You will only get in the way. And you will not make friends with the locals. Quite the opposite.

Surfing At The Wrong Break

Similar to paddling to the peak, there are some breaks beginners should avoid.

Some examples include: Swami’s in Encinitas, Blacks in San Diego and Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz where there is a lot of talent in the water.

These experienced surfers don’t take kindly to beginners paddling into the lineup who end up getting in the way and creating dangerous situations.

Using the Wrong Type of Surfboard

Beginners should use big boards with lots of foam to learn to surf. The best surfboards for beginners are typically in the 8- or 9-foot range. If you are a lighter surfer you can probably get by with a 7’ surfboard.

Stay away from shortboards with pointy noses. You will have trouble learning to surf on them and they can be dangerous to other surfers if you are new to the sport.

Going Out On The Wrong Day

Know your surfing limits. If it looks like the wave are too big when you are on the beach there is a good chance you will feel that way in the water.

We are all for pushing limits, but you need to do so responsibly as a newbie surfer. Start surfing on small waves and push through your limits slowly increasing the size of waves you surf over a period of time.

Thinking Your Surfer Friend Is a Good Surfing Instructor

Your friend may be well-intentioned but when they hit the water they want to surf not teach you how to surf. If you want a surfing lesson, go pay for one.

Surfing Alone

Don’t surf alone. Freak accidents happen and you don’t want to be found face down in the water.

Surf with a friend or minimally surf near a group of surfers if you don’t surf with friends.

Not Surfing Enough

Beginner surfers often wonder, “How often should I surf?”

There is now firm number, but we recommend getting in the water as much as possible when you are learning so you can build your skills and develop muscle memory.

Not Knowing Surfing Lingo

Surfing has its own language and slang. Learn the language.

Not Knowing How The Ocean Works

The ocean is wonderful place. It can also be a dangerous place. You can avoid hazards if you know how the ocean works. This includes tides and rips.

Ditching Your Surfboard

Never ever, ever, ever ditch your surfboard. You never know who is in back of you that you could easily hit when you are wearing a 9-foot leash and are surfing a 9-foot surfboard.

That’s almost 20 feet that is going to be pushed back towards someone when you jump off your surfboard when a broken wave approaches.

Instead, learn to turtle roll and duck dive and hang on to your surfboard.

Why Surfers Hate Beginners

If you got this far you have a good idea of why experienced surfer don’t care for beginners. In case you missed it or if we weren’t explicit enough:

  • Beginner surfers get in the way when they paddle out.
  • Beginner surfers don’t look where they are going when they paddle for waves or when they catch waves.
  • Beginner surfers throw their surfboards and create dangerous situations in the water.

If you don’t want to look like a beginner surfer don’t do those 3 things. You should also study up on proper surfing etiquette.

Not Watching Yourself Surf

Take the time to watch yourself surf. You can do this by having a buddy record you surfing or by getting Surfline Premium.

You learn a lot by watching yourself surf.

Not Taking Surfing Lessons

Go take a surfing lesson. You will learn from other newbie surfers and from the surfing instructor. A few lessons will take a lot of frustration out of the learning process.

Not Knowing You Are a Kook

You can read all about what a kook is here. The short definition of a kook is a surfer who doesn’t know what they are doing and/or doesn’t care that they create dangerous situations for themselves and other surfers. Don’t be a kook.

Summary: Surfing Tips & Advice

Be safe and have fun. We hope our surfing tips and advice will help you enjoy surfing for years to come.