Quick Guide to Surfing Basics


Surfing looks easy when you are watching the locals surf their favorite beach break.   If you want to learn to surf the best way is to sign up for surf lessons.  The following links will provide local surf lessons in San Clemente  www.sanclementesurflessons.com,  Dana Point www.girlinthecurl.com and Laguna Beach. www.lagunabeachsurflessons.com 

Here are the surfing basics for beginners:

  1. Choosing the right surfboard.  See previous post( S C Surf Butler’s guide to Surfboards)
  2. Selecting the best area  beach to learn to surf.

If you are in South Orange county the best place to learn to surf in my opinion is Doheny State Beach in Dana Point Ca.  This popular beach break is a well-known long-boarder favorite . It is a flat sandy beach where you have plenty of room to find your area in the water.


Regular or Goofy foot is the next step to determine before hitting the water.  This simply is will you be surfing with your left foot in front ( Regular foot) or right foot in front (goofy foot).   We will answer this question on the sand when we practice popping up on the beach.


Everyone’s surfing pop-up is slightly different, but for all intents and purposes the pop-up technique is basically the same for everyone.

At the beach, you can lay your surfboard down on the sand (dig the fins into the sand to avoid breaking them) and practice your pop-up before you go surfing.

Popping Up will became second nature to you with lots of practice.  Start by practicing on the beach.

  1. Lie down on the board place our hands on the board under your shoulders in a push up position with your legs extended behind you.
  2. Then in one quick motion push yourself up  and plant your feet firmly on the board.  Here is where you will determine if you are regular ( left foot facing forward)  or goofy foot(right foot facing forward).   Front foot should be facing forward and back foot facing sideways.

One of the surf tips a pro would tell you is to not pop to your knees.  It may seem easier, but it is actually more difficult to get to your feet from a kneeling position.  It takes practice just like with any other sport you wan to master.



One of the best surfing tips to give before you hit the ocean is to make sure your surfboard is properly waxed .  Waxing provides good traction and solid footing when you are trying to stand up on a wave.    Don’t forget to secure your leash to the plug of your board.  This will keep your board from getting away from you in the water and from hitting others in the water.   Next strap on your leash to whichever is your back foot (your back foot typically is the same as your dominant hand).   So for example if you are regular foot (left foot forward) you would put leash on your right foot.

Paddling out to surf


Good surf technique begins before you hit the ocean.   Start by watching the ocean, and noticing where the waves are breaking.  Watch the whitewater (foam ball) roll through, and get an idea of how far you need to paddle out.

With your board in hand, start walking into the water.  Walk out as far as possible, typically this will be stomach deep.  Any further and it gets very hard to keep your footing and sill hold onto your board.

Now climb onto your board and lie flat on our stomach.  Position yourself properly on the board.  You don’t want to be sitting so far back that the top of your board is sticking out of the water.  If you are too far forward the nose of board will sink while you are paddling ( this is known as pearling).  Find a good balance so the nose of your board is above the water.  Now extend your legs straight behind you and begin to paddle out with your arms doing a freestyle swim stroke keeping your feet out of the water.  At this point you will notice how your surfboard balances  in the water and how easily it rocks back and forth.

You want to paddle out past the whitewater.  This is where the waves are breaking.  You want to just sit outside of where the waves are breaking on the outer edge of the wave.


On your first couple of waves try to catch the whitewater and ride it straight into the beach.  When you see a small wall of whitewater coming your way point your surfboard towards the beach lie flat on your stomach and paddle.  Stay on your stomach, don’t try to pop up just yet, and get a feel of the surfboard when it is riding a wave, rock side to side to test the surfboard’s stability and how easily it turns.

Now it is time to catch your first real wave and stand up.  Paddle back out past where the waves are breaking.  Sit on your surfboard and watch how the waves  roll in, peak and break.   You will notice that the waves typically break in the same spot.   You want to start paddling and catch he wave before it breaks and creates a foam ball.  As the wave grows in height, it begins to move faster.  In order to catch the wave, you must be paddling just as fast or faster than the wave is moving.

When you are ready look for a wave that starts to peak.  Point your surfboard toward shore and start paddling.  Once your surfboard begins to glide by itself, place your hands in the board in push up position and push yourself up in one quick motion, and plant your feet firmly on the board.  You do not have to strengthen your legs, stay in a crouched position to maintain balance.

You just caught your first wave!

See you at the beach!!


One response to “Quick Guide to Surfing Basics

  1. Reblogged this on SC Surf Butler and commented:

    A post I wrote last year when I started my blog..

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