Maybe your parents never let you buy yourself a board. Maybe you wiped out once and decided to hang up the wetsuit for good. Maybe you didn’t see the ocean until you were 20. But you’re a grownup now, and still you’re longing to test your mettle as a wave warrior. With some preparation, you’ll be ready to tackle the challenge and get your adrenaline pumping.
Keep in Shape, Mentally and Physically
Surfers need to maintain good overall fitness. Building endurance and strength—and avoiding injury—are priorities. Even on the days you can’t head for the beach, you can keep in top shape using targeted exercises. And remember: your mental stamina is as important as your physical condition.
Learning to surf takes self-belief. The awesome power of the ocean can seem a little intimidating. So how do you make yourself begin? It’s easier to build confidence if you break your challenge into smaller tasks. You can’t expect to be catching gnarly waves within the hour, so don’t expect yourself to. When you know yourself and have realistic expectations, you can more easily track your progress.
By the way, please get the thumbs up from your doc before taking on any new sport or athletic routine.
You don’t really need a ton to get started: a board, a leash, and a wetsuit for chillier waters. But your gear can make a big difference, especially as a beginner just trying to stand. The bigger the board, the more stability and control you’ll have. A soft-top board with a high buoyancy will be pretty forgiving of your technical errors. Check out this reference guide for beginner boards.
Learn from Experienced Wave Shredders
Take lessons to help you build your skill set using best practices. With a professional on hand to evaluate your progress, you’ll be able to improve much more rapidly than if you go it alone. These surf schools offer good conditions for beginners.
Talking to more established surfers is also a great way to learn about the sport. Blogs and online communities can be a source of inspiration if no one in your social circle has the experience.
Find Ideal Conditions
Beginners should get their feet wet with the gentlest possible waves. Spilling waves, which tend to build gradually and break slowly, are a good starting point. Waves that break over a sand bottom—known as beach breaks—are way less rowdy than breaks created by reefs or rocky bottoms.
Some locations are known to be ideal for newbies, from Waikiki where the breaks of Queens and Canoes provide a smooth introduction to Byron Bay, Australia, where a year-round warm ocean makes even the most hesitant beginner want to paddle out and go for it. Plan your next trip accordingly!
Guess what? It’s not going to be easy. You’ll have days of triumph and days of epic defeat. What do the sucky days make you? An athlete who pushes forward in spite of the tough times. Accept your limitations gracefully, but push them to the very edge. So you can never be Kelly Slater? Fine, just be you. And keep practicing.
Tackling a childhood ambition should be a magical task. Work hard, play safe and have fun!