Let’s face it, surfing is a difficult sport to master. To get to the level of pro’s like Kelly Slater, John John Florence and Jamie O’Brien would take one a lifetime to achieve, and still, realistically it’s probably not achievable even if you applied Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule. These guys are simply freaks of nature with immeasurable talent.
Nevertheless, most beginner surfers would like to at least get to the level where they can proficiently surf a wave from top to bottom, making the turns with style whilst staying as close to the pocket of the wave as possible. To stand any chance of progressing to this level, beginners surfers need to ensure they avoid these 5 common surfing mistakes.
1. Putting Your Wetsuit On Correctly
The most common mistake beginner surfers make is putting their wetsuits on back-to-front or sometimes even inside out! This is forgivable because if no one has shown you how to put a wetsuit on correctly, it’s actually quite an easy mistake to make.
The main points to remember is that all the logos should be on the outside of the suit and that if the wetsuit has a longer vertical zip then the zip should be at the back. If the wetsuit has a smaller horizontal zip then it is a chest zip wetsuit and, therefore, the zip belongs at the front.
If you are also going to wear boots, gloves and/or a hood for colder waters make sure these items are tucked into the suit, so they don’t flood with water.
2. Carrying Your Board To The Waves
If you are riding a shortboard, mini mal, or narrow-enough longboard be sure to carry it under your arm with the leash either wrapped around the fins of the board, or with the leash slung over your shoulder.
If you are riding a wide longboard which means it won’t fit under your arm, carry the board on your head. Whatever you do, do not drag a surfboards along the sand. It will damage the board, it’s really not a cool look.
3. Putting Your Leash On The Correct Foot
Once again, a very simple error to make. The leash should always go on the our your back foot. If you are regular footed the leash will go on your right foot, and conversely if you are goofy the leash will go on left foot.
The position of the leash will depend on its size. If it is a regular size leash it will go on your ankle. Ankle leashes are the most popular types of leashes. some longboards and SUP’s will come with calf leashes, which are detectable by their circumference.
Use the correct technique to duck-dive will save you a lot of energy in the water, and allow you to have a more productive surf session. If you are surfing on a longboard or mini mal you’ll need to perfect the rolling technique of duck-diving a wave, also known as an eskimo roll. These boards are mostly too large to push under a wave as you would do with a shortboard.
If you are riding a shortboard you’ll need to master the traditional duck-dive technique where you need push the nose of the board under the surface of the water and then either use your knee or foot to push the back of your board beneath the water’s surface to allow you to seamlessly glide under the oncoming wave. The video demonstrates how to do both duck-dives.
5. Timing Your Take Off
Timing the take off takes a long time to fully master. One can often tell an inexperienced surfer from the way they paddle into a wave. They often will be too early on their take off, and so when they stand up, the wave has passed them by.
Other times they’ll be too late, and by the time they’ve popped up the wave has already broken on them. Timing the take off correctly comes with experience. If you going to miss time the take off, rather be too early than too late, as you still have a chance to catch the wave if you’re too early.
When you’re learning to surf there are so many on your mind. Where to position yourself in water. Where to position yourself on the board. Paddling properly. When to pop. How to turn. The list goes on. It’s no wonder that a lot of other key aspects of surfing are ignored by beginner surfers.
By far the most important thing in surfing is to be aware of those around you. Before paddling into a wave make sure you have priority, and before dropping in make sure there is no one else around you that you may collide with.