Guest Post by Bob the Bob
So You Want To Learn To Surf?
WARNING – The following words have nothing to do with learning to surf. These words are aimed more towards all those interested in teaching their girlfriend, cousins or favourite family members how to surf.
More so, how to teach them without harsh-ing my surf session or the other sessions of possible heavy locals in the area.
So you want to teach your kids to surf… Or your landlocked teenage niece keeps blowing up your cellphone with text messages; whining that she wants to learn to “Shred” this summer. Whatever it is or whomever it is, here are some thoughts to keep in mind while sharing the stoke of our salty goodness. Just a few thoughts that might keep your rookies a bit safer in the soup or keep you from dealing with their hassles in the water:
1) Start With Ocean Safety
This is something that is overlooked by most people and could stop most innocent accidents.
Lets begin with a description, of something we have all witnessed, what I will call the “Uncle Rico” effect. This is a dude who rolls up to the beach…once, maybe twice… a summer. All pastie white, with a van piled high with blue foam boards and a band of unruly rugrats. Their brightly painted zinka faces happy to overtake your secret spot without any instruction or regard from their super cool, surfer uncle… Uncle Rico.
Hey Uncle Rico!!! How about sitting your gaggle of wanna-bee grommets down and imparting a few ocean tips before you let them overtake our lineup. A few moments spent instructing your kids about riptides, impact zones, lifeguard flags, board placement, pop-up technique and other surf etiquette makes everyone’s surf session better… their session and mine!
REFERENCE: before you learn to surf, read up on surfing etiquette here!
2) Practice, Practice, Practice
We have all seen them, the goofy videos of uniformed kooks stretching and paddling on dry land. Well, in actuality, this is a good move for most invoice surfers. While on the beach, have them lay down on board. Give them a reference point on the board that puts their body in the best prone paddling position. Show them some stretches to warm up their muscles; because for most of these sun deprived couch potatoes, these few moments in the water will be the most exercise they get all summer! And a few stretches to get the blood pumping might do them some good.
Most importantly, demonstrate a good pop up technique. A few moments spent on dry land showing them where to place their hands and how to snap up to their feet will make all the difference to them catching a wave and experiencing the stoke of surfing… and eventual lead to the fun of watching them wipeout later!
3) Board Choice
The whole world has seen Kelly Slater rip and the whole world thinks they should be riding a Slater type board. Yet, the happy fact is, most Uncle Rico’s don’t have a quiver full of 5’ 9” Channel Islands – Freddy Rubble – round pin tails. They have an abundance of backyard logs and duct taped death traps. None of which should be use to teach a beginner. All new-bees should learn on bigger, softer boards. Preferable, 8 foot or larger foam boards… I prefer that they ride the soft foam boards, simply because my ankles can’t handle anymore kooky trauma.
The simple fact is, a bigger board will float a beginner better, offering more paddling power which equals easier wave catching and stability once they get their feet.
REFERENCE: check out this post: Learner’s Surfboard Review…this is what you want!
4) The Waves
Don’t be an Uncle Rico and take your beginner crew to a solid, dumping beach break or a firing point break littered with rocks. Yes, your Uncle Rico skills would get a chance to shine in those epic conditions, but your only going to freakout your rookies and possible get them or me hurt. Find an easy break, with gentle sloping waves where there are other people being introduced to the sport. Look for spots where the crowd is sympathetic to their plight, a spot where heckling is at minimum.
5) Give A Helpful Push
Again don’t be an Uncle Rico and just expect your kids to know where it is safe to paddle or even know how to paddle into a wave. In fact, with beginners, don’t even bother paddling out on your board. Swim along side them and show them where to paddle and how to sit in a lineup. Once the right wave comes along, give them a soft push. Ease them into their first waves. After a they get a few assisted waves under their belts, set them free to paddle on their own; free to pearl and go-over-the-falls at their own will.
6) Share The Stoke
There is no secret as to why Uncle Rico is the coolest cat in the family… He knows how to surf! He may not surf well or understand how to teach others, but amongst the offspring of his family he is the coolest, most stoked filled mentor they have. Lets face it, we are all stoke addicts, addicted to spreading the Aloha Spirit that infects us all. It’s our attitude of gratitude the draws so many people towards our sport and lifestyle; they just want a little piece of it. So, no matter how you do it; share the fun of surfing, don’t be overbearing, don’t show frustration and don’t belittle their weak egos in the water… wait until you get back on dry land before you start those important rituals.
So to all you would-be surf instructors, take heed and do not repeat the mistakes of Uncle Rico.
- Take care of the young fishes placed under your charge.
- Show them respect for our oceans and respect for our lineups.
- Teach them proper surf etiquette while picking the best spots for them to learn at.
- And lastly, share the stoke of a gentle push that will forever hook them on the rush surfing.