How to get started surfing

How to get started surfing & stick to it!

Posted: 27th April 2020 by Emma Wall

Everything you need to know about how to get started surfing

Have you always fancied the idea of riding waves, but are unsure how to get started surfing? Well, maybe it’s time that you stopped dreaming and fulfil your ambition to learn to surf! There are a few things you need to know that will increase your chances of getting started surfing. Follow these six steps for how to start surfing and make this the year that you finally learn to surf (and stick at it too!)

Get in the swimming pool for some surf fitness training

What surprises a lot of people when they first try and start surfing, is just how much hard work it is. Surfing may look effortless when you’re watching a seasoned surfer from the shore, but it’s one of the most intense workouts you’ll ever do. One of the best ways to get surf fit is by hitting the swimming pool for some training.

Lengths of front-crawl will help to fine-tune the muscles needed for paddling for a wave. It’s also great for your cardio endurance. This is important when you start trying to surf green waves instead of whitewater and want to paddle outback. It’s also fundamental for getting yourself out of trouble for if you get caught up in a strong riptide. Swimming lengths underwater improves your lung capacity in preparation for wipeouts.

For the best Surf warm-up exercises click here.

Learn the surfer’s code of conduct 

There are some basic rules of conduct that should be acknowledged when out surfing. This involves understanding when someone has priority over the wave and how and when to move out of someone’s way. 

How to start surfing and stick to it!

These surfing codes of conduct are generally adhered to as second nature by more seasoned surfers. This is because they keep collisions to a minimum and maintain a level of fairness out in the lineup. Of course, not everyone sticks to these rules, but nothing will make you look more like a kook than dropping in on someone who had priority and ruining their wave.

Learning the anatomy of a wave and how waves form and break is, therefore, crucial to be able to surf fairly and responsibly. Surfing is a science that takes a while to learn and understand, but getting to grips with the basics is going to put you in good stead for making friends not foes out in the water.

Learn to surf at a Surf Camp 

If you’re serious about learning to surf properly then you’ll need to put some decent water time in. You’ll have a much steeper learning curve the less consistently you manage to practice.

For many people, the best place to learn to surf is at a surf camp. Surf camps are a fun way to kick-start your water awareness and build your confidence. Not only will you have professional instructors on hand to help explain how the local waves work, but you’ll also meet a group of likeminded people to share the stoke with.

Most surf camps have tiered instruction that will make sure that you’re out in the type of wave that is appropriate for your level. And some genuine surfing friendships are often formed at surf camps that open up your possibilities for surf tripping after the camp has finished.

How to learn to surf - Go to a surf camp

Dreamsea Surf camp has a magic formula for creating a surfing community, with centres across Europe and The Tropics.

Soul and Surf is an established favourite for the surf yoga experience in India and Sri Lanka.

Swell Yoga offers intimate surf yoga experiences on the North Devon coast, with stunning Vegan food served up in a tranquil surfer’s cottage. 

Work on your strength and mobility 

As well as a decent level of stamina, you’ll also need good overall strength and mobility in your body. Surfing will reintroduce you to every little muscle that you’ve forgotten ever existed, but there are a few key players to focus on that will help you.

  • Chest – working on some chest strength with Press-ups and Planks will help when popping up on to your board. 
  • Shoulders – ideally need to be strong but mobile for optimal paddle power. Holding an outstretched belt about double shoulder-width and bringing it over your head and down behind you, can help mobilise the shoulders and chest.
  • Core – do some pilates exercises to help stabilise your core when you’re riding the waves.
  • Thighs – surprisingly surfing can be a bit of a thigh burner, so get practising those squats in preparation. Balance boards like Indo boards are also a great way to fine-tune the core and leg muscles.
  • Hips – straddling the board for long periods requires open and mobile hips, as does swinging your legs through when you pop up and driving turns with shoulders and hips.

How to get started surfing - Surf mobility training

Read Hip Mobility Core Conditioning Exercises.

Learn to read the swell forecast 

As mentioned before, surfing is a science that takes some getting your head around. Unfortunately, it’s not normally as simple as just rocking up at the beach with your board and jumping in. Most beaches work better on certain tides; meaning whether the tide is low, mid or high and whether it’s coming in or going out. The power of the groundswell, Wind direction and strength are also other major contributing factors to the quality of wave that you’ll get.

Luckily long gone are the days of having to try and work all this out from shipping forecasts and the weather person on the telly. Magic seaweed now conveniently gives weekly break downs of the swell and wind conditions on all major surfing beaches the world over, and which weather conditions will work best for that spot. It also provides advice about facilities on the beach, webcams to view the waves before you head down and even what the vibe is like out in the water with the locals.

Join surfing community pages 

Joining some kind of surf club or community page will help you connect with likeminded people. With the help of a wider surfing community, you’ll be able to find out where the best place to learn to surf is near you and which surf schools give the best surf lessons. Meetup is one place to look and you can also try searching for Surf clubs in your area via Facebook pages. 

Remember the more hours you can get out in the water, the quicker you’ll progress. And what better way to help keep the momentum going than by meeting up with a group of people on a similar mission. Surf clubs and communities are also a great way to carpool and help to cut surf trip costs. And hopefully, you’ll get some surfing tips from the more experienced members of the group, who will tell you how to start surfing with more confidence in no time.

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