Tips for Beginning Surfers, Surf Tip #6

TIP #6 -- Look for and paddle out in the “channels.”

Channels, you ask? Channels are where the water is literally channeling back out to sea (aka “the path of least resistance”). Paddle out where the waves are NOT breaking or where they are breaking less. This means pushing through fewer waves for you as you paddle out. More importantly, you will not be paddling out right where other surfers are riding the waves (and that’s another tip of its own to come involving “surf etiquette”).

Trouble finding the channels in some spots? Here’s a hint: Many beach breaks will have small channels that may be hard to see at first. Watch the water BEFORE you paddle out and find one. Also, watch what other surfers are doing...where are they having trouble, where are they having an easier time getting out there? Jumping in the rip current is an option some surfers do - it may help you blaze by your buddy who didn’t find the channel and is busy trying to fight the white-water. However, unless you’re a more experienced surfer and/or a fairly strong & skilled ocean swimmer, this could cause more trouble and danger for you than it’s worth.

Missed or need a recap on the last five beginner tips? Just click on the below links.

~ Tip #1
~ Tip #2
~ Tip #3
~ Tip #4
~ Tip #5
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Tips for Beginning Surfers, Surf Tip #5

  • TIP #5 -- Go for the glide to easy drop in by catching that wave early!
  • This is critical for successful drops at beach breaks like Zuma, Santa Monica and Venice.
  • Catch that wave early -- Paddle your ass off. When learning how to surf, what is the most common wipeout? Hint, it is also the most “un-fun” wipeout. That’s right. The “nose-dive.” Aka “pearl”, aka “endo”, aka “face-plant”. So many different names for the same unfortunate demise of the beginning surfer. Yes, it can be caused by being too far forward on the board of course, but more times than not, I see it happen because the person catches the wave too late, right when it is breaking.
  • This wipe-out can be avoided by catching the wave early. Paddle med-fast at first to line up the wave (slight angle the direction you want to go), then right before it gets to you, paddle as hard as you can. This will help you glide into the wave and catch it early. You can get to your feet right as you begin to drop down, which shifts your weight back and angles the nose of your board up. End result, fewer face plants and better waves!

Tips for Beginning Surfers, Surf Tip #4

  • TIP #4 -- Go body surfing!
  • Find your inner “waterman”. Or just go swim (preferably with swim fins) in the surf zone. This will help you to feel comfortable getting tossed around by the waves. Eventually you will figure out how not to get tossed around and may even enjoy a good thrashing. Bodysurf the waves. Figure out the timing and how to turn your body into a board and ride the waves to the beach. An old fav, pull into the barrel and throw a peace sign or a “shaka” at your buddy. This is a good workout and will help you to understand wave dynamics. In the end it will pay off with you catching more waves while surfing.
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Tips for Beginning Surfers, Surf Tip #3

Tip #3: Where to paddle out. Giving other surfers some space, while also looking after your own safety.

The herd mentality...or at least in Los Angeles, the most direct line from the most convenient parking lot to the surf!

The spot where all the other surfers are might not always be the best spot -- Know that people tend to have the herd mentality. “If everyone is there then it must be good”. This is not always the case, especially at big open beaches. Maybe the waves are not quite as good down the beach but there is nobody out. If it looks safe, why not paddle out there and have it all to yourself? This way you don’t add to the crowd at a crowded spot and you have the chance to catch any wave that comes your way. As a beginner, the biggest piece of surf etiquette that you need to know and abide by is to give other surfers space. This is for your own good and theirs. Down the road, especially at advanced spots, paddling out and sitting right in the pack, ready to catch the first good wave that comes through is considered bad form. Its kind of like cutting in line at Pinks Hotdogs on a Saturday night...not a good way to make friends.

Tips for Beginning Surfers, Surf Tip #2

Continuing on with our “10 Tips” for beginner surfers series…
We know, it’s been awhile since we posted
Tip #1, but it’s been a busy summer of fun surf and as we move into the fall and winter months, it’s now time for Tip #2! So here ya go:

Tip #2: Be aware of your surroundings.

This will help you in life and it will help you in surfing. Carefully observing your surroundings will help you to:

1) Understand where the right spot is.
2) Maintain your position in the right spot.

Once out in the water, observe and notice if there is seaweed around, different shades of bottom color, or if there are “boils” from water being pushed up by rocks. Are there fish jumping, birds diving or dolphins swimming by? Where are the waves breaking? Where are most of the surfers sitting?

When you first get out in the line-up, orientate yourself and estimate on the best location to wait for waves. At beach breaks you can use landmarks on the shore. For example, you may decide that you want to stay between the pier and the ugly pink house. If you find yourself out of that zone, paddle back there. At point breaks or rocky zones you can use landmarks, but you may also have to also use patches of seaweed and “boils” to determine where the best spot to be is.
Paying close attention to where you are will help you get more waves.

Tips for Beginning Surfers, Surf Tip #1

Wondering about how to approach a new surf spot? Nervous about paddling out in a crowded lineup? Having trouble on certain days at a spot you've been surfing a lot?

I've put together 10 tips for beginner and intermediate surfers that I feel are essential in becoming a better surfer. They'll help you to figure out new surf spots before you even paddle out and will help you to progress your skills at a faster rate. I've surfed up and down the California coast since I was 10 years old and have surfed all around the world. I've found that the better you are able to assess a spot and the conditions before you paddle out, the better experience you'll have out there. You won't be that person paddling out in the wrong spot about to get pounded on the rocks, or that guy/girl sitting way out in the channel letting everyone know that you have no idea where to sit to catch waves.

I hope these tips will help you to be successful as your surfing as you branch out to new spots and more challenging waves. But we can't give them to you all at once! Just one tip at a time, so you really take the time to think about it and put it into action.

Tip #1: Watch the water. (Yes, just like in the movie the North Shore. Sit and stare at the waves. You will start to see the subtle differences.)

Watch the water before you paddle out and as much as you can. Spend at least five minutes watching the surf and conditions before you paddle out. Maybe take this time to stretch out a bit? Figure out where the rocks are which way the current is going. Are there big sets every few minutes? Is it safe to paddle out today? Begin to develop a strategy that will help you to have a successful session. Decide where the best place to paddle out is. Which surfers are catching waves and which are not? If it’s a new beach, ask a lifeguard if there are rip-currents or where the surfing zone is. Watch other surfers paddle out. If you paddle out there will you get washed into the jetty? Taking this time to watch the water is crucial for two reasons: 1.) It will help you to become a safe and knowledgeable surfer, and 2.) once you begin to understand everything going on and are able to see the small variances in waves and conditions, you will be much more successful at catching waves. If you are running on the beach - watch the water. If you are hanging on the beach with friends or family - watch the water. If you are driving along the Pacific Coast Highway - watch the water. Just kidding! Watch the road!