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How To Get Started Surfing

Have you always wanted to learn how to hang 10 like Duke Kahanamoku and other surfing legends? If that’s your dream, you need to learn how to crawl before you can walk – so aim to start with the basics. To get started, you’ll need a 10-foot-long soft-top surfboard and the leash to match. Then, don your wetsuit and head out to where the waves break in your area. Upon arriving, just follow these four simple steps to start tackling the waves and move ever closer to realizing your dreams.

1. Practice on the Shore

Timing is everything when it comes to surfing like the pros. So, you need to have your muscle memory dialed in ahead of time to avoid missing out on wicked nice waves. To do that, you’ll want to practice popping up onto your board well before you leave the beach.

Start by laying on your belly in the sand in the paddling position. Then, pretend the wave is coming your way and push off with your hands while jumping to your feet. Repeat until the motion feels as smooth as butter.

Note where your feet naturally land, too. If you have your left foot out front, then you have a regular stance. Right foot out instead? Then, you’re goofy-footed. Either way, attach that ankle strap to your rearward foot before hitting the waves.

2. Watch and Learn

As a beginner, you need to watch the surf for about 30 minutes to get the lay of the land.

While gazing at all the action on the water, you’ll get to see:

  • The overall size of the waves
  • Where the waves break
  • Overall skill level of the surfers

You’ll also get to see how the surfers paddle out and give each other the right of way for each wave. Only one surfer usually gets to ride each wave, so everyone has to take turns.

The only exception is when waves peel in both directions, causing surfers to call out right or left before taking their turn. In that case, two surfers will ride each wave – one going in each direction.

3. Paddle Out to the Wave

Once you understand how things work, take your board into the water and paddle out to the lineup. As you do that, be courteous always and try to stay out of the way. Pay attention to the surfers ahead, so you know when it’s your turn.

4. Pop Up at the Right Moment

On your turn, watch for the wave you want to ride, and then turn toward the shore while laying down on your board. From there, start steadily paddling while saving a burst of energy right at the end.

As soon as you feel the wave start to lift up the tail of your board, put your full effort into paddling. Keep it going until you feel a roller-coaster-like sensation in your stomach as the wave lifts you up.

Then, at just the right moment, pop up onto the board like you practiced. Keep your eyes up and knees bent while balancing with your arms. If you just end up falling over, you likely did not paddle long enough to fully catch the wave.

With enough time and effort, you’ll slowly master the movements needed to expertly surf the waves. After that, it’s just a matter of adding fun tricks to the mix until you’re hanging ten like the pros.