Being a beginner surfer is hard, theres loads of wipe outs, missed waves, many techniques to master and obviously loads of smiles when you get it right. Here are some of the common problems beginners have out in the water and some solutions to help you iron out those mistakes and progress every surf. With lots of practice and persistence, you’re sure to improve!
1. Do you always paddle hard but sometimes miss the wave?
Paddle quickly, powerfully and dig deep into the water on every stroke. If you just brush the surface with your finger tips it won’t give you the speed required to catch the lovely waves. Start padding 2-3 metres before the wave hits your feet to build up some momentum. As the wave touches the back of the board, do 3 extra power strokes (dig deep and fast) to ensure your speed and to stay in front of the wave. If you drop behind the wave (as unfortunately Laura did in the image below) you haven’t been paddling fast enough, the wave will carry on without you and you will be left standing up without a wave (very tricky)!!!
Laura Parker learning to surf!
2. Are you always falling off before riding the wave all the way into shore?
Pop up as quick as you can but remaining in control. If you pop too fast in excitement you might forget to bend your knees, you will be off as quick as you got on. To avoid falling off make sure you feet are shoulder width apart and central on your board. Keep your back straight and focus on your core muscles for balance. If you bend your back instead of your knees, your centre of gravity will be off the board. Look forward and place your front arm straight out to the beach (steering arm) and the other arm out to your side (balance arm) to assist you.
3. Do you get nervous that you’re in the way of other surfers?
Best way to combat this is to surf in between the black and white chequered lifeguard flags and keep on the outside of the main peak section. Pre-empt which direction surfers are moving and try and paddle out the way (towards the broken white water if possible). Stay spatially aware of others around you. Having said all this, most surfers will be able to identify you are learning and stay out of your way to give you enough space to improve.
We will cover surfing etiquette rules in the next SurfGirl … so keep your eyes out and learn it.
Jessie Tuckman and Jaide Lowe catching some waves.
4. Are you nervous of wiping out?
The best way to calm your nerves is to start off by surfing in a small swell, staying close to shore. Get confident in the white water before venturing into deeper and bigger waves. Once your confidence builds, you can begin to head out back and soon you will learn that (eventually) you always come up. Try and let the wave take you without struggling (I know its hard but you will usually pop up quicker if you don’t fight it), and remember to always cover your head, there are lots of sharp fins, fibreglass boards and the odd rock to protect yourself from.
Lauren Aitcheson taking a wipeout.
So get in the sea, enjoy the swells with massive smiles and practice away…one day you might even be surfing a perfect 10!
The next SurfGirl is out at the end of March. Click here to subscribe for the new mag.