Building Courage to Surf Bigger Waves


When I teach surf lessons in Oceanside, part of the lesson is learning to be comfortable in the ocean and handling your surf board. When it comes to surfing bigger waves, it is a whole new process that has to evolve within each surfer personally.

Fear is part of surfing. Even the champions like Greg Long said he was terrified of 6′ waves at the beginning and he faced it again as size increased and even when he rode the 40 footers outside in Hawaii. He contemplated that he could die and leave his wife widowed and children almost orphaned.

However, the one thing always is surfers’ conversations are the big waves. Like, we’re in it to grow our cajones. We place far more emphasis on it than surfing small ones really well. Most of us start out surfing the foam and gradually work our way up to our personal peaks of comfort.

We learn along the way that getting trampled by bigger waves can hurt. I have a cracked rib to prove it. I once had the word “drowning” in my mind when I got in the impact zone of a storm 7′ wave. I sat out in the line up each day in a recent big swell that brought waves up to 10 feet to the Oceanside Pier. I rode the first two days when they were smaller but didn’t feel equal to the bigger ones. I was not alone.

Getting on a big wave in especially a sand bar beach where they close out instead of peeling right or left dependably requires confidence that you can accomplish a few things.  First, your body has to be able to take the weight of the falling lip as it pounds you into the surf. Secondly, you have to be able to hold your breath up to 30 seconds without getting panicked.

Thirdly, you have to have a very fast pop up so you can be on your board on the way down. Fourthly, you should be able to make a carve or bottom turn on the way down the face or at the bottom and accelerate to get past the falling lip or go over the back if its all falling at once.

You have to surf bigger waves to learn, but you have to have the basic skills to survive and triumph. Every expert will say that you can try them, but don’t go too far over your skill level.

If your pop up isn’t great, practice 25 to 50 a day in your living room. Then try them on inside waves which are smaller but close quickly. Then catch corners on bigger waves that allow you to angle or carve into the pocket.

Then start catching waves you can handle at the very peak where it has the most power and you are going to drop straight down the face. Next start taking them at the peak and carving or bottom turning them into the pocket and even holding your bottom turn to go over the back of the wave.

As your skill increases, keep trying bigger waves.

“I’ve read and watched so many on-line tutorials and I’ve gotta say your book is the coolest, most succinct and comprehensive I’ve seen. So good!” A. Parker, OR.

Surf Instructions 

Beginner to Advanced E Book   $5.95    Add to Cart     

Illustrated 80 page E Book  by Mark Kaplan, Surf Instructor Download Immediately Learning the Physical, Technical and Psychological stepping stones to becoming an Advanced Surfer

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