Six Tips for the Nervous Beginner Surfer
Interested in taking a surfing vacation, but you’re worried learning to surf will be full of frustrating falls, sore muscles, and disappointment? We understand your qualms- surfing is a challenging sport that takes years to master. But that doesn’t mean a beginner can't have a superb session one of your first days hitting the swells. Here at Pegasus, we take pride in our ability to craft a surfing experience that makes the sport accessible to every single skill level. Our guides are top-notch surfers with years of experience, and love nothing more than sharing their love for the sport by teaching others. But, if you’re feeling ambitious and want to set yourself up for success on the waves, we have just the article for you. Although surfing involves countless complex movements, there are certain basic fundamentals that can be learned at home. Here is a list of a few that will get you ready to take advantage of the glorious Samoan waters here at Pegasus.
1. Pop-up Control Practice
Perhaps the hardest skill to learn for beginners is the first pop-up. It involves precise timing, balance, and must be executed quickly. But don’t worry, one classic exercise move known world-round can help you prepare for this task: the push-up. The muscle groups involved in a push-up, mainly the shoulders chest and core, are the same muscles that provide your body with much of its momentum during a pop-up. To increase the explosiveness of your pop-up, simply take a long, straight pole (even a broomstick works fine), and place it on your back like the picture below. Next, perform 10 push-ups keeping the stick balanced on your back. The goal is to keep your body as straight as the stick. To perform the exercise properly, engage your abs, and slowly lower yourself until you are an inch from the floor, then quickly (but with good form) push up to the starting position. Repeat this three times a day and you will be well on your way to an energetic, controlled and effective pop-up, putting you miles ahead of the competition and on your way to learning to surf.
2. Single-Leg Balance
In the world of surfing, nothing is more important than balance. It allows you to stay on the board after your pop-up, and stay centered as you tackle larger waves. A little work bettering your balance can go a long, long way towards making you a better surfer. Here is one trick used by surfers we have talked to that can help beginners get their sea legs. It’s called the single leg balance. As the name suggested, it involves simply standing on one leg, but several elements can be added to increase the difficulty. We suggest you start practicing by standing on one leg for 30 seconds until you can comfortably do this even with your eyes closed (imagine surfing some killer waves while you do so!). The next challenge is to stand on one leg and toss a tennis ball back and forth between your hands. Finally, if you master all of this, try repeating each of the maneuvers, but with a pillow under your feet for added instability. This will more closely mimic how unstable you will feel when you first learn to surf. With even a few minutes of practice a day, you can quickly and easily increase your balance, setting yourself up to conquer each and every wave.
3. The Right Board for Beginners
At our resorts, we make sure to provide top quality boards to all of our surfers that are suited for beginner and intermediate surfers. However, if you want to buy your own board for future surfing adventures, here’s a few recommendations to keep in mind when buying a beginner surf board. First, buying your first board is kind of like buying your first car. When shopping for your first set of wheels you don’t need anything fancy like a turbo-charger or a V8, you just need something that gets you from point A to point B reliably. The same goes for your first surf board. Don’t worry about crazy bells and whistles, high tech materials or designs, simply stick to a classic, easy to use board. A wider board will give you more stability, making your pop-ups easier and your rides last longer. A longer board will also help both your balance and the longevity of your ride.
4. Meditation Helps New Surfers
This one may seem a bit out of place, but it just might be the most important tip we can give. As with any sport, composure is essential to success. This is especially so in surfing, when focus and calm is necessary to catch a wave, as well as to avoid falling. In addition to increasing your composure, meditation actually increases your focus and attention. You can download a bunch of great apps on your smartphone (most of them are free, too) that provide quick guided meditations. Take ten minutes a day to sit down and meditate, and you’ll be better able to execute a quick and confident pop-up, making your first few times boarding exciting and rewarding.
5. Have Fun
While you can’t practice having fun your first time surfing until you’re actually doing it, you can come in with the right mindset. In our experience, the surfers who progress the fastest are those who approach it as an exciting activity, and don’t ride themselves to do everything right or set unachievable expectations. In fact, research shows that having fun while learning can make you progress faster. So, just enjoy the beauty of the warm waters, the scarlet streak across the the sky as the sun settles beneath palm trees after a long and rewarding day of learning to surf, and focus on having the time of your life—it’s not very often that you have a beach on a tropical island all to yourself, don’t spoil it by worrying about being perfect. We promise you’ll love learning to surf with our talented guides, and hopefully develop a passion for surf that will follow you the rest of your life. If so, we’ve done our job.
6. Surf Camps
Last, but certainly not least, is the most obvious way to quickly progress as a surfer. For, as with anything, having a teacher to guide critique and encourage you as you learn to surf is immensely helpful. The expertise of an experienced guide is unparalleled, and can help surfers of all skills reach tremendous heights very quickly. Additionally, surf camps allow countless hours of training to happen in a short period of time, drastically reducing ones initial learning curve.
We hope these tips help you to overcome and nervousness you may have about learning to surf, and inspire you to give it a try! The joy of learning a sport like surfing can enrich your life mentally, physically and spiritually, and connect you with nature. It is too good of an experience not to try, so don't let your apprehension or worry about your abilities get in the way. Master these above skills and approaching learning with a positive attitude, and the sky is the limit.