Posts Tagged surf lessons

Know The Surfing Basics

Monday, December 7th, 2009

surf-basicsAll it takes to become a surfer is a board, a beach, and some determination. Anyone new to surfing that doesn’t have a friend or mentor to introduce the sport needs to learn the rules. Knowing the dos and don’ts will prevent injuries, fights, dirty looks, and maybe even save your life. Surfing is fun, but the ocean needs to be respected.

First, know your limits. “When in doubt, don’t go out.” If you are uncomfortable with the conditions, then stay on the beach. There is no shame in watching a swell as it comes into your local beach. The more you watch the more you will learn about the ocean and her moods. Study the waves, how the current moves, where the rips are. You may find that after some time watching you feel confident and want to try. This rule also implies that you are fit and comfortable with the ocean. People that are fit and have good stamina can push their limits, while fair-weather or out of shape surfers should really make sure they are ready for the conditions.

Next, always tell someone where you are going or bring a buddy. The buddy system kept you alive on field trips in first grade and it will keep you safe while surfing. Whether the waves are small or huge, having a friend around to keep an eye out for each other is helpful. If no one will surf with you or you prefer to be alone, tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be home.

Be aware of your surroundings. Look for the lifeguard tower if there is one, any dangerous rock outcroppings in the water, and locate rips. If the is strong current, watch a few sets come in and determine the best way to paddle out before you get wet. Notice the crowd and judge the skill level. Beginner surfers are less able to control their boards and crowds increase the risk of injury. Remember, most surfing injuries are caused by surfboards striking surfers.

Don’t paddle out if you are drunk, extremely hung-over, or in any other fashion intoxicated. It is unsafe for you and those around to not be in control, especially when the waves are big. Save the drinking for after your session. Give yourself 45 minutes to digest food before paddling out.

Once you are ready to paddle out, observe the basic rules in the line-up. Give priority to the surfer closest to the peak or first on his feet. Learn how to duck dive and don’t throw your board in a crowd. If you can’t control your board, keep practicing and avoid endangering others by avoided crowds in serious conditions. Respect locals and the pecking order, especially if you are visiting. Just because a friend invited you to surf a new spot, doesn’t mean the locals are going to like you in the line-up. Show respect and surf well. Nothing gains respect like surfing well.

Paddling 101

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

paddling-lessonThe act of surfing, that is standing on the board and riding a wave, is easy enough if you can just get there. Its all the parts leading up to the standing-up part that makes learning to surf such a challenge.

First of all, you are dealing with a surface that is constantly moving and changing. Unlike skateboarding or snowboarding, the “ground” moves. You can’t stand on a non-moving surfboard on the non-moving ground and have any idea of how you balance in real conditions. You have to start surfing when the board is moving on a moving wave or you just sink.

That said, you don’t even get a chance to surf until you get to the line-up, which means you have to paddle. Paddling looks easy enough when you watch experienced surfers, but the first few tries are tricky. You need to make sure you are on the “sweet spot” of the board. When lying on the board your body should be evenly down the middle along the stringer. You will know you are too far forward if the nose of the board is underwater, or too far back if the nose is more than an inch or two out of the water.

To propel the board forward you will need to arch your back and use your arms like you are free-style swimming. Arching your back helps keep your weight over the center of the board. After the first few days your lower back and ribs will hurt, but eventually you build up enough muscle that your back and ribs don’t hurt. Take long, deep strokes and keep your fingers together and your hands slightly cupped. Some people like to bring their arms under their boards, but depending on the width of your board and length of your arms this may be impossible.

Maintaining control of your board should be an important goal for any surfer. The more you practice, the better you get. On days when it’s too small to surf, practice paddling to build up your muscles and stamina.

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