Surfing is an addictive sport, no doubt about it. Once you get the feeling of riding your first waves, you’ll want more and more. The problem is that it’s not an easy sport to learn. So many things are involved besides the simple act of surfing. We all depend on swells, winds, tides, crowds, etc. Then, when all the conditions are there, when it looks like the perfect day to ride your first waves, you’ll probably make classic mistakes that can either slow your learning curve or even make you give up on surfing. Find below the most common ones and try to avoid them as much as you can:
Think that it’s easier than it really is.
It all starts in your mind. After watching Kelly Slater, Gabriel Medina or Joel Parkinson surfing, you might think it can’t be that hard. Those guys make it look so easy, but the true is that it took them several hours of practice a day, for years and years, to achieve the professional level. So believe that you can learn, never give up after the first tries and wipeouts, they will happen a lot and sometimes you can think it’s impossible, but it is not. The more you dedicate time and energy, the faster you’ll learn.
The use of wrong equipment.
That’s classic. Many people see John John’s surfboards and want to have the same equipment and his. Leashes, traction pads, boardshorts, wax… those items are OK to have the same as your idol, actually they use the best of the best, doesn’t matter what company they’re sponsored by, so you really want and them. In this case, the most important thing to think about is the surfboard. If you buy a board that is too small, reality is you will not even be able to stand on this board. There are a lot of people who say that it’s all about learning on a longboard because it’s easier, but you should start with the style you want to surf, just don’t try to start with a really short surfboard. Talk to someone experienced, say that you are a beginner, the person will know what is the best board for you. In my opinion the best boards to learn are the softboards, they have really good flotation and are safer.
Try to surf on the outside on the first days.
This is a dangerous one. Never try to paddle to the outside on your first days. The inside is the best place to learn, where the waves are smaller and weaker. You will only go to the outside after you learn to paddle perfectly, duck dive safely and are able to take off on a wave before it even broke, because that is what you are going to face out there. It might take months before you can go there, it depends on how fast you learn, and even when you feel prepared for it, always have someone else more experienced with you.
If you know properly what “the outside means”, check out this blog post.
Forget to bring essential goods to the beach.
That happens a lot, not only with beginners, but also with experienced surfers and pros. There are so many things we need that it is almost impossible not to forget one or two sometimes. The most important is to have all organized in your backpack. The main accessories, the ones you really don’t want to forget are your leash, wetsuit and fins. Without those it won’t be possible for you to surf. Other things you must remember to always have in your backpack are wax, a towel, some water, a pair of boardshorts and some good zinc sunscreen for your face.
To end, my tip for a beginner surfer is to always look for a surf school or an instructor to help you in the first steps. It helps a lot, you can learn some basics in a few classes and the learning curve will improve substantially. Wish you all good waves, some fun rides and hope we can share some ripples around the world.