The beginner techniques for surfing apply to surfing 20 foot waves. The techniques for beginner to advanced are the same, surfers just start riding bigger waves and using smaller boards.
The beginner techniques for surfing might be like the beginner techniques for flying. Everything has to be near perfect before you take the next step, successfully.
Balance and Beginner Techniques for Surfing
It is always interesting how people judge their potential ability to surf by what they think of their balance. Balance is important as a beginner, but I have never had a student who couldn’t ride the surf board if they got into the correct posture on the surf board.
In the right posture, the board goes straight to the beach and the student doesn’t have to move. Kids that are 6 year olds can do this. This is in contrast to the surfers in the movies, but they could not begin if they didn’t start with the right posture on the board.
The right posture that has to be attained by a professional pop up for teens through adults and is usually attained in a customized method for lighter students and kids, still has to be the same.
The front foot is in the middle of the board nose to tail and between the rails with the imaginary center line running through the middle of the foot.
Secondly, the shoulders and hips have to be squared forward with hands in front of the body. The hand opposite the front foot can control the shoulders and hips if it is thrust in front of the body and held there. (See my video below)
To support this riding posture, the weight should be equal on the front and back leg, the torso upright, and the knees flexed. This allows a student to absorb shocks to the board riding over uneven surfaces.
Mastering the Pop Up is a Crucial in Beginner Techniques for Surfing
The surf board is designed to have the rider’s balance and posture in a certain spot on the board. The surfer has to get to this spot from a lying
down position on a board moving at speed. There are many techniques necessary to accomplish this that are not obvious to the observer.
Catching a wave begins with riding on the surf board and paddling toward the beach. Most beginners try to balance the board with their head and shoulders and don’t realize their head and feet have to be in the middle of the board and the balance comes from moving the butt. If the board is not headed straight to the beach and level, it will get tossed by the wave.
Beginners like to pop up on foam waves as soon as they feel the impact of the wave hit the board, but this is too soon. On foam waves and real waves, students have to be moving before the wave arrives. On foam waves, students continue paddling after the wave starts pushing the board for three or four more strokes (this is crucial).
At this point, students begin what I call in my 4 Count Surfing Method, step number two. (Paddling is step one). Students place their hand on the board under their chest in a man’s push up position in the middle of the board.
Students rest for just a second as they evaluate whether the board is moving in front of the wave and whether the board is level and their posture correct. If everything is not right, then students shouldn’t pop up.
The third step is to push evenly on the hands in an explosive push to bring the front foot under the chest and place it between where the hands are sitting. It is then crucial that the students release the hand to stand up as the foot is touching the board. Hands and feet on the board at the same time result in a fall.
The fourth step is the finish. At this point, the student is in an upright position and facing forward in a comfortable balance and riding straight to the beach.
Beginner Techniques for Surfing and Riding the Board
Once the surfer is riding the board in a balanced posture, he can start
learning to carve, even in foam. To carve to the right, the student who has his left foot forward, places a little pressure on his toes and rotates his upper torso (eyes, head, shoulders, arms, hands) slightly to the right.
The upper torso is transferring torque to the feet so it should ripple smoothly through the body. Jerking the upper body results in jerking the surfboard instead of carving turns.
To go backside or left, the pressure is placed on the heels. These same techniques are used for riding real waves. On real waves coming off the face, the first carve is called a bottom turn. It is also used to go over the back of the wave for safety or to initiate ripping the lip up the face of the wave.
To do a cut back, the surfer reverses the carve technique to go in the opposite direction of travel. Pressure is placed on the toes or heels, which ever is on the beach side, and rotates their body toward the beach. The board will reverse its direction. This is executed to get back to the power of the wave, to head for shore or for style.
For surf lessons in Oceanside, see my Home Page
This instructor gives a good overall video lesson on learning to surf
My video on How to Do Pop Ups