The right board, practice and exercise go a long way in learning to surf
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 29 November, 2017 - Surfing is one of those activities that a lot of people wish they could do, but don’t want to bother learning. This is understandable. Learning to surf is a notoriously difficult process, requiring good conditions, a good instructor, and most importantly a great deal of patience on your behalf. Very few people are able to paddle out and pop up on a board on day one. But once you get the hang of things, it’s unlike any other sport or activity you can participate in, providing a one-of-a-kind blend of exertion and relaxation.
If you’re looking into starting, you’ll be going over the surfing basics with your instructor. But here are some more general tips for how to prepare yourself for a good experience.
1 – Get A Soft-Top Board
If you end up getting really into surfing, you’ll probably have a few boards to your name eventually anyway. So, when you’re preparing to learn or take a surf trip as a beginner, you might want to think about starting out with a soft-top board. It’s just a little bit softer, more comfortable, and ultimately safer than fiberglass alternatives, and thus most appropriate for a beginner. Plus, you should keep in mind that you won’t be up and riding too frequently as a beginner – you’ll be sitting or lying on your board quite often, and for these parts of the process the soft-top is great. These days there are even tech-infused soft-top boards that are designed to help you learn how to surf, but assuming you don’t want to splurge too much on a beginner board, the basic version will do.
2 – Make It A Big One
While you’re picking out a beginner board, make sure you get a big one also. If you’re trying surfing with friends who already know what they’re doing, you might see that some of them have shorter and/or slimmer boards – but don’t worry about it. Smaller boards can be a little handier and more maneuverable once you have some skill. But a larger board makes it significantly easier to catch waves in the early going. Plus, it serves as a better raft, for lack of a better word, when you’re drifting and taking instruction or waiting for waves.
3 – Practice Popping Up
Being out in the water will probably be a little bit overwhelming the first time. You should pick a fairly tame location with a small crowd if possible, and overwhelming doesn’t mean it won’t be fun. There’s just a lot to keep track of as you try to surf. But because of this it’s a good idea to practice what you can before you actually get into the water. That means popping up on your board. If this makes you think of the comedy film Forgetting Sarah Marshall, you’re probably not alone. There’s a surf instruction scene in which a goofy character named Kunu (Paul Rudd) instructs someone by telling him to “do less,” proclaiming that “the less you do, the more you do” and leading to the student simply lying on his board. Believe it or not this scene has actually been written up as inspiration for productivity, which is absurd. But it does actually provide some assistance so long as you don’t take it literally. You should practice popping up in a natural, fluid motion, which the friend or instructor teaching you can probably help with.
4 – Prepare A Caffeine Boost
There are pros and cons to caffeine in general, but if you’re looking to try something new that requires that you retain new information and maintain attention, it might help. As one piece on “brain food” for gamers put it when discussing coffee and green tea, caffeine before a physical or mental test can lead to increased alertness, memory, and focus – all of which will help when you get out on the water. This isn’t to say you should be downing an entire pot of coffee (which will leave you full, potentially a little bit uncomfortable, and likely needing a restroom). But a little bit of caffeine can give you the focus and energy you need to take in your lesson, focus on all the little details, and potentially find success.
5 – Exercise In Advance
Before you try learning lessons it’s important to prime your body for what’s ultimately a very unique kind of exercise. You can do a little bit of research and find all kinds of recommendations in this regard. But generally speaking, you’ll want to work on core strength, balance, and cardio. Yoga, kettle bell training, planks and pushups, and running and swimming workouts are typically among the best. These are the kinds of exercises that, while far from simulating the motions or demands of surfing, can prepare your body to excel with this new sport.