I’m starting a topic to discuss tips you’ve found useful in learning to surf, be it short or long boarding.
Here’s some thoughts:
- You can’t overthink what you’re doing. You have to get an intuition and feel for waves. I think only time in the water can help that.
- Surfing different waves definitely makes you a better surfer. This summer I got a chance to surf Cloudbreak with @Vince_Steves. Besides just surfing somewhere unfamiliar, that wave requires a sincere commitment to “go”. I.e., if you’re thinking about whether you should go on the wave, you’ve got no chance. Then I surfed a variety of unfamiliar spots in Kauai. When I got back to my home break at Hookipa, I was able to spot waves that would not have spotted before. So break out of your comfort zone and surf some unfamiliar spots.
- Guides and instructors can definitely help, be it with basic surfing skills or just learning which waves to catch and where to catch them, especially at unfamiliar breaks. If your time is valuable, don’t hesitate to hire guides.
- Do whatever you can to become a stronger paddler and develop more core strength. I’m truly enjoying prone paddling. It definitely helps.
- Paddle with your feet together or ankles crossed. Avoid having your knees touch your board. Instead, feel your thighs and stomach on the board. Whenever my knees are touching the board, I feel the tail of the board sink and the board slows down. This is a sure way to miss or get into waves late, no matter how hard you’re paddling. I like to keep my chin up except when I’m digging for a wave. I think that allows you to quickly put the weight forward when stroking for a wave. I think most of the stroke power is with the hand in front of the shoulder. Maintain a smooth pace. It takes more energy to constantly accelerate and decelerate.
- I practice about 30 minutes of yoga each day, mostly the Ashtanga standing series, some hip openers, and back bends. It helps.
- Read a lot and watch a lot of videos on how to surf, but then you just have to tune into the water and feel it.
- Get the right equipment for your body size. I’m very heavy, so I need a wider, thicker board. @kazuma has been super helpful getting me on the right gear.
- Some pictures and video of you surfing can help you bridge the gap between what you think you’re doing and what you’re actually doing.
- Try to avoid sitting too close to others when surfing. It makes it very difficult to move when a wave is coming. In general, do what you can to avoid crowds. You’ll have a greater chance of enjoying the experience. I often say “when it’s really good, 3’ and glassy, it’s guaranteed to be really bad.”
- No matter how good your conditioning, before going on a surf trip, try to get in the water every day for a couple of weeks on your regular surfboard, no matter how poor the waves are. I thought I could be in great shape for a surf trip by just prone paddling. I was wrong. The mechanics of paddling a surfboard are slightly different.
- “Lead with the hand, then the head, then the hips”, from Craig Hoshide, former ASP judge.
Please share your tips in this thread for getting in touch with the ocean.