|How to tips for
surfing beginners! by Fred Riehl at
Surfboards and You:
Surfboards are made to float on the water. They have a
natural center of gravity. If you were to lay any
surfboard in a swimming pool, it would come to rest the
same way every time. This is what we want to do when you
lay on a surf board. That is to have the board remain in
the same relation to the water as it was without your
weight on it, just a bit lower in the water. A good tip
is to find this balance point and lay on your board then
make, a mark right at your chin. This is a spot is best
made with a bit of wax or a magic marker. It is a
reference point that enables you to put your chin on the
same spot every time so the board will react to your
weight the same way every time.
If the board's nose digs into the water it is called
pearling and you must move the location of "your chin"
back. To adjust, just slide back an inch from the mark
and make a mental note.
Too much weigh in the back and the board will cork the
board. This is a common mistake amongst beginners. You
cannot catch a wave if you are corking your board. Move
up an inch at a time till the board lies in the water
naturally. This will provide you with the maximum hull
speed and minimum drag from the water displacement that
you are causing with your weight.
Do not paddle with both arms simultaneously because this
will cause the board to speed up and slow down in the
water and you will not be able to maintain constant hull
speed through the water.
Always paddle with the crawl stroke; one arm and then
the other alternatively. This will provide you with a
constant speed so you can catch that wave.
Ok, so now we know how to lie on the board and paddle
the board. Now it's time to learn how to sit on the
board. The first time try this you may be quite wobbly.
The key to doing this well is being calm, or trying to
be still. The less movement that you make the easier you
will find it is to do this. All the other skills of
surfing will improve as you learn to be "calm" while
Now it's time to learn how to stand up. This is
something you have been doing all your life. Lie on your
chest, your head up, looking ahead. Put your hands on
the board beside your shoulders palms down like you were
going to do a push up. Push your upper body up while at
the same time you sweep your feet under you, laying them
on the stringer, the line down the middle of the board,
so your weight is centered along the stringer.
When you come up, remember to keep low. If you stand
erect you will fall. Assume a position of a sumo
wrestler. Press your feet shoulder width apart and "grip
the board in your feet", opposite of the way you would
press your thighs together on a horse. Have your hands a
bit higher than your waist and just in view of your
vision. Always look up! If you look at your feet, you
will fall down. I promise!
Practice this for hours. Have someone watch you and have
them critique your performance. Practice jumping up
without making a sound on the floor. Calm and controlled
is the smoothest way to approach this so practice doing
it quietly. If you have a surfboard, lay it on a large
bed or in the sand and do this exercise. This is a way
for you to judge your ability to be controlled.
Never have your board between yourself and the coming
To avoid collision with others, keep a safe distance,
say fifteen feet or the length of you, your leash and
Beginners should always wear a leash or leg rope tied to
Every beginner surfboard should also have a safety nose
guard to prevent dangerous impacts with the surfboard
Beginners should always surf with a buddy for safety,
plus it is cool to share your surf experiences with.
Never push your board through the water fin first. The
fin or fins were made to keep the board pointing nose
first. Pushing the board fins first can be quite
dangerous because the board wants to go the other
Beginner surfers should consider wearing a vest, rash
guard or tee shirt to avoid the rubbed rash they will
get on their stomach and chest.
When you fall off your board, cover the back of your
head with your hands, with your wrists over your ears
and your elbows together. Stay under water for a moment
longer than necessary. There are companies that make
helmets and this is another alternative.
When you come up, try to be facing the oncoming waves
and look for your board's location immediately. Loose
boards in the ocean are very dangerous objects for
the first standing surfer that is closest to the
breaking wave has the rite of way on that wave. Anyone
paddling for that wave must quit. There are
repercussions to not following this rule and it can be
Most known surf spots have locals who surf that spot
every day and some believe that they "own the beach". We
all know that this is not the case. Having said that,
the stranger, no matter their ability, should endeavor
to show some respect for these social dinosaurs.
The surfer riding the wave has the right of way and the
paddlers who are paddling out must yield. This means
that the paddlers must paddle out of the way whenever
possible, even if it is into the breaking wave or behind
the rider. If you are paddling for a wave and someone is
paddling out toward you, make eye contact with that
person and indicate your intentional direction in
reference to them. A nod in the direction you are going
Every situation is different so practice being nice in
the water. It will make you feel good, I promise.
Hooting for a good wave or encouraging someone is good
too. Remember, you will get what you give.