So, How Do You Start Surfing?
Before we dive into how do you start surfing, it is nice to understand and educate yourself on how this sport started. Surfing, known as heʻe ʻana (heʻe means to surf, and ʻana is the nominalizing particle) in the Hawaiian language and first discovered during the first voyage of James Cook while the ship stayed in Tahiti. Surfing was a central part of the ancient Polynesian culture and predates European contact. It is possible that Polynesian settlers in Hawaii most likely were skilled in simple surfing, and after a several hundred years of surfing the waves of Hawaii, the Hawaiian form of the sport developed. Surfing is one of the oldest practiced sports in the world.
Many people wondering how do you start surfing are usually interested in what skills are needed as well as equipment. But you can start surfing with a longboard for beginners, a leash, fins and a nice coat of wax on your surfboard. Flexibility, strength, balance, endurance, and commitment will also help you start surfing.
What Skills Do You Need For Surfing?
It is known that there are a few surf skills that are needed for you to enjoy the sport of surfing. Below we will point out how do you start surfing with these skills needed.
Balance is one of the most important skills in surfing. You not only are standing up on a small surfboard while at the same time you are going through the ocean on waves that keep changing shape and water texture depending on wind and currents.
Being flexible is as important as balancing for surfing. It takes flexibility to surf well. You need to be able to go from a prone position while paddling to an upright position on a moving board absorbing the shock of the waves on the surfboard. Also, flexibility can prevent injuries when you fall on a big wave and the white water throws your body around like a rag doll.
Those who surf need to have a lot of upper body strength core and lower body strength. This means arms that are strong, as well as strong legs. Training the chest, shoulders, triceps, back, Abs and Legs will greatly improve your time in the water as you can surf longer due to increased endurance levels. A strong and healthy body will help you in recovering due to any surf injuries.
To paddle constantly through big waves, whitewater and strong currents will take a lot of endurance. Beginning surfers need to be willing to push themselves through muscle fatigue and exhaustion if you want to keep surfing and progress to bigger and faster waves. Determination and endurance go together and are key skills in becoming a great surfer.
This is much more vital to paddling than to surfing. A wave that is standard only lasts a few seconds, so it really does not take much energy as you take off at an angle that is along the face of the wave and kicking out. But, to paddle continually through whitewater with heavy lips and whirling currents does take a lot of endurance. That is when trying to catch more waves will be difficult, because you will be tired from fighting the white water to reach the lineup. If you are passionate about surfing, you more than likely will train to get all the endurance you need and you will progress rather quickly.
Getting pounded wave after wave can certainly test your motivation when you start to surf. If you do not have the determination to keep with it, then surfing can be an experience that is frustrating. It is a tough sport, so do not get discouraged especially in the first few months of practicing. Surf can definitely be picked up faster by those that have skateboarded, snowboarded and wake surfing. But, with practice as well as determination ultimately you will start seeing improvement and the rewards can be huge and fun.
If you have balance, flexibility as well as endurance in addition to a real passion for surfing; you will more than likely progress quickly. Those qualities will ensure you will not only perform on the waves, but you will be able to stay safe in situations where it would be easy to wipe out.
What extra skills do you need to be able to surf?
There are loads of exercises that will help you strengthen your surfing muscles, especially your shoulders, but just keep it simple. These are three ways that will keep you in the best surfing shape even when the waves are flat:
- Elbows in Push-ups
- Jumping rope
Swimming and push-ups will keep the shoulders, back and core strength. If these muscles are not worked frequently, your first surf session will suffer due to lack of strength and endurance. They will also be good for exercising your arms and legs. Push-ups are good for your arms which will help you with your pop up when you first stand up on the surfboard.
Jumping ropes is the perfect exercise for leg flexibility, strength, balance, and coordination which are all essential in surfing. Do these exercises regularly when the waves are flat and alternate an hour in the gym as well as some skateboarding, and you are good to go on your next session.
Surfing needs and supplies
Here are some things that a surfer needs to take up the sport of surfing. This also depends if you are in a warm water or colder water location.
If you are planning to surf especially during the winter or in some areas in the summer, then a wetsuit is going to be necessary to keep from losing any sense of feeling in your arms and legs. Go to your local surf shop sports retailer and have the staff fit you up with the right size of wetsuit which is crucial to its purpose. If you know what size and make you want, then use one of the online stores to get yourself fixed up and pick up on some hot deals.
A leg rope or leash is just a long lead that is attached from an ankle to the back of your board to stop you from being separated from your board. Leashes will always be placed on your back foot. They are about the length of a board so when your wipe-out, the board will be out of the way before you surface, but close enough so you can hop back on quickly before the next wave comes crashing down on you.
An essential piece of equipment that is needed to help you stick to the top of your surfboard is your bar of wax. You can pick up many different brands and types of wax online or at your local surf shop. They come in numerous colors, shapes, and flavors dependent on the temperature of the water you will be surfing in. If you are going to surf in the United Kingdom, then look for cold-water and cool water wax as this will provide more traction. If you live in Florida for example, then you will need a tropical warm water wax. You need to rub the bar on the board’s topside, as this will improve your grip. For Beginners – it is not true that rubbing wax on the board’s underside will make it faster. You only rub it on the top side of your board.
There are many different types of surfboards to pick from when you are an experienced surfer. But as a new surfer, only two of them are appropriate for the beginner. Soft tops made out of foam which is the most forgiving, to begin with, and can be rented at most surfing beaches. While they are the boards that are best for starting they also have limits because of their basic design. You can also start with a longboard made out of polyurethane or polystyrene foam covered with layers of fiberglass cloth, and polyester or epoxy resin. These are much faster boards and a lot less forgiving if the board hits you when you fall of a wave.
Understanding Different Types of Surfing Waves
Reforms: With reform waves, the waves start off normal and as the ocean floor gets deeper the wave dies off, and once the wave hits a shallower reef or sandbar it “reforms” or breaks again.
Closeouts: Waves that break all at once not giving you the chance to ride the wave to the left or to the right.
Tubing or Barrelling: These waves are the types of waves that most experience surfers look for as the swell comes in through deep water and hits a shallow sandbar or reef causing the wave to form a tube. These are not the waves a beginner should start surfing on. If those are the only types of waves you have at your local beach, make sure that you start off on the white water.
Mushy or Crumbly: These waves are not steep and are perfect for beginners as it breaks gently in a non-steep way.
Double-ups: This happens when the crest and troughs align and can make a much bigger and powerful wave.
It is vital to use the right etiquette when surfing, or else things can just fall into complete chaos. The majority of the do and don’ts are described in detail in this surf etiquette post, so this is just a few things to remember. There are some rules that are unwritten, stay out of trouble, and enjoy surfing.
Right of way
Learn the surfer with the right of way on the wave. Take a minute and learn “wave priority”.
- Further out: Surfer further out or has been waiting for the longest;
- Furthest inside: The surfer who is nearest to the wave peak or the wave that is breaking;
- The first surfer to feet: The surfer first to get up is the first on the wave;
- Announcement: Calling of “Right” or “Left” if the wave is one with a “split-peak”.
Don’t drop in
Cutting in the front of any other surfer who is already up and surfing the wave is a fast way of getting the locals upset with you. Observing the “right of way” will keep you out of trouble.
Paddling repeatedly around another surfer to get into the position that is inside on any wave is just not right. Where would everyone end up if everyone did this?
Share the waves
Share – even when you can paddle furthest outside and are able to catch the waves first each time you are in the line-up, do not do it. People quickly become aggravated with surfers who show this type of conduct and will start dropping in at any opportunity. Again, things can escalate into a chaotic situation.
This is all some beginner’s information on how do you start surfing for those that are just taking up this sport. If you follow this, you will be in good hands from the start.