Why Beginner Surfers Have Trouble Catching Waves


When I teach Oceanside Surf lessons to new students it is pretty easy to predict who will get it before we get in the water. Those that are at a good weight and flexible will pop up in the first lesson. Those that are over weight and/or not flexible enough to put their IMG_7085 (2)c (800x531)palms on the ground will have a tough time standing up.

So for those who can pop up in the first lesson, the next step is very challenging; catching waves on their own. I teach them first to hold the board with the top facing their chest and the nose toward the beach. When the foam wave is close, lie on top of the board in a perfectly balanced position so that you can paddle immediately.

The next two steps of this procedure are important. You have to paddle until you are in front of the wave and the board is planning. Then you can execute a smooth pop up.

When it gets to riding real waves, beginners all make the same mistake. They have been roughed up in the learning process by pearling their boards, getting taken over the falls, hitting the bottom and so on. So, they are too cautious and want to hold back and then paddle in over the top of the wave.

Not only do they miss most waves, but if they get in over the top, they are probably late on the wave and catch it just as its going to close out. The only way to catch waves is to be in front of the break and catch it as it is peaking.

There are all kinds of different processes and styles to accomplish this, but the concept is that you are paddling out in front of where the wave will peak. You want to be on the wave face already when the wave reaches its peak (not paddling over the top). Then you can either paddle down the face or angle to the pocket and a few strokes has you up on a nice smooth face.

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