You have been wanting to for some time now and are ready, you are ready to learn how to surf. First there are some things you should know before beginning surfing. Before you start surfing, you must know this: surfing is one of the most difficult and complex sport in the world. Think about it. Not one wave is the same, so your playground is constantly changing. Elements such as wind, tides and swells are affecting the waves you surf differently every single day.
It’s a very challenging and enjoyable learning process. Once you catch your first “green wave”, that’s it, you’re hooked! Knowing the learning curve helps you prepare your attitude and expectations towards your surfing. Contrarily to snowboarding, for example, there’s no moment at the 3rd day where you think “Ok, I got this” and then very rarely fall again. In surfing, you will wipe-out for years.
Things to know before you start surfing
There are certain things every potential surfer should be aware of before they get started. This list will save you heartache and needless worry and will maximize your surfing life.
1) Don’t worry about what other people might be thinking about your board, wetsuit, skill level, etc. Focus on surfing: paddling out and catching waves back in.
2) Learn to duck dive before you can even stand up. Being able to duck dive will exponentially increase the number of waves you catch.
3) Surf mostly in the morning and late afternoon. Sunburn isn’t cool, and you’ll regret having been sunburnt later in life.
4) Catch as many waves as possible. Don’t sit out there waiting for what you might think is the perfect wave – catch everything you can.
5) Don’t be overly timid. Know your place in the line-up, especially as a beginner, but don’t go surfing and catch no waves. Sometimes you need to get amongst the action to get your share.
6) Smile and be friendly in the line-up. Other surfers are people too. You might even find a mentor who’ll take you under his or her wing.
7) Don’t take surfing too seriously. I’ve seen guys punching their boards in frustration. It’s horrible, and the board is never at fault. When you’re having a bad day, be grateful that you live in an era when such luxuries as going surfing are available to us at all.
8) Stretch. The more flexible you are, the better you’ll surf. If you watch pro surfers, half of what they do is acrobatics.
9) When the surf bug bites, embrace it wholeheartedly. Later in life you’ll be tired, injured, the waves will be flat, you’ll have a family, you’ll be busy with work. If you have the opportunity to go surfing, do it. Don’t hesitate.
10) Experience more dawn sessions. Paddling out as the sun rises is beautiful beyond belief, especially if you’re on the east coast of a continent.
11) Experience more sunset sessions. When the water becomes silky and the sun drips gold across the surface. This, for me, is what surfing is all about. Being part of the elements, riding waves of energy manifested in liquid form.
12) Surf with friends. Happiness shared is happiness multiplied.
13) Give the gift of surfing. You’ll understand why this is important after you’ve become a surfer. Watching someone catch their first wave – that look upon their face – is better than catching a wave yourself.
14) Lose the ego. Your ego will tell you that you’re good or useless, or worthy or worthless. It’s all just noise. Focus on what you came here to do: surf.
15) It’s not a competition. Surfing is about you and your love of riding waves. Sometimes it’s better to paddle away from the crowd and wait for a wave to come to you. Don’t let surfing contribute to your stress levels.
16) Surfing is sacred. There are few sports, leisure activities, or hobbies that will capture your heart in the way surfing does. Be grateful for the joy it brings you. Make a point of expressing that gratitude, even just to yourself, before you fall asleep at night.
17) Experiment with surfboards. Don’t mimic the professionals unless, of course, you’re on the path to becoming one! For everyone else, find boards that leverage your unique wave-riding skills and style. The perfect board for you will change throughout your surfing life.
18) Look after the ocean. We spend a good portion of our lives immersed in it, let’s keep it clean. This can mean supporting organizations involved in ocean care, or just picking up rubbish you find on the beach.
19) Lead a healthier lifestyle. The better you care for your body, the better you will surf. This includes, getting enough sleep, eating more green than packaged things, drinking less alcohol, and not smoking. You can care for your mind by meditating and cultivating a positive attitude.
20) Set goals. If you want to improve your surfing, create some clear objectives. For example: by the end of the year you want to do an air. Now unravel the steps required to reach your goal. Find someone who has already achieved this goal and ask for help. If you can afford it, pay for expert tutelage.
21) Ask someone to video you surfing. It will shock you. It’ll be like listening to your voice on video. It will help you iron out the kinks in your style.
22) Go on more surf trips. Travel and adventure are surfing’s best friends and will make you feel alive.
23) If you love surfing, don’t be afraid to give it a central role in your life. Make sure you live near the ocean. Avoid getting sucked into the whirlpool of mindless busyness. Don’t forego the things you love in the pursuit of money, career, or abstract ‘shoulds’. It’s all hot air and you’ll be old before you know it. So, begin with what you know in your heart is important, then build your life around that.
Surfing is a sport like no other. It has given us all the freedom to travel, explore, develop and feel empowered. Empowered through the waves, challenged during the wipeouts and paddle outs and allowed us all to feel a sense of happiness and belonging like never before. For many surfing has saved them, awakened them or opened a new world of possibilities they didn’t know existed. It’s not just a sport; surfing is a way of life.
When you become a surfer, you are welcomed into this beautiful world of endless possibility and with this possibility comes to need and want to chase and search for waves all over the world.