I’ve taken surfing lessons quite a few times either formally in a group setting or with a private surf instructor a few times as well. In addition, I’ve watched countless YouTube videos that give great surf advice. I know in my head exactly what I need to do when I’m out there, the problem is just doing it.
However, in addition to the formal surfing instruction I’ve been given, I’ve figured out a few things on my own that seem to help me when I’m surfing. Nobody ever taught the first surfers how to surf, so a lot of surfing is just learning as you go and finding out what works best for you.
So below are a few tips and tricks that have worked for me, to help me in my surfing, perhaps you’ll find them valuable as well.
Surfing Tips & Tricks
Alternatives to Duck Dives and Turtle Rolls
These methods I use when the surf isn’t too big or powerful. If the surf is bigger, I recommend sticking to the tried and true duck dives (if on short boards) or turtle rolls (on longboards)
- The Sword Knife
- When I just want to keep paddling and have absolutely no delays from sitting up and then laying back down, I just pretend my surfboard is a sword or knife and just plow right through the wave, vs. under it, like you do in a duck dive. This tends to work on a bigger longboard as it has more weight to just push through that wave.
- The Bull Ride
- Instead of turtle rolling (in which I really lose time getting myself back up on the board) or duck diving (my longboard is a bit big for a proper duck dive), I just do the bull ride.
- I pretend I’m riding a mechanical bull as I sit on my board and grab it tightly with my thighs and then either ride on top of the wave or through the wave with one hand up in the air just for the fun and challenge of it!
- I even made a funny t-shirt I sell on SurferShops.com that makes light of this trick!
Sometimes my arms just get tired from paddling and when I’m out past the breaking waves and I’m sitting and waiting for waves but kind of want to move over another direction, I let my legs do some paddling while my arms are recovering. It’s definitely not nearly as efficient as paddling with your arms, but it gives your arms a break for a bit and at least keeps you moving.
Prevent water from going up your nose
When I’m paddling through waves and I don’t want to get water up my nose, I just press my upper lip up so that it covers my nostrils. I even see myself doing this when I’m taking off on a wave as well (ya know in case I nosedive) and I definitely have a beaver face a lot of the time, but hey it works, I rarely get water up my nose when I surf.
There are countless blogs, courses, YouTube videos on how to perfect your pop up. What I’ve found though is most helpful is to just focus on one aspect of the pop up at a time.
There are so many things going on so fast as you catch a wave, you just have to drill things into muscle memory. Therefore, sometimes I just focus on looking where I want to go and other times I just focus on my one foot, and just visualizing my front foot landing on the board as soon as possible. Then, there are other times where I’m just concentrating and paying attention to where I’m putting my hands when I pop up (which should be down further around your hips).
I know everyone says you should start on a foam board, and for safety reasons, perhaps that’s best. However, for some reason, I find it much easier to balance myself on a proper longboard surfboard. The foam boards just seem so much more wobbly to me not to mention harder to control when you’re paddling out. I recommend a lightweight epoxy board that’s around 8’-9’ feet, any longer it just seems like too much of a boat.
And, from some commentary I’ve seen on social media lately, perhaps I’m not the only one that thinks this, but you’ll be hard pressed to do any Google searches that talk about this (until now with this blog post maybe – ha).
Beach Lounging and Soaking Up the Sun
Most surfers I see get to the beach and immediately go surfing after leaving their car, they don’t even set up camp on the beach anywhere and lay down a towel or anything. I’m a beach lover, sun lover, and surfer so when I get to the beach, I typically like to chill for a bit and just relax. This is a great time to also just check out the surf, see which areas are having the best waves come in or are getting the most wave action, and just enjoy watching other people surfing. After a surf, I also like to relax and beach lounge for a bit, if nothing else than to just air dry so I’m not so wet and the sand also dries on my and I can more easily brush it off!
Keeping Sand off your surfboard
The surf break I usually surf at, Tourmaline, has a great green area that I put my board to avoid that. However, if I’m at a sandy beach break, I try to find some rocks to lay my board up against, some seaweed pieces to lay my surfboard on to minimize sand collection, or even sometimes I just set the top of my board on the back of my beach mat chair!
Ending a Surf Sesh
Most surfers like to end a surf sesh with a really great wave. It’s like, if that’s the last wave I’m going to catch today, I want it to be the best. I totally agree and try to end my surf sessions like that as well. But the last thing I usually do before I start walking back to my beach hang spot after a surf session is to just simply ride my surfboard like a boogie board, all the way to shore.
When you’re surfing your longboard prone style, it’s even better than boogie boarding as the glide lasts much longer and you can just relax and smile as you’re headed for the shore, ending a surf session with a guaranteed, non-wipeout wave ride!
Other beach hacks for pre/post surf activities
Catching Waves Instant Temporary Brain Headache
I’ve got no tips or tricks for this, but I feel like sometimes I’m trying so hard to get a wave, that I sometimes yell ugh or something like that and then just get an instant temporary headache when I don’t catch the wave, as I was trying so hard to get it. If anyone else does this, I’d be glad to know I’m not the only one who’s kooky like this trying to catch waves.
I like to lounge on the beach, check out the surf, and soak up the sun, before I go out for a surf sesh and chill a bit after a surf sesh. Therefore, I typically don’t change into my wetsuit until I’ve been on the beach awhile. Then, when I come back from a surf, I want to change out of my wetsuit, but often it gets sandy when I take my wetsuit off right on the beach (with my swimsuit under the wetsuit). Therefore, if there aren’t any showers around, I just dip my wetsuit back into the ocean after I take it off so that it stays as sand free as possible.
Many surfers are always asking about where they should hide their keys when they’re out for a surf sesh. The best option is one of those portable combination locks. However, I find it just easier to always bring a beach bag with you when you surf. That way you can put your keys in a special compartment and even if people find them, they don’t know what car the keys go to (unless of course, someone has been staking you out when you leave your car – as that’s been definitely known to happen).
That’s all I have for now. I’m sure I’ll keep adding to this post as I remember other odd surfing habits I have that seem to help me that might help others as well. In the meantime, below are some funny shirts I designed, inspired by my odd surf style!