How Hard is Surfing?

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A lot of new surfers and people interested in learning how to surf have the same questions: just how hard is it to learn to surf?

By most measures, surfing is a fairly hard thing to learn.

Surfing is harder than most other sports for a few reasons:

  1. Nature plays a huge role in how your session is going to go.
  2. You can’t simply get on the board and ride like you can with a skateboard or snowboard.
  3. It takes a lot of endurance and a lot of different muscles to even get out to try to catch a wave.

You can make it easier to learn how to surf by:

  • Starting when you’re young. You can’t go back in time, but kids do have it easier than adult learners.
  • Being a strong swimmer.
  • Having good balance and core strength.
  • Being comfortable in (and under) the water.
  • Being able to remain calm in uncomfortable situations (like getting tumbled around by waves).
  • Practicing in whitewater or easy waves.
  • Choosing the right surfboard to learn on.

On top of those tips, the best way to get better at surfing is to surf as much as you can.

How to Surf

Once you get past some of the difficulties of learning how to surf, the actual act of surfing is not all that hard. It boils down to:

  • Grab your board. Be sure to pick the right surfboard for the current conditions.
  • Find a place with some waves that are breaking with some open face to ride on.
  • Paddle out to where said waves are breaking.
  • Wait for a wave to begin to form.
  • Start paddling for the wave.
  • Feel yourself “catch” the wave’s energy.
  • Pop up and stand on your surfboard.
  • Ride down the line.
  • Do all sorts of fancy turns and maneuvers to your heart’s content.

How to Paddle on a Surfboard

The first thing to master is paddling.

The better a paddler you are, the easier it will be to learn how to surf.

To paddle on your surfboard:

  • Center yourself laying down on your board.
  • Keep your head and chest down as you paddle to reduce tail drag.
  • Use long, full “freestyle” strokes to glide across the water.

Find more tips on getting better at paddling on a surfboard and getting past waves.

How to Control Your Surfboard

Just like paddling, the better you’re able to control your surfboard, the easier a time you’ll have.

Controlling your board includes knowing how to carry it, balancing on it, getting out of the way when someone is surfing, getting back to it if you fall, and getting it through breaking waves.

Practicing control while you’re in the whitewater with no one else around you can be a smart idea.

Don’t ditch your board when others are around you.

It’s probably a good time to learn about the basic rules of surfing.

How to Stand Up on a Surfboard

Once you’ve mastered paddling and control, you can work on actually standing up to surf.

First, you’ll need to determine if you’re goofy or regular.

Next, you’ll need to get the hang of your foot positioning as you pop up. Basically, you’ll want to sweep your feet under your body in one smooth motion to their respective positions on the board.

Where exactly you’ll want to stand will depend on the board you are surfing, so that will take some experimentation.

Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart and your knees bent in an athletic position and angled slightly forward.

Learn all about how to pop-up on a surfboard here.

Ready to take your surfing to the next level, find more tips and tricks for learning how to surf.

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