LEARN TO SURF AT 50

learning to surf at an older age

 LEARN TO SURF AT THE AGE OF 50?

If you are over 50 and considering learning to surf, you might be concerned that you’re too late to the game.

The fact that you will struggle to master the necessary skills, that you will appear foolish, and that all of the other younger, fitter surfers would laugh at your inexperience and slowness and ignore you, are all reasonable concerns.

This, however, is not the case.

surfing green waves

LEARNING TO SURF AT AN ‘OLDER’ AGE

Is it possible to learn to surf at the age of 50? Or Older?
Yes, as long as you have a reasonable level of physical fitness and flexibility. Learning to surf is primarily a matter of persistence, so if you’re ready to keep trying, you can learn to surf at that age.

Consider signing up for a beginner’s surf lesson, getting in shape, improving your swimming skills, selecting the perfect surfboard, and avoiding comparing yourself to others if you’re over 50 and want to learn to surf. You’ll be out there enjoying those waves before you know it!

Surfing has no age restrictions, and it’s never too late to start (even if you’re past 50!)

SURFING IS  A GREAT WAY TO:

  • Keep in shape,
  • Improve your mood,
  • Push yourself,
  • Feel younger for longer.
  • Meet new people

This comprehensive guide will help you learn to surf at 50. It has been compiled to answer your questions and provide support along the process. I’ll go over some of the advantages of this enjoyable outdoor activity and provide a step-by-step tutorial to get you started.

Tips on how to learn to surf aged  50 years or older.

learn to surf at 50

1. WORK ON YOUR FITNESS

Surfing is physically hard at any age, but especially so as you become older.

You’ll need to use your entire body to manage your weight as you paddle out, pop up on your board, and ride those waves. You’ll also be out for extended periods, so you’ll need plenty of stamina to be safe.

As a result, you should begin by increasing your physical activity and improving your fitness. The more physically fit you are, the easier it will be to learn to surf.

To be clear, you don’t need to be in marathon shape when you’re initially learning, but every little bit helps. Here are some suggestions:

Improve your cardiovascular fitness. Take long walks, begin running, ride your bike, or even run around with your children.

Put a premium on functional strength. If you want to keep control, you’ll need good core strength and good arm power for paddling.

Keep in mind to stretch. Stretching, flexibility, and balance should be part of your daily routine to avoid injury and improve your surfing skills.

Most of these surfing workouts may be done from the convenience of your own home. Simply go to YouTube, and you’ll find a plethora of online workouts that will help you get in shape quickly.
Read this article on surf fitness to get started.

2. TAKE SURF LESSON

While you can certainly teach yourself to surf, it’s so much easier and progress a lot quicker when you use the help of a local surf school or surf camp.

For beginners aged 50 and up, these can be invaluable because they give you confidence in your developing talents while also assisting you in improving your technique. You’ll also learn the proper surf ethics and gain a deeper understanding of the water.

SURFING AT AN OLDER AGE

3. IMPROVE YOUR SWIMMING ABILITIES.

If you don’t know how to swim, turn off your computer right now and enrol in some swimming classes. Seriously! If you’re not a great swimmer, there’s no way you’ll be able to stay safe in the ocean.

It is essential to keep in mind that the water is a massive force.

Because waves and currents can be powerful, and sea conditions can change in the blink of an eye, putting you in danger, knowing how to swim is essential. You must be capable enough to look after yourself and get to safety.

Because you’ll be starting in relatively shallow water, you don’t need to be a particularly great swimmer to begin. It is, nevertheless, necessary if you wish to proceed beyond the beginning stage.

Swimming in the ocean as much as possible will help you become a better swimmer. This will provide more authentic conditions than simply going to your local pool, and it will give you more confidence in ‘wild swimming.’

learn to surf at an older age

4. SELECT THE APPROPRIATE BOARD FOR LEARNING TO SURF

When you first begin, make sure you select the appropriate surfboard for a beginner like yourself.

Look for longer, thicker, and wider boards because they provide the most stability and make learning easier. Surfing beyond 40 or 50 is best learned on larger boards like 9 feet + beginner soft top surfboards. More info on beginner surfboards is detailed in this article. 

Avoid smaller boards as much as possible; they are more difficult to manage and can lower your confidence when you first begin. Your local surf shop can assist you in determining the suitable size and shape of a surfboard for your needs and abilities.

5. DON’T MAKE COMPARISONS TO OTHER PEOPLE

I know it is easy to say so rather than act, but you must avoid comparing your surfing abilities to others.

So, what if you’re in a group surf session and someone in your class can show there in 5 minutes, but you’re still having trouble an hour later? Maybe he or she has already learned to surf and is just brushing up on their skills. Perhaps they’re naturally sporty, whereas you’ve spent the last few years lazing on the couch.

Everyone is on their own individual path.

If you want to feel proud of yourself instead of comparing yourself to others, remember that you came up and took the risk of learning to surf at a time when many others would not.

Concentrate on your own game, be proud of your drive and dedication, and work hard to reap the rewards.

If you haven’t already, take benefit of the opportunity to learn to surf. You’ll notice a variety of mental and physical health benefits as soon as you begin.

What are the advantages of learning to surf at the age of 50+?

Learning to surf will change your life for the better, especially if you are over 50 years old. Check out below a few of the reasons behind this:

1. Surfing is a terrific way to stay in shape while having a good time and no more sweating it out for hours on machines in a dark, dingy gym! You’ll be outside, feeling the rush, inhaling in the fresh air while also getting in shape. Awesome.

2. Surfing is a fantastic cardio workout. All of that paddling, popping up, and riding will get your blood pumping, your heart pumping, and your body in terrific form.

surfing holiday

3. Surfing is a fantastic chance to meet new people. When you’re over 50, it’s more difficult to expand your social group. On the other hand, Surfing makes you part of a close-knit group that will keep an eye on you and is there for you when you need it.

4. Surfing aids in the prevention of aches and pains. You will become stronger overall, your joints will become less achy, and you will become more flexible if you engage in regular exercise such as surfing. If you have to sit at your desk all day or have been groaning as you stand up recently, this is the perfect remedy!

5. Surfing is excellent for improving your coordination. When you learn to surf, you’ll notice a significant improvement in your motor skills. If you participate in other sports, this will pay off handsomely and help you age more gracefully.

6. Surfing is a fantastic way to improve your mood. All of that natural daylight exposure, fresh air, exercise, and community spirit will get your endorphins flowing, raise your mood, and, according to some studies, may even help to alleviate your depression and stress.

Don’t let your age stop you from learning to surf. The average age of clients at Swell on a learn to surf holiday is 38. This means we get plenty of people in their 50’s and 60’s that join us.

Want an example:

Clare, one of the owners of Swell Surf Camp was never very interested in learning to surf, then at 52 decided it was time to get in the water and learn surfing. Now she goes for a surf with her surf friends whenever she has a chance. This is Clare 3 years after  her first surf sessions, aged 56 (see the smile on her face)

So what are you waiting for? Sign up for surf lessons at your local surf beach, or join us in the warm and mellow waves of the Dominican Republic for a life-changing surf holiday

ABOUT SWELL

Teaching people the sport of surfing in a safe, quick and fun way is what we specialise in at Swell Surf Camp. We have taught 1000’s people the basics of surfing.

BOUTIQUE SURF HOLIDAYS IN THE CARIBEAN

Swell offers full surf packages holidays

Interested in changing your life to see the health benefits of learning to surf?

 

dr learn to surf holiday

Send us a message today and we’ll get you up and riding!

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CATCHING UNBROKEN WAVES: POSITIONING IN SURFING

surfing unbroken waves

CATCHING UNBROKEN WAVES:

POSITIONING IN SURFING

Learn how to discover, catch, and stay on unbroken “green” waves by positioning yourself correctly in the line-up.

surfing green waves

CATCH MORE WAVES BY SITTING IN THE RIGHT SPOT!

This article will provide you with a basic understanding of better position yourself to catch green waves. It covers the fundamentals of paddling into an unbroken wave and “sticking” on these “green waves” without nose-diving, passing over the wave, or becoming caught on top of it.

Keep in mind that this is one of the most difficult skills to master as a beginner surfer. Nothing can ever take the place of practice. The longer time you spend in the water and the more waves you attempt to catch, the better.

The theory presented in this article will supplement your practice and, in most cases, will speed up your progress and save you a lot of time and frustration.

CATCHING UNBROKEN WAVES

Positioning & where to sit

How to locate and position yourself to catch a long green wave:
1. Recognize the various stages of a wave

stages of surfing waves

PHASE 1:  SWELL LINES
It is only a bump in the road. At this point, catching this wave is impossible. This lump is merely a forewarning that a wave is on its way.

PHASE 2: UNBROKEN WAVE
This is the place to look for a “green wave.” This waveform is great for paddling because it is unbroken and has the right strength and steepness. You can’t catch at phase 1  because it isn’t steep enough, and phase 3 is too vertical for you to take off. ( better surfers with shortboards can take off here)

PHASE 3: BREAKING WAVE
The peak of the wave has arrived. On the flat water, the lip is already beginning to crash down. The wave is too big and steep to catch at this point, especially for inexperienced surfers.

PHASE 4: WHITE WATER
The wave has broken and has turned into a whitewater wave.

Real-world example of the different phases of waves

where to surf

 

Prepare for a Green Wave by putting yourself in the right place.

Sit around 4 to 5 meters (15 feet) away from the majority of the waves.

Why?

The reason for this is that if you are waiting at a specific location where a large number of waves are breaking, the moment you turn around and paddle for a wave, you will either be catching a white water wave that has already broken, or you will be getting the wave crashing on top of you.

take off surfing

 

 

A good spot to take off, not too mellow / not too steep.

What is the status of the more experienced surfers? They probably know more about where to sit in line than you do.

This does not imply that you should sit next to them and wait for their waves. It’s merely a guide to help you figure out how far out you should paddle.
Where to sit is also variable on a couple of different aspects:

  • The paddle fitness of the surf (how fast can he/she paddle)
  • What kind of board the surfer is riding (longboards can catch ‘flatter’ waves more easily than shortboards.

Beginner surfers are frequently found sitting much further out from the wave than more experienced surfers. This doesn’t make much sense; either the waves aren’t breaking as far out that day, or they aren’t breaking at all.

In other words, if you see waves breaking a long distance away from where the expert surfers are sitting, this indicates that it is an “unusual” and larger set of waves (which you most likely do not want to catch as a beginner surfer!).

Look for lumps on the horizon. A “phase 1” wave that will transition into a “phase  2” wave roughly 3 to 5 meters behind you is what you’re searching for.
Choose a wave, turn around, and paddle for at least 8 hard strokes. You should paddle hard enough to keep up with the wave’s pace as it transitions from “Phase 1” to “phase 2.”

ADDITIONAL TIPS FOR CATCHING MORE WAVES IN SURFING

KEEP LOOKING
When paddling for a wave, look behind your shoulder. Taking a couple of glances behind you is the only way to determine whether you need to paddle more, paddle less, or even stop paddling for a short period, depending on the shape of the wave.

It also prevents you from “dropping in” on individuals (for further information on what this means, see “Surf Ethics”). If you glance behind you, you’ll be able to tell if the wave was too steep (phase 3), too weak (phase 1), or just right (phase 2), and hence why you failed or succeeded in catching an unbroken wave.

Many inexperienced surfers fail to look back at the wave and end up paddling incorrectly. They either get smashed by the wave or catch a white water wave. Without looking back and understanding what happened, you will never be able to learn from your mistakes.

surfing unbroken waves

A BIGGER BOARD MAKES A DIFFERENCE!
It will be easier to catch unbroken waves if you have a larger board.

PADDLE SPEED
Paddling fast enough to match the speed of a wave is the key to catching “green waves.” You will spring up and surf faster if you can “capture the momentum” of the wave. Green waves are easier to catch on big boards than on small boards because they paddle faster.

Because they move around a lot, better surfers catch more waves. If you notice a lump in the horizon, consider whether it is a larger wave that will break further out to sea or a smaller wave that will break closer to shore.

It will get easier to paddle around and position yourself to catch unbroken waves the more experience you gain in reading waves. The more proactive you are, the more likely you will be to catch waves. See “How to Read Waves” for additional information on wave reading.

Catch and “Stick” on a wave that isn’t broken.
White water waves differ from unbroken waves in the following ways:

The force of a whitewater wave pushes you forward. You might catch whitewater waves during your first sessions when you first start surfing. Because the momentum of the broken white water wave drives you forward, white water waves are very easy to catch.

Most whitewater waves may be caught without even paddling.

surfing green waves

Gravity is the force that creates an unbroken “Green” water wave. The first thing you need to know about catching and “sticking” on green waves is that the white water does not “push” you ahead. Gravity is the force that allows you to enter the wave. You must imagine yourself paddling down a moving “slope.”

How to “stick” to the unbroken wave without getting swept away?
Long, forceful, and deep strokes should be used when paddling. This is especially critical when catching waves that aren’t broken.

When paddling, you must give everything you have, especially when you feel your surfboard’s tail rise: this is a crucial moment to “Stick” on it.

The way you stand on your surfboard is crucial. As we saw in the How to Paddle on a surfboard article, excellent paddling technique is achieved through precise paddle strokes and optimal body placement on the surfboard.

When your chest is exactly centred on the width of the surfboard, and you are at the correct height, you are in the correct position on the surfboard. Place your body high enough on the board so that the nose is about 3-6 centimetres (1-2 inches) out of the water while keeping your head up (imagining a soccer ball between your chin and the surfboard).

surfing unbroken waves

Your head and upper shoulders are likely to weigh 45 pounds (20 kilograms) or more! Consider how much of a difference it makes when you drop your head and bring it closer to the surfboard when you’re pulled up on a wave. This allows you to catch, stick, and descend the “slope” that is moving forward.

Many kids become accustomed to being pushed into unbroken waves by their trainers, which is beneficial for practice. When you’re pushed, however, you don’t have to lower your head to put weight on the front of your surfboard. If you’re disappointed because it’s difficult to catch green waves without the help of a surf coach, remember that shifting your weight towards the surfboard is the key to catching unbroken waves on your own.

It would help if you popped up at around 2/3 of the height of the wave. Once you feel your tail lift and you believe you have gained enough speed to continue gliding with the wave, give two final paddle strokes, place your hands on the board beside your pectoral muscles, curve your back, and jump!

VIDEO OF CATCHING UNBROKEN WAVES

ABOUT SWELL

Teaching people the sport of surfing in a safe, quick and fun way is what we specialise in at Swell Surf Camp. We have taught 1000’s of people the basics of surfing.

BOUTIQUE SURF RETREAT HOLIDAYS

The Caribbean: On the North Coast of the Dominican Republic

surf hotel

In Indonesia: Bali is where you will find Swell Bali Surf Retreat.

swell bali Surf Retreat

Swell offers full surf packages holidays

Interested in changing your life to see the health benefits of learning to surf?

 

dr learn to surf holiday

Send us a message today and we’ll get you up and riding!

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GETTING FIT FOR A SURF HOLIDAY

surfing retreat

GETTING FIT FOR A SURF HOLIDAY

MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR SURF HOLIDAY

learn surfing older age

SURF FITNESS


Surfing is an incredibly demanding sport for both body and mind. Not only are you pushing yourself physically, but you have to concentrate and focus on reading the ocean at all times to catch the best waves. That’s why being in the know about surf-specific fitness can make all the difference between getting out the back nice and easy, or getting a big set on your head, rag-dolling all the way back to shore. With this surf blog, we hope to give you the tips that bring you that little bit closer to being physically fit to ace your next surf session.

SURF FITNESS GUIDE


This guide is aimed towards beginner surfers, weekend warriors and those whose sessions are few and far between. When learning to surf, the first few times when you come out of the water after a surf, you might not even be able to get your suit off because your arms are jelly from all the paddling. Sheer exhaustion, we’ve all been there!

If you’re planning a surf holiday or surf camp stay this summer, this article gives you the tools to physically prepare for it. We’ll talk about the main muscles used in the different actions and movements of surfing and explain how to train and stretch them for better surfing performance.

Fitness The Basics: Paddle, Pop-Up, Body Position

There are three main stages in the process of catching a wave. First is the paddle, an explosive movement with the arms. Next is the pop-up, using the upper body to lift ourselves enough to bring the legs into our stance position. And finally, once we are on the wave we use our legs, core and upper body to stabilise and create momentum on the wave-face (pumping) and to perform maneuvers.
 
Which Muscles Do We Use When Surfing?

It’s pretty safe to say that you use most of the muscles in your body when you surf, some more than others and some in different ways. The main muscle group we use when paddling is the upper back ones. This provides us with the power needed to accelerate up to a similar speed of the wave itself. It is usually only a few strokes on each arm before popping up. In other words, it is a strength and power move, which we can train to its fullest potential. Our shoulders are also used in the rotary motion of the move but generally only start to burn after a long paddle out, so endurance is the main factor for this set of muscles. The triceps get a good workout with duck diving and with the pop-up, as do the chest muscles. Again, the pop up is an explosive move so we can train our muscles to perform this more effectively. And finally, when we’re up and riding on the wave face, we use the core (in all planes) and legs for stabilisation and movement. 

Training for surf fitness
Training to go on holiday… Really? Every season, we hear a few guests say something like: “I wish I came on this trip in better shape.”

The amount of preparation you want to do is up to you and depends on your current fitness level and your objectives for the surf retreat. We often have guests that really look forward to either progress their technique or surf 3 or 4 hours every day since they don’t have access to quality waves back home. Here are a few tips if you feel your fitness level could limit you on your next trip.

Surfing &/or Swimming
The best way to be physically ready for a surf trip is… to surf! Even though you run, ride a bike, go to the gym weekly, etc. You might not be training your body in the most effective way to prepare for a surf trip. A significant part of surfing is paddling. Even if the waves at home aren’t great, just getting out there for a paddle will train the muscles needed for paddling. Don’t have waves at home? See the paragraph below on swimming.

If you can’t surf at home, the second-best option is to go swimming at your local pool. In the last 4 to 6 weeks before your surf trip, try swimming at least twice per week. Don’t worry about your swimming speed. Try to find your rhythm and do laps for a total of 20 minutes or more if you can (stop between laps when needed). Very important: use the “freestyle” technique (also known as the “front crawl”).

Stretching &/or Yoga
Mobility is essential for surfing, for both performance and to limit the risk of injuries. Stretching poses that focus on your back, shoulders, arms, hamstrings and hips are often the most recommended. Guests over 40 often struggle with their pop-ups if their hips are too tight. Core strength is key for surfing and yoga can be a great way to build it, although it is not always for everyone.

The more you feel that you can move freely, the better. Especially for your hips (for pop-ups) and shoulders (for paddling).

Training & Cardio
Sit-ups, squats, burpees, push-ups… Those are basic exercises that will build core, shoulder, arm and leg strength and endurance. Training these muscles will help you catch more waves and surf for longer sessions. Every guest has their own fitness level and body type. You or a fitness coach that knows you personally will know what exercises you need to focus on most, how many sets, reps and rest suit you, etc. For cardio, you could consider going for a run or a bike ride.

According to the HHS, adults should aim to get 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity or 75 minutes to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity a week. If you do not reach these targets, it would be a good idea to try to start training at least 4 weeks before your trip. The more significant improvement in strength or endurance you are looking for, the more time you will need (sometimes 12 weeks or more are preferable).

More ideas for training on our Magazine:

Nutrition
Eating healthy is obviously important and complementary to exercising if you either want to feel energized, lose fat or build muscle before your trip.

It’s about finding balance…
Surfing is a sport that requires both a good amount of strength and mobility. For example when you paddle hard to catch a wave or when you push up to pop up, you need shoulder and arm strength. You also need fluidity to be able to slide your legs under your chest during pop up, when you twist your body during carves, etc. It’s a good idea to aim for balance. If, for example, you go to the gym often and feel that you are quite strong but not very flexible, focus on mobility exercises. If you think you are already quite flexible, focus on strength conditioning.

ABOUT SWELL


Teaching people the sport of surfing in a safe, quick and fun way is what we specialise in at Swell Surf Camp. We have taught 1000’s of people the basics of surfing.

Age? Well the average age of a Swell client is 39

Swell offer 2 exciting places for learn to surf holidays:

The Caribbean: On the North coast of the Dominican Republic

surf hotel

In Indonesia: Bali is where you will find Swell Bali Surf Retreat.

swell bali Surf Retreat

Swell offers full surf packages holidays

Interested in changing your life to see the health benefits of learning to surf?

learn to surf holiday

Send us a message today and we’ll get you up and riding…regardless of your age!

Our luxury surf coaching holidays have taught 1000’s of people the sport of surfing in a safe, fun and quick way.

If you like this article about learning to surf after 40 you might also like the following articles.

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LEARNING TO FOIL WINGSURF

wing foil learn package

AN INTRODUCTION TO FOILING

learn foil surfing

Unless you haven’t been paying attention to new water sports crazes, you’ve probably seen a huge increase in the number of people getting into foil boarding; whether it’s using a foil for surfing, kitesurfing, or the relatively new wing-foiling (covered in more detail below).

LEARNING TO FOIL / WINGSURF

WHAT IS A FOIL?

It was in Hawaii that the hydrofoil was first developed. The idea is to use a blade below the water to ‘lift’ the board you are using (whether it’s a SUP, kiteboard, or surfboard) clean out of the water. The board is attached to a mast which is attached to that blade. Once the blade lifts at a certain speed, the mast comes out of the water and then no part of the board is actually touching the water. We will talk about how foiling feels a little later in this article; the very reason for its existence is how that ride feels.

Early foil models were heavy, extremely difficult to use, and really quite dangerous. These hand-made foils were also very expensive. After several manufacturers came up with various foil models over the years, in around 2014, foil models had improved and started appearing in more numbers on local beaches. However, they were still too fast, generally unstable and very difficult to ride, as well as being expensive. Accidents were common and often resulted in nasty injuries.

The speed of design improvements has been impressive and the good news is that today, all manufacturers are building easy to use, less expensive, stable, fun foils which suit all kinds of surf/water conditions. They range from inexpensive plastic foils, through aluminium and fibreglass construction, all the way to the top-of-the-range carbon fibre foils.

Even better, many are of a modular design, meaning that you can interchange the various parts as your level of foiling improves.

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO FOIL COMPARED TO RIDING A NORMAL KITEBOARD OR SURFBOARD?

This question is rather like trying to describe how it feels the first time you ride a wave; it’s really hard to put it into words.

learn to foil

It’s like no other form of board riding you have ever undertaken before. The reason for this is that you are simply floating: Imagine gliding over a sea of soap suds where the suds keep you on top without sinking yet you can’t feel them beneath you. Your foil makes no sound at all as it carries you, there’s no slapping of water that you always get with a board in contact with water. It’s spookily quiet as you glide effortlessly through the water. People have described it as a magic carpet ride and I would have to agree.

Also, the momentum of foils and the way they travel through water means that you only need light winds for either kiting or wing-surfing. You can also travel at much faster speeds and turn further upwind or downwind than you can with a regular twin-tip kiteboard.

It’s really easy to see why kite foiling and wing-surfing are the fastest growing water sports.

WHAT MAKES FOILING MORE DIFFICULT TO LEARN?

If you are used to riding a twin-tip kiteboard or a directional surfboard, you will know that you steer the board using your heels and toes. Only two things to remember; heels will dig in to ride upwind and toes will turn the board downwind. Let’s refer to this as the ‘roll.’

With a foil, there are three things to master. You’ve got the toe and heel operation (the roll) but you have also got a front and back axis (the pitch) to deal with. Getting the ‘pitch’ of the foil right is essential to keep the board out of the water. Too much leaning back and the foil will literally fly out of the water. Too much pressure forward and the foil will sink the board. Foils are sensitive and require only a tiny movement of your body forward or backward to completely change momentum.

The roll is also harder to come to terms with on a foil. If you can imagine the roll on a regular board occurs immediately beneath your feet and the adjustment you make results in an instant turn. With a foil, the blade is well beneath you, anything from 40cm to 110cm (depending on the length of the foil’s mast). This means that the adjustment required is larger and the turn takes longer to effect.

Then we have to look at how weird it feels to be hovering above the water. Everything you have ever learned with kiteboarding or wind-surfing is about the board being in direct contact with the ocean. The height you can achieve with a foil is at once exhilarating but it’s also scary. No matter how good you are as a kiteboarder, surfer, or windsurfer, learning to foil will make you feel like a noob all over again. It sounds like a bit of a nightmare, doesn’t it? But the reward, the reward………..your soap-suddy, dreamy-cruise through the air will make all the faceplants and aching thighs well worth it. It’s just a learning curve you must go through to get to the pot of gold.

HOW DO I LEARN FOILING?

There are several different ways to learn to foil. If you already kitesurf well, then you can pick up foiling using your kite skills to generate the power required. If you are an accomplished windsurfer, then moving to wing-foiling will not be too big a step up.

If you don’t kitesurf, surf, or wind-surf already, then your options are as follows: 1. Learn to kitesurf first using a regular twin tip (this might sound difficult but actually, the learning curve with kiting is much faster than with regular surfing and progress can be rapid. 2. Learn to wing-foil (see below for our course options at Swell). The great thing about using the wing to start foiling is that control of the wing is easier and even faster to master than control of the kite. 3. Use a boat-tow to start. However, whilst using a boat to tow you might seem like a good option, in reality, it’s cheating somewhat and with this method, you won’t utilize some of the balance skills which are vital for foil control once a boat is not towing you. Another problem with a boat tow is that the boat tends to do the steering for you, so you are not learning that skill either. Lastly, unless your boat pilot is well-versed with foiling themselves, they won’t know the correct speed to keep you above the water and safe.

Whichever method you choose, you should begin your water experience with a short mast on the foil (shorter = easier). The better you get, the longer you want your mast to be. You will also use a bigger board at the beginning to give you as much stability as possible.

WINGSURF FOILING; A PERFECT INTRODUCTION TO FOILING WITH NO PREVIOUS EXPERIENCE

As we’ve mentioned above, wingsurf-foiling is an ideal choice if you don’t already kitesurf and you want to get straight into riding a foil. Wingsurfing is growing quickly in popularity and it’s easy to see why.

Unlike a kite, the hand-held wing is much simpler and safer to use. There are no long lines to put out, no potentially dangerous launch to master, no risk of crashing the kite and not being able to relaunch it. The equipment is easy to put together and the wing is quickly inflated. A leash attaches the wing to the rider in case of falls and handles are positioned along the center of the wing to guide it; it’s very light in the hand. In fact, there are no discernible disadvantages to using a wing to foil.

learn to wingsurf

Wings are sold in various sizes to suit wind conditions and rider size. A good wing-foiling school will have the correct size of the wing for your lessons. You will be able to wing-foil in just 12 knots of wind. All you have to do is inflate the lightweight wing and enter the water.

WHERE CAN I LEARN TO FOIL

Cabarete, Dominican Republic, is already a world-renowned kite surfing destination, with steady side-on trade winds and warm Caribbean water: Now foiling is taking over as the fastest growing sport. You can come and stay with us at Swell and take a 10-hour foiling course for $795 USD (one person) or $636 USD each if two guests are learning at the same time.

More info on our learn to wingsurf course can be found here and the package pricing for learning to foil & wingsurf are here

ABOUT SWELL


We are a purpose-built retreat for people that are looking for an active water sports holiday. We offer learn to surf, kitesurf and wingsurf packages for clients staying with Swell

Swell has 2 locations: Swell Caribbean on the North Coast of the Dominican Republic

Swell Bali is a new Swell hotel, which only focuses on surfing. Steps from 4 world-class surf spots for surfers of all levels


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LEARNING TO SURF AFTER 40

Learning to surf after 40

LEARNING TO SURF AFTER 40

IS IT EVER TOO LATE TO START SURFING?

The title of this post reads ‘learning to surf after 40’ but could easily read ‘learning to surfer after 50, 60 and upward’

learn surfing older age

LEARNING TO SURF AT AN ‘OLDER’ AGE

‘Surfing? But you’re 42 years old’ – even if nobody actually says this, it’s something that plagues the mind when looking at activities synonymous with a younger crowd. If you think surfing is only suitable for young, athletic types, think again because plenty of people start in their 30s, 40s, and even beyond.

For us, we completely agree and believe you should be able to start surfing at any age if it’s what you really want to do. Who cares about the number tied to your name? If you feel as though you can do it, why not give it a go? Even if you aren’t quite as flexible as you were many years ago, this shouldn’t ever stop you from enjoying the ocean and reaping the many health benefits surfing can bring.

Today, we want to provide anyone interested with an introduction to surfing and why you can start at any age. As a sport with no physical contact, unlike football and rugby, it’s actually suited towards those who want to prevent impact injuries. What’s more, you can enjoy plenty of health benefits while getting to know new people. Even after this, there’s something to be said for surfing’s impact on the brain. With surfing, you’ll be physically active and your mind will also get a workout as you try to navigate the waves that seem determined to knock you over.

LEARNING TO SURF AFTER 40

Of course, we wouldn’t be talking about surfing at all if it wasn’t fun and this is something else to consider. Sure, you might get knocked over once or twice but it’s all in the name of fun (right?).

PHYSICAL BENEFITS OF SURFING IN YOUR 40S, 50S, AND OLDER

Ever woken up on a Sunday morning and tried to find things to do to avoid the gym? Even the washing and ironing are better options for some. If so, you aren’t alone because continually doing the same things in the gym can get rather boring. Thankfully, surfing still offers a cardiovascular workout but every single session will be a thrill and it’ll be different to the last. Also, you’ll get a sense of achievement as your skill increases.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the physical benefits of surfing;


SHOULDER/BACK STRENGTH

We’re going to start with one that perhaps isn’t so obvious, and it’s the improvement you’ll see to your back and shoulder strength. If you ask several retirees the most annoying thing about getting older, many will tell you about their back and shoulder problems. Unfortunately, this can have a huge impact on even everyday tasks such as putting the washing out on the line or trying to sit comfortably to read a book.

As you learn to surfer after 40, your arms will always be in use as you attempt to balance, paddle, and the inevitable climbing back onto the board (unless you’re an instant pro!). Even when sitting or lying on the board, you’ll be rotating your arms and the shoulder joint will get a good workout. As your arms go through their full range of motion, this is great news for the shoulders, elbows, and even the spine.

For many, they enjoy increased mobility in their upper body and it generally fights off the stiffness that comes with age. Let’s face it, we’ve all made those grunting noises while attempting to stand up after a long time sitting (we won’t tell anyone!).

CARDIO WORKOUT

Not only is heart disease the leading cause of death in the UK, according to the government website, it causes nearly twice as many deaths as dementia; dementia is the second leading cause of death. While deaths from heart disease and stroke have certainly decreased in recent years, it’s still too high for our liking and surfing is the perfect opportunity to stay active and reduce your chances of struggling with this health issue. Regardless of which form of surfing you choose (duck diving, paddling, or standing), you’ll be moving constantly and this level of activity can only be beneficial for your health.

As your heart rate increases and the different muscles receive blood and oxygen, your cardiovascular system welcomes the activity and this offers various benefits in everyday life. For example, you won’t have any trouble breathing and strenuous activity becomes much easier. Suddenly, you’ll have the energy to take the stairs at work rather than the lift (unless you’re on the 33rd floor, of course!).

INCREASED FLEXIBILITY THROUGH SURFING

Before we move onto the psychological benefits of surfing, we want to talk about flexibility because certain parts of your body will always be stretching and twisting while on the board. Suddenly, muscles and joints you didn’t even know existed will be activated and we mustn’t forget the range of motion your joints will experience as the sheer power of the waves hit the board. With all this stretching, it’ll be like a more dramatic form of yoga and you should experience fewer aches and pains in life.


Benefits of surfing

CORE AND LEG STRENGHT IMPROVEMENT FROM SURFING

Something that often goes forgotten with surfing is the work it does with your core; all that effort to stay balanced keeps the core engaged and this is something you’ll certainly feel the morning after your first session. Just as we saw in the cardiovascular section, this is something you might not notice but will definitely improve your life. Whether you’re lifting boxes, standing after long periods of sitting down, or using the upper torso in any way, you’re going to see a boost after surfing.

For those who work in an office and stare at a computer all day, surfing can also help with your posture; you might find yourself slouching less while at the desk. In truth, surfing reflects many of the normal movements we put our bodies through on a daily basis (although it might not seem like it at first).

For example, after first paddling out to a wave, you’ll need to activate the muscles in the legs and core to jump to your feet. In every single lesson, you’ll jump to your feet several times. If you can do it on a surfboard in the sea, you can definitely do it getting out of bed or getting off the sofa with ease. Over time, the difference in your leg and core strength will be noticeable and this is another great benefit of choosing surfing (they’re starting to add up, right?).

PSYCHOLOGICAL BENEFITS OF SURFING IN YOUR 30S, 40S, AND OLDER

Hopefully, we’ve been able to persuade you to book up that first surfing lesson on the physical benefits alone. If not, how about we tell you of the brilliant mental benefits of surfing?

COORDINATION AND CONCENTRATION

Without both coordination and concentration, you won’t be able to stand up on the board for longer than five seconds so these will both be improved over time. Of course, these are two transferable skills so there’s no reason why your coordination and concentration don’t also improve at home, at work, and while playing any other sports. For example, you might notice that you’re able to sit at a desk for a longer period of time or be more successful in your local pool league.

SURFING GIVES A BOOST TO YOUR MENTAL HEALTH

Firstly, all exercise has now been scientifically proven to release endorphins (chemicals in the brain) which improve mood and overall wellbeing. For those who suffer with depression and/or anxiety, many doctors are now starting to recommend exercise for this very reason. This, coupled with the fact you’ll be outside breathing in the fresh sea air, may allow you to adopt a new positive mindset in life.


surfing mental health

DETERMINATION, PERSEVERANCE, AND GRATIFICATION

We must provide a warning at this stage because surfing will require patience, it will require perseverance, and a significant percentage of people do stop attending after just one lesson. However, we urge you to fight through the learning stage. Yes, you might find yourself getting frustrated and you might wonder where the fun starts for a while. But, as you improve, and overcome the mental barrier that stops many, you’ll have one of the most gratifying experiences of your life.

Eventually, all your hard work will pay off and you won’t believe that you nearly gave it all up. From struggling to jump to your feet to being able to stand up confidently for extended periods, you can prove to yourself that all goals in life are achievable. Even when the goal seemed impossible just a short while ago, the hard work and time you invest will always be rewarded.

Soon enough, you’ll enjoy all the physical and psychological benefits we’ve discussed and you may even be able to bring friends and family along to watch you shine. As we’ve seen before, these are transferable skills because you’ll be more likely to take this determination and perseverance into your personal life and career.

RELIEF FROM STRESS

Finally, you don’t have to become a master of surfing to enjoy the stress relief it can offer. If you want to push your body to its limit and really test yourself, this is possible. If you want to have a relaxing pastime and enjoy being in the water, this is equally fine. While some choose to navigate every wave and they feel disappointed after a poor lesson, others are just happy to be out in the water sitting on the board and looking out over the stunning horizon.

When it comes to surfing, the surfboard and the water are the two essentials. From here, you can do whatever makes you happy. Soon enough, you’ll be wondering where all that stress from work has gone and this for us makes for a successful hobby.


learn to surf at 50

START SURFING TODAY!

As well as the physical and psychological benefits of surfing and the way it allows for a healthy lifestyle, you can also meet new people and forget about the stresses of life for a couple of hours. To finish our guide, we want to provide a few considerations before booking your first surf lesson!

Your height and weight aren’t important because there are various shapes and sizes of boards.

  • Don’t worry about your fitness levels right now because your stamina will improve over time.
  • Surfboards can even be custom-made, if necessary.
  • You should NEVER feel as though you’re too old to start surfing.

Don’t live life according to other people’s expectations or rules, make your own rules (perhaps not on the road, but you get the idea!). If you feel you’ll enjoy surfing and you like the sound of the many benefits we’ve discussed here today, we have three words for you; GO FOR IT!

ABOUT SWELL


Teaching people the sport of surfing in a safe, quick and fun way is what we specialise in at Swell Surf Camp. We have taught 1000’s of people the basics of surfing.

Age? Well the average age of a Swell client is 39

Swell offer 2 exciting places for learn to surf holidays:

The Caribbean: On the North coast of the Dominican Republic

surf hotel

In Indonesia: Bali is where you will find Swell Bali Surf Retreat.

swell bali Surf Retreat

Swell offers full surf packages holidays

SWELL SURF CAMP GALLERY


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Interested in changing your life to see the health benefits of learning to surf?

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Send us a message today and we’ll get you up and riding…regardless of your age!

Our luxury surf coaching holidays have taught 1000’s of people the sport of surfing in a safe, fun and quick way.

If you like this article about learning to surf after 40 you might also like the following articles.

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WHAT SURFING DOES TO YOUR HEALTH

WHY SURFING (AND LEARNING TO SURF) IS ONE OF THE BEST CHOICES FOR A HEALTHY & HAPPY LIFE.

SURF HEALTH

The great thing about surfing is that it’s approachable for people of all ages and all walks of life. Surfing is awesome and a life-changing activity that only requires courage to fly in the ocean. The best part about surfing is that it changes the entire lifestyle by adding thrill and adventure. Below, we highlight certain aspects to show why surfing is the best way to stay in shape.

SURF HEALTH

ALL IN ONE WORKOUT

At first, it’s obvious that surfing is a full-body workout. Your every move on the water requires a combination of physical strength, stamina, and cardio. But don’t worry if you are weak at one thing: it’s not a prior requirement to get started. The only thing that it requires is the energy and motivation inside your heart to glide along the ocean waves.

There is not any specific level of skill and experience to start surfing. Going from paddling to popping up on your surfboard will cardiovascular and upper body strength, and keeping yourself stable on the board will work your legs and core. By following these steps, you are utilizing the entire body while having the time of your life.

Besides physical fitness and impressive anaerobic effects, this sport also brings strength in some other life aspects:

STRESS RELIEF

Spending time with nature, enjoying precious moments, and bringing physical strength to use, combinedly to help to reduce strength and anxiety levels. Regular surfing makes you feel similar to morphine. It can produce an ecstatic feel and an optimistic stance on life.

IMPROVED SLEEP

It’s a well-known fact that exercise decreases sleep complaints, especially sleep disorders, and their effects are pretty much similar to sleeping pills. After paddling for a few hours and riding on the water swells, your body is ready for a healing slumber.

INCREASED VITAMIN D

Exposure to the sun along with a healthy workout causes the increased production of Vitamin D inside your body that helps in calcium absorption, improved body structure, and regulation of body functions.

MIND FULLNESS

Surfing helps you in developing your focus by putting everything else aside. Your concentration is on your body language to keep yourself on the board, merge your heartbeat with the surf, and fly in the ocean.

surf balance

BUILDING BALANCE:

Exercising balance in every sphere of life is key to success. Surfing well requires maintaining balance on the board and keep enjoying a healthy and vigorous ride. Your balanced coordination on the board prevents you from serious injuries. Surfing requires a good balance, and keep practising the sport helps you in developing the skill.

 

Regular surfing strengthens your every day’s fitness and helps you in protecting against common age-related somatic issues like arthritis, tendonitis, and many more.

Many surfers also refer to practice some other exercises, such as pilates and yoga, to improve their core strength, flexibility, and balance and enhance their surfing abilities.

“Core” itself points out the vitality of muscles, including posture to upper-back and lower-back strength.

THE POWER OF PASSION

Perhaps the most impactful benefit of surfing lies in the connection you make to the sport. Your dedication to the sport can give a boost to your overall physical health.

Once a surfer starts feeling less like hard work, the training becomes a piece of enjoyment. Once you are passionate and ambitious for the sport, you try to work out regularly to stay in shape and keep training to become even better.

Connecting to an activity that provides you with a source of enjoyment, along with the workout, makes you feel easier than regular exercise at the gym. A study published in Marketing Letters highlighted that enjoying such activity brings more comfort and relaxation to you.

The reason behind this is that the part of fun diverts your attention from the required effort.

Moreover, it also reduces the tendency to overeat or have extra calories after the training session.

A LIFETIME OF FITNESS

It is not a one-time activity to put yourself in shape. If you are passionate and ambitious about something, you carry it throughout your life and put all your efforts to maintain it. Especially, physical fitness is an ongoing practice that prolongs your shape and strength. Besides physical health, engaging in activity like surfing can also bring a more peaceful mind to you as well.

Even if you don’t surf regularly, the time you spent on the waves has long-lasting effects.

If you feel bored with your workout routine and ready to switch it with a healthy activity?

Surfing might be the best alternative, and one of your favourite hobbies as well.

BALANCE

Balance is a key to surf on the waves. Once you lost your balance, the whole drama is over, and it might cause an injury to you. The best way to learn about balancing is riding as much as you can.

However, mostly the rides aren’t enough long to get yourself trained because all water swells don’t convert into a wave. Performing lunges and squats can strengthen the glutes and leg muscles, which ultimately helps you to maintain your balance on the board.

If you don’t have a balance board, you can achieve it by closing your eyes and standing at one leg for up to 30 seconds and repeating it again and again. Like other skills, it requires your patience and consistency, so don’t lose it.

DIGITAL DETOX
Another great health benefit of surfing is that (at least for now) it also means you are completely disconnected from digital distractions like phones, computers, TV and social media. When you are out in the water it’s just you, your fellow surfers and the elements for you to enjoy.
At times I have gone out for a 2-hour surf session, barely caught any waves, and still come back feeling happy and fulfilled. Enjoyed a sunrise view, did my paddle exercise and had no distractions on my mind.

surf excersise

SURF FITNESS EXCERSIZES

MAXIMIZE YOUR SURF HEALTH

The following are great examples for people that want to get surf fit before their holiday or to keep doing at home, theses exercises will greatly improve your surf sessions.

CORE: SIDE PLANK WITH REACH THROUGH

surf fitnessThe strength of core muscles is responsible to stabilize your torso to help you in balancing, paddling, and rotation through turns.

The side plank can easily strengthen the layers of your obliques, complying with the rotational component. Lay down on your side, bend your knees, and prop up your upper body on your elbow.

 

Raise off your hips by holding for 8-10 seconds, give a rest for 10 seconds, and do 1-3 sets of 12-15 reps at each side.

LEG STRENGTH: SINGLE LEG SQUATS
surfers healthStronger legs help you in maintaining balance and staying on board for a long time. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, single-leg squats will help you in developing the core and leg strength to paddle at your best and keep enjoying for a long time.

Stand on one foot and lift the other one about 5-7 inches off the ground. Align the knee of the standing foot with the middle toe, lowering down by bending your knee at 45 degrees. You should keep your back straight and head aligned with the shoulders.

Hold for 3-5 seconds in the lowest position and do 3 sets of 5-7 reps on each leg. With time and practice, you can increase the depth of the squats to make it challenging.

 

PRE-SURF WARM-UP: DEEP SQUAT WITH OVERHEAD REACH
surf warm upBefore you start surfing, you need a quick warm-up to give relaxation to your hips and shoulders and set them ready for paddling.

For this purpose, put your feet apart a little wider than the shoulder width. You can slightly turn out your toes to release the tension.

Keep your gaze forward and your torso straight, squat down and touch the ground with both hands for a while, then stand back up. Now, circle your arms and raise them towards the sky.

Repeat this 10-15 times to warm up yourself for the paddling.

SURF PADDLE FITNESS

A surf session is more paddling than surfing on the waves with a ratio of 95% to 5% . If you have not trained your paddling muscles, then your session will be quite short. You can strengthen your paddling muscles with a simple pool workout. This will considerably add to your strength and power.

WARM-UP:
Spend 5-7 minutes on mixed strokes swimming, such as freestyle stroke, butterfly stroke, breaststroke, backstroke, and sidestroke.

MAIN SET:
2 x 100 yards at an energetic pace with ease and comfort.
3 x 50 yards at a relatively faster pace than the previous one, following with the set of 10 pushups after every 50-yards.
4 x 50 yards at your maximum power.

Relax for 2 minutes after every set, and rest for 15-20 seconds after every round.

BREATH CONTROL

Add some underwater swimming, 3-5 sets. Also, consider swimming at a high pace with all your power for at least one round. When getting near the wall, turn quickly and hold your breath under the water as long as you can. This is the perfect simulation for paddling and duck diving.

Besides breath control, it also mentally prepares for such a situation where someone needs to stay underwater.

To make sure your safety, try to practice it with your friend or a person around. The more important is that you remain calm and relaxed, especially when you need air at the peak.

To sum it up, we think learning to surf is one of the best long terms investments you can make for your mental as well as physical health. The fact that it is great fun and it gives you an incentive to travel to exotic place around the world to surf is an added bonus.

Interested in learning to surf in the warm Caribbean waters of the Dominican Republic? At Swell we offer week-long Learn to Surf & Yoga holidays for adults.

Send us a message today, we guarantee to get you up and riding.

Sunrise at our local surf beach

 

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HOW TO PADDLE ON A SURFBOARD

paddling surfboard

SURF TECHNIQUE: HOW TO PADDLE ON A SURFBOARD

The Proper Paddle Technique Explained

Paddling is arguably the most important aspect of surfing. In fact, we probably spend 90% of our time in the water on our stomachs paddling, not on our feet riding waves. So, whether you are you a beginner surfer who can’t seem to figure out a natural paddle technique, or you’re an intermediate or an advanced surfer who always seems to run out of steam on tough paddle outs, improving your paddle technique will ensure you have a better time in the water.

how to paddle on a surfboard

 

Either way, this article how to paddle on a surfboard is for you. Learn the proper technique that will have you gliding, streamlined on top of the water’s surface, and save your shoulders from that dreaded burnout pain. Whether you’re paddling out right in front of our Caribbean surf camp, or your surfing at home, these tips will help get you to the lineup as quickly as possible, fresh, and ready surf.

HOW TO PADDLE ON A SURFBOARD

1. Start with a proper warmup

Paddling can be a bit of a workout, so you should warm up accordingly. Either when you hit the sand, or before you head out of the surf camp. When you paddle, you engage your shoulders and upper back, so be sure your warm-up activates both of those muscle groups.

Additionally, when you paddle, sit in the line-up, and ride waves, your hips are in a closed and locked position. It is crucial for longevity to perform exercises and stretches that will open your hips.

2. Timing is everything, don’t rush

When you arrive at the beach and strap your leash on, don’t just sprint into the water and start paddling madly. Relax, sit down, maybe stretch a bit, but most importantly watch the water.

What are the waves doing? How often are sets coming? Is there a channel to paddle out in? These are all things you must ask yourself and answer before entering the water. Wait for a lull between sets, and head into the water. Walk your board out until you’re in about chest deep water and then hop on and paddle.

surf paddle technique
surf paddle technique

3. Position yourself on the board correctly

Bad positioning plagues many beginner surfers, causing unnecessary drag and therefore hardship during their paddle out. If you’re too far towards the back of the board, the nose of your board will tilt up in the air, slowing your paddle.

Contrastingly, if you’re too far forward on your board, the nose of the board will sink underwater causing unnecessary drag. Find that sweet spot on your board, where the nose is gliding just above the surface, in calm water and remember where you are in reference to a marking on the board (like the logo).

4. Elongate your reach with each stroke

Like swimming, when you learn how to paddle on a surfboard, your body should be as long and stretched out as possible.

With each stroke, you should extend your arm to its furthest possible length. Short and rapid movements will leave you exhausted, while long reaching strokes will send you forward, gliding efficiently over the surface of the water.

5. Move slowly

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Slow is smooth, smooth is fast?” It applies directly to paddling. If you’re at a full sprint trying to paddle out, you won’t make it. You will tire long before you reach the lineup. Slow and smooth long reaching strokes will propel you quickly and efficiently.

7. Don’t overreach on the follow through

Surf Paddle training
Pool paddle training at Swell
When you’re executing the “pull” phase of your paddle stroke, be sure not to drag your hands too far back causing downward (not forward) momentum that will slow your paddle. To execute proper paddle technique, pull your stroke back to chest level, then lift your arm straight out of the water and repeat. When you pull further than your chest, the last portion of your stroke will push your board downward causing you to lose your momentum with each stroke.

8. Keep your elbows high

If you watch 11-time world champion surfer Kelly Slater paddle, you’ll notice how effortlessly he moves through the water. Part of his technique that stands out is that he consistently keeps his elbows high. From the moment Kelly brings his hands out of the water, to the moment he extends his reach, he leads with a high elbow. Keeping your elbows high will increase the effectiveness of each stoke, by keeping your hand and forearm in the vertical position from the start of the stroke. Essentially, it will allow you to move more quickly with less effort.

9. Drag your thumbs

This tip goes hand in hand with the previous tip of keeping your elbows high. If you keep your elbows high, your hands will naturally be low. The idea here is to not bring your hands too far out of the water. When your hand exits the water, it should almost drag on the surface next to you as you bring it forward for the next stroke. By dragging, or nearly dragging, your thumbs in the water as you bring your hands forward for each stroke, you save energy by not engaging your traps. This will allow you to paddle harder for longer and prevent you from burning out due to soreness.

10. Keep your legs and feet in control

While it may be instinctual to kick and try to propel yourself forward, it will actually slow you down. Instead, keep your feet together with your ankles side by side as you paddle. While kicking your feet might help shift your weight forward to actually catch a wave you’re paddling for, when you’re paddling out you do not want your weight too far forward. So, keep those feet still!

11. Keep Your Head Still

Again, if you watch world champ surfer Kelly Slater paddle, his head is still. This may seem inconsequential, but it has a tremendous effect on speed and efficiency in the water. Any swimmer will tell you that keeping your head still will keep your weight centered, not moving it from side to side, reducing drag and increasing speed. The same principle obviously applies to surfing. If your head moves to you right, your body will follow, taking you off your trajectory, digging your rail into the water, and ultimately slowing you down.

12. Your spine is your fulcrum

Similarly, to swimming when you paddle, your spine acts as a fulcrum as your body moves ever so slightly from side to side with each stroke. This slight movement is not intentional, but a byproduct of the reach. To ensure you’re moving correctly, it is best to envision you are moving with a metal rod going through your body from head to tailbone. As stated previously, your head should stay still while you reach out each stroke.

13. Spot the wave and react

The final step to a good paddle out is a proper duck dive or turtle roll. As you paddle out, constantly look out to sea for oncoming waves. When you spot a wave headed your direction, whether it is whitewater or a cresting wave, you’ll want to initiate your duck dive or turtle roll approximately 2 meters from the breaking wave.

Video how to paddle on a surfboard


Just like with any aspect of surfing, practice makes perfect. The best exercise for increased paddle strength and efficiency is paddling out to surf as often as possible. Now that you’ve learned how to perfect your paddle technique, take the next step in progression and learn to properly duck dive and turtle roll by checking out our blog on paddling out!

This article on how to paddle on a surfboard is part of the surf technique series for beginners.
Other articles in this series are:

More info on external websites:

Paddle like Kelly Slater

Interested in learning all the essentials of surfing in an action packed water sport holiday in the Caribbean? Have a look at the surf holiday packages we offer, inlcluding our 1 week learn to surf holiday









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WHAT LEVEL OF SURFER AM I

surfing encuentro

WHAT LEVEL OF SURFER AM I?

The question of ‘what level of surfer am I?’ inevitably crops up when you are selecting where to travel, and when to travel to a surf destination (tip; if it doesn’t occur to you, it should). After all, most surf destinations/countries have different surf seasons which may suit different surfing abilities.

If they don’t actually have different seasons, then at least there will be different surf breaks and or tides to consider and match up to your own surfing ability.

what level surfer am i

Here at Swell Surf camp, and at our sister surf hotel, Swell Bali in Indonesia, we are very often tasked with helping a student identify their ‘level’ of surfing and what they are trying to achieve with their surf lessons or surf guiding.

DON’T OVERESTIMATE YOUR SKILLSET

In our experience, most often a student will class themselves as an ‘intermediate’ surfer when they have had a few surf lessons before, but it’s actually not that straightforward. Overestimating your skillset as a surfer will almost inevitably lead to problems/frustration at the very least, and when the ocean is involved there’s an obvious element of danger too. We really want to avoid giving any student a frightening surf experience which could end up putting them off surfing for life.

what level surfer am i
So for us, there are many things which help define what level of surfing you are at. For example, you might have only been surfing a short time (perhaps a few months), but have been lucky enough to get loads of water time, plus the right surfboard and good surf conditions, in which case your progression could have been quite rapid.

But perhaps like many novice surfers we encounter, they’ve already been trying to surf for a while, but just haven’t managed to make any big ‘leaps’ forward.

This could be for any number of reasons. Some examples would be; regularly visiting a surf break which doesn’t enjoy good waves, and/or going out on a board which is too small, and/or choosing to surf in the wrong conditions (which don’t suit your ability), and/or not being very skilled at wave selection and/or (hopefully not) poor surf instruction initially which might have led to you developing some bad habits.

As a result of all these factors, it’s clearly not reliable to accurately define our level of surfing ability just by considering the length of time you’ve been surfing or the number of surf lessons you have taken.

Instead, we can gauge with far more accuracy what level of surfer you really are by actually assessing the skills you have managed to master so far in the water.

What do we mean by that?

In our many years of experience giving surf lessons at many different levels, we usually find surfers classing themselves in one of the 4 following categories; Beginner, Intermediate, Expert or Pro.

But we don’t agree with only using 4 categories as it takes an awful lot of water time and good conditions to progress from Beginner to Intermediate: It is widely accepted that an Intermediate surfer already possesses a lot of surfing skills.

7 CATEGORIES

For us at Swell, we feel there should actually be 7 stages of surfing. We find it really useful with our surf lessons or surf guiding to very accurately assess someone’s surf skills by using these 7 categories, clearly stating the skills mastered within each stage.

OUR 7 LEVEL OF SURFER LEVELS ARE:

  1. BEGINNER
  2. NOVICE
  3. PROGRESSIVE
  4. INTERMEDIATE
  5. ADVANCED
  6. EXPERT
  7. PRO.

Experts and Pros don’t need our help of course, but we do find the subtle changes and skill sets required, especially to get from the Beginner to the Intermediate stage, are worthy of being defined and given their own name as there are so many nuances to take into account with a surfer’s development, especially in the early stages. Let’s talk about those stages and what they mean to us.

SO….WHAT LEVEL OF SURFER ARE YOU?

BEGINNER SURFER

A beginner is exactly that, someone who is just beginning surfing, new to the sport, with no previous surf lessons or surf experience. You will have no idea at all about any aspect of surfing and need complete surf instruction right from the very basics (no shame in that by the way). We love complete beginners at Swell and always give our beginners some exercises they can begin at home to prepare for the rigours of paddling especially, plus tips on how to pop up so that by the time they arrive for their surf holiday/vacation they have a bit of a head start.
beginner surf level

You will be needing to learn:

  • The names of the various parts of the surfboard
  • Aspects of water safety
  • Whether you have a ‘goofy’ stance or a ‘regular’ stance
  • How to lie on the board
  • How to sit on the surfboard in the water
  • How to paddle
  • How to pop-up
  • How it feels to catch a wave and be ‘propelled’
  • How to stand up once you have caught a wave
  • How to improve your stance for balance as the wave carries you
  • Basic theory about how waves are formed
  • How to identify a good wave to catch
  • When to start paddling for the wave

Recommended board for a beginner, adult, average weight :

9’0” long  Soft top surfboard with lots of volume

Ideal wave height:

1′ to 3′ (half a meter to 1 meter) white water / broken waves.

NOVICE

The NOVICE stage applies to you if you have taken some surf lessons before or even visited one or two surf camps in the past and have already mastered the skills listed above. You should also be able to;

Paddle into white water waves or even small green waves unaided (i.e. not being pushed into the wave by someone else)
Able to pop-up on the surfboard and ride for a few meters without falling
Paddle yourself back into position ready for the next wave
Novice surf level

You will be aiming to do the following:

  • Start to read and select waves (learning which ones to leave and which to paddle for)
  • Improve your stance on the surfboard to get ready for;
    trimming (turning slightly) the surfboard to start to ride ‘down the line’ instead of only going in a straight line
  • Learn about surf etiquette

Recommended board for a novice surfer, adult, average weight :

8’0 to 9’0”  Soft or hard top top surfboard

Ideal wave height:

2′ to 4′ (half a meter to 1.2meters) white water / broken waves.

PROGRESSIVE

The progressive stage applies to you if you have already mastered the skills of the BEGINNER AND NOVICE surfer levels above and are now out of the whitewater (i.e. you are now able to ride shoulder/head-high green, unbroken waves). To recap, we would refer to you as a progressive surfer if you can already do the following:

  • Paddle easily out to a break
  • Understand and able to follow priority/surf etiquette in the line-up
  • Read waves and make correct decisions whether or not to take one or not
  • Paddle unaided into chest/head-high waves
  • Pop up quickly with ease
  • Have a good stance on the surfboard
  • Speed up the surfboard on the wave to enable gentle turning:
  • Able to surf a ‘wavy-line’ along the face of a wave, keeping ahead of the whitewater when a wave is not closing out
  • Paddle back out to the line up unaided after taking your wave

Progressive surf level
As a progressive surfer, you will be aiming to achieve the following:

  • Learn how to make a more drastic top turn and bottom turns
  • Taking steeper drops (paddling into larger waves)

Recommended board for a progressive surfer, adult, average weight :

7’0 to 8’0”  Hard top surfboard

Ideal wave height:

2′ to 4′ (half a meter to 1.2meters) unbroken waves.

INTERMEDIATE

An intermediate surfer will have mastered all the skills above; to briefly recap you are an INTERMEDIATE surfer if you can already do the following:

  • Paddle into overhead or larger waves
  • Keep your speed up on a wave to stay ahead of the white water
  • Make more drastic top turns and a bottom turns

As an intermediate surfer, you will probably be aiming to achieve the following:

Intermediate surfer level

  • Learn how to do ‘cutbacks’ (a sharp turn back into the steep part of the wave to make more of a wave’s face)
  • Begin to ‘stall’ yourself on the wave to try to get ‘barrelled’
  • Start learning how to climb on top of the wave’s lip, referred to as a ‘floater’
  • Learn how to come ‘off the lip’ sharply and back into the wave

Recommended board for a progressive surfer, adult, average weight :

6’8″ to 7’8”  Hard top surfboard

Ideal wave height:

3′ to 5′ (1 meter to 1.6meters) unbroken waves.

ADVANCED SURFER LEVEL

A surfer who is at an advanced stage is already able to do the following:

  • Has excellent wave selection
  • Can make controlled high-speed bottom and top turns
  • Can round-house cutback into the steep part of the wave
  • Can get barrelled in medium-height waves
  • Can easily manage a larger, wider bottom turn to rush ahead of a close-out section and re-enter an unbroken part of the wave
  • Can make off-the-lip manoeuvres
  • Floaters

Advanced surfer level
Recommended board for an advanced surfer, adult, average weight :

6’0″ to 6’8”  Hard top surfboard

Ideal wave height:

4′ to 7′ (1.2 meters to 2 meters) unbroken waves.

EXPERT and PRO LEVELS

Expert surfers, and of course Pro surfers, don’t need to have an explanation of what they can achieve on a wave as they have inevitably mastered all the techniques described above + a lot more. 360’s, aerials and being barrelled in huge waves are usually all in their repertoire.
Expert surfer level

This article is aimed more at explaining the difference between the first 5 stages of surfing so that as a surfer with less experience, you can let surf camps or surf hotels like us correctly judge where we should be advising you to surf, what type of surf lesson you might need, or whether you are better off just going out with a surf guide.

Recommended board for an advanced surfer, adult, average weight :

5’5″ to 6’5”  Hard top surfboard

Ideal wave height:

5′ and up

DON’T RUSH, SURFING TAKES TIME

It’s a really terrible idea to overstate your surf experience; not least because you will very likely end up in the wrong surf spot for your ability which can inevitably lead to serious injury, or worse.

Having a frightening experience in waves too large for your skillset can set you back for months if not years. Any good surf coach or guide will quickly progress you through stages if they can see you are able: Noone is going to deliberately hold you back and many surf coaches will naturally push you a little out of your comfort zone as that is generally how we all progress. Surfing is a life-long commitment of learning: Even Pro’s will tell you they are still honing/improving skills on every single wave they take.

We are in the process of making an interactive level guide to help you identify your current surfing-skill set.

Once you have correctly established where you are in your stages of learning, come and see us at Swell Bali, or Swell Surf Camp in the Dominican Republic; we’d love to help you keep getting better! Our luxury surf coaching holidays have taught 1000’s of people the sport of surfing in a safe, fun and quick way. If you need any more assistance in ‘diagnosing’ your surf level, just drop us a line and we will try to help out.

We hope you like this article of “what level of surfer am I?” if you do, you might also like the following article: different surfboard and which boards are best suited at which stage of your surfing level, have a look at this page: Different surfboards
Our luxury surf coaching holidays have taught 1000’s of people the sport of surfing in a safe, fun and quick way.

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