Basic skills and tricks to get you started in the world of surfing

By
Alvaro Pastor
04 · 09 · 2019

Are you just starting out in the world of surfing? As you know, this is a large ecosystem that includes much more than the sport itself.

Surfing works as a culture and as a way of living and enjoying life adopted by many people all over the world. Ecology, freedom and physical and mental health are part of the most important pillars of this surf culture.

But of course, not everything can be beautiful and perfect. Surfing is a hard sport, which for the vast majority requires high discipline and tireless work to achieve mastery. It may be one of the most technical and athletic sports, but we assure you that with passion and practice, you will achieve everything you are looking for in it.

Learning to surf is one of the most rewarding physical activities we can undertake if we also want to be in continuous contact with the sea. But patience, persistence and mastery of some basic skills are essential to become a surfer.

Therefore, if you are still an initiate you should at least know what the basic qualities, skills and tricks are when you pick up your board and head to surf the waves.

Let's start by talking about the key qualities or skills needed to be a good surfer:

- Determination: being hit and rolled by the waves over and over again will test your motivation when you start surfing. If you're really not determined to do that, it can be a frustrating experience. It's a difficult sport, but with determination and practice, the rewards will be enormous.

- Balance: It's the key to surfing. You will be standing on a board that moves in a changing environment. Every wave is different from the previous one and it's something you have to deal with. You need strong legs, so you have to exercise them.

- Flexibility: Flexibility is essential in surfing. You go from lying on the board to standing, which is a continuous flex for the body. If you were thinking of doing yoga or pilates, maybe it's time to do it in a complementary way.

- Strength: for surfing you need strength in the upper part of the body, because when it comes to paddling it is essential. A strong body will facilitate your recovery and will be less prone to injuries caused by waves.

- Resistance: especially necessary for rowing through moving waters. Pain and exhaustion will be the order of the day if you really want to surf. 

Once we have clear athletic and mental conditions, we will be able to take our first steps in the necessary surfing skills:

- Swimming: If you're not a good swimmer, you'd better start there. At sea situations happen that are completely out of your control and you will need swimming skills to survive.

- Rowing: If you're not used to it, with the resistance of the water you'll quickly notice how your arms weigh. As we said before, it is essential to have strength in the upper part of the body.

- Passing a breaking wave: things change when you're lying on the board, from somewhere you need to start. Here are some techniques to deal with it: duck diving, eskimo roll or shoot and scoot (sitting in the back to sink the tail, grabbing the center so it's above the wave).

- Catching the wave: the first thing to do is to decide whether to catch it to the left or to the right and then to form an angle on its open face parallel to the shore. It seems simple, but to dominate which wave to catch is one of the most difficult parts of surfing.

- Stand up and keep your balance: you only get it with practice. You will go from doing it slowly to doing it in one jump.

- Surfing the wave: it is essential to learn how to turn and maneuver your board to successfully finish the round. To turn you should lean slightly until you apply pressure to your back, making sure your nose is no more than four inches from the water while turning. Stay upright while your lower body steers the board.

Once we have all the above mastered, we can start with the slang and surfing tricks, something that can take quite some time, but it is always good to handle the vocabulary, just in case we have to defend ourselves in a conversation with some pro:

- Take off: this is the first surfing manoeuvre, the moment when you stop rowing to move to the upright position.

- Bottom turn: it is the first turn after the take off.

- Cut back: once we have slid along the wall of the wave leaving behind the breaker, you must make a turn of almost 180 degrees to return to it.

- Reentry: this trick consists in climbing up to the crest of the wave and make a quick turn of 180º, lowering it again.

- Floater: this is about sailing on the foam of a breaking wave.

- Tubo: the pro trick par excellence. Difficult and spectacular, it's about sliding down the inside of the tube that creates the wave when breaking.

- Aerial: any maneuver that involves taking the board off the water.

- 360º: starts as a Reentry but continues to turn in the same direction 360º.

- Snap: it is a Cut back, carried out in a more abrupt way with a smaller radius in the turn.

We hope that with this description you dare to continue in the exciting adventure of surfing, do not be overwhelmed by all this and achieve your goals.

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