THE NEW SURFER CHEAT SHEET
Over the years we’ve taught literally thousands of students to learn to surf, and in that time, we’ve noticed a pattern…
…a pattern of mistakes that we see time and time again, that hold back almost all our students from progressing as fast as they should.
Sure, there’s a lot of mistakes that beginners make, but, there’s three that stand out far beyond the rest.
And it’s these three most common mistakes that we’re going to be breaking down - and rectifying - in this New Surfer Cheat-Sheet.
Are you ready to get started?
Nosediving is the process whereby the nose of your surfboard digs into the water as you're catching a wave.
You flying head over heels and wiping out. Not ideal!
WHY IT'S IMPORTANT TO STOP NOSEDIVING
There are a number of reasons why nosediving is not a good idea:
LETS GET THIS THING HANDLED
Alright, enough of the explanations you came here to get this stuff handled, so lets go ahead and do just that:
WHY YOU'RE NOSEDIVING
You nosedive on your surfboard for any of the reasons below:
HOW TO FIX IT
Ok, lets get to fixing this problem for good 👇
Alright, we touched on it above, but the way that you're lying on the board plays a HUGE roll into whether you're going to nosedive or not. So you gotta get this part right.
But here's the thing.
Lie too far back on your board and sure, you won't nosedive, but you also won't catch any waves either. So there's a sweet-spot that you've got to hit, and that changes depending on the board that you're riding.
So how do you find that sweet spot?
It's the point at which you're as far forward as you possibly can - without nosediving - and not any further back than that. That's your sweet spot right there.
THE EARLY BIRD CATCHES THE WORM...
The earlier you can catch a wave, the less steep the wave will be - resulting in less nosediving.
But catching waves early is a science in and of itself which is a pretty huge topic, so I'll try and be brief here.
Here's the deal...
You've got to spot the wave you want early. You've got to position yourself in the right spot before the wave starts getting steep. Paddle hard and fast to get on the wave early.
To refresh it's positioning, timing, and paddle power all packed into one.
POP, POP, GO!
It's a bit like that when you're surfing. As soon as you get confirmation that you're on the wave, bang, you need to pop to your feet.
Firstly, it's much, much easier (and safer) to navigate a steep wave on your feet.
Secondly, once you're up to your feet, you can apply more weight to your back foot to stop your board from nosediving.
And thirdly, popping up to your feet just helps you in so many ways and is the hallmark of good surfing.
Do you ever paddle for waves and miss them? Like all the time??
It's such a common beginner mistake, with such an easy fix (well, easy when you know how that is...).
SO, WHY ARE WAVES JUST PASSING YOU BY?
Waves pass you by because you haven't built up enough momentum paddling to match the speed of the wave. The more momentum you can build with your paddling, the easier it'll be to catch more waves more often.
But strangely, it's not all about how hard you're paddling (far from it in fact).
So, let's dive in below, and get this fixed.
LESS IS MORE
Have you ever watched a wildlife show and seen footage of a whale cruising through the ocean?
Moving so gracefully, yet moving so fast!
This is the perfect example of what you want to replicate with your paddling - Powerful, Efficient, Aerodynamic. Maximum energy output, minimum energy input.
To get to these levels of efficiency, you must eradicate any areas where the energy input is not focused on forward propulsion and glide.
In reference to the example above, it's not how fast you move your arms when you paddle but how much forward, focused propulsion you can generate with the strokes that you do make.
FULL REACH OR NO FULL REACH?
It's a common misconception that your hands should enter the water at your fullest reach.
It makes sense in a lot of ways because you'd think that by doing that you'd be able to get the biggest stroke possible, moving the most amount of water, and generating a tonne of forward propulsion in the process.
However, in reality this is not the case.
Paddling at full reach in this way creates what we call a windmill effect.
So, instead of entering the water at full reach with arms going around in a circular motion, we take a note from swimmers and do things a little differently.
STRETCH AND PULL
The stretch and pull technique moves away from the circular windmill method above, and instead focuses on driving forward momentum, and maximising glide.
It's a bit of a tricky one to explain, but I'll do my best below:
The key takeaway from this technique is glide.
What do I mean by glide?
Glide is the propulsion you maintain after you've completed a stroke.
If done well, your movement over the water should replicate that of a rowing boat effortlessly gliding over the water top, with minimum friction, and maximum conversion of effort into motion.
THE ART OF THE PLANE...
When you pop to your feet do you effortlessly stay with the wave, or does the wave often run away underneath you?
If you're the latter, you're not alone. This is a very common mistake made when people are just starting out.
WHY AM I GRINDING TO A HALT ALL OF THE TIME?
The reason that you're losing all of your speed, grinding to a halt as the wave rolls on by is down to your weight distribution across the board.
There are two common mistakes that we see time and time again:
1. THE STRAIGHT-LEGGER!
The straight-legger is something we see ALL the time in our surf school.
What is it?
It's the stance oftentimes used by beginners - whereby they ride the wave stood tall with straight legs.
Now this is bad for a couple of reasons...
Firstly, it really ain't good for your balance. Think about it, if someone was trying to push you over would you stand with bent legs wider apart, or straight legs close together?
It's a no brainer right!
And secondly, when you stand in a straight legged stance your weight is unevenly distributed across the board which has the knock on effect of slowing your board right down, resulting in the wave once again passing you by.
GETTING IT FIXED
So you what not to do, now let's focus on what you should do to stop this trend of waves passing you by for good 💥
Planing is the process whereby a surfboard at higher speeds is able to create lift allowing it to glide over the ocean surface, rather that cutting through it.
Much like a motor boat, once it hits that planing speed the maintenance of forward motion requires much, much less energy.
And this is what we want to replicate when we're surfing.
HOW TO PLANE ON YOUR SURFBOARD AND RIDE WAVES FOR LONGER!
Planing on a surfboard is all about weight distribution.
Think of it this way: The last time you rode a wave to the beach on your belly did you ever struggle to stay with the wave?
And why is that?
This is because your weight is really evenly distributed across the whole length of the board.
And it's this even weight distribution that we want to replicate whilst we're on our feet.
Here's how it's done:
With your weight evenly distributed across the board in this way, it's able to plane across the ocean surface perfectly.
Get this right, and you'll find yourself riding waves all the way to the beach, every time!
WRAPPING IT UP
Well there you have it.
These are the three BIGGEST - most common - mistakes we see day in, day out with our students.
Get these things handled, and you're wave count and progression will soar!
Alright so what're you waiting for, get out there and go practice what you've learnt 👊