HOW TO SURF A WAVE IN ONE DAY: Common Beginner Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Getting the most out of surfing happens once you grasp and then master the basics. Confidence is key, so you won’t learn how to surf if you’re making constant, repeated mistakes. You need to take it slow to allow your experience to build. Take the right steps, and then your surfing trips will be epic. Start by getting the following items in order.

Warming Up: First Things First

Beginners often run into the ocean as soon as they arrive at the beach. They forget to stretch. Just take a look at a pro surfer’s body. This sport requires physical conditioning, and it’s best to prep yourself before challenging mother nature. Some say that “surfing is swimming.” You see, getting past the breakers will engage muscles in your body that you didn’t know you had. You must
be ready for what the ocean throws at you. Prep your body and loosen your joints with these warm-up exercises.

1. Neck Stretches

Simply face forward while standing with your feet at shoulder-width apart. Without moving or adjusting your shoulders, tilt your head to the right. Your right ear should touch or come close to your right shoulder. Use this as the starting point from which you’ll now rotate your head and neck into a complete circle. Now go in the opposite direction.

2. Cross-Reverse Lunges

A lunge is formed when one leg is in front of your torso while the other is behind it. This “squat” requires a balancing act that will activate your core, hamstrings and quads. Now twist your upper torso from side to side. Switch sides by having the right leg forward and then the left.

3. Arm Rotations

Start with your arms lifted straight before you. Rotate your shoulders so that both of your hands create basketball-sized circles in front of you. Repeat in both clockwise and counterclockwise directions. Now set your arms in front of you and keep them parallel to the ground. Pull them back—to the rear and then the front—to stretch out your pecs.

Clothing and Why it Matters

Style is easy to get caught up in when you’re at a beach or trying to fit into the surfing crowd. What’s more important is utility. Clothes can increase your comfort, make the water more pleasant and keep your board bearable for long periods of time. Let’s take a closer look at how to choose your attire.

1. Toss the Loose Shirt

It helps to dress light but without loose clothing. Hats only work when you can secure them down, which is something very hard to do. You never know when the waves will hit hard or how hard you’ll get wiped out. A favorite cap could make a loud, bold statement, but chasing for it after every wave isn’t fun. For the same reasons, you don’t want to wear a loose-fitting shirt. It moves too much and causes a hazard when getting up to stand. Your best bet is with fitted pieces of clothing that won’t sway, fold or stretch while you’re aerodynamic in the water.

2. Stay Warm and Block the Sun

A mixture of sun and water has a huge impact on your skin. The water reflects sunlight, and if you’re patient enough, catching the best waves will keep you in the middle of the ocean for hours at a time. Sunscreen is helpful, but so is long-cut clothing like wetsuits. You don’t need to cover your entire body, but covering your upper torso and quads will block the sun. A good wetsuit, as its name implies, is made for aquatics. Seawater has sodium in it, but neoprene is ideal for this. It’s a synthetic rubber that’s soft, flexible and offers the perfect insulation for cold-water conditions.

3. Surf Leggings for Women

As for women’s apparel, leggings are a substitute to wetsuits. They offer a greater range of motion and a comfy feel. Some are made in bright, attractive colors that surfers prefer. Leggings work well for spring and summer, so consider yours as a substitute to a bikini. These neoprene pants won’t come off when a wave comes crashing toward you. Our leggings at Platinum Sun are also ideal at fighting off board rash.

4. The Rash Guard

We all need wax on our surfboards. It gives us the right traction to ride with. Riding the decline of a wave requires a strong stand up from the board, but without wax, that “pop” turns into consistent slips and falls. Wax is a helpful accessory, but it’s also a problem. It causes friction when laying on the board and swimming past the breakers. In under an hour, this irritation becomes a
notable rash. Soon, everyone will see a red patch on your chest or torso. It will hurt and itch too. A rash guard, which is what you’ll need, is a seafaring shirt that guards against this. Nylon and polyester are suitable compounds, and they’ll protect you from the sun.

Choosing a Surfboard: Leaving the Ego Elsewhere

Here’s where more mistakes are made in surfing than in any other area. Choosing a surfboard can get more adrenaline rushing than the flow of perfect waves coming in. The “pure excitement of choosing” can lead to regret once you’re out at sea. At that point, there’ll be nothing that you can do about it. First, consider these mistakes:

1. Leave the Shortboards Alone

This lesson is based on basic math. More mass equals more buoyancy: hence, greater ease. Sure, it looks cool when someone quickly jumps on a wave or gets past the breakers faster than you. The issue with shortboards, however, is that they require a lot of experience and a perfected balance. Unless you can use a longboard by catching big waves prior to them breaking, then you’ve got a lot more to learn.

2. Overlooking Volume

The volume of a board is what dictates its buoyancy. “White water” is where beginners start and learn. Catching a full-forming wave, however, requires you to get past the breakers and the sizzling foam. You have to get to where the waves are starting to form. This can be tough if the resistance of the sea pushes against your stroke. Choose a board that has more volume if you want to make swimming easier.

Body Positioning & Paddling

Your surfboard will tell you where to sit as you paddle or pop up to ride a wave. Let’s take a better look at the details involved:

1. Finding the Center Line

Most boards have a line that runs down each center profile. Use this line as a guide and divide your body with it. You’ll eventually notice your balance: If the board sinks to the left, it’s because you’re sitting on the left side of the centerline.

2. Check the Nose of the Board

The nose of the board, which you’ll be able to see in front of you, needs to stay above the water line. If it dips into the water, then you’ll paddle hard but get nowhere. The reason for this is traction. The board’s nose is bent upward with the intent of pushing water aside. Lay farther back or up to keep the nose on the water’s surface but without it dipping in.

3. Keeping Your Arms Alongside the Edges

The right way to paddle is as if you’re swimming. You want to achieve long, deep strokes. You’ll also want to keep your hands alongside the edges of the board. This gives you more traction, for the farther away your arms go, the less control you have over your body weight.

Nothing makes surfing more fun than being prepared. Your balance could be perfect, but you won’t last if your body isn’t protected. An hour of board rash will get any surfer to go back in to dry land. Consider the gear you need and ensure that your time spent at sea is worth it. We have rash guards, wetsuits, wind jackets and beach accessories waiting for you right now. You just need a quick look as you learn how to surf.

Stop by Platinum Sun, and we’ll have an outfit fitted for you right this moment.

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