Surf's Up: Tips For Beginner Surfers

Surfing is one of the most popular summertime activities in the United States. While many people believe it is just too difficult to pull off, the truth is that you don't need to catch monster waves to have a great time.

Now is an excellent time to learn, regardless of your experience, or lack thereof; and yes- you can surf too, whether you're 17 or 70 years old!

Brief History Of Surfing

Surfing is an old sport, having originated in Hawaii over 200 years ago. Anyone who knows Hawaii knows that It's revered for its large waves and ideal surfing conditions.

Hawaii cityscape

Hawaiian royalty would often take part in the activity, and it quickly began to grow in popularity.

When Europeans began to settle in the islands, they too caught on to the appeal of surfing.

From Hawaii, the "sport" (if you can call it that) gradually made its way to different parts of the world, most notably the United States and Australia.

Nowadays, you can find people surfing all over, from Florida to Chile.

There are two main types of surfing practiced today:

Shortboard Surfing

This involves a smaller surfboard, usually no longer than 7 feet.

The shorter length makes the board more maneuverable, allowing for sharper turns and quick direction changes.

This is the type of surfing most often seen in movies and on television when stunts are desired.

Longboard Surfing

This is the original type of surfing and involves a much larger board.

Longboards are usually more than 9 feet in length.

Because of their size, longboards are much more stable in the water and easier to balance on.

This makes them ideal for beginners who are still getting used to the feel of surfing.

Why You Should Learn To Surf

Now that you know a bit about the history of surfing, let's talk about why you should give it a go. Here are some compelling reasons:

Your Setup Is A Great Cardio Workout

To reach the wave, you first need to paddle out into the water. Paddling is a great cardio workout in and of itself, but when you add in the resistance of the water, it becomes even more challenging.

men paddling on the water

This is an excellent way to get your heart rate up and improve your cardiovascular health.

In fact, even if you just need a cardio workout, paddling without actual surfing is a great way to get it done.

It's A Great Full-Body Workout

In addition to being a great cardio workout, surfing also provides you with a great full-body workout.

You'll be using your arms to paddle, your legs to kick, and your core to balance on the board.

This makes for a well-rounded workout that will leave you feeling strong and satisfied (and not to mention in pain from the session).

Best of all? It's a low-impact activity. This means that if you're dealing with joint issues, taking corrective nutritional interventions such as collagen protein and adhering to exercise that is low-impact on the joints can help your recovery significantly.

It's A Great Way To De-Stress

In today's fast-paced world, it can be difficult to find time to relax. Surfing provides you with a great opportunity to unplug from the world and clear your head.

The sound of the waves and the feel of the water will help to lull you into a state of relaxation, and the physical activity will help to release any pent-up stress or tension you may be feeling.

If you live close to the shore, you can catch your surf session on the way home from work or before heading out in the morning.

Either way, it's a great way to unwind and de-stress.

It's A Great Way To Meet People

If you're looking for a great way to meet new people, surfing is a great option.

Since most beaches have a designated surf area, it's easy to strike up a conversation with someone while you're waiting for a wave.

group of surfers on the beach

You can also join a surf club or take lessons from a surf school.

This is a great way to meet people who share your passion for the sport.

It's A Great Way To Get some Sun

If you live in an area that doesn't get a lot of sun, surfing is a great way to get your Vitamin D fix.

The sun's rays are more intense when they reflect off of the water, so you'll be getting a good dose of vitamin D while you're out there.

Just make sure to wear waterproof sunscreen!

Improves Your Balance And Coordination

Surfing requires you to constantly adjust your balance and coordination in order to stay on the board.

extreme balancing woman on surfboard

This is a great way to improve your overall balance and coordination, which can help you in other areas of your life as well.

Most people are extremely poor when it comes to balance and coordination since their daily lives do not require them to use these skills very often.

By learning to surf, you will be giving yourself a leg up on the competition.

Getting Started

So you're really eager to get started now, are you? Like any other activity you wish to master, it takes time, effort, and smarts.

Do not beat yourself up if you're not perfect the first few times- nobody else was for that matter either.

Here are some steps you can take to better prepare yourself.

Work Out

If you haven't been working out prior to starting to surf, it is a good idea to get a few workouts in.

Surfing is a very physical sport, one that will not only build on your strength and stamina but which also requires a moderate degree of fitness when starting.

This means that if you know you've been slacking in the gym, now is the time to change that.

Start small- go for a run on the beach, or take some swims in the ocean before you decide to add surfing into the mix. You will also want to work on those core muscles a lot, as much will be riding on your balance and core strength.

You'll be glad you did when you finally catch that first wave and don't get exhausted halfway through. We recommend you start using Foundation; a scientifically formulated combination of creatine and ATP that will buffer fatigue and improve surfing performance!


Take Instruction Classes

An instructor can sharply cut down the learning curve, which might be critical if you

are learning on a strict time budget.

The best way to find a good instructor is from personal recommendation; just ask some people along the beach for tips.

If that's not an option, do some research online or in local surf shops for schools in the area- that should also give you a good place to start.

Choose The Right Board

Choosing the right board is essential to a good surfing experience.

If you're just starting out, it's probably a good idea to rent a board before you commit to buying one, or better yet, choose a foam board.

surfboard types

A foam board is easier to handle (but might be a little heavier), and is more resistant to scratches and dings.

You're likely going to fall off a lot when starting out, so you don't want to be worried about damaging an expensive board.

Once you have the basics down and are ready to commit to buying a board, consult with a surf shop or instructor on what size and type of board would be best for you.

Every surfer is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.

Wax Your Board

Once you have your board, it's time to wax it.

Wax makes the standing surface of the board offer more traction to your feet, so it's essential if you want to stay on the board.

You can buy wax at any surf shop, and there are many different types to choose from.

If you're not sure which one to get, ask a shop employee or instructor for their recommendation.

Once you have the wax, simply rub it onto the standing surface of the board in a circular pattern until the entire surface is covered.

You can then use a comb to create criss-cross patterns in the wax, which will help provide even more traction.

Leash Yourself

The leash of a surfboard is essentially a long cord that attaches the board to your ankle and is used to prevent the board from floating away from you if you fall off.

surfboard leash

Leashes are essential safety gear for surfers and are required in many surfing areas.

You can purchase leashes at most surf shops, and they come in different lengths depending on the size of your board.

Make sure the connection is secure, as you don't want the leash to come detached while you're midway through your surf.

You will want these small security blankets when starting out as a new surfer.

Know Your Limits

One of the most important things to remember when starting to surf is to know your limits.

Don't try to tackle a big wave on your first go- start small and work your way up.

It's also important to be aware of the conditions of the ocean before you go out.

Check the local surf report to see what the waves are like, and be sure to heed any warnings that might be in effect.

It's always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to surfing, so don't be ashamed to master your technique at a beginner's spot before moving on to larger waves.

Be Prepared For Your Pop-Up

The pop-up refers to the movement you make when going from lying down on your board to standing up.

woman practicing surfboard popup on land

This is perhaps the most difficult part of surfing for beginners, as it requires coordination, balance, muscular strength, and split-second timing.

The best way to learn the pop-up is with an instructor and while you are on land first.

Once you have the basic movement down, you can practice in shallow water, or even a pool in the absence of waves until you get the hang of it.

Remember to keep your arms straight and close to your body, and use your core muscles to help power the movement.

Use Sunscreen and a Rashguard

Both of these do an excellent job of protecting you from the sun, but the rashguard can do so much more.

Rashguards are a type of swim shirt that helps protect your skin from chafing, sunburn, and yes, even rashes caused by salt water and wax.

They come in both long and short sleeve varieties, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.

Surf wax tends to hold sand, which can cause bruising subsequently when your skin comes into contact with the surface of the board.

Wearing a rashguard will help prevent this from happening, and will also keep you comfortable in the water for longer periods of time.

Be Sure to Breathe

This may seem like an odd tip, but it's one that is often overlooked by beginners.

When you are paddling out to catch a wave, it is important to keep your breathing steady and even.

Many beginners hold their breath while paddling, which can lead to fatigue and a loss of balance.

Focus on taking deep, even breaths and expelling all the air from your lungs each time.

This will help you stay calm and maintain your energy levels, so you can surf for longer periods of time.

You'll also want air in your lungs if you find yourself underwater for longer periods of time such as while waiting out a wave overhead.

Final Words

Now that you know a few tips to help you get started, it's time to hit the waves!

Remember to start small and work your way up, be aware of your surroundings, and always use sunscreen.

The euphoria of riding a wave is unmatched by many other experiences, and with a little practice, you'll be doing it like a pro in no time.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there -surf's up!