How Surfers Move from Long Boards to Short Boards


When I teach surf lessons in Oceanside on short boards, there are a few things students have to consider.

Moving from surfing high volume boards or long boards to shorter boards creates a number of challenges.  The idea is to surf a board that is more maneuverable in the wave face.  This can be accomplished if you over come the challenges.

1>What surfers don’t always calculate is that if their higher volume board lets say the soft top 8′ beginner board or a 9’+ long board was easy to paddle, you start losing that dramatically when you go to a shorter, narrower, thinner board. One way to maintain the easier paddling and go shorter is to stay at 21″+ on the width and 2 3/4″ + on the thickness.

2>Where you catch the wave is very different and requires a big step up in courage and skills. The higher volume boards catch waves easily as they are forming and then the wave grows after you are up. The short board needs to catch the wave much later because it needs more power and speed for momentum. You are either catching the wave as it arcs over you and you are paddle very hard to get down the face. You don’t want to crawl over the top from behind.

3>The pop up has to be faster and more accurate on the shorter board. If you are catching the wave later, it is moving faster. Secondly, with less board volume, you don’t have any leeway as to where your feet land or how you are balancing. Everything has to be just right.

4>The ride is more unstable on a shorter board. When your feet and balance are not right the board gets loose on the wave and you are trying to stay on top of it. Secondly, the longer board can be driven down the pocket, but the short board needs to be accelerated.  This is a whole new procedure of pushing the nose of the board with your front foot up and down the face.

Save yourself a lot of frustration, tired sessions, and maintain the fun by moving shorter a little at a time; maybe 6″ at a time.  This should also make it obvious why you don’t want to learn surfing on a short board.

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