The first thing I hear when people find out that I manage a surf school, is “Oh that’s cool! I’ve tried it before, but was never good at it”, and my response is always the same. Surfing is a very rewarding but also requires dedication, nurturing and learning.
Here are the biggest mistakes that I normally see in the water with beginners:
- Not actually catching waves: I see this time and time again, people trying to walk before they can crawl. There is science in catching waves and its not the easiest thing to learn, so my advice to the beginners out there, is to paddle until you’ve actually got some decent speed to stand up on. Catch a few waves on your belly if you have to, add in some extra paddles, do whatever it takes, just make sure you’re on the wave before you try anything.
- Not doing any wave reading: This doesn’t mean going to the library and asking for books on waves, although, that might certainly help. Learning about the ocean is crucial, especially when understanding how waves work. What’s a beach break? What’s a point break? What’s a reef? The ocean changes everyday so taking some time to look at the waves and see how, why and where they are breaking will make you a better surfer and will also help you with visualisation.
- Catching waves when other surfers are already on them: We’ve all heard about mythical gnarly fights starting in the ocean or seen them in those classic surfing dude movies. Well, it’s a reality on some beaches and the problem is it’s always because someone was not doing what they were supposed to. I say learn about the etiquette and surfing protocol, meaning who has the right of way to the wave, positioning and it never hurts to know who the locals are.
- Not having the right equipment: I know it’s nice having a small six foot fibreglass board but if you can’t stand up on it what good is it? There is a process that cannot be rushed and one must be patient with it. Wax on, wax off right? That’s all well and good if your karate kid but…actually, eeerrr, it kinda does work for surfing too, wax on is always better than wax off on your board! What I mean is, the right board for the right time, legropes, wetsuit, sunscreen and make sure you know how big your board is and that you understand what it means.
- Giving up: When all of the above come into existence, motivation turns rapidly into frustration and that leads to hanging up the wetsuit and putting the newly purchased surfboard into storage never to be seen again until our great great grandchildren raid it and get so excited they have a vintage board to add to their collection of boards. My advise, don’t give up just get some help from a professional who will keep your motivation up to continue on the surfing journey.
Surfing can be super fun and very rewarding if you are equipped with all the tools to succeed, if you don’t know them come down to LGS Bondi, Byron or Maroubra and get some advise and a lesson or three.