Learn Surfing in One Lesson

People often how long it takes to learn to surf. You can learn surfing in one lesson.

Learning Comfort in the Ocean

One of the benefits I enjoy seeing students learn is comfort in the ocean. learn surfing in one lessonThe ocean is intimidating and many people show fear before they get in the water. One young boy recently was trembling with fear during the dry land lesson and almost quit after his first push to the beach.

He feared the water going over his head. After a few brave trips through the first foam waves and the fear began to subside as he realized the ocean passes by without harming you.

Soon he said, surfing is fun. I am amazed at how young kids are braver than I would have expected as they drag their surfboard out to bigger surf.

The Physical Requirements for Learning to Surf in One Lesson 

Kids learn immediately. Learning to surf to most people is getting up on the surf board and riding to the beach. New students don’t paddle out to real waves and ride like seen in the movies.learn surfing in one lesson

Kids have flexibility, are light, and can get into the correct posture the first trip on the surfboard.

Teens can do the same, but many start dealing with weight which makes it more difficult. After 70 pounds, the pop up on the surf board is more precise and better skills are required.

Young and older adults have to pop up correctly because of size and weight and need certain physical skills. Flexibility, upper body strength, some core strength, and stamina help.

The pop up for standing on the board requires the front foot to pass under the chest and land where the hands are placed in a man’s push up position. Many adults have not stretched in years and have trouble getting their foot forward.

Learning to surf in one lesson without preparing for surfing requires minimum athletic ability.

The Easy Pop Up for Learning to Surf in One Lesson

There is a professional pop up in which both feet are brought to the surf board at one time. This requires all the above mentioned physical skills.

I have a second, Plan B, pop up I demonstrate that can work just as well

learn surfing in one lesson

for beginners to ride foam waves. In this pop up, the student places their rear foot on the board first and then as they are standing up on it, bring their forward foot to the middle of the surf board.

I use this method with kids and adults that have flexibility and/or weight problems. It is successful most of the time and over weight students are the only ones that continue to have problems in one lesson.

The Fundamentals of Surfing

New students are most frequently amazed that they learn surfing in one lesson. They learn to hold the surf board pointing toward the beach, roll over on it before the wave arrives, paddle the surf board in a balanced position, catch waves, pop up, and ride to the shore.

Then they learn to paddle out through the waves, turn around, and catch the next wave. This prepares students to paddle out to bigger waves as their skills, confidence, and courage increase.

They can practice on their own and whereas they learn surfing in one lesson, they can then practice as often as available to advance their skills.
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For surf lessons in Oceanside, see the Home Page

This instructor gives a good overall video lesson on learning to surf

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Adults Learn to Surf

Adults learn to surf and surf with their peers, friends, kids, or their parents. Age is functional. Surfing is fun at all ages. Getting in the ocean begins the fun.

The Physical Requirements When Adults Learn to Surf

The physical requirements are often what adults question first. I call adults learn to surfadults anyone after their teen years so this is a wide range. Young people just out of college are probably still used to regular physical activity.

In the middle years of careers, raising children, and facing more responsibilities, adults often become less active. Three physical capacities fade at once:

  • Flexibility
  • Upper Body Strength
  • Stamina

All three of these traits would probably be welcome in any sports endeavor, so surfing often inspires adults to get in better shape.

The Four Count Surf Method Helps All Students

When adults learn to surf, I demonstrate the four count surf method which has been successful for all ages for years. Getting into a wave, standing up, and riding a surf board to the beach has a rhythm.

Several techniques or learned practices follow one after the other. Students can get from the beginning to the end by counting to four and moving their body a certain way in each count. Students learn the method on the beach in the dry land portion of the lesson and count out loud in the water.

Students have said for years that when they count out loud and go through the process, it is easier to surf.

What Are the Four Counts

When adults learn to surf, they practice the process and pop ups on the beach before trying it in the water.

adults learn to surf
The pop up begins with a push

In the water, the first count is paddling for a wave. I begin students by pushing them into waves to make it easier. Students still have to count one until they have caught (are in front of) the wave. This is true with foam or real waves.

The transition stage of count two is placing the hands on the board in a man’s push up position. In this stage the student is assessing whether he is in the wave and whether the board is level and straight.

If all is well, the student pushes up of the board in an explosive move so that the front foot can pass under the chest and land between the hands. This is where upper body strength, core strength, and flexibility are important.

On the fourth count, the student is standing on the board in the correct posture surfing to the beach.

The Correct Posture as Adults Learn to Surf

The front foot is in the middle of the surfboard at a 45 degree angle forward. This is often opposed to the feet being parallel towards the rails as students often practice in snowboarding or skateboarding.

The second most important aspect is hips and shoulders are facing forward also opposed to what students do on snowboards and skateboards. What we don’t want is for one hand or arm to be trailing the other while one hand is in front pointing at the beach.

This posture causes the butt to be over one rail instead of over the center line of the surfboard. Students the fall off over the side of the board.

The feet are to be shoulder width apart with equal weight on the front and back leg. The knees are flexed. Both hands are in front of the body so that the shoulders and hips are square. The video below demonstrates.

Having Fun in The Water

One thing I have found when adults learn to surf is they always have fun. The first fun aspect of surfing is the surfboard is a great boogie board and when it catches the wave, there is a speed thrill of moving to the beach.

When successful, it is a great feeling of accomplishment. It is enjoying the sport of kings and the fun millions of people around the globe enjoy every year. It is a recreation that can be enjoyed on so many beaches.

Surfers often go into the water “just to get wet” because they enjoy sitting on their board enjoying the sun and water.

Give it a try!


If you want surf lessons in Oceanside see my Home Page

Follow these external links for more surf instructions:

Surf Lesson Tutorials. These may not be exactly as I teach but they are helpful

This instructor gives a good overall video lesson on learning to surf

See my video on the Pop Up Process:

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The Four Count Surf Method

The Four Count Surf Method is a great process for all beginners learning to surf. The system or strategy links body movement to four counts from paddling to the finish standing up position.

Why The Four Count Surf Method Works?

Students taking surf lessons or people trying to learn on their own have little idea of how precise the fundamental timing and motions are to keep the surf board balanced while popping to the proper stance.

Consider that a relatively light piece of technology relative to your weight is going to catch a foam wave and move to the beach at 15 mph while you try to go from a lying to standing position. Factor in that if this surfboard is ridden properly it has almost all the high performance capabilities of tricks you see in the movies.

New students have to move in a rhythmic precise motion to keep the

the four count surf method
A balanced bottom turn

board balanced and pointing straight. Each movement occurs in a sequence to accomplish this feat and rhythm is more important than speed.

I have students counting out loud so that they slow down the much faster account that occurs in their racing mind as it tries to comprehend everything that is occurring around them compounded by just a little anxiety and panic.

Students who count out loud though this process have testified over ten years of my instructions that it definitely makes a difference in setting up their rhythm. With the process, most students are surfing within a half hour or even the first time run to the beach.

What Are the Counts in the Four Count Surf Method?

The Four Count Surf Method isolates or narrow’s the student’s focus to four movements that occur in the middle of many influencing forces. The idea is not “to think” but to move the body as suggested by each count.

The first movement is paddling. On the count of one when I push beginner students into waves, I want them to say out loud “one” and paddle until they catch the wave. When a surf board catches a foam or real wave there

is a feeling of it “taking off”.

The second movement is a transition from catching the wave to doing a pop up. It is placing hands on the board under the chest in a man’s push up position. This is the count of two I want students to say out loud. It is also an “assessment” moment (one or two seconds) every surfer needs. Is the board level, am I in the wave, is my body right on the board?

The third movement is the beginning of the pop up. While lying flat on the board with the chest up and the arms not yet extended (crucial), the student pushes up in an explosive movement as they bring the front foot under the chest and place it in the spot between where the hands were placed. (I will explain the finishing posture soon).

On the fourth movement, the student is standing up right in the finish posture and riding to the beach in a foam wave or ready to bottom turn to the pocket in a real (green) wave.

What is the Finish Posture in the Four Count Surf Method?

This finish posture takes issue with many of the finish postures taught by instructors and demonstrated on YouTube. Experience has shown that students who have learned in these lessons do much better once they begin this “posture”.

the four count surf method
Not the finish posture we want. Student needs to move left hand forward in front of his face to square shoulders

The body is on the surf board with feet shoulder width apart. The student’s weight is equal between the front and back leg and the upper torso is upright between the two legs. (no leaning forward so head is over front foot)

Most important is the hips and shoulders are squared to face forward as opposed to having the butt over one rail or riding sideways on the surf board like snowboarders. One way to keep the shoulders and hips facing forward is to keep both hands in front of the body so that the arm opposite the front foot keeps that shoulders squared.

Every child from six years old up can learn to ride the surfboard to the beach if they assume this posture.  (My video below demonstrates).

In this finish posture, the knees are flexed (slightly bent) and the body is loose so that it can absorb turbulence under the surf board as it heads for the beach. From this posture, a student can easily learn how to start carving.

Catching Waves in the Four Count Surf Method

The timing in the method also includes catching the wave. The method is occurring while the wave is approaching, impacting, and then pushing the surf board.

The timing in each of these three phases is very important.

the four count surf method
ideal beginner riding posture

First, the approach of the foam wave. Surf boards like to be moving before the wave impacts the surf board. Students should roll over properly onto the surf board when the wave is about 20′ away. The student paddles easily to get momentum and checks over their shoulder until the wave is about five feet away (depending how big, bigger waves require earlier starts) and then paddles hard for three strokes before the wave impacts the surf board.

Second, the impact on the surfboard. At this point, beginners without instructions jump up immediately before the wave is pushing the board and fall off as the wave continues to the beach. The correct timing in foam or real waves is to continue paddling hard for three more strokes (depending on the size of the wave) and when the board takes off, the student puts their hands on the board.

Now, the wave is pushing the surf board so the student can make a smooth transition to standing up. At this point in the Four Count Surf Method, the student is going to execute counts three and four.

Physical Conditioning Required to Execute the Pop UP

Certain sport specific muscles and capabilities are needed to execute smooth pop ups. First, students need to be flexible. Athletes that never stretch are going to be tight in the hamstrings, buttocks, and lower back. (or if you sit at a desk all day and never stretch).

Upper body strength is important for pushing off the board in count three. This is often called the power to weight ratio. People that are over weight have most likely tilted the ratio in the wrong direction as they have probably stopped exercising. Push ups are the first “go to” remedy.

Core strength is helpful as the student pushes up and brings their front foot forward to place between their hands.

Finally, stamina is important so students can practice for an hour lesson. Many sedentary students are finished in fifteen minutes.

Practicing the Four Count Method Pop Up in Your Living Room

The pop up can be practiced out of the water before and after lessons. Lay on your living room floor with hands under the chest in a man’s push up position. Place a book where the hands are touching the floor next to your body.

When practicing the four counts of the Method, counting out loud, be sure the front foot reaches the book on the pop up. Secondly, notice how your shoulders are situated. Is one shoulder more to the rear than the other? The ideal posture has both shoulders even facing front.

If shoulders are not squared, notice how hips and shoulders square when

you move the hand opposite the front foot as far forward as you can reach. This is the shoulder and hip posture you want.

When students can achieve this posture and incorporate the Four Count Method, they can ride the surf board the first time up. It happens in my classes all the time.

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If you want Surf Lessons or surf camps in Oceanside see the Home Page

For private or family/friends Three hour Private Surf Camp experience to accelerate learning see 3 Hour Surf Camps Oceanside

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Learn to Surf (ocean)

Learn to Surf (ocean)

Every new surf student wants to be an expert, but there are several fundamentals necessary when you want to learn to surf (ocean).

How to surf in the ocean

How to surf in the ocean

First, we want to be comfortable in

the ocean. We learn how to handle the surf board in the waves and not get

hurt. Students start in waist deep water riding broken waves to the beach.

Then they want to learn how to paddle, stay balanced, and catch waves.

With the right techniques students can practice on their own after the

lessons or take their learning to other beaches in the world.

When students want to learn to surf, they will find that it is a full body sport that requires flexibility, upper body strength (or good power to weight ratio), and stamina.

The athletic part is getting from the lying down position to the standing position. This is called the pop up. The posture on the board has to be just right or students fall off the board. Read on to learn the pop up technique.

In the Water

The best way for students to learn to surf is develop a rhythm for catching waves and popping up. I give students a four count to say out loud to slow down the natural tendency to move too fast from paddling to standing up.

Students should not jump in front of the wave with their surf board as though it were a boogie boards. Surf boards should be paddled before the wave arrives and then paddled hard when the wave starts pushing the board. This is the same for foam or real waves.

The first count I give students to be said out loud is one for paddling. When students want to learn to surf, they often think going through the counts out loud is corny, but once they start doing it they find it is magic.

On two, after the board takes off on the wave, students place their hands in the center of the board in a man’s push up position.

On three, they push up evenly on both hands in an explosive move to bring the front foot under the chest and place it between where the hands were located. Getting the foot to the middle of the board is 90% of the success for riding the board. The foot should be at a 45 degree angle forward across the center line.

How to surf [learn to surf in the ocean]

How to do a pop up

On four, they are standing in the perfect posture with shoulders and hips

squared to the beach. If a student is in the right posture, the board will go straight and there is no juggling for balance. When you see people struggling to stay upright, they are not in the right posture.

Students learn to surf by linking all the techniques one after the other to arrive at standing on the board. They have to get on the board properly, paddle straight and level, catch the wave, get in front of the wave, and do a smooth pop up to the correct posture.

Getting Better

Some students advance very fast in an hour lesson. As soon as

students can catch waves, pop up, and ride the board to the beach, they learn to paddle out through the waves (toward bigger waves), turn around and

catch the next wave. When students can do this, they begin learning to carve the board while riding to the beach.

Carving is started by placing a little pressure on the toes or heels in the direction of the turn and slightly turning their upper body in the direction of the turn. Foam waves are slow so pressure has to be applied lightly.

Confidence Builds

I am amused at how some students start saying they want to

catch bigger waves as their confidence builds on the small waves.

It is not uncommon for students to start paddling out further

and trying to catch bigger foam waves closer to the main break.

Sure they get wrecked, but they laugh and often catch big waves

for long rides. They’re hooked for life. When students learn

how to surf, they often love it from the first ride.

Longer Surf Lessons

An hour takes everyone through the basics

How to surf (learn to surf in the ocean)

Advancing to ride real waves

to practice on their own. A longer surf lesson allows

students to practice with my supervision and

comments and advance to more techniques. It

takes more stamina, but certainly kids and teens have no trouble with longer sessions.

A second or third day has students feeling at one

in the water like dolphins. They master all the basics and

are thoroughly enjoying the techniques without having

to think about them.

Which Surf Board to Use

Kids and teens can start on 8′ or 9′ soft top boards

depending on their size and coordination. If you learn to surf on higher volume boards, the process is much easier. Once all the techniques have been mastered, students can move to shorter boards. The

larger the volume of the board, the easier it is

How to surf (soft top surf boards)

Using soft top surf boards

to learn the fundamentals.

All adults should start on a 9′ surf board and can move to an 8′ board when they have nailed the pop up.

As students get better on the 9′ board, I move all of them to the

8′ size because they are easier to handle and more fun.

Surfing Fitness

A lot of seniors wonder if they are fit to learn to surf.

Age is functional. Three physical aspects are important:

Stretching, upper body strength, and stamina. Anyone

who visits the gym, does yoga, runs, rides bikes, or so

many other pursuits will be just fine.

Kids don’t really have the upper body strength,

but they can scramble on the boards and their weight doesn’t

upset the balance if they are careful.

Adults have to be able to follow the pop up procedure to

maintain balance on the board. I suggest they begin practicing

at home or certainly after the lessons if they want to continue

surfing in their future.

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Join me and let’s have some fun. How far can you go?

If you are interested in Surf Lessons in Oceanside, see my Home Page

Read my online book if you want an 80 page thorough explanation

of everything I have talked about above (below)

Follow these internal links for more specific instructions:

My post on how to prepare for surfing on vacation

Most students eyes light up when we start the carving session. Here’s a few tips

The transition from foam waves to real waves is a big step. Three videos on this process.

Of course, everyone wants to learn to surf the short board. These are the steps.

I have over 800 posts, so find the ones that relate to what you want to learn.

Follow these external links for more surf instructions:

Surf Lesson Tutorials. These may not be exactly as I teach but they are helpful

This instructor gives a good overall video lesson on learning to surf

My video on How to Do Pop Ups

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