Surfing Bigger Waves

Learning to Surf Bigger Waves

Learning to surf bigger waves is a combination of skills, experience, and courage. Surfing progress is slow and new surfers need patience. There is a need to commit to learning techniques, practicing, becoming more surf athletic, and challenging oneself to take bigger risks.


At the Beginning


At the beginning, surfers learn to ride foam waves and the techniques necessary to catch waves, pop up on the board, and ride to the beach, This graduates into riding bigger foam waves and mixing in small real waves. Progress brings experience, skills and courage. 


Learning to surf bigger waves is the progress of continually improving the pop up and learning the timing of real waves.  Surfers learn to let real waves roll under the board and when their surfboard is at the top of the arc, paddling hard to get into the face. Once up, the surfer can do a bottom turn and get into the pocket. 


Surfing in the Pocket


Surfers in the pocket learn to accelerate my moving their front foot up and down the wave so the board rises and then releases. This keeps the board in front of the falling lip and gives the speed to do maneuvers. Maneuvers might include riding up the face for a trick, doing cut backs, and riding up the face to escape a falling wall. 


These maneuvers make wave riding fun and more safe because surfers learn to play and to escape. In the meantime, they are learning the various shapes of waves, their speed, their power, and how to fall. With growing expertise comes more courage. Their is also the need to keep pushing the limits. 


How Big is Big


When one extreme surfer was asked about wave heights he described them not as feet but increments of fear. Most professional surfers describe how scary it is to surf bigger waves starting at six feet and moving to eight feet and so on. 


Learning to surf bigger waves has to be a focus. There is nothing wrong with knowing you like five foot waves or small waves and sticking to those days. Learning to surf bigger waves requires you look for those days and paddle out to challenge your fear, your skills, and Mother Nature. 


For Surf Lessons in Oceanside, see the Home Page


For a video on catching real waves


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Learning to surf bigger waves

Learning to surf bigger waves

Beginner Surfers

SoftTop Boards for Beginner Surfers

Soft top boards for beginner surfers is the best way to learn. The beauty of soft top surf boards is they won't hurt surfers if they hit them, they are easy to paddle, easier to catch waves, and easy to ride. 


Beginner surfers should not have to have the difficult of handling a surf board as an issue with so many fundamentals to master. The most important fundamental is timing. Beginner surfers learn the timing of catching a wave and the timing of executing a pop up. Surfing is like a routine with several steps that need to follow one at a time. 


The First Difficulty for Beginner Surfers


One over riding difficult beginner surfers have is they try to rush everything. They are in a rush to stand up on the surf board before they have caught the wave and a rush to stand up without going through each step of the pop up. 


Catching a wave is an art, but one easy to learn. Surfers have to paddle until the wave is pushing the surf board and the board is in front of the wave. The difficulty for beginner surfers is they don't feel the board on the wave and they are more concerned at first about standing up than being on the wave. Each comes with time and patience. 


A foam wave arrives and impacts the surf board. The surfer should be moving before it arrives and when they feel it impact the board they must paddle hard another three to four strokes until they feel the nose of the board go from the downward position from the foam being under the tail to the level position of the board being in front of the wave. 


The Beginner Surfing Pop Up


The pop up has to wait for this process to complete. As the board is moving to the front of the wave the surfer is paddling and not moving their body. Once the board starts to level out, then the beginner surfer puts his hands on the board to begin the pop up count. 


The pop up begins with putting hands on the board in a man's push up position. Then the surfer pushes up on the board before putting feet on the board. Most beginners want to skip the rest position and go right to the fully extended push up. This causes a rhythm problem and most of the time I have to get students to insert the rest stop to get their timing right. 


One the beginner surfer pushes up on the board, they put their rear foot on the board under their butt. They stand on that leg as they raise their hands and then move the front foot to the front of the board. The right posture is legs shoulder width apart and the shoulders and hips squared to the front. 


Instructions are Necessary to Create Good Muscle Memory


This is clearly an exercise that needs an instructor because most beginner surfers have no idea what they are doing in the process. The mind goes "gaga" in the process and consciousness of what the surfer is doing is lost. After several times of asking students which way they fell off the surf board, we start creating consciousness of what steps are incorrect. 


Surfing is not easy to learn. It takes the instruction in the water to correct all the incorrect instincts beginner surfers have in trying to master this process. Most of the time the beginner surfer is doing things correctly before the end of the lesson and looks back to say everything they were told has to be done just the way they were instructed. 


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Beginner surfers learn  timing

Beginner surfers learn timing

Beginner Surfers

Beginner Surfers Learn 4 Techniques

Beginner surfers learn 4 techniques that are fundamental to beginner and advanced surfing. The difference between beginners and advanced surfers begins with surfing on foam waves or surfing real waves. To surf real waves timing and fundamentals have to be learned.


Surfing on a foam wave begins with learning to keep the surf board balanced and going straight to catch a wave.Surprisingly, most beginners have trouble with this. They underestimate the need to position correctly on the surfboard and control the direction with correct paddling. Both are very precise. 


Secondly, patience and judgement are needed to know when the surf board is in front of the foam wave.  The wave impacts the board from the rear and lifts the tail. The surfer has to paddle until the board is in front and the board returns to planing flat. This makes the pop up much easier. 


The pop up is a process of sequences that once again require patience and discipline. Watch a surfer and you see them position in front of the real wave, allow the wave to come under the board, paddle hard three times, place their hands under their chest to rest,and then pop up. The beginner has to follow the same sequence but the wave is foam. 


The pop up sequence is paddle before the wave arrives and then paddle three times after the wave impacts the board. Then put hands under the chest in a man's push up position. Beginners push up and then put a back foot on the board under their butt in a position they can stand up on. Practice in the living room.Then as the surfer is standing up, they lift their arms and drive the front foot to the front of the surfboard. 


The posture has to be correct. The front foot should land at a 45 degree angle forward. The back foot is shoulder width apart perpendicular to the two rails. The hips and shoulders are square to the front and both hands are in front so they can be seen. If a shoulder is back and an arm trailing like snowboarding or skateboarding, the beginner will fall off on the butt side. 


Just as important and difficult for beginners is to have both hands in the air before the front foot hits the board, If not, the surfer flies off the front of the board because his nose is over his front toes. If you fly off the front of the board, it means you are not upright when your front foot lands on the surf board. 


Practice and coaching make perfect.


For Surf Lessons in Oceanside, see the Home Page


For my video on Dry Land and in Water Demo


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Beginner surfers

Beginner surfers

Vacation Surf Lessons

Oceanside Vacation Surf Lessons

Oceanside vacation surf lessons is a great way to start a life of adventure. You can surf so many places in the world, why not have something exciting to do when you visit these destinations.


Oceanside is a great place to take surf lessons because the conditions allow one to go from beginner to advanced in the same spot. There are excellent foam waves for the beginner. Then the new surfer can paddle out for larger foam waves and try some small real waves. 


Surfer Progress


It is too much to expect that a new surfer would be catching big real waves in one trip, but the fundamentals a beginner learns are the same fundamentals for catching big waves. The difference is mastering the fundamentals so they can be executed, timing, and courage. 


One big wave surfer said size is not a matter of feet but increments of fear. Bigger waves move faster and have more weight. A surfer learns this pretty quick and has to have confidence in his abilities and a certain bravado in knowing crashing won't be the end of the world. 


Oceanside waves don't get much bigger than 6' most of the time, but that is plenty of fun and tests skills, timing, and courage. In a beginner lesson, the student learns how to balance on the board and paddle correctly to catch a foam wave. 


Learning the Fundamentals


Secondly, the student has to perform the process of the pop up. The dry land lesson demonstrates this process and the student practices in the water with the instructor correcting mistakes. A properly executed pop up finds the surfer on the board heading for the beach and riding easily.


The next step is paddling through the foam waves to catch the next wave coming in. This begins the adventure of using judgment to select waves and good timing to turn around and paddle for a wave. Then a student can start mixing in bigger foam waves and attempts at small real waves. 


Moving to Advanced Surfing


Becoming advanced is a function of time to practice, conditioning, frequency, and mastery of the basics. Training out of the water between sessions helps. A surfer needs full body conditioning including strength, stamina, and flexibility. Cross training with resistance training and aerobics is ideal conditioning. The simplest exercise is burpies with a push up.


Oceanside surf lessons gives a student the opportunity to test their conditioning and learning ability. Both are challenged in a lesson or series of lessons. In a vacation, a student can take a lesson and then practice on his own every day to hone the skills he learned. 


For Surf Lessons in Oceanside, see the Home Page


For my Dry Land Video and in Water Demo


For a video on Catching Real Waves


For Packages on a Series of Lessons



Oceanside Vacation Surf Lessons



Oceanside Vacation Surf Lessons

Oceanside Vacation Surf Lessons

Oceanside Surf Lessons

Oceanside Surf Lessons

Oceanside Surf Lessons are a great way to begin a surfing experience or brush up after not surfing for a year. Many intermediate surfers take a lesson to improve their form or performance. 


The Main Objective


The main objectives of the Oceanside Surf Lessons is to first make surfers comfortable in the ocean by teaching safety and board handing. Surfers start out in shallow water where surfers can stand,  waves don't hit too hard and don't go over the surfers head. 


In waist deep water, the new students learn how to get on the surfboard and catch waves.  It is not easy to paddle the board straight with the impact of the wave trying to push the board sideways or turn it over. 


Timing the Wave


Timing of the wave is a technique. New students learn patience to paddle long enough for the surf board to get in front of the wave. Most new surfers want to stand up as soon as they feel the impact of the foam wave. 


Patience is also needed for the pop up process. Most new surfers try to jump on the board in one grand motion and don't land on the board properly. In the advanced and beginner process, Oceanside Surf Lessons teaches the new student to count and follow the process.


The Pop Up Count


The first count is paddling.  The second count is placing the hands on the board in a man's push up position and resting on the hands for a second as they sit under the chest. Most new students don't have the patience to rest that second or two. Here students assess whether the board is in front of the wave, going straight, and traveling level. 


After this assessment, the movement has to be steady with no stalling or thinking about whether it is a good time to stand up. The advanced pop up method has the student push up and bring the front foot under the chest placing it in front of the board while the hands and arms are lifting. When the front foot hits the board, the body is upright and the hands are in front. 


The beginner pop up has the student placing the back foot on the board under their butt and standing on it as they lift their hands and bring the front foot forward. The finishing posture for both is the same. The front foot is in the middle of the board across the center line. Feet are shoulder width apart with weight equal on both legs. Hips and shoulders are squared to the front. 


Riding the Surf Board


Once on the surfboard, the surfer can keep his knees flexed and drive the board to the beach as he feels the wave trying to push him and move the board around. In advanced steps, the new student in Oceanside Surf Lessons learns to paddle out through the waves to turn around and catch bigger foam waves or even try real waves. 



For Surf Lessons in Oceanside, see the Home Page


For my video on Dry Land and in Water Demo


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To get Fit to surf or improve fitness, consider my Personal Training Coaching

Oceanside surf lessons

Oceanside surf lessons

Beginner Surfers

Beginner Surfers Learn 4 Techniques

Beginner surfers learn 4 techniques that begin their adventures and allow them to practice on their own. 


New students in Oceanside Surf Lessons learn to balance and paddle on their surfboard,  learn to catch waves, pop up onto the surfboard, and ride to the beach on foam waves. Once these techniques are learned in a lesson, the student has all the information they need to practice. 


Getting on the Surfboard


Students begin in waist deep water in front of foam waves. They hold the board with the top side facing their chest and the tail towards the oncoming waves. Then they gently roll over so their feet are at the back of the board and they are perfectly balanced on the board. Their nose is in the middle and their feet together on the back of the board and balanced is obtained by moving their butt.


Catching Waves


Catching waves is a matter of timing and patience. When the foam wave is 20 feet away, the student rolls over on the surfboard and starts paddling. They look back and when the wave is 5 feet away they begin to paddle hard in short deep strokes. When the foam wave hits the surf board, it is important to paddle four more times until the surfboard is in front of the wave and moving smoothly. 


Popping Up


Popping up is a process that requires steps and smoothness. After catching the wave, the student places his hands on the board in a man's push up position under their chest. You do not grab the rails.Then with a smooth full extension push up, the student puts their back foot flat on the board under their butt and stands up. At the same time they are lifting their arms and  driving their front foot to the middle of the board. 


Riding the Surfboard


The proper posture is the front foot in the middle of the board at a 45 degree angle. The feet are shoulder width (3') apart. The hips and shoulders are squared to the front. The knees are flexed. If in the proper position, the board will ride straight to the beach without any additional work. 


Falling Off


If the student falls off on the butt side,  it means their shoulders and hips are not squared to the front. If the student flies off the front of the board, it means their hands were still on the board when they put their front foot on the board instead of being up in  a standing position.  (see my video below)


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For my Dry Land and in Water Demo Video


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Beginner surfers learn 4 techniques

Beginner surfers learn 4 techniques

Surfing Carves

The First Two Surfing Carves

The first two surfing carves are the bottom turn and cut back. They can be performed on soft tops or short boards. They are used primarily to get into the pocket after surfing down the face of a wave and for changing directions on a wave.


The Bottom Turn Carve


The bottom turn after catching a wave on the face is executed by rotating the upper body in the direction of the turn and then placing a little pressure on the toes or heels that are closed to the turn. A regular footed (left foot in front) turning right on the wave has toes on inside (closest to pocket)and is turning to face side of wave. 


Turns begin with the eyes looking in the direction of the carve and then the upper body rotates with the eyes as slight pressure is placed on toes or heels. The rail of the board will dig into the wave. The bottom turn is also used to rise up the face of a wave to rip or do a trick or escape over the back of a closing out wave.


The Cutback Carve


The cut back is used for changing direction on a wave, to stall, and for style. The cut back begins by rotating the eyes and upper body away from the pocket and then placing pressure on toes or heels, (which ever is furthest from pocket) and carving a smooth reverse. 


Sometimes surfers use a cut back to slow down if they are waiting for the barrel or if they want to slow down to wait for the foam to catch them for more power. Direction is reversed back to the foam lip to regain the power since that is where the most power exists. Cut backs are also stylish and used in contests or recreational fun as another maneuver. 


Accelerating


After catching a wave on the face, most surfers execute a few accelerations for speed which is moving the nose up and down the wave with the front foot. Two or three increases the board speed and allows for easier maneuvers, tricks, or carves. 


For Surf Lessons in Oceanside, see the Home Page


For a video on Carving


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Carving in surfing

Carving in surfing

Learning on a Short Board

Learn to Ride the Surfing Short Board

New students see movies and aspire to ride the surfing short board. In the movies, riding waves looks simple, but the movies never show new students learning to surf. They are two different realities. 


In Oceanside Surf lessons, new students begin with 8' and 9' soft top surf boards. To learn the fundamentals, it is easier if the surfboard is not a hindrance. Riding a short board is a feat of its own and only reasonable for advanced surfers. So how do you get advanced? 


Progressing from Foam to Real Waves


Learning the fundamentals on a soft top board, you progress through catching foam waves to riding real waves. If a new surfer has good timing, catches waves, and can pop up with balance, he can begin trying shorter surf boards. 


Oceanside Surf lessons begins teens and adults on 9' soft tops. In as second lesson, a student can drop to an 8' surf board. If the student has mastered the fundamentals, they are good at paddling out and catching bigger foam waves and can begin catching real waves. 


Short surf boards are designed for only real waves. Because of their low volume length x width x thickness, they need the wave to arc over the board to get the necessary push down the face. Getting in this position requires timing, skill, and courage. Mistakes are easy for beginners and they wind up with crashes. 


Moving to Shorter Surf Boards


It is best after mastering the soft top to move shorter six inches at a time while maintaining the width of 21+" and the thickness of 2 3/4 ". From soft tops, you are progressing to what are called fun boards or mini-longs. Short boards start at 6'10". If it takes a year to get to a true short board, it will be time well spent. Moving too fast leads to crashes and frustrations. 


Note that a short board is more difficult to paddle, more difficult to catch waves, and more difficult to ride after popping up. You do not want the fun to disappear while learning. The goal for most surfers is to get as many rides as possible.  A day with no rides is not fun. 


Catching a Wave on a Short Board


To catch a wave on a short board, the surfer observes where waves are arcing and then breaking. He paddles to that area which is usually denoted by the line up. The advanced surfers are sitting where the waves break and taking turns catching them. 


Understanding etiquette would be important here. The surfer closest to where the wave shows foam at the lip is at the apex. He has the right of way over all surfers in the direction the wave is breaking. Sometimes waves break right and left and two surfers can catch the wave. If you are not near the apex, you have to watch for surfers who caught the wave and are coming your way. They have the right of way. 


When it is your turn, you paddle to the approaching wave. You get in position so it will roll under you. When you are at the top one third of the wave, you paddle hard down the face and pop up. It is good to practice on small 2' to 3' waves before moving to bigger ones. Surfing is a slow progression to bigger waves and more courage.


For Surf Lessons in Oceanside, see the Home Page


For a video on catching real waves


For Surf Packages to make progress and save money



learning to ride a short surf board

learning to ride a short surf board

Surf Real Waves

How to Surf from Foam to Real Waves

In Oceanside Surf Lessons, new students begin to surf foam waves before learning to catch real waves. The reason is two fold.  New students need to learn on soft top boards to minimize the difficulties and catch foam waves to learn the fundamentals and minimize the injuries. 


Learning the First and Second Steps


Once students have learned to ride foam waves and mastered the fundamentals of balancing on the surf board, catching waves, popping up, and riding to the beach, they can advance. Students next learn to paddle through the foam waves, turn around, and catch the next foam wave. This is good practice for learning timing.


Once students feel comfortable handling themselves with oncoming waves and can time their turn around and catching of the  next wave, they can progress. The next step is catching bigger foam waves and trying to catch some smaller real waves. 


The Difference Between Foam and Real Waves


The difference between foam waves and catching real waves is about timing. Foam waves can be seen for a distance. A real wave breaks in a few seconds at a particular spot. You observe where they are breaking. You paddle to that area and patrol as you wait for the first sign of a wave forming. 


Next you decide if you have to paddle toward, parallel, or toward shore to catch it as it arcs. The surfer turns his board toward the beach as the wave arrives and allows the wave to roll under the board. At the top of the wave, the surfer paddles hard two or three times and gets the board going down the face. Once the wave has the surf board, the surfer pops up.


Catching Real Waves at an Angle


A soft top board catches waves at an angle best to minimize pearling. Waves begin by breaking at once spot where the foam comes over the top called the apex. Then it begins to unfurl foaming what is called the pocket. On real waves you want to ride in the pocket.


To catch the wave at an angle, the surfer is paddling toward the corner away from the apex and as the wave gets closer to the beach. Then the surfer angles toward the beach and lets the pocket come under the surf board and paddles hard to catch the wave.  


To catch a real wave on the face, you paddle toward the beach. To catch a wave at an angle, you point at 45 degrees toward the beach in the direction the wave is breaking. An in between technique is to catch the wave on the face and before popping up, point the nose toward the pocket and then pop up. Now you've got it. 


For Surf Lessons in Oceanside, see the Home Page


For a video on Catching Real Waves. 


For Personal Training and Surf Lessons in a Package to develop fitness and surfing abilities see my website on Fitness and Surfing.  https://OceansideSurfingandFitness.com 



Catching real surfing waves

Catching real surfing waves

Soft top surfboards

Riding Soft Top Surfboards in Real Waves

Riding soft top surfboards in real waves is a great way to start learning the real wave process and have fun at the same time. In Oceanside Surf Lessons, we begin riding foam waves to master the fundamentals and take the same techniques to real waves. 


Mastering Foam Waves First


Mastering soft tops in foam waves include paddling to catch waves, popping up properly, and riding to the beach. Riding real waves adds timing and speed as the first two sensations new students experience. A foam wave approaches the beach for a long time. A real wave forms for a few seconds. Once on the real wave, the surf board is pointed down and the speed is noticeable. 


I coach students to learn where the waves are breaking on sand bottom beaches. Reefs are easier because they always break in the same spot. Students learn to start paddling when they see a wave forming and decide whether they have to paddle out, parallel, or in to intersect the wave as it arcs. 


The Primary Technique for Catching Real Waves


The primary technique that has to be learned is to let the wave come under the board. Students want to catch the wave at the top one third of arc. You want to avoid letting the wave pass you or trying to catch it from behind. This is the main lesson students have to learn in catching real waves. 


As the wave comes under the board, the surfer paddles hard three times and often kicks to get momentum. The larger the wave, the greater the speed at which it is moving. After the board is pointing down and the wave is pushing the board, the surfer places his hands on the board and does a smooth pop up. 


Going for The Pocket Right Away


Turning the board towards the pocket is a good trick to learn. After the surfer catches the wave and before popping up, he turns the nose of the board toward the pocket and then pops up. This prevents pearling and gets the surf board into the pocket ahead of the falling lip. Then it is easier to stay ahead of the lip and ride the wave. 


Catch the Wave at an Angle


Another excellent technique for soft board riders is to catch the wave at an angle towards the corner of the wave after it is starting to break at the apex. A wave begins where the foam first comes over the top. This is where the most speed is generated. If the surfer catches the wave more toward the corner or after the wave is already rolling, there is less speed and less steepness so it is easier to catch and ride. 


In Oceanside, the surfers are catching 7' waves on soft tops and performing great tricks. The soft top board has a lot of capabilities. It accelerates progress to learn about real waves on a soft top board rather than move to a shorter hard board too fast. 


For Surf Lessons in Oceanside, see the Home Page


For my Dry Land and in Water Demo video


For a video on Catching Real Waves



Riding soft top surf boards in real waves

Riding soft top surf boards in real waves

Surf Lessons Series

What You Learn in a Series of Surf Lessons

Learning to surf is a slow process. Movies make it look easy, but all new students say this is more difficult than I thought it would be. The reason is that are many techniques sewn together from properly lying on the surf board to finally riding the surf board.


The First Fundamental


In Oceanside Surf Lessons, the first fundamental is often one of the more difficult pieces to master. Lying on the surf board correctly and paddling to catch a wave without getting turned over is difficult for many people. They don't remember to place their feet at the back, they don't paddle balanced on the board, they don't paddle evenly with both arms, they stop paddling too soon. All these items are corrected during a lesson in the water. 


Catching Waves


Catching waves requires timing. Surfboards are not boogie boards and many people like to jump on the board as the wave arrives and they get turned over. Paddling must begin before the wave arrives and then paddling has to be fast once the wave reaches the board until the surf board is in front of the wave. Once again, these particulars must be coached. 


Popping Up


Standing up on the surfboard is different than other board sports. Surfing is the only board sport where you begin lying down. Getting up on the board to the perfect posture with feet in the right position and body facing square to the front is where most of the beginning work is spent. The process is very specific and most beginners like to finesse it in their own manner, which doesn't work. 


Paddling to the Outside


After these fundamentals are mastered, we begin paddling through waves to catch the next one coming in. This prepares students for paddling to the outside to catch bigger foam waves. It also prepares students to begin catching real waves. 


Students have to learn timing and gain judgment on which waves to ride and when to turn around. This is a fun process that makes students feel like they are really surfing. Riding bigger foam waves is a jump because they have more power and travel faster. 


Riding Real Waves


Learning to ride real waves is soon mixed in with catching foam waves. Beginners often learn to ride real waves by catching them at an angle so they don't pearl as frequently. Once again timing and judgment have to be learned. 


In the process of mastering the fundamentals, beginners might start moving to shorter boards. I begin teens and adults on 9' soft tops, but we want to move to the 8' soft top within a few lessons because they are more fun once all the fundamentals are mastered. They are also easier to handle and more maneuverable once the techniques are learned. 


After the first surf lesson, most students would be able to practice on their own. The problem they have if they don't surf often is they forget the fundamentals and begin adopting bad habits. Most of the intermediate surfers I teach have adopted bad habits and have to be retrained to ride waves. 


The longer students are coached, the more the good habits become muscle memory and less likely they will learn bad habits as they advance. If students start popping up or riding incorrectly, they no longer can catch and ride waves. 


For Surf Lessons in Oceanside, see the Home Page


For Surf Packages see the Packages page


For my video on the Dry Land and in Water Demo video



What You Learn in a Series of Lessons

What You Learn in a Series of Lessons

Catching Real Waves

Catching Real Waves on Soft Top Boards

Catching real waves on soft top boards is the beginning of intermediate surfing. It is a natural progression after mastering the fundamentals (see blog below). The first step after riding foam waves to the beach is to ride through the foam waves and turn around to catch the next set of bigger foam waves. 


Start with Paddling Through Foam Waves to Catch the Next Wave


In my Oceanside Surf Lessons, I have students catching foam waves and then looking for opportunities to catch small green waves that are usually reformed from the bigger waves breaking on the outside. Gently rolling small waves can be caught down the face on soft top boards without much fear of pearling. 


If surfers paddle out and in an arc waiting for the wave they want to catch, they can then intersect and turn toward the beach as the wave rolls under the surf board. The advantage is never taking your eyes off the wave as it approaches. Then you can decide which way to ride it, right or left, and you see how it is forming so you can adjust your timing. 


Catching Corners


On steeper real waves, the soft top surfer should begin by catching the corners as the wave rolls out from the apex (where the foam first comes over the lip). The wave is moving closer to the beach from when the foam first comes over the lip, so the surfer has to paddle to intersect. He might paddle parallel to the wave if he is in the right position, or out to meet it, or in to catch it. 


As the pocket unfurls, the surfer should paddle at a 45 degree angle towards the beach so the wave rolls under and pushes from the hind quarter of the board. You want the momentum of the wave, but not at too much of a side broach or the board will flip.


Moving to Bigger Green Waves


When catching bigger green waves, the surfer also has to be concerned about pearling the 8' soft top board. If the wave is not too steep the surfer can ride the face and carve with a bottom turn into the pocket. If the wave is steep, then after catching the wave, the surfer can push the nose of the board towards the pocket to catch the wave at an angle and avoid a straight down drop.


Real waves are caught best at the top third where the lip starts coming over the surf board. Intermediates often let the wave pass them and try to paddle in over the top. This is not a good practice for two reasons. It is catching the wave too late which results in either crashing as the wave breaks or catching it to late to reach the pocket. 


For Surf Lessons in Oceanside, see the Home Page


For a video on Catching gentle green waves


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Catching real waves on a soft top surf board

Catching real waves on a soft top surf board

5 Fundamentals

5 Fundamentals for Beginner Surfers

There are 5 fundamentals we learn and practice in Oceanside Surf Lessons:


  • Balance and Position on the Surf Board
  • Paddling Correctly
  • Catching Waves
  • Popping Up
  • Riding to the Beach


Lessons go from Dry Land to in the Water


1> In the water, I teach students to hold the board up with the tail facing the waves. Then they roll over with their chest on the board so the board and their body hit the water at the same time. Their feet need to be positioned over the back of the board and then they put the balls of their feet on the board. Their nose should be in the middle of the board and it has to be pointed straight at the beach. 


2> Paddling should be short strokes up to the elbow and fast. Long paddles turn the board and one arm is usually stronger than the other which also turns the board in the wave. If the board gets at an angle to the wave, it turns over. 


3> Catching foam or real waves is timing. When the foam wave is 20 feet away, the surfer rolls over on the board and begins paddling.  When the wave is 5' away, the surfer paddles hard as the wave hits the board and then three more paddles until the board is in front of the wave. 


4> The pop up is a sequence of moves. Beginners often try to jump on the board as soon as the foam wave hits the board and they create a mess. The sequence is paddle until the board has caught the wave. Then put hands on the board in a man's push up position next to the chest. Then push up. In the beginner pop up I teach, I have the students put a back foot on the board under their butt so they can stand up on it. This placement of the back foot is crucial. Then the student raises both arms in front of him as he stands and moves the front foot to the middle of the board. The front foot must land in the middle and preferably at a 45 degree angle forward. 


Body Position on the Surf Board


Also crucial for beginners is their body position. The feet should be about 3 feet apart and the shoulders and hips have to be squared to the front. We don't want one shoulder back like in snow boarding. Weight should be equal on front and back legs and the torso should be upright. We do not want the head in front of the front foot bending forward or the surfer flies off the front of the board. 


5> Riding the board is easy if the posture and position on the board is correct. The surf board will go straight and no work is required. If the student falls off on the butt side, he was snow boarding. If he flies off the front, his head was in front of his front foot. If the board carves, his weight is not equal on both sides of the middle stringer. Hands should be in front, knees flexed, and the body loose to react to the boards motions. 


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5 fundamentals for beginner surfers

5 fundamentals for beginner surfers

The Surfing Pop UP

Mastering the Surfing Pop Up

Mastering the surfing pop up is knowing the technique and practicing. In Oceanside Surf Lessons, we begin with a dry land lesson to teach the techniques, but it is easier on land than in the water. In the water, many elements enter that cause beginners to lose focus. 


The Beginner Pop Up


I start beginner surfers with a beginner pop up. In this pop up, rather than move both feet to the surf board at the same time, I have them put a back foot on the board first, then stand as they move their front foot to the middle of the board. 


The advantage is they don't need the upper body and core strength required by the advanced pop up you see most surfers use in film. When you stand on the back foot, you are using your biggest and most used muscle in your body to help. 


The process begins the same as the advanced pop up. I have students do a count out loud in the water. One is paddling. Two after catching the wave is putting their hands on the board under their chest in a man's push up position. Three is pushing up. These three steps are used by surfers to catch foam waves or 30' waves. 


Getting the Hands Off the Board


Then comes the difference. In the beginner pop up, students put a back foot on the board, under their butt and flat on the board in the middle. As they stand on that leg, they raise their hands. This makes the front foot weightless so it can be driven to the front of the board. 


It is important that the hands are raised right away or they block the front foot from moving forward. This means that if your hands are still on the board as you put your front foot on the board, the front foot will be on the back of the board behind the arms that are still holding on. One of two things will happen. Either the surfer winds up on the back of the board and the nose rises, losing the wave. Or the surfer flies off the front because his nose is in front of his toes and the body goes where the head is. 


The Advanced Pop Up


In the advanced pop up, the third step is a real push off the board. At the same time, the surfer brings both feet onto the board driving the front foot under the chest to be placed between where the hands were located. The body rises into an upright position with the torso equally weighted between the front and back leg. 


What is crucial with both methods is the hands are in front of the body and the shoulders and hips are squared to the front. The reason most beginners to intermediates fall off right away is they allow one shoulder to drop back and then their arm and hand pulls their body off their butt side of the board. I call this snowboarding. Beginners can't ride the surfboard like a snowboard or skate board with one shoulder back.


The feet should be on the board shoulder width apart (3') with the front foot at a 45 degree angle forward and the back foot perpendicular to the two rails. The body is upright with the knees flexed so that the surfer can control the direction of the surf board. 


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Soft Top Surf Boards

Soft Top Surf Boards to Short Boards

Moving from soft top surf boards to short boards is a goal of many beginner surfers. In Oceanside Surf Lessons, I progress students in this process in a number of lessons. Most teens and adults start with a 9' soft top board to learn the fundamentals. 


Once a beginner can pop up in the right posture centered on the board and ride it straight, they are ready to move to the 8' soft top surf board. The 8' Wave Storm soft tops sold by Costco are excellent boards that last many for years. Surfers in Oceanside ride 7' waves on them.


Advantages of a Short Board


The advantages of a short board are you can duck dive waves which is important on sand bottom beaches in which you have to paddle through breaking waves to get to the outside. In big surf, you can't get soft tops outside. 


Another advantage is it is easier to get short boards down wave faces without pearling. In beach breaks with steep or close out waves, like Oceanside, getting down the face and bottom turning into the pockets is much easier with a short board. 


A third advantage is short board can be accelerated to gain speed for tricks and maneuvers. Whereas soft tops can be accelerated as well, they are clunky compared to short boards. Some Wave Storm riders can rip the lip and even do 360's, but they are rare. 


Why Convert Slowly


The importance of the process to convert is to move slowly. Once the fundamentals of riding the soft top are learned, it is not fun to move too fast and become frustrated. Surfers should move shorter only 6 inches at a time and maintain the width and thickness of the surfboard. 


A good first move is to the 7'6" fun board that is 21"+ wide and 2 3/4" thick. What most surfers who move down to fast discover is they are tired paddling too soon, the board doesn't catch waves easily, and the board becomes unstable to them on a pop up. 


No reason to take the fun out of surfing. Slower progression allows paddling stamina to build. The shorter board has to catch a steeper wave which takes the learning of timing and more courage. The less volume a board has (shorter boards), the steeper the wave has to be to push it. 


Short boarders allow the wave to come under the board and then paddle hard three times to get down the face. Beginners often try to paddle over the top and catch it from behind. This doesn't work. The problem with trying to catch the wave as it rolls under the board is that mistakes cause crashes. It takes some time to develop. 


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Catching Real Surfing Waves at an Angle

How to Catch Real Waves

  

When I teach Surf Lessons in Oceanside, students learn to ride foam waves straight to the beach. When your position and posture on the board are correct the board will go straight with very little balancing effort. The ability to make the board go straight is important as you advance to riding real waves. 


The next step for my students riding  8′ soft top boards is to paddle out and start catching bigger foam waves. I also start instructing on catching small real waves and catching waves at an angle. On real waves, the nose points down and you have to either pop up quickly to bring the nose up or ride out the real wave with your chin high until you hit flat water.


One of the best ways for a mini long or long board to ride real waves is to catch them at an angle pointing toward the pocket. The timing is waiting for the real wave to come under the board, paddle 3 times to catch the wave, and when the board is moving, point it towards the pocket before popping up. 


The advantage is you don't have the pearling risk of riding down the face and you are ahead of the falling lip quicker.  On big close out waves, the angle in the corner may be the only way you can ride the wave. This means you move further from the falling lip and catch the wave where it is not as steep. 


It is a matter of timing and knowing where the waves are forming. I like to paddle so I am moving before the wave forms and when I see it, I can decide to paddle towards it, parallel to it or toward the beach. Moving in advance makes you more likely to catch it and get position on other surfers who are sitting idle.


For Surf Lessons in Oceanside, see https://surflessonsinoceanside.com

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Catching Waves

Catching Steep Surfing Waves

  

When I teach Surf Lessons in Oceanside, beginners start with riding foam waves. But I explain that the technique we learn is expert and would be the same technique to ride big waves. In my Oceanside surf lessons, I paddle out with intermediate students to ride steeper waves.


Riding the Steep Requires More Courage


Dropping down the steep face of a wave is one of the most thrilling parts of surfing. It is the part every surfer talks about when he says the waves are really big today. He is talking about making that first drop.


When you see a surfer on video riding the giant waves, the most dangerous or trickiest part is dropping down the face and surviving to get into the pocket. Once you are down the face of a wave, the rest is relatively easier.


The Secrets


There are three real secrets. You have to be willing to paddle in front of the wave. You can’t paddle over the top as many intermediates are doing on local breaks. The wave comes up behind you and then you have to give it a few fast strokes once the wave has you to be sure you are down the face. You then have to pop up with a low center of gravity to stay on the board during the speed of the drop.


The steeper the wave, the more you are forced to drop down the face before you can make a bottom turn or carve into the pocket. Surfers on bigger waves start using bigger boards, but the pros have used their 5’9″s on Pipeline so it can be done.


Get an Angle Towards the Pocket


If the wave is not too steep and fast, a surfer would like to get an angle at the top of the wave so that he is in the pocket quicker and away from the falling lip. The big reef waves are not close outs like we experience in Oceanside so the surfer is looking for a long ride down the pocket or a barrel. With Oceanside close outs, the whole wave only stays up a few seconds.


If you can’t get an angle at the top of the wave, you hope when you hit the bottom you can carve and outrun the lip to the pocket. On the steep closeout waves, they often collapse on you before you get very far unless you started near the corner.


Sometimes a surfer will grab a rail to help hold the rail in the wave and improve speed and stability as he out races the lip to get into the pocket. Grab your courage and your board and go for a spin.


For Surf Lessons in Oceanside, see the Home Page

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Bottom Turns

Executing the Surfing Bottom Turn

  

When I teach new students in Oceanside Surf Lessons, we do not get as far as bottom turns in a first lesson. The first lessons are about going straight to the beach on a foam wave. 


As students advance, they learn how to go to the outside and catch bigger foam waves. In intermediates lessons, I start mixing the opportunity to catch small waves at an angle in with catching outside foam waves. Catching waves in the pocket is a combination of timing, paddling, and wave recognition. Theses are not easy skills to learn for a new student and mainly come with experience. 


The advanced skills after a student learns how to ride small real waves and then bigger real waves are carving waves. Carving can consist of changing direction of the board which is accelerating, cut backs, and bottom turns.


The bottom turn is an extremely important technique in the surfer’s arsenal. It is both offensive and defensive. Surfers like to catch waves at an angle so they are headed straight to the pocket which is the ultimate objective.


Sometimes the wave is too steep and you must head down the face first because taking it at an angle would cause you to get rolled and taken over the falls. So you drop down the face, but as soon as possible, in the middle of the face or at the bottom, you carve towards the pocket. This is usually achieved by turning the eyes, head, shoulders, arms and hands toward the turn as you put slight pressure on your toes or heels depending on the direction. You want to be pressuring into the face of the wave.


The second time you use a bottom turn would be to travel up the face while riding in the pocket to perform ripping the lip, a trick, or an aerial. You will observe most surfers in a low center of gravity and dragging their trailing hand in the water as they turn their upper body toward the lip.


The third time you can use a bottom turn is a defensive motion. The wave is collapsing in front of you and you need to get over the top and to the back side. You execute the bottom turn, go over the lip and avoid getting toppled by the close out.


Practice makes perfect.


For Surf Lessons in Oceanside, see the Home Page

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Catching Surfing Waves

Catching Surfing Waves

  

When I teach Oceanside Surf Lessons to new and intermediate students, the one technique everyone needs to improve is catching waves. It seems as it would be so automatic, but it is not. 


Three things are important; judgment, timing and position. You don’t want to ride every wave. Waves come as part of larges sets of waves that have mixed with swells from different directions. Some waves are better than others. It pays to be selective. Secondly, you have to be in the right place when the wave arrives and that has to do with paddling to the right position. Thirdly, the position, especially on real waves is important.


In foam waves, you want to be on your board at least 20 feet infront of the shore break foam waves. You are paddling and when the wave is close you paddle hard until you are in front of the wave before you do your pop up. On real waves you want to be in front of the wave as it rises under you.


One great secret for both is the faster you are moving when the wave hits, the easier it is to do a pop up. When I am riding real waves and they are breaking slow, I try to get way in front so that I am moving fast as it curls under me. 


When I am catching steep waves, it is real important that I am in front of them and paddle and kick before the wave arrives to make it easy to go down the face. If I am ready to pop up as soon as I am on the face, it is much easier to get to the pocket and in front of the lip to have a great ride. The longer it takes to pop up on the face, the more likely I will get caught in the foam as it comes over the top and then I will only have a short ride toward the beach.


For Surf Lessons in Oceanside, see the Home Page

For a video on Catching Green Waves

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Surfing the Short Board

Short Board Surfing

  

When I teach Oceanside Surf Lessons, we begin with nice stable 8′ or 9′ soft top surf boards. I like to take the board out of the equation when teaching new surfers the basic techniques. Concentrating on the necessary moves getting up on a board is better if the board is not too much of a factor.


Once all the basics of catching foam waves and riding to the beach have been mastered. Students can learn to ride real waves. The dynamic changes because now you not only have to ride down a face and anticipate the pearl, you have to intercept the wave at the right time, and look for corners when waves are closing out.


The first skill, I like to teach is keeping the surf board moving while patrolling the spot where you have figured the waves are breaking. As soon as I see a wave start to rise, I anticipate whether I have to move out further to catch it, keep moving parallel, or paddle in to catch it. I want the wave to rise under me so when I have risen just under the lip, I can paddle hard and kick to get down the face.


When I am paddling in front of the wave, I am also watching both right and left to see which way the wave is breaking best. I also watch the other surfers to be sure I will have the right of way when the wave arrives. If the wave is going to be a close out, I can feel it and back out. If it is going to crash on me because I have out run it or it doesn’t break like I thought, I can still evade or be prepared.


The most important aspect is to learn to get in front of the wave and let it come under you so the lip is over your head. This takes courage until you learn the timing. Do not try to paddle over the top each time, chasing it. It takes more courage to get in front and there will be more errors, but it is the best way to get good rides and to the pocket after catching the wave.


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