Get in Front of the Surfing Wave


One of the points I continuously emphasize with beginner and intermediate surfers in my Oceanside surf lessons is to be moving before the wave arrives. There is a wrong BeachStorm1st 004instinct to wait until the wave hits you before you start paddling. I see it everyday watching people not taking lessons.

If you ride 30′ waves, you get towed in and are traveling at 25 mph so that you are going the same speed as the wave. If you get towed into a 60′ wave you have to be moving faster. The same principal does apply with riding even foam waves. If the wave is moving at 10 mph and you are stationary, you are going to take a big impact as the wave passes by you and you will be left in the foam or your board will be turned over.

You have to be moving in front of the wave, then take a look back to see what it is doing, and then paddle hard before it reaches you and then just as hard until your board accelerates into the smooth water in front of the wave. At this point, you can execute your pop up.

On real waves, I see so many people paddling over the top trying to catch up with the wave. They can’t paddle 10+ mph. Sometimes I also misgauge the wave and it doesn’t have enough steepness in the arc when it reaches me to take my board.

What I really like to do is get way in front of the wave and aim toward the direction it will break after the foam comes over the lip and as I am paddling toward the beach at an angle, I am still watching the wave. Then when it looks like it is going to break on top of me, I know I am in the right position. Its moving fast, so it then comes under me and with its unstable motion now starting to break, it grabs my board and gives me an easy platform for a pop up.

Learning the timing of getting in front but not so far that it does break on you takes a little practice. If it does break on me, I am going to be riding foam until I break in front. The only real problem with this scenario, is that by the time I am up, the pocket can be too far away for me to catch it. But, I would prefer this and will get more rides in a session than if I am continuously waiting too long to get moving and watch all the waves pass me.

When you see someone paddle ten times and never catch a wave, you will be witnessing this point. You are more likely to pearl or fall off trying to catch waves from behind than when you get out in front and let the steepness of the wave move your board.


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