Surfing Tips for Beginners

A bucket-list activity, surfing is becoming an increasingly popular sport in Europe.  The perfect way to enjoy beautiful beaches, with summer quickly approaching, it’s the perfect time to learn. Whether you’re having lessons with friends or visiting a surf camp, we’ve shared our top surfing tips for beginners to help you prepare.

Surfer carrying surfboard

Essential Gear for Beginners

Just like any sport, surfing requires specialist equipment. Here are some items you’re going to need:

A Surfboard
It might be obvious but in order to learn how to surf you’re going to need a surfboard. Although you might be tempted to invest in a shorter board as quickly as possible, it’s best to start with a bigger board and reduce the size as your ability progresses. Most beginners opt for foam surfboards, known as ‘foamies’, or ‘soft-tops’ because they’re much comfortable after spending a lot of time sitting on it. Also, make sure your surfboard is fitted with a nose guard to prevent impacts with the surfboard nose (the front edge).

A Surfboard Leash
Preventing you and your board from being separated, a leash is a surfing essential. Although it might feel strange and it will get in your way a few times, take time to get used to it as it is a must-have item.

A Traction Pad
A small pad that you can push against when popping up, traction pads, also known as surf pads, are helpful for beginners to control their board in the surf. Not a necessity as some surfboards already have these built-in.

Available in various shapes, colours and flavours depending on the water temperature you are surfing in, wax helps to give your board grip. Applied to the deck of the surfboard, if you’ve opted for a ‘foamie’ or a ‘soft-top’, you don’t need the worry about this.

Wherever you plan on surfing, some form of wetsuit should be considered. Helping you to surf for longer. If you plan on surfing in cold surf, invest in a winter wetsuit, gloves and wetsuit boots. Whatever option you take, make sure it is properly fitted, so the insulating characteristics work correctly.

Rash Guard
Consider wearing a rash guard to protect yourself against a rubber rash that you would otherwise get on your stomach and chest. Alternatively, wear a vest or t-shirt.

Best Surf Spots in Europe for Beginners

If you are going to successfully learn to surf, it is vital that you choose a suitable beach. It’s important to find a beach with small, good, steady waves so you can practice the technique before upgrading to a more difficult surf spot.

Below are just some of the amazing beginner surf spots Sea-Lifts offer transfers to:

Surf Safety and Etiquette

As a beginner, it’s important to understand the unwritten rules of surf and how to learn safely.

While all good surf schools will help you understand this, here are the essentials:

Surf Safety

  • Beginner surfers should never try and learn by themselves. Whilst you might think you can teach yourself the basics, it can be dangerous, and you risk injuring yourself and others. Instead, have lessons or get an experienced friend to show you the correct technique.
  • Never place your board between yourself and a coming wave. Ensure you stay 15 feet away from others to avoid any collision.
  • Don’t push your board through the water fin first. Made to keep your surfboard pointed correctly, i.e. nose first, pushing the board this way can be quite dangerous.

Surfing Etiquette

  • Surfing waves have a peak which can usually be found in the middle of the wave. The part of the wave that will break first, the surfer closest to this spot will have the best chance of catching the wave first and is awarded the wave by other interested surfers.
  • Never “drop-in” on another surfer, i.e. catching a wave that has been awarded to another surfer. Not only is this extremely dangerous, it can also be seen as disrespect to another surfer.
  • You should always check to see if there is another surfer on your inside before paddling for a wave. You must be 100% sure a surfer is done with a wave before catching it yourself.

Surfing Fitness

Surfing is a physically demanding sport and requires a certain level of fitness in order to be successful. Like most sports, the fitter you are, the easier you will find it and the longer you can stay in the water.

If you are planning a surfing holiday soon, try to add push-ups and burpees to your exercise regime which will help with paddling and pop-ups. Cross training, weight training, intense cardio and yoga are also great workouts for surfing.

Top Surf Tips for Beginners

Before You Get in The Water

  1. Research your surf school carefully and ensure they are experienced. Look for any accreditations and see if insurance is included in the price.
  2. Surfing is physically demanding so you are going to have to refuel. Make sure you have plenty of water on hand and some high energy snacks. If you’re surfing in winter, you may even want to bring a thermos to keep you warm.
  3. Get an understanding of the ocean environment before you try surfing. Whilst good surf schools will teach this, knowing what a rip is and understanding currents, tides and winds will help.
  4. Taking time to find out if you are goofy or natural footed is key to being successful. Whilst some people choose a foot instinctively, others are unsure which foot to put at the front of your surfboard. To test this, see which foot leads when you go down a set of stairs. Whichever foot is first should be placed at the front of your board. If you place your right foot at the front you’re goofy footed, left foot at the front and you’re natural footed.
  5. Once you’re ready to catch a wave, don’t rush into the water straight away. Take time to warm-up, check your equipment and watch the waves to see what others are doing.

In the water

  1. It might sound obvious but start small and build-up. Although you might feel like you have the ability to tackle larger waves, it can be very dangerous to upgrade if you’re not ready.
  2. Another tip that might be common sense to many is to pace yourself. Although you’ll be keen to get going, it’s important not to rush as this can lead to injury.
  3. Make sure you keep your distance from the more advanced surfers. As you’re just learning you will want plenty of space and want to avoid getting in other’s way.
  4. Take time to get comfortable sitting on your board in the water. Although very basic, it’s not the most natural of things.
  5. Paddling is key to surfing success so it is key that you keep practising. Find a rhythm and try to stick to that whilst thinking about your positioning. The best place is in the middle, as too forward and your nose will poke underwater, too far back and you will go too slow.
  6. If a breaking wave is ahead of you, you have two choices: Either duck under it or paddle over it. Whatever you choose, once the wave has broken, you need to stay perpendicular to the whitewater. If you don’t, you’re giving the surf more surface area to pull you under the water and drag you towards shore.
  7. Learn to place your hands correctly when popping up and avoiding holding onto the rails to prevent you from tipping over.
  8. When you catch a wave, make sure you bend your knees and not your back as it’s much easier to keep balance.
  9. Lastly, you need to be prepared to wipe out. Unfortunately, being knocked down by waves is part of learning how to surf and learning how to fall properly will help you stay safe in the water.

We hope this guide has inspired you to plan a surfing holiday and helped you take your surf skills to the next level.

Don’t forget, Sea-Lifts operates at all major European Surf Resorts and offers you the option to add a surfboard as luggage. Sea-Lifts will provide you reliable and hassle-free transfers from the airport to the surf resort. Get an instant quote and book online now!

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