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Top 5 Mistakes Beginner Surfers Make

Top 5 mistakes beginner surfers make

Learning to surf is one of the best experiences ever! However, little mistakes can turn an otherwise amazing experience into a frustrating mess. Here are the top 5 mistakes beginner surfers make.

1. Looking down at the surfboard

The number one mistake that beginner surfers make when learning how to surf is looking down at the surfboard. In surfing, balance is everything and looking down will throw your balance off. It is very important to always focus on the horizon when you are paddling and riding on the wave. This will also ensure that you know what is going on in front of you at all times.

2. Not using Burst Paddles

Not paddling enough is a very common mistake among beginner surfers. Most beginner surfers will paddle until they feel the wave lift the tail of the surfboard, then stand up. The result is the wave rolling under the surfboard and passing the surfer by.

It is important to remember that when the wave lifts up the tail of the surfboard, this is your cue to paddle strong and fast. These paddle strokes are known as burst paddles and will ensure that your surfboard begins to slide down the face of the wave. Once you have this sensation, then it is time to stand up.

3. Not laying on the surfboard properly

In order to paddle properly and avoid pearling (nose diving) your surfboard, you want to position yourself in the right spot. Laying to far back on the surfboard will cause drag and you will paddle too slow. Laying too far forward on the surfboard will cause you to nose dive when standing up.

Since every surfboard is different, the best way to find what surfers call the “sweet spot” is to adjust your body so that the surfboard lays level on the water. This may take a bit of practice, but by doing so you will paddle more effective and avoid getting a gallon of salt water up each nostril when you nose dive.

4. Surfers waving their arms around

The key to balance while surfing is keeping a low center of gravity. Beginner surfers tend to wave their arms around in an attempt to keep themselves balanced. Unfortunately, waving your arms around only causes you to lose balance even quicker.

A general rule of thumb is to avoid raising your arms above your shoulders. This will keep your center of gravity low and stable. If you feel like you are losing balance, bend your knees instead of waving your arms.

5. Not bending the knees

Once again, the key to balance on a surfboard is to stay low avoid excess body moments that may throw you off balance. Its very exciting catching your first wave, so most first timers will stand as tall as they can only to topple over like a tree. Remember, when you get to your feet, the surfboard is already moving. Bending the knees will help you to ride with the wave instead of the surfboard sliding out from under you.

Surfing has a very long learning curve and there are a million mistake you will make along your road to riding waves. The trick is to learn from your mistakes and become self aware of what your body is doing while surfing. Taking a surf lesson is an easy way to excel faster and learn proper surfing techniques that will help you along the way.

We love to hear our readers personal experiences and tips. Please feel free to leave your feedback below. Mahalo!


7 Responses to "Top 5 Mistakes Beginner Surfers Make"

  1. Simone Bayer says:

    This information was really useful. I have wanted to try surfing for so long but was just never confident with how I should start of. Scared of looking ridiculous. But I will try this out.

    • Kahaluubaysurf says:

      Awesome Simone! Glad we could help. If you ever have any other surfing related questions, please feel free to contact us.


  2. And breathe… | Tales of a Landlocked Surfgirl says:

    […] paddling enough is one of the most common mistakes amongst beginner surfers which results in missed waves. You know that feeling you get when the wave just rolls underneath […]

  3. Sam says:

    Lol I think that’s a picture of me falling on the link of this, holy cow that’s embarassing. #stillfamous

  4. Izzy says:

    Great post! learning to surf can seem daunting to begin with but if you practice practice practice you’ll get there and then you’ll be hooked on surfing! Would reccomend getting a surf lesson from a qualified surf instructor to make sure you are doing the moves correctly and haven’t picked up bad habits which will hinder your progress!

  5. Get Standing, Start Kneeling. – TheSpringTimeSurfer says:

    […] https://learntosurfkona.com/featured/top-5-mistakes-beginner-surfers-make/ […]

  6. Tully says:

    I have a board and can paddle out but i am just too scared to catch a wave because i think im gonna hurt myself. What can i do??

    • Kahaluubaysurf says:

      Aloha Tully, its okay to be a little nervous when trying something new, especially surfing. We suggest going to a very beginner friendly beach and try surfing when the waves are small. You might want to bring a friend along to make you feel safer while in the water. You can also take a surf lesson. Most surf schools will teach you proper technique so you dont hurt yourself or others while learning. Mahalo

  7. hensley says:

    I plan on buying the surf tech bryne hppb2 surfboard. They recommend it for someone of 130lbs- 170lbs. I only weigh about 100lbs. Would riding this board affect me differently since I am lighter?

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