How to Catch Waves40 comments
It'll soon be you!
Here we are at your first surfing lesson. Now, there are a few different approaches to catching a wave, and most of the time it begins with lying on your board in the sand and practising what is called the 'pop up'. Popping up is the term used where the surfer has caught the wave and goes from the paddling position, lying on top of board, to a standing, upright position. We are going to skip pop ups at the moment as it will be covered in surfing lesson four.
Let's get straight into the water and talk about catching the white water part of the wave (where the wave has already broken). For more details about waves, take a quick look at the waves page. It is more fun getting straight into things and having a mess around than getting all sandy on the beach.
Waves to Start Surfing On
For your first few times out, surf the small, close waves. You're primarily looking for small breaking waves that you can walk out to, not the large battering waves you have to fight just off the beach. (Remember that surfing should be fun!)
Make sure that you are not holding your surfboard in a position where a wave could knock it back into your face and cause you an injury. Hold the board out at arms length with a hand on each rail. Jump over the oncoming white water as you walk your way out. Keep a look around to make sure you are not about to get washed into someone's path, or that you are not immediately behind someone who may lose hold of their board. It can be quite scary seeing an oncoming wave complete with nine feet of longboard wrapped up in it!
Keep the safety aspect in mind at all times, and everything should be OK.
Here We Go!
You are now at a comfortable depth out where the whitewater is rolling towards the beach. Place your board at your side, nose facing into the beach. Keep an eye on the waves that are coming towards you, and pick one that looks like it is big enough to pick you up and take you in.
If you are on the ideal beginner's board, the wave won't have to be that big, and you'll hardly need to paddle at all. On a very small, light board you may have to work a little harder.
Just as the wave is about to reach you, push the surfboard towards the beach and, at the same time, pull yourself on to the board so that you're lying flat on top of it. When you are lying balanced on top of your surfboard, paddle with both arms as the wave approaches from behind. Keep paddling as the wave starts to pick you up. You should feel the board rise in the water as the wave picks you up, and you'll feel an increase in your speed as the wave starts to take you. With a bit of luck you'll have caught your first wave.
Here are a couple of common problems you may encounter:
You pearl forwards and get thrown off your board.
- You may be too far forward. Try lying a little further back on your board.
- As the wave starts to take you, arch your back a little to put more weight on your legs / thighs.
- Try not to catch a wave that is in the process of breaking just yet. This will pitch you forwards.
The wave passes you by or you can't catch the wave.
- You may be too far back on the board. Try shifting your weight a little farther forward. You only want the nose of your board a couple of inches out of the water.
- Start paddling earlier so you have more speed when the wave reaches you.
- Paddle faster and keep paddling until the wave has passed.
At first, it's a good idea to practice catching waves without attempting to get up. This will give you the feel of catching a wave and help with the timing that is required to pop up.
By practicing in small waves like this, you'll develop a feel of when a wave picks you up. You can also develop your timing and practice some paddling to get extra speed to catch the wave. (We cover paddling next.) You'll also experience some of the common wipeouts, but you should not get into any difficulties in the small surf — great for building confidence.
I Want to Stand!
Great, so now you can catch the whitewater waves in to the beach, but what is next? Obviously you want to be standing on the surfboard when you are heading into the beach—after all, that is what we are here to do.
We need to have a look at how to position yourself on the board, and how to comfortably paddle around. As you progress with your surfing, you will be out in deeper water and will have to control your surfboard while you are out there, and to learn how to get through larger breaking waves. Lets find out more about paddling in lesson #2—paddling.
on May 7, 2011
|i like very much this site!|
I hope you like my site too!
It is about our surf school in tenrife ;)
See you bro :)
on May 15, 2011
|omg i wanna learn how to surf soooo bad do u teach teach in hialeah ?|
on May 24, 2011
|Waist high broken waves|
on May 29, 2011
|WOW!!! It's great to have this in writing. Now I can practice a few things to get ready for my next beach trip! Thanks a lot!!|
on Jun 10, 2011
|i love to surf :) its all i do in puerto rico besides modeling :)heeh|
on Jun 21, 2011
|how far do you go out?what is an exceptable "comfortable depth"? hips chest?|
on Jun 21, 2011
|It's a personal thing, how comfortable you feel. |
I would say for most people, it probably means somewhere between chest to shoulder height.
Best thing to do - give it a go and see how you feel.
on Jul 21, 2011
on Jul 22, 2011
|Hi there, anybody know of any surf lessons for beginners in Ayrshire, Scotland?|
on Jul 22, 2011
|I don't know any in Ayrshire, but there are several on the east coast.|
|Lauren J Bundy|
on Jul 23, 2011
|I love this site,|
And i'm from Flordia i want to learn to surf sooo bad,
But the boards are soo exspensive,
and i'm scared avbout getting bit by a shark
on Aug 16, 2011
|i wanna surf so bad so that wen i come back home to puerto rico i can go surfing with mi little bro|
on Sep 4, 2011
|@ lauren bundy, i was recently in florida visiting family. i bought a 6' softboard for $200 while i was there. i brought it back to new england and enjoy using it very much. i dont got out far, between waist and chest deep, depends on where the waves are breaking. ...and im not big on sharks either|
on Oct 7, 2011
|I'm planning on taking a bike ride a week after I graduate and going to Florida and learn to surf stay down there for about a month or two and enjoy Florida and no school!!!|
on Oct 15, 2011
|i all of a sudden wanted to know how to surf so love this site but i live in st. Louise in the show me state so how can i practice these moves and also are they saying to be in the middle of the bored?|
on Oct 18, 2011
|hey bros umm i luv this websit it is awsome dood hey maybe use should come surfing with me bros|
on Nov 4, 2011
on Dec 2, 2011
|This is so cool! Thanks for making this site! It is extremly helpful. :)|
on Dec 7, 2011
|how do you know when you should start standing up in your surfboard?|
or do you just when any type of wave is coming?
on Dec 14, 2011
|These seem like good tips for me to try next time. I was able to get up with my instructor, but not on my own. Thanks!|
on Dec 30, 2011
|this site is great!! its very helpful but do you have a site for more advanced surfers, with info about green waves and tricks?|
on Jan 12, 2012
|tricks are coming soon!|
|I Have A Board|
on Jan 29, 2012
|What if you live in cold waters? I live in cold weathers but in summer it gets at least 90 to 80 degrees. But im surfing at a lake. Is it possible to stand up on a lake wave? They are like probaly 3 inches. Please help me.|
on Jan 30, 2012
|Hi I Have A Board. |
No problem with cold water, you just need a decent wetsuit.
You can surf on the Great Lakes waves, but not regular lakes.
|I Have A Board|
on Jan 31, 2012
on Feb 12, 2012
|don't forget i always do a test run by slow paddling the board to feel the waves before i start catching them. second try to stay in front of the crest or you lose the wave.|
on Apr 23, 2012
|even though i am 11 i wanna surf during the summer|
on May 2, 2012
|Lol... Love the part about the board hitting you.... Funny when you are not paying attention while walking down the beach & the wind grabs it and smacks you.|
on May 20, 2012
|yeh it sounds real funny|
on Jun 7, 2012
|Its my dream to surf!!! My mom just bought me a beginner surf board for my birthday!!! These lessons are perfect for me to catch my first wave!!! Thank you so much!!!!|
on Jun 11, 2012
I now searching best surfing point in Phil. during end of Jan & start of Aug. Please advise it.
on Jun 13, 2012
|wanna be surfer|
on Jun 21, 2012
|I am going to destin fl tommorow are there good waves in the gulf|
on Jun 21, 2012
|@wanna be surfer on Jun 21, 2012: There are waves along the Gulf Coast. Mostly it's short lived wind swells. The best waves are generated during hurricane season.|
on Jul 11, 2012
|i surf and this is ok i guess but its not exactly true|
on Jul 12, 2012
on Jul 30, 2012
|wow i love this sight!!|
on Dec 18, 2012
|how big does a wave need to be, to be able to have a barrel.|
on Feb 16, 2013
|is there any way to surf in hawaii for cheap?|
on Jun 26, 2013
|Great site, lot's of excellent info|