Learning to surf takes time. In fact, surfing is probably one of the most difficult sports to master. There are just so many moving parts and an incredibly steep learning curve on an ever-changing canvas of infinite possibilities.
Basic physics tell us that surfing larger boards add buoyancy and stability, which are much needed in the early stages of learning to ride waves. However, the temptation to trade out your bigger board for a high-performance shortboard the moment you think you’ve have it all figured out is something that’s common the world over.
In the long view, surfing a board that’s too short for you and too soon can have some very detrimental effects to your progression. The only way you’re going to improve your surfing is to simply catch more waves and jumping on a board that’s too small for you is the quickest way to hinder that.
Granted, you always need to push yourself and your abilities, but there’s something to be said for taking the right steps at the right time.
With that out of the way, let’s have a look at a few things to consider when you’re choosing your next board.
Are you struggling to:
– Catch waves?
– Get to your feet?
– Paddle fast enough?
– Balance on your board?
– Stay on your feet?
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If any of the above apply to you, you should seriously think about using a bigger board. There’s no use in concerning yourself with anything more advanced eg. Turns, cutbacks, floaters etc. unless you have this stuff dialed. Riding a small board when you’ve still not mastered all of the above is only going to stunt your progression.
On the other hand, if you’re struggling to:
- Turn as tight and precise as you want
- Generate speed because your board’s too heavy
- Fit into the steepest parts of the wave (the pocket)
- Take off under the lip
…your board is probably too big for your current ability level.
There are so many different variables that go into board design. The length, width, thickness, volume, rocker, flex, concaves, tail shape, fin setup, rail shape, tail rocker, and a laundry list of other minute variables all dictate how your surfboard interacts with a wave. And if much of those words are gobbledygook to you then I’d suggest staying on a bigger board for a little while longer. As you get better at surfing, you’ll start to understand how each of those subtle details of a surfboard affects you.
I hope this all gives you some food for thought.