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Beginners guide to surfing
Basic how to’s, good surfing practice & understanding common errors & misconceptions in surfing.
CONTROLLING YOUR SURFBOARD IN THE LINEUP
In this guide to surfing and self coaching we cover surfing best practices, how to’s & tips for new & developing surfers. Learn techniques used by surf coaches, discover common errors and clear up misconceptions.
Each chapter of the guide highlights different key areas that enable surfers to develop From how to catch more waves to understanding how to judge wave height or how to duck dive, each chapter is crammed with actionable detail to help you understand and improve your surfing.
In this chapter, we cover: Controlling your surfboard in the lineup.
SURF GUIDE INDEX
HOW TO SIT ON A SURFBOARD WITHOUT FALLING OFF
All surfers have been there and when it happens, nothing is more embarrassing.
You’ve put in the hard work and paddled to the back line where all the cool surfers are sitting checking out the waves. As you go to sit on your board, or even worse you’re already sitting on your board, suddenly without warning your surfboard rolls from underneath you.
“Nothing highlights an amateur surfer like falling off, sitting down.”
The trick that nobody tells you until you’ve embarrassed yourself and fallen off several times is simply to keep moving your legs!
Step One. Whilst sitting on your board make sure that your body weight is over the middle section your board so that your board is flat in or on the water.
Step Two. Slowly kick your legs back and forth or in circles to help keep you in balance and gently moving with the motion in the ocean.
That’s it, say goodbye to falling off your board!
SPINNING YOUR SURFBOARD – PIVOT TURNS
Preforming a “pivot turn” means quickly spinning your board in any direction on the spot. Being able to do this then allows you to get yourself out the way of oncoming waves and approach more waves with speed.
Pivot tuns are one of the very few useful physical skills that are easy to master in surfing that can be practised without needing to ride a wave.
The size of your board will affect how extreme the pivot turn will be, but the method applies to all surfboards:
Step One. In the sitting position on your board, place your hands to the inside of your thighs grabbing the rails (edges) of your board. Slide your bum backward towards the tail of the board, keeping your hands in place on the rails.
*If you slide too much weight towards the back you will tip past your balance point and fall in.
Step Two. Your body will now be partly submerged in the water (around waist depth) with your legs gripping the side of your board release one hand, reach either in front or behind you with your free hand and sweep the water in a half circle.
Step Three. Look over your shoulder in the direction that you wish to rotate to complete the Pivot Turn.
CORKING YOUR SURFBOARD
Like many parts of your surfing that become autonomous, ‘corking’ your surfboard simply makes use of the volume or buoyancy in your board to aid your surfing. Think of it like pushing a cork under the surface of the water and letting go to allow it to pop back up to the surface.
If the surfer is wanting to move quickly from the sitting position to lying down to begin paddling, ‘corking’ the surfboard will help to initially build speed and shave a few seconds off reaching your goal.
For surfers using higher volume surfboards, the movement of corking flows seamlessly from when preforming a pivot turn from the sitting position.
Step One. From a sitting position reach your hands as far as they will go up the rails of the board (or on the top of or nose of the board if riding a shorter board). Pull the board down into the water between your legs using your arms.
Step Two. Once the board is submerged, extend your body and release the energy held within your arms of the submerged board at the same time.
For added affect kick your legs in a frog like motion to gain extra momentum.
The idea is to use the potential energy stored by holding the board submerged to propel you forwards as you lie down – allowing the surfer to begin paddling at a greater initial speed.
HOW TO UNDERSTAND THE LINE UP – SURFING SMART
“Understanding and making the distinction between a good and a bad wave, when to paddle for it, how to catch it and when to pop up, all whilst jostling around other surfers and respecting surf etiquette is the greatest challenge any new or developing surfer will face.”
As well as assessing each wave, assessing the ability and common traits of the surfers in your immediate vicinity will give you a great advantage. Being able to make an educated guess on your fellow surfers movements is all part of the game that is being played.
Ask yourself the following questions and more when you’re checking the surf, entering the line up and waiting for waves:
Who / where are the local surfers taking all the waves?
Sitting next to or paddling for waves that the local surfer is going for may put you in a good position for the best waves but this will also diminish your chances of catching waves. The local surfer is quite likely to be able to read the waves better, and will be applying the same tactic but in reverse and ultimately will take waves away from you.
Where is the long boarder or SUP surfer?
With bigger volume boards, long boarders and SUP surfers are able to sit further out, spot and catch waves much earlier than most other surfers. Sitting next to these surfers is asking for frustration.
3. Where are the surfers who are of a similar skill level as you?
Give yourself a fighting chance and position yourself within the group of surfers that are of a similar skill set to you.
Making a note of every surfer’s habits and using this information to help you decide where position yourself and what waves are worth paddling for is a great technique used by all intermediate or advanced surfers.
Coupled with methods previously mentioned, such as anticipating a set or assessing a wave whilst paddling, this recipe will help you catch more waves.