Surfing Foam Waves vs Real Waves


When I teach new students in Oceanside Surf Lessons, we start out riding foam waves. Many students have had the experience of friends taking them to the outside where the real waves break and telling them to go for it. New students would have had a better chance if they were going for foam waves on the outside.15062013-173002-5301

One big difference between the two is the need for timing. But timing is a skill developed from experience after so many other fundamentals are learned. You can almost learn everything you need to know in foam and inside waves before needing to venture to the outside. What is needed on the outside is more courage because the trouncings are bigger.

Beginners start with a high volume boards like an 8′ soft top if you are under 200 pounds. The board is easier to paddle than smaller boards but also catches waves easier and is more stable on the pop up. After riding the board for months, a student could start dropping in length 6″ at a time if they also maintain the width and thickness. Going to a longer board is fine anytime.

Foam waves are ridden straight into the beach. But once the student can pop up and ride straight, they can then start carving using the back foot pressure on the toes or heels. If you paddle in front of the wave and carve, you can drive right down the foam just as you would do on the outside.

On the inside or outside, once you want real waves, you want to catch the pocket at an angle right in front of the apex (where the foam first comes over the top) and paddle in front of the arcing wave towards the angle it is breaking. Once the wave catches the board, the pop up is the same. Then you stay fixed and drive the wave.

It is also possible at this point to learn pumping and accelerating. Pumping is rising up and down on the board which is also called unweighting. Accelerating is using the front foot to move the nose of the board up and down the pocket to gain speed. Notice on video how all advanced surfers accelerate a few times before performing a maneuver or trick.

The big difference in foam and riding the face of real waves begins with timing. You can wait for a foam wave. You have to intercept a real wave. You observe where they are breaking(this assumes you are not on a reef where they break in the same place every time) paddle into the area, and when the wave forms paddle to catch it at the arc. You are likely to have competition from other surfers, so the surfer closest to the apex has the right of way.

Soft tops like to pearl in real waves (nose into the water) so that is why catching them at an angle is so important.


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