Skills You Should Master When Learning How To Surf
Learning how to surf is one of the coolest and most rewarding physical pursuits we can undertake to expand our ocean existence. But patience, persistence and the mastering a few basic skills are essential to become a surfer.
There are not many activities that are much cooler than surfing. It’s an awesome way to experience nature. You get such a thrill from being able to ride a cresting wave toward the shore. You feel like Poseidon gliding over the ocean and everybody watching is struck with awe – that is, everybody who has never done it before.
Some people think,
“Surfing, there’s nothing to it. You get on a board, get caught in a wave, and let it push you toward the shore. The water does everything for you.”
These are obviously thoughts of the very clueless. When you surf, you pit yourself against the elements. You need to master a wide ranging gamut of skills before you can competently ride a wave.
- Swimming – Let’s start with swimming. If you can’t make it to ten strokes without flipping backward and floating the rest of the way down a swimming pool, you better put off learning how to surf and focus on becoming a stronger swimmer. Things happen in the ocean that are completely out of your control and you’ll need swimming prowess to survive
- Paddling – To get out there, you need to paddle. Lie down on your belly and practise paddling with your arms. If you’re not used to it, you’ll feel the burn in a bit, and that’s without the resistance of water. Needless to say, you’ll have to build strength in your arms to even get to the surfer’s line-up. This comes in time with practice and persistence
- Tackling a breaking wave – It’s also a whole other perspective with your body so close to the board. Suddenly those teeny, gentle waves you see from the beach are much bigger and more powerful when you’re out there. There are many times when you’ll have to pass a wave and you need to learn the following tactics to avoid getting battered.
o Duck diving – Push the nose underneath the wave and follow through with the rest of the board.
o Slice and duck – Push one side down while you sink the nose under the water.
o Eskimo or turtle roll – Roll the board over to let the wave pass above you.
o Push up – For smaller waves. Push up your chest and let the wave pass under you and over the board.
o Shoot and scoot – Sit at the back to sink the tail, grabbing the centre of the board so it goes above the wave.
- Catching a wave – Pick a wave, decide whether to ride it right or left, and then angle along on its open face parallel to the shore. Learning what to look for in a wave that approaches is one of the most important parts of surfing but is also one of the most difficult to master
- Popping up – You see surfers grabbing the rails and then, from lying flat, pop up to a standing position. Until you’re much more confident, you’ll probably have to slowly tuck your legs onto the board and then scramble up to a standing position
- Balancing on the board – If you skateboard or snowboard, you probably know which foot to put forward. To maintain balance, keep your knees bent, your centre of gravity low by bending forward, and your arms loose and extended
- Riding the wave – You need to learn to turn and manoeuvre your board to successfully finish out your ride. To turn, lean slightly with the carve as you apply pressure to the back, making sure that the nose is no higher than about four inches out of the water while turning. Remain upright as your lower body steers the board
It’s no good, of course, learning these basic skills in theory. If you want to learn how to surf, you need to get out there and do it. Practice, practice, practice. Like most things in life, nothing worth having comes easily and if you want to be able to call yourself a surfer, you have to go through the hard yards of the early stages of learning.