Tips for the Beginning Surfer

Surfing 101

Stay Wet

The #1 best way to learn to surf is to get as much time in the ocean as possible. No board necessary. Just get comfortable with the way the current pulls you in, out, and all around. You have to be totally comfortable with this feeling to be relaxed in the ocean. It’s easier without the surfboard. Body-surf! Learn to plant your feet, dig your toes in, and how to dodge and duck under the surf and come up ready for the next one. In shallow water, counter each wave with the side of your hip to slice through it. This is your warrir training. You may get a few mouthfuls of water. You may get sand in every orifice of your body. Get used to this. The more you polish your amphibian abilities the more enjoyment you’ll have in the ocean.

Use Correct Equipment

Long boards are far superior for learning due to their high buoyancy and stability. Even incredible athletes have trouble mounting a moving board on a moving ocean and balancing themselves as the wave surges toward shore. Surfing is one of the most difficult sports to learn due to the wild variability in wave conditions. Give yourself an edge and start with a board that you feel stable paddling. For most people under 6’0 and 175 lbs., a 9’0 long board will suffice as long as it’s at least 22” wide and 3” thick. Anyone bigger than this should try a 9’6 or even a 10’0 surfboard. Sometimes really small waves that are very weak are better approached with a larger board, regardless of the size of the surfer. More board volume means superior paddling power and projection for catching small surf. Stability also increases as volume increases in a surfboard.

Surfboard Shopping

Surf shops are good places to check out a variety of different shapes and sizes at one time. You can find great deals at garage sales and online services like Craig’s List too. If just starting out, stick with a longboard or funshape and buy it used as you will probably beat it up. When buying a board, make sure there are no open cracks or “dings.” Yellow spots mean water has been absorbed, which takes life force from the board and is not good. Smooth divots are called pressure dings and are okay as long as they aren’t deep enough to expose the foam. Hold the board under your arm to feel its width and weight. It’s going to be bigger than you want, however, it should still feel “good” under your arm. A soft sock or travel bag will protect your board from accidental dings that occur just going to and from the beach. If buying fiberglass you may also want to purchase a small tube of ding repair that cures instantly in the sun. Inspect your board after surfing and before getting in the water. If you don’t want to deal with fixing dings then purchasing an epoxy “NSP”, “Tuflite”, or similar sandwich construction board is preferable. Minor dings can be easily repaired with a simple ding repair kit found at most surf shops. Major dings should be handled by a professional. Love your surfboard and she’ll take good care of you.

Get Instruction

Surf Lessons by a qualified surf instructor are a great way to cut the steep learning curve. A beginner lesson will help point out the safety aspects and basic techniques needed to get you up and riding. Qualified surf instructors, such as those at Anamaya Surf School, have spent countless hours examining students’ performance. One-one-one feedback is highly beneficial as an instructor can diagnose problem areas in your surfing and provide specific feedback to try on your next wave. Each wave builds experience and trains muscle memory to do what you want to do out there.

Get Consistent: Attend a Surf Retreat

Surfing everyday will undoubtedly improve your surfing by leaps and bounds. For most people this is improbable either due to living a busy life or living far from a surfing area. For this reason, Surf Retreats are quickly gaining popularity. Not only will you make new friends and learn to surf a tropical surf break, but you get day-in and day-out surfing practice in the presence of skilled instructors. Anamaya Soul Surfer Retreat in Montezuma, Costa Rica offers aspiring surfers an opportunity to advance through the beginning stages of surfing so they may surf on their own, or, take beginner/intermediate surfers to the next level through specific surf coaching. Being immersed in the tropical beauty of the surf breaks you will experience brings about a deep relaxation that can enhance your learning experience. “Hang Loose” is an expression that embodies the serenity a surfer feels, totally at peace in his watery world. Being “loose” and gaining confidence through consistency are two keys to getting a grip on surfing.

Soul Surfer Retreat
Surf Classes at Anamaya

Know Your Limits

Always exercise your best judgment and common sense when deciding if it’s a good surf day for you. Surfing in bigger waves and around other people means staying extra alert to avoid conflicts. Know Your Limits. Only surf when the waves are within your comfort zone. Dense crowds, stormy surf, rocky areas, and shallow reefs are dangerous to an inexperienced surfer. As a beginner it’s a good idea to find at least one other surfer to paddle out with and to keep an eye on each other.

Attitude of Gratitude

It is also extremely beneficial to demonstrate an attitude of generosity and gratitude while surfing. “What goes around comes around” applies to surfing as well. So, if you give up a wave to somebody else, you will most likely have that favor returned to you. And who knows? That may just be the wave of the day, the one you go to sleep dreaming about until your next surf session

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