Tips for beginner surfers: our beginner guide to surfing

February 03, 2023
If you have ever ridden a wave on a surfboard, you probably agree it’s the best feeling there is. But learning to surf can be hard, or even intimidating. To make your life as a beginning surfer a bit easier, we give you some practical beginner surf tricks. Read our beginner guide to surfing and make the most out of your time in the water!

Learn the rules of surfing

At first glance, surfing might seem to be all about freedom and self-expression. But make no mistake: there are strict rules in the water – the so-called surf etiquette. Keep those rules in mind to avoid conflicts with other, more experienced surfers.

Want to learn all te rules? Check out our blog about the surfing rules & etiquettes!

    Find a good spot that is not too crowded

    There are different types of spots to surf: reef breaks, point breaks and beach breaks.

    1. Reef breaks often produce great, predictable waves, but can be dangerous because of the sharp coral just below the water.

    2. Point breaks, where waves break around an extended part of land, usually produce long, peeling waves in one direction, but often require a lot of paddling and waiting for your turn. Therefore, it’s best to start practising at a beach break.

    3. Beach breaks are sandy bottoms and relatively soft when you hit them. Because the waves often break along a bank or the entire beach, there is more room to surf. If the line-up is crowded, choose a quieter place outside the line-up. When you are an absolute novice, you can head to a place closer to the beach and catch your first rides on already broken, whitewater waves.

    Choose the right equipment

    Choosing the right board is key when you want to learn how to surf. The bigger and more buoyant a board is, the easier it is to catch waves. Smaller boards, on the other hand, are faster and more manoeuvrable. When you just start, however, riding as many waves as you can is the best way to progress. The more waves you ride, the more you can practise and refine your technique. A board with too little volume makes it difficult to catch waves and makes it harder to get up on your feet. Therefore, we advise you to start on a 7 to 9 foot board (board sizes are always measured in feet and inches) and don’t drop down in board size too early. A soft top board is also great for beginning surfers. These foam boards have soft decks and reduce the risk of injuries. Besides a board, you will need gear to keep you warm. A well-chosen wetsuit and (if necessary) booties and gloves help you to stay out longer so you have more time to improve your surfing.

    Do you need help choosing the right wetsuit? Check out our pages about:

    How do i find the right wetsuit size

    How do i find the right wetsuit thickness

    Master the pop-up

    The pop-up is perhaps the most important movement in surfing. The pop-up or take-off is the transition from lying down on your belly to standing on your feet. When you have mastered the pop-up, you will be able to get up on the right moment and ride the unbroken part of a wave. It allows you to go faster and opens the door to other, more advanced moves. For a good pop-up, follow the following steps:

    1. Place your hands next to your shoulders (don’t grab the rails),

    2. Push your upper body up and slide your preferred foot forward.

    3. Stay low, keep your knees bent and decide which way you want to go.

    4. Although it might sound difficult, the good news is that you can easily practise your pop-up on land. Just lay down on your board or on the floor, and practice getting up as many times as you like.

    easy steps explained for the surfing pop up

    Practice paddling

    You may not realise it, but you spend way more time paddling than standing up on your board. Many beginning surfers don’t catch waves because they lack just a little bit of speed to glide along with the wave. Therefore, it is hugely important to master the paddling technique and build stamina. When you are a great paddler, you will catch more waves, catch waves earlier (which makes them easier to ride), get to the line-up faster and save more energy for actually riding waves. The most important factors in becoming a good paddler are minimising drag, by finding the right body position (this is also called the sweet spot), and maximising propulsion by learning the right arm movements.

    Learn how to get to the line-up

    The place where the waves break and people wait for their turn is called the line-up. To reach this place, you have to pass broken waves that try to pull you back. In order to get out past the whitewater as quickly as possible, you need to be a good paddler and should know some techniques to get past incoming waves. One of the best-known techniques is duck diving. Unfortunately, this technique, where you push your board down to dive under with your board, only works with low-volume boards. If you have a higher volume board (like we recommend for beginners), you can try the turtle roll, a technique where you flip your board upside down and put your body in a horizontal position. When you have reached the line-up, you can best check the incoming waves by sitting up on your board. It’s also wise to practise sitting and keeping your balance, in order to react swiftly when a good wave comes your way.

    Get to know the ocean

    Because you want to surf the best waves, it is important to learn how the ocean works, and how this affects your local spot. Try to get to know at which tide your spot produces the best waves, and learn how to read and interpret a surf forecast. This way, you will always be at the right place at the right time. This helps you to ride more waves, and get better faster. Learning about tides and currents also helps you to stay safe in the water.

    Safety measures

    Talking about safety, there are different things to keep in mind. Knowing how the ocean and certain spots work, helps you to exit the water safely at all times. Besides that, you should never surf alone as a beginning surfer. Surf with a buddy so you can call for help if necessary. Another thing to keep in mind is to always use a leash or legrope. This helps you to keep your board close and prevents dangerous situations for other surfers.

    Practise as much as you can

    The best beginner surfing tip is to go out whenever it’s possible and practise as much as you can. You learn the most when doing it, and practice makes perfect! Don’t worry when you fall or wipe out. This is also an important part of surfing!

    What are the main differences between skiing and snowboarding?

    Skiing and snowboarding are two ways to slide down a snowy mountain. The biggest difference is that snowboarders ride sideways using a board, while skiers go forward with two skis on their feet. In addition to that, skiers usually use ski poles to manoeuvre down the mountain.

    Which one is easier to learn skiing or snowboarding?

    This is quite a tricky question, because there is no consensus among experts as of yet. However, it’s often said that skiing is easier to learn, but harder to master. The reason for this is that on skis, you face forwards and can move both legs independently. Thanks to the poles in your hand, it’s not hard to keep your balance while standing still or at lower speeds. Especially if you have some experience with ice skating or rollerblading, skiing can feel quite natural.

    Snowboarding, on the other hand, might be a struggle at first. With both feet strapped onto one board and trying to ride sideways, it’s harder to balance and maneuver. As a result, you will spend a fair amount of time falling and sitting on your knees and behind when you just start. But once you have survived those first one or two days, it’s often easier to progress. After one week, you’re often able to turn in both directions, and with a bit of luck, you can even perform some basic tricks.

    “IF YOU ARE ON TOP OF THE MOUNTAINS YOU CAN FORGET THE DAILY BUSINESS AND JUST LIVE IN THE MOMENT.” - YANNECK KONDA

    Which one is faster: Skiing or Snowboarding?

    In general, there are only small differences between skiing and snowboarding in terms of speed. Trained skiers and snowboarders you will see around the resort will reach similar speeds. The speed someone can reach depends more on a rider's comfort level, skill, and preferences than on the choice between a pair of skis or a snowboard.

    When you look at world records however, skiing is the fastest of the two.

    • The world speed record for skiing is 255 km per hour by Simon Billy in 2023
    • while the speed record in snowboarding is ‘only’ 203 km/h. by Edmond Plawczyk in 2015

    Do you want to go faster yourself? Check out our slim fit snowboard jackets and snowboard trousers for men and women for increased aerodynamics!

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    Differences in style between skiing and snowboarding

    Skiing is often seen as more elegant and graceful than snowboarding. This is largely due to the upright stance and parallel movements. Snowboarding, on the other hand, has a more loose and nonchalant style – a sort of swagger. Advanced riders are often able to express themselves in a creative way. This is especially true for freestyle snowboarders.

    Is there a difference in equipment for skiing & snowboarding?

    Of course, there is a difference in equipment between skiing and snowboarding. To begin with, for snowboarding you need a snowboard with bindings, and specific snowboard boots. These boots are often softer and more comfortable than ski boots. That is why they are called soft boots. For skiing, you need a pair of skis with bindings, and ski boots. In terms of clothing, you need the same equipment. We advise a water and wind resistant snow jacket and pants, plus insulating and moist-wicking layers underneath to keep you warm and dry.

    Have Fun!

    Snowboarding and skiing are both great sports that we deeply love. The question whether skiing or snowboarding is better, is impossible to answer, just like the question which sport is more fun. Consider what you find most important, and if you can’t decide, just try them both!

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