After you have mastered the early Basics of Surfing – Part 1

After you have mastered the early Basics of Surfing – Part 1

Once you have done your first lesson or couple of lessons and you have mastered the basic movements and techniques, you will then be ready to begin to learn and progress to new skills to practice and work on.

Before moving on though, it is vital that you have the correct one movement, jump up going from lying down on the board to standing up in one smooth fluid movement. For future progression and improving efficiently, it is imperative that this happens. Doing a multi-step get up, using knees and climbing to the standing position is a bad habit and one that needs to be fixed in the very beginning. Without having this smooth one movement jump up or ‘take off’ very much inhibits and restricts the potential level a surfer can get to. With a professionally qualified instructor who knows and understands the correct technique and correct body positions, this movement is possible for most people with good teaching and repeated practice of the perfect movements and techniques.

Once this is achieved, there are several new challenges for the novice surfer.

The first is becoming proficient and stronger in paddling and being able to paddle on to waves without assistance from the instructor. It is important when paddling that a surfer pulls the water strongly to propel the board forward. Using smooth rhythmical movements, the surfer extends their arms towards the front or nose of the board, places their hand in the water with their palm perpendicular to the water and pulls through deep and strongly, close to the side or ‘rails’ of the board. Ideally, to maximise efficiency, the surfers’ hand should accelerate through the water to about mid-torso and then release from the water and be moved back towards the ‘nose’ of the board. A surfer should not keep their hand pulling through the water too far down the body as the leverage and power on the stroke will become weak and ineffective thus creating an inefficient stroke.

The surfer needs to paddle very strongly to increase the board speed quickly to enable the surfer to catch the wave and then stand up. It is quick and powerful. After a wave, when the surfer is paddling back out to behind the waves to catch the next ride, the paddling becomes a little slower and more steady. It is like doing a sprint running race when paddling for a wave – fast and powerful and then running a relaxed jog when paddling back out (but the paddle out can also have periods of hard fast paddling sometimes too – more on this in later articles!)

Another vital concept to learn and understand is board balance and ‘trim’. Maintaining good, correct board ‘trim’, that is keeping the board well balanced and flat on the water so it moves effectively and efficiently through the water, is very important for surfing. From the very start, paddling onto the wave as well as then riding the wave for as far as possible, board ‘trim’ is vital for the surfer to catch and then surf the wave optimally.

When paddling for the wave, if the board is not in ‘trim’ and the surfer is too far forward the board will ‘nose dive’, where the nose goes under throwing the surfer off the board and wiping out. If the surfer is too far back on their board when paddling, the nose will be up and the tail will be down. The surfer will not be able to effectively move the board through the water, thus more than likely will not be able to get the speed required to paddle on to and then catch the wave.

When a surfer is catching waves, either by themselves or still with the instructors’ assistance, correct ‘trim’ must still be maintained. When they get to their feet they should start to challenge themselves by riding the wave for as far as they can, hopefully, all the way to the beach if possible. This requires good balance and being able to stay relaxed and soft while standing to absorb and correct all the board instability and movements. It may also require the surfer to begin to transfer weight to and from their front and back feet so the board stays in ‘trim’.

As the wave gets closer to the shore, generally the wave will begin to lose its power and so the surfer will need to transfer weight more to the front of their board to keep the board in ‘trim’ and flat on the water. This weight transfer can come from just putting more weight on the front foot or maybe even having to take a step or two forward on the board. If too much weight is put on the front of the board, the ‘nose’ (the front of the board) can begin to go under the water in which case if the surfer doesn’t react fast enough to put more weight on the back foot or take a small step or two back, the board and surfer will ‘nosedive’.

If the surfer does not do this initial transfer of weight forward as the wave slows down and power drops out, the surfer will feel the board get slow and heavy and will see the nose lift off the water and the back of the board, or ‘tail’, sink.

On ‘take off’ if it is a bigger wave, stronger wave, faster wave or the surfer is ‘taking off close to the critical part of the wave where it is breaking, it might be necessary for the surfer to have a bit more weight on their back foot than they otherwise would. If there is too much weight on the front of the board, the surfer and board will nosedive.

Our next article will talk more on these next step novice manoeuvres including turning the board while on a wave, linking turns and sitting on the board while waiting for a wave to come ‘out the back’.

If you are in the Mangalore area, Walkin’ On Water Mangalore, based at Panambur Beach would love to take you out and teach you to surf, get you to feel the thrills and fun of surfing or if you are already surfing, help you progress to the next level.

Walkin On Water Mangalore can be contacted on, by phone on 9743440134 or 99721 13538 or simply seeing them at their base on Panambur Beach by the lifeguards. You can also check out the website or their FaceBook and Instagram accounts – walkinonwatermangalore.

Surfing Terminology

Take off – the movement of jumping up after paddling onto the wave to ‘take off’ and surf the wave
Nose – front of the board
Tail – back of the board
Rails – the sides of the board
Trim – keeping the board well balanced and moving through the water efficiently
Nosedive – where the nose of the board goes under the water because there is too much weight on the front of the board and the surfer is thrown off the board
Out the back – is where the surfers wait behind the waves where the waves have not yet broken. It is the position that surfers sit to wait to then paddle on to the wave they want.

by Jamo Borthwick

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