Surfing can be a demanding sport and you should be reasonably fit and able to swim at least 50 metres in open water. Ideally before planning a surfing trip it is advisable to carry out a programme of exercises spread over the course of a couple of weeks.
Running, Cycling and especially Swimming will help improve your stamina and will help tone up the all important paddling muscles. Experience in bathing at surf beaches is advantageous as it will help you develop an awareness of the behaviour of waves.
Always remember to carry out a warm up before going surfing and before carrying out any type of training.
Learning to stand up is important but it’s not something you need to become obsessed with. Some people find it easy, others find it tricky – especially if they lack flexibility, but with persistence it gets easier and easier.
It’s much better to have a goal of learning to ride real unbroken waves, and viewing the action of standing up as just another part of the learning process, no more or less important then other skills such as paddling or reading the waves.
Just trust that you will gradually get to your feet quicker and with more grace, and don’t let any difficulties with standing get in the way of your motivation to learn the other (less glamorous) things you need to know.
When it all comes together you’ll realise that standing on a small whitewater wave is an achievement but it’s not the goal of surfing. It’s nothing compared to the buzz you’ll get once you learn how to ride real unbroken waves. That’s when people get hooked.
Only use or hire soft foam boards on your first time all British surf schools are required to use 100 % foam safe boards. They are also super fun to use after you have had your surfing lesson they can be purchased here safe soft surfboards Surfboards
Beginners need larger than average boards (at least 12 inches- 300 mm longer than they are tall) and all boards need a suitable surf leash. Soft skinned surfboards are ideal for learning to surf. For next step surfboards check these links Circle one surfboards or starter surfboards
A one piece wetsuit, either a full suit or shorty (short arms and short legs), is a must for surfing in Britain. A 3/2 mm double lined suit is adequate for summer use however a 4/3 mm is best if you intend to surf in the Spring and Autumn.
Before paddling out always watch other surfers to see where best to enter the water. Ask the advice of lifeguards or experienced surfers to find out if there are any dangers you should be aware of. To paddle the board, lie prone on it – length wise, with the nose of the board just above the surface of the water. Use your arms as paddles either side of the board (using the crawl swimming stroke) and practice paddling to find the technique best suited to your needs.
Study the pattern of the waves before deciding how far out to paddle. Make sure you are not directly lined up with another surfer or swimmer and then get into position facing the beach. When a suitable wave is about 5 metres from you check there are no other surfers on it and start paddling. As the wave reaches you it lifts the board and, if you are paddling fast enough, the wave propels you forward. Take hold of the rails and jump straight to your feet
Your front foot should be about half way up the board with your rear foot about 24 inches (600 mm) behind it. Your back foot should be at approximately right angles to the centre of the board, your front foot at 45 degrees. Make sure all the time that the nose of the board is above the water, not too far up or you will fall back into the wave, and not too far down or the board will nose dive.
The best place to learn how to catch waves and to stand up is in the white water whilst being instructed by a British NGB qualified coach.
Once you have mastered standing up in one movement the next step is to keep ahead of the breaking part of the wave by manoeuvring (turning) away from the white water. This is done by putting more of your weight on your back foot whilst leaning in the direction you wish to go whilst making sure that the nose of the board remains above water level. Turning the surfboard is a key skill as it is an essential requirement for avoiding collisions with other surfers and swimmers.
Always watch out for other surfers and swimmers etc. and do not keep your eyes fixed on the board (or on your feet) – keep your head up and look ahead.
You may surf all the way to the shore or stop the ride intentionally because you are running out of wave, or for other reasons such as to avoid a collision. The technique is the same as for turning and you can stop quickly by turning sharply back into the wave, or over it. This is done by moving your weight back as far as possible on the board to enable you to achieve a strong swivel movement. In slow shore-break surf, the board can be stopped by stepping to the rear of the board and allowing the wave to overtake. DO NOT KICK YOUR BOARD OUT OR JUST JUMP OFF IT !!!
It is vital that you are in control of your board at all times and that you do not let the surfboard control you. Full control is essential for proper surfing and to achieve this you should practice in stages. Do not go out too far to start with and select the smaller inside waves on which to perfect your technique. All learners should start in white water, but all should get outside and catch unbroken waves as soon as possible.
After the basic techniques of paddling, catching, riding and leaving a wave have been mastered improvements and refinements can be made. Help and advice from more experienced surfers or from a BSA Accredited Surf Coach will be very useful as will joining a surf club is an advantage and reading books and surfing magazines.
A surf leash (approx. 6’ (1.8m) long) securing the surfboard to your ankle should be used at all times. Leashes prevent loose boards from getting out of control and possibly injuring people, they also mean that your board (a safety aid) remains with you at all times. You should never surf without Third Party Insurance Cover, which in any case is mandatory in some areas. Public Liability Insurance is included in membership of British Surfing and covers you for claims of up to £2,000,000 anywhere in the World. Only enter water if the waves are of a safe size. (Below 1.5 meters)
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