Surfing Progression from Long Board to Short Board


When I teach surf lessons in Oceanside, we begin with a high volume 8′ soft top board. There are good reasons. Anyone under 200 pounds will find this board easy to paddle, easy to pop up, and easy to ride relative to shorter boards.

Students should master a few things before they start moving to shorter boards. Paddling is very tiring and it is twice as difficult on a low volume short board. You need to paddle to get out to the waves and paddle to catch waves. If paddling is difficult, the session ends quickly. So going in often to build stamina is the first step to considering a shorter board.

Secondly, the short board is more unstable after you pop up. So you want to be sure you can catch waves at an angle on the soft top and ride the pocket. You should also be able to ride down the face and do a bottom turn into the pocket. The pocket is the only place you can ride a short board because it needs the power.

Thirdly, you have to catch waves later on a short board. This means that the wave has to be at a steeper arc before the short board is propelled meaning the pop up has to be perfected. At a steeper arc, the board is pointed straight down or you are catching a corner at an angle and have to be smooth, quick, and brave.

So the easiest way to start the progression is a little at a time. Don’t move shorter than 6″ to 12″ on the first move down and try to keep good width and thickness. Width should be at least 21″ and thickness should be at least 2 3/4″.

Good luck.

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